18th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Volodymyr Yosyfiv (81)

"My family and I rode in the body of a ZIS-5 truck on the main street of the village of Komariv, waving goodbye to all our neighbors who came to say goodbye to us at dawn. Among them were my friends. I was only 11 years old. At this emotional moment, we thought we were seeing our home for the last time. In Khryplyn we were put in a freight car. The smell of steam locomotive smoke mixed with the smell of feces was well remembered in the boxcar. I was very hungry because we were only fed every few days. For one boxcar was given 1 bucket of wheat porridge and 1 bucket of water, which we had to divide among more than 50 hungry people. We traveled for 19 days. We were settled in the village of Izikan. I remember that all my youth I had a big dream to eat and get full. In 1958, my letter to Khrushchev, a claim about persecution, was seen as a threat to the Secretary-General. Because of this letter, and my refusal to cooperate with the KGB, I was placed in a 1.5x2.5m solitary confinement cell. There was a very unpleasant atmosphere. I was often interrogated at night. In 1961 I was sentenced to 3 years in Siberian camps." Volodymyr 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
Copyright: © Artur Abramiv