Hunger, not having enough to eat, being constantly hungry, being obsessed by finding something to eat, suffering scurvy and night blindness for lack of vitamins; all these are physical and psychological conditions that recur in the stories of our witnesses, particularly those who were children when they were deported.

Many lost their parents, brothers and sisters because of difficulties in finding foodstuffs, including milk for babies. Some had brought clothes and useful things from home that they could barter locally for food. All learnt to pick mushrooms, roots and berries in the woods when the season was right. Those who were deported before the Germans invaded the USSR suffered even more. During the war some million prisoners died in the labour camps and the invalidity rate was 22% of the survivors. In the remote villages the Russian Great North and Siberia, where thousands of families had been sent, food shortages were the daily lot of both locals and deported.

Marta Craveri