Concentration Camps and Gulags
During the Second World War as well as shortly after its end were many Slovak citizens kidnapped into German and Soviet concentration camps. Since October 1944, following the units of Red Army, also members of the Soviet Secret Police NKVD were coming to Slovakia. They violently and unlawfully detained thousands of men and kidnapped them for drudgery into Soviet labour camps of system GULAG. The exact number of kidnapped Slovaks is unknown so far, however, according to documented records there were about 7 000 Slovak citizens transported, including app. 200 women, and more than 550 people died in the camps. Those who survived came to their homeland yet after several years.
Because of the option (resettlement) he and his family left to the Soviet Union, hoping they would find a fertile soil and a great wealth there. However, they found only poverty and misery. In 1948 at one of his friend´s bachelor party, Jozef was made to read a leaflet saying: „Death to Stalin“. Few months later he was captured and sentenced to spend 10 years in prison. After the sorrowful journey through Kiev, Charkov, Novosibirsk, and Tajšet transits he worked in labour camps Ozerlag (Siberia), Magadan, and Usť-Kujga.
He was accused of being absent for obligatory brigade work and from 1945 until 1948 he was in the labour camp Nuzal in Vladykaukaz. After he returned home, the State Security /ŠtB/ sent him to a forced labour camp in the Czech Republic for two years for the purpose of re-education.
Only an eighteen-year old joiner of German origin, Imrich Gallik, was taken by the security forces of NKVD and People’s Militias for a harsh interrogation which was followed by a three-and-a-half-year stay in a Soviet labour camp. Just thanks to his inner strength and young organism he managed to overcome hardship as well as inhuman living conditions in gulag and he was happy to come back home in December 1948.
As a sixteen-year old boy Richard Kolban experienced all the horrors of Soviet labour camps. After two years, when thanks to General Svoboda, the Czechoslovak military forces were being formed in the Soviet Union, he was released from gulag and joined hundreds of volunteers, who enlisted from different parts of the USSR. Along with the military forces he gradually managed to get to Slovakia and participated in many liberating fights in our territory.
Russians accused him of serving in the Slovak military – although this service was compulsory. Subsequently he was abducted to the labour camps: OLP 33 NKVD, Jagrinlag, and Ozerlag from 1945 until 1953.
Since he was seven years old, he worked hard as a farm servant at different places, mainly at German farms, where he learnt to speak German. After the war, Russians accused him of translating for German soldiers and from 1945 until 1947 he was abducted into the labour camps in Ľvov and Odesa.