Ivan's family (Germans from Ingermanland) lived in the settlement of NOVOSARATOVSK, district of PARGOLOVSK (today VSEVOLOSHSK), in the LENINGRAD region.
The colony was situated on the right bank of the River Newa and was part of the town. Opposite, on the left bank, there used to be, in the twenties, the settlement of Rybatskiy, at the very place, where the Rybatskiy prospect stretches today.
The father was working in the bookkeeping department of the "Red Ploughman" kolkhoz (collective farm). They arrested him end of 1932 (according to the information given by the archives this happened on 7.3.33) and took him to KRESTY. Upon the decision of the Troyka PP of the GPU of the Leningrad MD (= individual three-member board, which was empowered to levy all sentences up to and including death by shooting, the plenipotentiary represen-tation of the United Main Political Administration of the Leningrad military district), of 13.4.33, he was sentenced to a 5 years' imprisonment on §§58-7, 10 and 11.
In early April 1933, Margarita was asked to come for a reunion, but when she arrived it became apparent that Ivan had already been sent away with the prisoner transport. The prisoners had been loaded on a train at OBUCHOVSKAYA-TOVARNAYA station, where they remained for another few days.
The family succeeded in discovering Ivan in the crowd and they were able to see each other again.
The mother's brother, Andrey Andreyevich BITSCH (born around 1890), was a member of the VKP/b (All-Russian Communist Party of the bolsheviks) and in charge of the mechanical equipment and tractors in NOVOSARATOVSK. Before that he had worked at the Putilov factory; he "came into this district" along with 25.000 others (they sent 25.000 workers into the country, where they were supposed to break down the petit-bourgois ideology of the farmers and reeducate them into proletarians). He was also a member of the district "Troyka", and once he told his sister about instructions from the top: that a number of enemies were to be arrested. Having received these instructions, the members of the Troyka adjourned for deliberation and made a selection of the "candidates to be nominated".
Approximately in 1934 he was arrested himself. At the same time they also seized Peter STROH (born around 1886), head of the "Red Ploughman" kolkhoz. He was sentenced to 3 years on §58.
Somewhere about April 1935 the GRAULE family was deported as a consequence of the "Kirov Affair" (= big purge that started after the murdering of Kirov, member of the polit-buro, in 1934). Four days before the deportation they picked up Margarita and Alexander from home and took them to the remand prison in KOLPINO. Although they were released after two days, a cart once again stopped in front of their house another two days later, they were loaded and, accompanied by guards, taken away to the goods loading section at the Moscow main station. They released the brother from the remand prison, took him to the station as well, and then the whole family was put into a twin-drive cattle wagon with two-storyed, continuous plank beds. For the entire duration of the trip they were not allowed to get off the train. They received their meals at the railway stations. The guards rode on the brake platforms. Apart from Germany there were Finns and Russians among the prisoners.
The deported persons were unloaded in the district of PAKHTAARALSK, YUZHNO-KAZAKHSTANSK region (today CHIMKENSK) and taken to the settlement of SLAVYANKA, where the so-called OCTOBER section of the "PAKHTAARAL" sovkhoz (= state-owned farm) was situated. Among them the families of A. BITSCH, the wife, Margarita BITSCH (born around 1890), the daughter, Anna BITSCH (born around 1924), and Peter STROH, wife, daughter and son - Peter STROH (born around 1912), who had also been removed to this place.
The population of SLAVYANKA exclusively comprised exiles: from the Volga region, Ukraine, the LENINGRAD region (including many Estonians and Finns). In 1935 they brought Chechens and in 1936 several hundred Koreans.
The teachers, who gave lessons at the school of the settlement, were also exiles. Mathematics were taught by the lecturer of the institute in Voroshilovsk-Ussuriysk, the Korean Vassiliy Petrovich NI, chemistry and biology by Yevgeniya Mikhailovna KARPOVA, graduate from the Sorbonne (= Paris university). Her husband, director of the KARPOV breeding farm, was arrested during the war. The exiled SMIRNOV taught chemistry, too. Geography was taught by a candidate for geographic sciences, who had gone to sea on an oceanographic research ship before he was exiled. Headmaster of the school was the brother of the People's Commissioner for Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Fyodor Matveyevich BALITZKI (born around 1890).
