On the Rivers of Siberia. The Diary of a Boy 1940-1946. Krasnoyarsk Krai by Marian Stecyk is the sixth volume in the “Memories and Reports” series published by the Sybir Memorial Museum in Białystok.
The publication was nominated for this year’s edition of the Historical Awards 2023 for 2022 in the category “Diaries, Reports, Memories”.
“What makes Marian Stecyk’s story stand out in particular? I would say: the naivety of the narration. In a good way. The author, writing after many years, retained the fresh and sensitive gaze of a child in his report. Amazement and discovering a new world. […] It’s astonishing, that this report has no hate. And every neighbor’s, kinsman’s or native’s good deed, is gratefully noted. A sad book — and yet a cheerful one” — this is how Marian Turski writes about the nominated book on the pages of “Polityka”.
The book was edited by the Museum’s scientists: Sylwia Szarejko, PhD, and Marcin Zwolski, PhD.
— We have several hundred memoirs and testimonials in the collection of the Museum, so the decision which ones shall be chosen to publish is always difficult. I remember our first contact with the typescript of Marian Stecyk’s memoirs. The detailed descriptions of the places where the young character spent his exile, as well as the situations he experienced, rose doubts at first. We didn’t know if it was possible to remember such details after many years — says Marcin Zwolski, PhD.
— We used all possibility of verification — and we have plenty of it — and we were unable to undermine a single word. It just turns out that Marian Stecyk remembers a lot. Remembering, as well as, great observation capabilities and the ability to put these observations on paper have become a recipe for a fascinating publication — admits Sylwia Szarejko, PhD.
Markian Stecyk, who lives in Wrocław today, was moved when he accepted the information from the employees of the Museum that his memories had been noticed by the Historical Awards Committee.
The Sybirak born in 1930 described how he and his entire family were taken by the Soviets deep into the Soviet Union as part of the first mass deportation action, which took place on February 10, 1940. It was aimed at military and civilian settlers and employees of the forest service, whom the Soviets saw as “enemies of the people” and — due to their excellent knowledge of the forest areas and the ability to use weapons — potential partisans. Collective responsibility was applied — entire families, including small children, were deported.
The same thing happened to the Stecyk family, whose father was a gamekeeper in Lasy Łoszniowskie in the Trembowla district. Michał and Michalina Stecyk with their children — Marian, Czesław and little Stanisław, ended up in Krasnoyarsk Krai in central-eastern Siberia, in the Yenisei river basin. The author of memoirs did not return to Poland until 1946.
— The publication, On the Rivers of Siberia by Marian Stecyk is the sixth memoirs published by us, but the first ones that we published simultaneously in three language versions: Polish, English and Spanish — says the director of the Sybir Memorial Museum, professor Wojciech Śleszyński. — In this way, we’re delivering on the promise made to Mr. Stecyk, a donor of our museum, who wanted to contribute to the popularization of knowledge about Siberia not only in Poland, but also abroad. We hope this publication reaches also the descendants of Siberians, scattered all over the world, often no longer knowing the Polish language. We want them to find out about the fate of Poles deported to the “inhuman land” and to become interested in their Siberian roots. This is part of our mission to cherish the memory of Siberia, as the name of our museum says — he adds.
The “Polityka” Historical Awards have been awarded since 1959, which makes them the oldest awards in Poland for the best historical books. The originator of the award is the editor Marian Turski. The jury consists of the members of the editorial office of “Polityka” and eminent historians: Barbara Klich-Kluczewska, PhD, DSc , Dariusz Stola, PhD, DSc, ProfTit, Bożena Szaynok, PhD, DSc, editor Marian Turski, Wieslaw Władyka, PhD, DSc, ProfTit, Marcin Zaremba, PhD, DSc.
The winners will be announced on May 16, 2023 in Warsaw.
The book can be bought in the stationary store of the Sybir Memorial Museum or the online one. — CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BOOK