The 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade
(1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa)
Ship No 6 (Wave 1)
The Stalin (сталин)
Overview Of The Stalin
The Stalin was a lenin class tanker and was owned by Kasptanker.
It was one of the official ships (unofficial flotillas of fishing boats were also involved) organised by Stalin in 1942 at Krasnovodsk (Russian: Красноводск) (Modern day Türkmenbaşy) to transport Polish exiles (also mistakenly called "deportees") who had been held captive in Siberia/Kazakhstan labour camps over the Caspian Sea to Pahlevi (Pahlavi) now called Banzar-e Anzali which is in modern day Northwest Iran.
From passenger testimonies & any other available data this is a "best educated guess" of the ships movements.
- Embark: 30/03/42 | Time: Afternoon/Evening (Teresa Mikosz - Hintzke)
- Depart: 30/03/42 (Back calculated from arrival date and embark date) | Time: Late afternoon/evening (Teresa Mikosz - Hintzke)
- Arrive: 31/03/42 (Ross report) | Time: ?
Survivor accounts refer to "a storm" and by all accounts both were bad. I have sighted a survivor account (from a member of the Kresy-Siberia facebook group) where "The Stalin" is specifically mentioned, the dates line up with my calculations and the survivor mentions "a storm". Therefore, I feel quite confident in this ship being assigned as "The Stalin". The survivors account also states "Polish troops were transferred to another ship 3-31-42". This does rather confuse matters as it would now appear there was more than 1 ship to ship transfer due to storm damage.
Extract From "The Ross Report"
According to the Ross Report, here is who was on this ship;
- Account Of Danuta Maczka used on Ship 5 (Full testimony here ): "On the next vessel were families, among them Mother, Father and Tadeusz". (Editors Note: The Ross report does not list families but you can see 167 children listed as being part of the "army base unit". These were not, in my opinion, for the most part, the children of the soldiers, most unlikely. Rather, I believe them to have been part of the 11,000 civilians that General Anders helped evacuate from the USSR. I believe that in many cases soldiers would pretend that certain civilians were their wives and/or children in order to assist getting the civilians past the NKVD officials. One or two life stories have been published that mention this fact.)
- "Six Years Till Spring - Teresa Mikosz - Hintzke P202-204". (Link: Here) - 25 March 1942 departs from Guzar. Account continues "March 30 1942: After being shuttled from the train station to the port, where a large fishing boat was waiting for the evacuees...We were all subdued and silently praying that we might get on the boat that could take us to freedom; the boat; ironically was named "Stalin". Half a day passed before the embarkation started. (Editors Note: Author refers to it being a large fishing boat and further in her account to it "swaying" Two options here 1) a former "Chicherin" type boat since converted to "transport" as many were or 2) This boat (Lenin class tanker) was mistakenly called a "large fishing boat" however that does not address the issue of it "swaying". Perhaps she means "pitching around" around in rough seas? If it truly was "swaying" then there must have been another boat called "Stalin" that was a fishing vessel, even though coincidentally the main helper in the evacuation Kasptanker also happened to own a ship by that name. But maybe that was life under Stalin in the USSR where everything bore the leaders name!)"
- From Aleksandra (Jarmulska) Rymaszewska –"I have my diary and and the dates: "Ship: "Stalin" 29 march 1942 - leaving Krasnowodsk. Traveling 30 and 31 March. 1 April arriving in Pahlevi - I remember our euforia-Freedom !!! Meeting friends - burning old clothes receiving new ones – food - showers - sleeping in the tents on the beach then lorries taking us to Teheran on 2 April. Difficult journey with small children, arriving in Teheran on 4 April. (Editors Note; Timings/dates seem to be different here, as yet not established why this could be).