In 1936 (almost at the same time), I. GRAULE, P. STROH and A. BITSCH returned to their families, coming back from the camps. On the occasion of their release they had received passports, which, however, were immediately taken away from them by the special commander's office in PAKHTAARAL. Even though A. BITSCH, too, remained without a passport, he set off for the LENINGRAD region right away.
In 1937 he was arrested in Mala Vishera (today's NOVGOROD region).
Ivan (who was released on 5.02.36) reported that he had been imprisoned in the BAMLag (= camp for the construction of the Baikal-Amur railroad), in SVOBODNIY. The camp sections were called "phalanxes" (= designation for the lowest camp level?) and consisted of 25-5000 prisoners, who were building the second track of the Transsib. The entire construction work was lead by well-known
engineers - all prisoners. One day JAGODA (= the boss of the GUITL/GULag of the OGPU = of the Main Administration of the Reform Labour Camps) came to SVOBODNIY, called together all leaders and declared on the occasion of this meeting: "Nobody can do this kind of work, except prisoners".
The sovkhoz of "PAKHTAARAL" had been organized on an empty field and was exclusively designated for the work of deported people. At that time ORLOV was the director of the sovkhoz. He appointed Ivan as bookkeeper in the central office.
In 1937 and 1938 there were only few arrests in the Sovkhoz, at least as far as SLAVYANKA is concerned. From among the school-teachers they only arrested a Kazakh, who was teaching the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (but he obviously was no exile). In 1937 they arrested the chief economist of the sovkhoz, KERBEL (born around 1885), who had been a cadre officer in the czarist's army.
Then, on 18.07.41, they arrested I. GRAULE (the father), and on 10.10.41 the KAZAKHSTAN regional court in YUZHNO sentenced him to 10 years and the political and individual civil defranchisement for a period of 5 years on §§58-10, 11. After the trial he was taken into the KARLag (= large camp in Kazakhstan for agriculture and extraction of coal and non-ferrous metals). He died from dysentery in the "Central Camp Hospital" in DOLINKA on 22.07.42.
Yet before his father was arrested, the commanding office allowed Ivan GRAULE (the son) to go to Sverdlovsk for studies, but in October 1940 he was called up into the Red Army, by reason of age. He served under Blagoveshenskiy in the 237th mobile rifle regiment, 69th division of the Red-Banner Far-East Army. During the night from 22 to 23 June 1941, the regiment was loaded on a train and taken to the front. They got off the train at BOLOGOYE railway station and continued their way to the South. Ten days later, on 10.04.41, the regiment became involved in their first fight, in the Yartsevskiy district, region of Smolensk (in the Yartsevo - Vyasma - Elnya region). At this time the division had already been renamed into 107th armoured division.
In September the regiment withdrew to the Rzhev district. There Ivan was wounded during a fight and had to stay in the field hospital. When they discharged him in October, they issued the order to detach all Germans "for the availability of the Moscow military district". When Ivan Ivanovich, accompanied by his regimental comrade BAUER (from Donbas, the Donetsk mining area) arrived in Moscow, they enlisted at the "transit point" on Internationalnaya No. 3 (a one-story building). There was a military canteen, where the registered were given something to eat, in accordance with the army norms, but there were no residential buildings. They had to spend the night at the station. On the following day they both walked through the city of Moscow and visited the Sokolniki Park, where they air defence battery was stationed. The flak soldiers provided them with food and enquired about the situation at the front.
About one week later, they were given a "letter" for Gorki (with destination to Gorki). (This procedure was based on a special "letter" system, the letter formulation of the "decision" (sentence) of an extra-judicial organ).
They went there on a passenger train, and in Gorki they found a school, where the unit they were supposed to join had its quarters. The group consisted of about 1000 men, they were all Germans. None of them understood, why they had been gathered there, without any cause whatever (they actually did not see any reason for such an action). Those troop members who were interested, went to work upon request of the municipal power organs. And at the transit points (= transit and distribution facilities) they were all given food in accordance with army standards.
