Siberian Carrots – a short animation
Here’s a simple animation I made using clay and other materials to recount a story my late mum once told me about her time in Siberia, where she was deported to by Stalin in 1940, at the age of three.
Not surprisingly, she didn’t like to talk about Siberia, where she spent six years in abject poverty until 1946. She lost her mother out there to TB and also her little sister. Her father was taken to a different gulag nearer the Arctic and was presumed dead.
Mum and her family were among around 1.7 million Poles who were deported east out of Poland during World War II, just because they were Polish. They went in four waves, families often being split up and taken away in the middle of the night by the NKVD, the Soviet secret police.
I’ve since read about the subject quite widely and woven the story of the deportations into my debut novel, Are My Roots Showing?
It’s a light and funny book overall but it has this unexpected serious thread about the war running through it. Poland was greatly effected by the war and those effects don’t just disappear over night but trickle down future generations. I feel this is a neglected part of history and so this has been my way of trying to keep it alive.
As mum didn’t like to talk about Siberia, what she did say had huge significance – and when she told me this story it was as if the icy past of a far and distant land suddenly came to life. I grew up in the northern town of Doncaster and when I heard this in the cold light of day, I really understood she’d been through something really terrible that almost no one had any idea about.
With what’s happening in Syria at the moment, and waves of people moving all because of war, such tragic things are happening again, albeit in a different way and for different reasons. It is heart-breaking.
My mum died four years ago now – but I pass the baton of her story on.
To learn more about this period of Polish history visit the virtual museum Kresy Siberia.
Sound design by Tim Brown.