The first wave of deportations to the Stalinist gulags started in Bessarabia on the night of June 13, 72 years ago. Contacted by IPN, former deportee Valentin Dosofteev said that he was two when his family was taken by force to Siberia.
“I was small. They gave us 30 minutes to take what we could with us and took us away. I often asked my mother why other children named me a people’s traitor. My mother told me only after we returned home. The regime was so strict that they were afraid to tell even their children,” said the former deportee.
Valentin Dosofteev remembers that there were days when they ate only oil with salt, but they survived because they were united. “When I returned home, I was surprised to find different people, who were kinder and more peaceful,” said the man. His family had to start everything from the very beginning. They had to rent a house because the state appropriated their house, together with other property.
The deportation operation began on the night of June 13, 1941. The people were woken up at midnight by armed military men, who told them to be ready for a trip in 15 minutes. They could take only by 10 kg of food, clothes and other things per person with them. They were taken to Siberia by train.
According to official statistics, 12,000 people were deported from Bessarabia on the night of June 13, 1941. The deportation victims say the figure is much higher.