End of November or beginning December 1941 several 100 Germans were transported f to Kamensk-Uralskiy, Sverdlovsk region, on a passenger train. There they were given accomodation in a vegetable silo, where it was very cold: the iron stove was unsuited to heat such a big room.They received food according to military standards and worked at the building site of the TEZ (Thermal Power and District Heating Station). This could be compared to a construction battalion: they maintained their company and their platoon and their commanders as well.
In the Kamensk-Uralskiy labor camps lived a total of more than 15000 people. Some of them did not work, because the number of vacancies had been limited. Apart from Germans and other "war construction workers" there were a few thousand Poles - a formed up part of the Polish army (the Anders army). Early in 1942 the Poles left for Middle Asia.
Life in these inadequate, cold quarters, under such severe wintery conditions, led to diseases, as well as a considerable death rate. In spring 1942, when the snow melted, the unburied corpses caused a typhoid epidemic. By reason of this, the construction works were brought to a standstill and all Germans were sent away in small groups (of 25-50 people) into settlements and villages.
Ivan and another 15 persons were taken to the Malinovka timber point for mechanical works, in the Beryozovskiy district (about 25 km from Sverdlovsk). They were given accomodation in a farmhouse and were kept there under quarantine for about two weeks. During this time they were ordered to remove all little stars (from their uniforms), and it was explained to them that they were now considered "persons dismissed from duty".
After the quarantine they took up work at the timber point for mechanical activities: Ivan as foreman in the building trade, others as tractorists in transporting timber, etc. There they were paid wages.
In autumn 1942 Ivan was sent from Malinovka to the Turinsk district to help with the harvesting. In November he was ordered back to Malinovka, where he was paid his wage and received a bread ration card. After that a militiaman appeared, called together all Germans and took them to BOGOLOVSK station, to the KARPINSK coal-mining area.
In KARPINSK they saw a real zone (where previously had been prisoners): barbed-wire fences, watchtowers, where sentinels with machine guns were standing, however, without sheepdogs. And they happened to get into this zone, too. All this was called "Trud Army" (labor army). There were Germans, some of them occupied the rank of a commanding officer. Their senior-officer was a lieutenant colonel (captain of the Medical Corps).
They had no other mens' zones in KARPINSK, but German women worked there, who were also placed under the surveillance of guards. Apparently, there was a "Trud Army" camp for women, as well.
Within the (safety-) zone stood barracks with three-story bed boards and wooden plank bunks. Ivan was appointed foreman on the building site. He went to work without guards, lived in a "shack for engineering and technical workers", in a room intended for 12 men. Later, in summer 1943, on the advice of an acquaintance, he asked for the possibility of being employed as foreman in the quarry, since miners used to receive a bigger food ration - and, in fact, he was moved there.
On 13.07.43, in the evening, the commander (second lieutenant) came to see Ivan in the camp barrack and showed him his warrant of arrest:"Pack your things"!
He took Ivan to KARPINSK, into the wooden building of the remand prison and locked him in a completely overcrowded cell with continuous two-story bed boards. The people who were imprisonned there had mainly been arrested for disorderly conduct.
Ivan spent about one month in this cell, without having any opportunity for a walk or a bath. 5 or 6 times, at night, they took him to an interrogation. It became apparent that he had been denounced of "slander against the Red Army" (he had told about how the soldiers were tormented by lice).
From KARPINSK he was sent to prison in KRASNOTURINSK. In a big cell, also equipped with continuous bed boards, they had jailed approximately 200 people; they had all been sentenced on §58. There was no possibility of taking a walk or a bath, either. However, they did not take him to any interrogations anymore, only once the prosecutor called for him. Ivan remained here for about four months, and early in winter they called him and another few men from his cell, in order to transport them to the IWDELLAG (a big camp complex situated in the Ural / Sverdlovsk area).
The convoy was done by train, they were unloaded at OSINOVAYA station (which is the third train stop from SAMA coming from the North). Ivan, as well as another 40 men from this convoy, were taken to the 4th camp point (= forced labour camp sub-sector) of the IWDELLAG's 2nd OLP (= separate forced labour camp sub-sector), 4 km away from the station. This camp point was not destined for workers, but served as quarantine ward and camp point for invalids, with mainly "goners" (= individuals who will be or are on their last legs). It was a big camp point, for men only, most of them sentenced on §58. Chief of this camp point was second lieutenant SURKOV, chief of the entire IWDELLAG, at that time, BORISOV.
