From Gospodarka to Gulag: the journey from Rzesniowka to Noshul

“We arrive at Karnaczowka Station. There is shouting and crying. A mother is saying goodbye to her daughter. A son is bidding farewell to his parents and sister… how many people who are being exiled with us are innocent – only here because they had been visiting relatives or friends? And yet, they have to suffer too. We contemplate escaping but that would be of no use; the NKVD are standing, watching our every move like hawks…

They are putting us into cattle trucks now. Then they lock the doors on us and that is where we remain, all night and all day. The cattle truck is cold and dark but we wait patiently.”

– Excerpt from the writings of Kasia Oko, February 1940.

Continue reading “From Gospodarka to Gulag: the journey from Rzesniowka to Noshul”


On the 10th February 1940 Kasia and her family were sentenced to expulsion from Poland. Forcibly evicted from her home at dawn and deported along with her family to a forced labour camp in the USSR, Kasia was never to see home, or Poland again.

Continue reading “Deportation”

The Journey of Never Seeing Home Again

Before I begin posting blog pieces chronicling Kasia’s deportation to Siberia and the aftermath, I thought I’d introduce what we call in our family “The Deportation Log”.

I received a photocopy of it from my great aunt Julia several years ago and it details the dates and places the Oko family were sent to during the years of displacement. Michał, my great grandfather, had the foresight to record every journey; when they left a place and when they arrived at another. And it’s through this piece of paper that I know where and when the Oko’s were and it proved invaluable when trying to piece together this portion of Kasia’s life.

Continue reading “The Journey of Never Seeing Home Again”

Life in the Borderlands of Poland, 1921-1939

In her notebooks my grandmother never mentioned what life was like in Rzesniowka before the deportation to Siberia. Even though she sometimes mentioned Russia, Iran and Africa, my mother does not remember her ever mentioning the village she lived in until the age of nineteen. Thus the majority of the information I have is compiled from the oral testimonies and written correspondence from my great aunts, Lutka and Julia. Continue reading “Life in the Borderlands of Poland, 1921-1939”

Finding Home: Rześniówka & the Polish Settlement of Piłsudy

Finding Rześniówka, the original Ukrainian village my great grandfather Michał Oko moved his family to sometime after the birth of my grandmother in September 1921, was no easy feat. Continue reading “Finding Home: Rześniówka & the Polish Settlement of Piłsudy”