In 1941, accidentally rolling a Soviet tank while fording a river was considered a capital offence by the Red Army. Unfortunately for young Janusz Bardach, he committed just such an error; luckily for him an old acquaintance from his hometown in Poland had enough rank and influence to commute the court-martial penalty from death to 10 years hard labour in Siberia. For the next four years, Bardach endured hellish conditions in various labour camps--first a logging camp, then a gold mine in the frozen north. Frigid temperatures, inadequate food and clothing combined with physical and spiritual malaise to bring prisoners first to the edge of despair and then to the brink of suicide. Bardach survived by turning his mind off, by refusing to remember happier times or to anticipate the future. He became, simply, a beast of burden, shuffling through the hours of his slavery until he could fall into the brief oblivion of sleep.
Ironically, it was a near brush with death that proved to be Bardach's salvation. After surviving an explosion, he was sent to a prison hospital where he managed to talk his way into a job as a medical assistant. There he gained both a new lease on life and a future profession. Released from his sentence early, in 1945, Bardach went on to become a surgeon. His memoir, Man Is Wolf to Man, is more than just an account of his sufferings in a Russian labour camp; it is also a meditation on the will to survive in the face of hopelessness, the occasional kindnesses of strangers in unexpected places, and above all, the struggle to remain human under the most inhumane conditions.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Janusz Bardach was a world-renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He died in 2002.