Ján Bačkovský

Born on 24 October 1919 in Štefurov near Bardejov. In 1939 he decided to escape to the USSR and left home at the end of November that year. He got as far as Sanok and crossed the border. However, he was caught by the Soviets and put in prison. Initially there were only Polish thieves there but it gradually filled up. Ján Bačkovský was then transferred to a large prison in Sambor.

In 1940 the prisoners were sent to Voroshilovgrad (today Lugansk) where they underwent hearings in the autumn before being transferred to Siberia. Ján was handed a five-year sentence. The prisoners were held in a church in Starobilsk.

In Vorkuta and Ukhta the prisoners worked in the forests. There were pit coal deposits and it was necessary to build roads and railways there, which is why a large amount of wood was needed. Ján Bačkovský and the other prisoners lived in wooden shacks. There was scant food and many starved to death. Ján was helped by the fact that he worked as a clerk for two months. He was in charge of meals and calculating how many vats of food to cook.

On 7 January 1942 he was freed and left for a centre for released prisoners in Krutaya. He then moved to Chibij (camp on the territory of Ukhta), where he met Czechoslovaks for the first time. In Chibij he was still in a camp, where they were fed although conditions were chaotic. They received food on handkerchiefs.

It took a whole month of travel for them to reach Buzuluk after passing through Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod. Ján underwent a month’s basic training and was selected for the officer academy of the reserve army. There he spent four months and graduated as a lance corporal. He was later promoted to corporal. Later he took part in his first battle in the Czechoslovak unit at Sokolov and reached Slovak territory via Dukla.

Bačkovský was then part of a mobilisation in Košice, where he did very well. In the end he was sent to a training centre when his war ended. After the war Ján Bačkovský was sent to the Military Academy of the General Staff in Poland’s Warsaw. Apart from two years when he went home during the holidays, he was not allowed to return. He continued to serve at the military medical faculty in Hradec Kralove as the head of the military discipline department.

The story was processed by Post Bellum SK for the project Central European Map of the Gulag.


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