Aakhmad-magomadovkhmad Magomadov was born in 1931 in the village of Proletarskoye. He was living in the the lower Terek mountain ridge when he was deported to the Pavlodar region of Northern Kazakhstan.

“At the time the deportations began, I was with my maternal grandfather on the Terek mountain ridge. We would often drive our flock there to graze. Winters are usually warmer there than in the (southern) mountains and we could shepherd the flock until spring.

“The military emerged on the ridge unexpectedly. Initially they ordered us to drive our flock to Zakan-Yurt immediately. And from there, having taken more than 300 sheep away from us, they took my grandfather and myself out to the Achkhoy-Martan railway station. There we were held for three weeks in military custody. We were fed once a day; they would only give us a piece of bread and some skilly []. At the time we didn’t understand why we were held under arrest there. Finally, in late March they transported us to Samashki, and from there they loaded us into the wagons and sent us into uncertainty. I thought of many things during that eighteen-day journey.

“Initially, the locals would not approach us at all and would look at us as if we were wild savages. As they told us later on, long before our arrival they had been told that approaching us was not safe, both from personal safety and the point of law. Later, when we eventually started socializing and became closer to each other, they told us themselves that the authorities had told them that we were cannibals, murderers, killers, cut-throats, bandits and thugs. In the spring my grandfather died of an illness. At thirteen I became an orphan among total strangers. I spent the hard springs and summers working on the collective farm fields doing any job available just to survive. In the winter the farm chairman took me and some other orphaned boys to the city of Pavlodar and placed us in a children’s orphanage. Several times we were relocated from one orphanage to another and finally they took us out to a very remote children’s camp. Living there was unbearable and along with my friend Quddus, another boy who was originally from Achkhoy-Martan, we made up our minds to run away back to Pavlodar. We would walk long treks during the day and sleep in the open snow during the night. In the end we were caught and sent to a correction institution, from which we ran away again.

“I decided to find my parents whatever it cost me. I never saw Quddus after our last escape. I came back to the farm and started an apprenticeship in a workshop. I worked as a mechanic. After that I moved to Karaganda and started working in a mine, where I worked for fourteen years. I found out my parents’ fate only in 1953. By that time my father had been deceased for a long time. I returned to Chechnya in 1968.”