Those, who had arrived with the convoy from KRASNOTURINSK, were organized in brigades (= groups of prisoners for joint work), and Ivan was appointed brigadier. His brigade was supposed to clear the taiga of brushwood. Upon norm fulfillment they received 750 gr of bread, as well as a warm bonus meal, dry biscuits or gruel. The camp doctor (a Jew, who had been sentenced on §58) expressed it this way: "In order to survive you have to move (= you have to keep on the go)!"
At the camp point Ivan was told his sentence: 10 years on §58,10 - in accordance with the decision of the "Special Board" of 5.01.44.
Once, early in summer 1944, during the inspection and posting of the subunits assigned to the guard, SURKOV had Ivan step aside and started to roar:
"You bastard! Why did you want to to clear off?" Ivan Ivanovitch did not understand what was going on. It then turned out that he had been denounced by someone from the brigade. So the chief sent him to the BUR (= disciplinary barracks). Approximately two weeks later the deputy chief of the camp point, SCHENKER (a Jew), called for him and asked: "What are you in jail for?" - "I don't know!" - "They didn't tell you?" - "No." - "You don't have to return to the disciplinary barracks." - "And what am I supposed to do?" Ivan wanted to know. - "Go and see the commanding officer, tell him that you intend to help him."
The commanding officer appointed him for the handling of repair and clearing works within the zone. And 2 or 3 months later, in August 1944, he was sent to the IWDEL,
to the 9th OLP (= separate forced labour camp sub-sector), for a monthly attendance at classes for norm setters.
During the courses Ivan met Germans from the Trud Army at POLUNOCHNAYA station (North of IWDEL), where a manganese ore mine was sited.
All subjects were taught by exiled Germans. After the lessons Ivan was taken back to the 2nd OLP, but this time to the 2nd camp point already - about 7 km from the railway track. He worked as a norm setter and lived in the "ATP barrack" (= barrack for administrative and technical personnel), in a room with 16 others. And just at this time they appointed that SURKOV (from the 4th camp point) as chief of the 2nd camp point.
In this zone there were about 800 prisoners. There were barracks for women, as well as for thieves. Within the zone they had a so-called "psycho-point" for mentally ill prisoners. It was lead by the Kremlin's chief psychiatrist VORONOV (born around 1890). In summer 1945 he died in his workroom, struck by lightning. Within the zone there was an ambulance section, too. They were forced from the camp points to fell trees.
The 2nd OLP consisted of 5 camp points. In these zones there were no radio sets, no newspaper, not even a cinema or any activities produced by amateur artists. Generally, there were no KVChs (= Culture and Education Units), either. Only the so-called "Agit brigade" (approximately 30 people) would come over from the IWDEL from time to time to give a concert.
On 9.05.45, during the inspection and posting of the subunits assigned to the guard, it was announced that the war was over. Otherwise probably nobody would have learned about it.
In autumn 1945 Ivan was released from escort and transferred as norm setter to the 1st camp point of the 2nd OLP. There were about 1000 prisoners (among them women, as well)., whose tasks were to load wood and construct dump cars (for the transportation of wood up to the railroad line).
Chief of the 2nd OLP was first lieutenant SHALAMOV. Ivan Yakovlevich SCHEFER (born around 1905), an exiled German from the Autonomous Republic of the Volga-Germans, member of the VKP/b (= All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik), worked as his deputy in the producing sector.
All bookkeepers at the 1st camp point were Germans, sentenced on §58, only one of the chief bookkeepers was not a prisoner. The medpoint (medical section) was also lead by a German doctor from the Volga region. One of the officers' wives was assistant medical director of the OLP, however, the OLP did not dispose of an infirmacy for in-patient treatment.
Ivan used to work in all camp points of the 2nd OLP and knew all norm setters. Towards the end of his work in the 2nd OLP he was the highest-ranking norm setter.
At the 3rd timber camp point Roman GUT (born around 1915), a German, school-teacher for mathematics, was working as norm setter. He had a 10 years' term on §58. He played the piano and the accordion very well, and when the officers started to remove many musical instruments from Germany, the prisoners pooled their money and bought him an accordion.
