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18th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Ivan Humenyak (92)

"At first, my family fell under the brutal hand of the Gestapo. Then after the war, we continued to be persecuted by the communists. At 3 am, 6 armed NKVD (the interior ministry of Soviet Union) men with a shepherd dog broke into our house. They offered that we renounce our beliefs and stay at home, but my father and I refused. At that time, I was 22. In Stanislav, 4 members of our family were put in a freight car. We were traveling for 3 weeks to Siberia. I was assigned to be in charge of food delivery. So, at the stations, twice a day I went out under escort to a soldier who was pouring out soup for travelers. In Siberia, near the settlement of Veselyi, deep in the forest, my friend and I built a secret bunker where I produced literature that explained the Bible but was banned by the Soviet authorities. This activity threatened us with imprisonment for up to 25 years. I cleared the trunk of a withered birch and through it, there was provided a constant circulation of fresh air into the bunker. The entrance of 30x50 cm was disguised under small spruce. We printed 1,000 pages on the rotator overnight. At night I typed, and during the day I worked at cutting down trees." Ivan was taken to Siberia during a secret operation, called “North”, on April 8, 1951. At that time almost nine thousand Jehovah’s Witnesses were exiled to Siberia where they were forced to stay for some 14 years.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 11.2020
Date Uploaded: 11.2020
Photo Location: Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine
Camera: NIKON D800
Copyright: © Artur Abramiv