European Memories

of the Gulag


Excitement at leaving

Anatoly was 14 when he heard he and his family were being deported to somewhere in Siberia. His memories of the episode make him smile as he tells the story in these two extracts. The boy he was then did not see this departure as a tragic deportation but rather as an exciting long trip that aroused his curiosity (Extract 1).
When two soldiers burst into their house to tell them to get ready, Anatoly, keen on chemistry, quickly filled his pockets with all sorts of chemicals. With a laugh he recalls the reaction between the glycerine and potassium permanganate that set fire to his trousers, and startled the officer who had come to execute the search warrant. (Extract 2)