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The Russian Invasion of Domachevo

George Turlo, Holocaust Survivor

And the war of September 1 [1939] found me on the courtyard in Domachevo, where they announced through the speaker that German planes attacked all Polish airports. And we children, we have been dismissed from school to go home; parents rushed to get us. This was big chaos and panic. What to do? My father, as a judge, according to the law was to protect all the court matters, so he was not called to military even [though] he was the officer. And somewhere around September 15 the Germans troops start to cross the River Bug and we packed all our belongings, the most precious belongings and court matters on the carriage—was horses-drawn carriage—and try to escape to the east. Unfortunately, on September 17, Soviets attacked Poland from the back, from the east. So my father decided no sense to escape more to the east, so we returned back to Domachevo.

And around September—I would say twenty-seventh—my father have to give up his court to Soviet authorities: there was a Soviet committee there. I have even in possession protocol of his surrendering this court to Soviets. And after, shortly after, the NKVD, what is precursor of KGB, came and arrest my father, took him to Brest-Litovsk, and for whole months they tortured him, tortured him unbelievably that everybody—you know, they doing by blackmail, they do something to the wife and children and they gave me [sic] salt fish to eat first when he was hungry and after no drop of water for several weeks. And he have to sit on the chair with special raised fronts, so this cut the blood circulation in his legs. But he didn’t divulge anything; he didn’t say any words or names of friends to help the NKVD.

Meantime, this friend, his friend Jewish doctor, he collected signatures from the Jewish population in Domachevo, about 1,000 signatures, and he sent it to authorities in Brest-Litovsk. The NKVD let my father out. He came like a ghost, he have to drop all his clothes because it was full of lice and ask my mother to burn, and he said, “Tomorrow we have to escape, because I was declared an enemy of the state and I cannot live closer to 100 kilometers to the border”—border between Soviet Union and the new Germany, border who had been established before the war already because [Joachim von] Ribbentrop, who was the minister of Deutsches Reich, and [Vyacheslav] Molotov, who was Foreign Minister of Russia, they make the pact of non-aggression—not only non-aggression but also partition of Poland. So this was in agreement: when the Germans who come to Bug River from another side, Soviets advance with tanks and take this part of Poland.

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About George Turlo