Iser Šliomovičius “They ruined my life”

 

Iser Šliomovičius was born in Kaunas in 1937. His father was a businessman and had founded his own metal trading business, employing two young apprentices. Iser was 4 years old when, in June 1941, NKVD officers came to their home, ordered them to pack up their things and follow them. At the station, they were separated from their father, who was sentenced to 5 years’ forced labour for “exploitation of other people’s labour”. The journey lasted two months. When they arrived at Sovkhoz 51 near the town of Kamen in Altai region, his mother was allocated farm work. He and his twin brother spent their days in the hut. The winters were long and freezing and they didn’t have warm enough clothes and shoes.

In December 1945, his father was released from his labour camp near the Urals and joined them in the Altai. But after five years’ logging in the forest, he was not fit for work. In 1953, when the time came to choose higher education, Iser’s stigma as a “special deportee” would count against him: he would have liked to study literature, but he could only register at the Tomsk engineering institute, where he graduated in 1958. He did not return to Kaunas until 1963. There he got a job making photocopiers and made a career of it, but he still says, “What ruined me is that they wouldn’t let me study what I wanted... They ruined my life and now I regret all the time that passed”.