In 1948 Ivan was moved to the 14th OLP in the settlement of PONYALA, at the river LOSVA. The OLP comprised 4 camp points and was situated at a distance of 15 km from the railroad line. The timber was taken to the river by means of a narrow-gauge track, then rafted down the river.
Chief of the OLP was first lieutenant KOZYREV. In 1950 SHALAMOV, from the
2nd OLP, was moved here as chief. In 1953 he was moved to the 9th OLP, however, not as chief, but as deputy.
The 1st camp point, the central one, was situated 1 km from the river. There were more than 1000 inmates. They were forced to unload the timber from the (narrow-gauge track) dump cars and to raft it downstream.
The 2nd camp point was a women's zone. There were about 300 prisoners. They built and repaired narrow-gauge tracks.
Within the 3rd and 4th camp points there were about 1000 inmates. They cut down trees and loaded timber.
The 14th OLP did not dispose of an invalid camp point, and , exactly as in the 2nd OLP, there were no KVChs (= Culture and Education Units), either.
In 1950 they started reorganizing. Those sentenced on §58 were taken to different camps, however, the political prisoners were collected in one camp point. In case of the 14th OLP this happened to be the 4th camp point, and, in fact, none of the prisoners had been sentenced on other §§. Precisely at this time they segregated the women and took them to separate forced labour camp sub-sectors.
Ivan found himself registered for the 4th camp point, but continued to live in the 1st. Every month he was issued an official "assignment", so that he was in possession of a legal basis for his whereabouts in the 1st camp point. He did not use the canteen: he had obtained a certificate "dry ration" (= food items delivered, which the prisoners cooked themselves); it consisted of smoked fish, butter, sausages. The ration was handed out in the food depository, which was led by a German, a teacher from Tchelyabinsk. A norm setter called KOUBA, a political prisoner from Ukrainia, worked at the 4th camp point.
Occasionally, on request, Ivan went to the IWDEL, where he met inmates of other OLPs.
About 4 km from the IWDEL there was the 7th OLP for agriculture, mainly women. Among its prisoners were many Lithuanians. The German GRAULE (born around 1915), a distant relative of Ivan's, who had graduated from the geological faculty in Leningrad before the war, was an inmate of the 7th OLP, where he worked as a land surveyor.
The 8th OLP was situated about 5 km from the IWDEL, near the timber works. The 9th OLP, the central camp point, was located directly within the IWDEL. To the North of the IWDEL the Katorga camps (= camps with a strict regime and particularly hard labour) were sited. In these camps the prisoners had numbers on their knees and backs.
One of the inmates of the 9th OLP was the German LERNER, sentenced on §58. He was released early in 1953. He remained in the IWDEL and worked as a free employee in the OTZ (= Labour and Wages Section) of the camp administration.
In 1953 LYUTANOV was deputy of the IWDELLAG.
Upon a term reduction of approximately four months, Ivan was released on 7.03.53, however, they did not allow him to leave but sent him into exile to KRASNOYARSK (not as being a political prisoner, but because he was a German). On that particular day the inmates had not heard about the "Leader's" (Stalin's) death yet. Only on their way from the IWDEL to SVERDLOVSK the prisoners of the transport, when looking out of their Stolypin cars (= rail car for transportation of prisoners, introduced by Petr Arkadievich Stolypin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Internal Affairs from 1906-1911), noticed all the black flags that had been hoisted at the train stations. They started questioning the escort guards, who then told them what had happened.
Since Ivan travelled along with "released" prisoners, he spent approximately one week together with them in a big cell, on the 1st floor of the KRASNOYARSK prison. Soon after, the commanding officer arrived, selected 10-15 men and took them to the 1st brickyard.
In this brickyard Ivan worked till the end of his exile in 1956. In 1960 he received his rehabilitation. The USSR Supreme Court verified his "file" on 21.01.60.
I. GRAULE (the father) was rehabilitated by the Leningrad Regional Court posthumously in 1965 (for the first sentence) and by the Chimkentsk Regional Prosecutor in 1992 (for the second condemnation).