Synopsis

Eva was born in 1925 in Eastern Poland: a beautiful wild wooded region. Her father was a forestry expert who worked for a wealthy aristocratic Polish family. He was in charge of their estate; at the same time he kept an eye on the well-being, health and education of the peasants living nearby.

1939 In January 1939 Eva's mother, who was a diabetic, died following an attack of flu. Eva had come home for the Christmas holidays. She had been a boarder at a Catholic school since the age of 10. Her home was so far from any town that she wouldn't otherwise have been able to continue her secondary education.

War broke out in September 1939. Hitler and Stalin became allies just long enough to carve up Poland. The eastern part of the country was absorbed into the Soviet Republics of the Ukraine and Byelorussia.

The Russians ransacked Eva's home but luckily neither her father nor her brother were there. Her father had been mobilised into the Polish army when the Germans had invaded the country. As soon as he could he headed for the town where Eva was at school with as many of their possessions as he could carry. The peasants who had witnessed or joined in the looting of Eva's home returned to her father much of what they'd taken. These possessions would in the future become a source for barter. Church schools were quickly closed down.

One day in 1941 as Eva returned to the friends' house where she was living she found herself confronted by Russian soldiers come to arrest her. She joined her father and brother. They crammed what they could into suitcases, were hauled up into a lorry, were driven to the railway station and pushed into a goods wagon. They heard the frightening slam of the door being closed. Eva's father organised the restricted living space to enable people to survive : a blanket was used to curtain off the hole used as a toilet to give a feeling of privacy. Food was carefully rationed as no one knew how long the journey would last.

The train entered Asiatic Russia. People were only allowed out once on the journey that lasted a fortnight. This was in a barren region and they were surrounded by soldiers. Finally they reached Mongolia and the Chinese border. Here the train's human cargo was unloaded.

A group of deportees was taken by lorry to the mountains where they were to build a sawmill. They were to live in huts and were fed a diet of one cup of flour per worker.Their only tool was a spade. But the sawmill never saw the light of day. Each day Eva and some others went in search of wild leeks, berries and mushrooms. Hunger was endemic. From June until September the deportees lived in huts but once winter came they were taken back to the village and were billeted on families. Eva's father worked in an office while her brother helped to transport the logs. She herself worked in a dispensary for a short time. In order to eat, people were forced to exchange a sheet for milk, potatoes or pumpkins. The cold, just like hunger and the fleas reigned supreme.

Freedom came in March 1942 as Russia and Germany were now at war. The Polish Government in Exile and the Allies obtained freedom for the Poles. But they still had to be told, so that they could organise themselves, and sell their few remaining possessions in order to reach freedom.

In September 1942 the Caspian Sea was crossed and iraq was reached. They lived an army life. They were given food and the greatest luxury of all ... eggs ! From Iraq they went to Syria and once more lived in army camps. Eva's father was nearby.

In December 1942 they arrived in Palestine.'Eva was able to pick up the threads of her former life and for three and a half years she attended two Catholic boarding schools. She spent one year in Jerusalem and two and a half years in Haifa. She then went to Egypt and for one year lived in ismailia and the desert. From there her travels took her to England, Italy and finally France where she had the greatest good fortune to become our friend.