Lucjan Pietruszko „Sałatek”

He was born on 20th March, 1926 in the village of Rudziszki in Northeast Poland (today Lithuania). During World War II together with his father he joined the Home Army where he used a pseudonym - „Sałatek”. They served in a unit operating in the Vilnius region. In summer 1944 he took part in the „Ostra Brama” operation which aim was to liberate Vilnius from German occupation. During those fights the Home Army cooperated with the Red Army. After the libaration of Vilnius the Home Army units were disarmed and interned by the Soviets. Pietruszko, his father and their brothers in arms were imprisoned in Medininkai.

Soon they were transported by the NKVD in overfilled wagons to Kaluga. Pietruszko and other Polish soldiers were forced to join the Red Army but many of them refused and were sent to penal battalions to cut forests. The battalion with Pietruszko and his father stationed nearby Serednikovo. In summer and autumn they lived in wooden huts, but in winter they were forced to build dugouts. The huts did not assure warmth so they slept in dirty cloths.

Hard work and living conditions caused that Pietruszko father’s health worsened. As a result he was sent home. After that he rigged Lucjan’s birth certificate to convince the NKVD that his son was too young to serve in the army. Soon young Pietruszko was set free and at the beginning of January 1945 he came back to Rudziszki.

Several weeks later he and his father were arrested by the NKVD and imprisoned in Trakai. There Lucjan was brutally tortured and few days later moved to Lukiškės prison in Vilnius, where he was locked in the same cell with his father. In teh middle of May 1945 they started their next journey in wagons deep into the USSR. One month later they were settled in camp no. 0321 in Yelshanka. Pietruszko worked for several months and in October together with all Polish prisoners was sent to camp in Kutaisi.

In Kutaisi they were assigned to build a car factory. In general Pietruszko remembered that camp as a place of death, where many Polish prisoners died because of hard living and working conditions. Those conditions caused that in 1947 Poles refused to work anymore. In consequnce Pietruszko and other 300 people were moved to camp in Astrakhan where they worked in a brickyard. Soon Pietruszko suffered from malaria, but he was strong enough to fully recover.

In May 1948 he was released from the camp, but Soviet authorities forbade him to return to Poland. He was only allowed to come back to his hometown of Rudziszki which after World War II became a part of the USSR. There he lived with his parents and got married. Finally in 1957 the Soviets let them move to Poland.


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