GERHARD

PRISONER OF WAR. GULAG SURVIVOR.

“Each day more dead were added to the open graves, and the graves remained open until spring when it was easier to shovel the thawed dirt."

Gerhard, in a Soviet Prison Camp, 1946 

Gerhard Dyck tells his own compelling story of living through Stalin's forced collectivization of the 1930s. Gerhard was a teacher when the German army invaded the Ukraine in 1941. He and his family fled Russia in 1943, but upon arriving in Poland, he was promptly drafted into the German army, where he served until the end of the war in 1945. Surrendering with the defeated German soldiers, he found himself in Russian custody. He was sent to the Gulag as a German POW, then singled out for worse treatment once the Russians found out that he was Russian-born, and a traitor to his native land.  

 

Gerhard was exiled to Siberia for life in 1948. He lived in the far north, working as a mechanic for seven years before his life sentence was revoked after Stalin’s death. Having no place to go, he remained in Siberia an additional 16 years, and was finally able to emigrate to Germany in 1988. 

A philosophical mind, Gerhard reflects toward the end on the concepts of freedom, in light of his own experience. 

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© 2020 by A Nakhla