This is a short fragment from Tamara Oala Plesca’s testimony. She was deported with her family to Siberia in June 1941, when she was only 5 years old. The Soviets were already experts in concentration camps for “the enemies of the people.”
The moment they are taken:
When they rushed in, they were seven people or so. They filled the house. I was awake and, like any child, I was curious. I saw everything. When they came in, one of them started to speak in Russian with dad. I did not understand, but dad knew Russian because there were many Russians in our village and dad knew the language. I do not know what they told him. I only know that there were other people from our village there, and dadasked one of them:
“Why would they look for guns here?! From where would I have taken them? How could I have any gold?!… I just had two weddings (my brother and my sister had both married). How could I have such things?!…”
To tell you the truth, we were deported in someone else’s place, someone called Istrate. He was on the list with the deportees that came from Balti. But he was getting along well with the authorities, and they changed his name and took us in his place. They told us to get ready because they would take us.
When they took us, we were mom, dad, bunica (grandmother), my brother with my sister-in-law, my younger sister, a younger brother, and a really small brother, who actually died on the road. He was one year old. So we were nine people. They took us in the priest’s courtyard. He had run to Romania in 1940, when the Soviets came. Now, they gathered all carts there, and we left from the village from that place.
On the road, we arrived at one of our lands, where we had six hectares. I feel like crying anytime I remember it. Dad came down from the cart and kneeled. He took some dirt and put it in his pocket. He kissed the land and made the sign of the cross. The wheat was reaping, so he took some grains in his hand, rubbed it in his palms, and put it in his pocket. He came back in the carriage, and we went further.
The train stopped in stations from time to time, but most of the time we were going nonstop, day and night. Continuing like this, we arrived in Siberia. We arrived in Novosibirsk. Someone came and said:
“The men go to take a bath outside; the women go in another place.”
We washed, came back, and went into the train. I was more curious, and I looked everywhere. All of a sudden, my brother came with a soldier. My brother had left with dad, but now he came back alone, white as a sheet. He said:
“Mama, they are loading the men in another train; they are taking them. They allowed me to leave because dad told them I was too small, that I do not have the required age, and they didn’t take me.”
After a while, dadcame back as well, with two soldiers. He asked for some bread from mama, for his boots, his coat, and his hat, and he only said this to mama:
“Zenovio, take care of the children. I was tried on the spot by a special troika and condemned to six years. This is what they decided. I will return to the children.”
I looked on the window to a train that was leaving, and I saw dad at the window. But there were bars at his window. I can still see him today. I did not really hear what he said because there was great noise. This is the only thing that was heard, “Tamara, Tamara!” At the beginning, I did not really know from where the yelling was coming. I was the last one who saw dad. We do not know what happened to him.