Mady Bakhmadov was born in 1931 in the village of Aki-Yurt, Ingushetia. He was deported to Kolkhadoy village in Kazakhistan.
“I remember, clearly, the army arriving in our village a week before the deportations. There were many of them. We were told they were going to catch the abreks [rebels] in the surrounding mountains. A few days before the deportations began, the military forbade the locals from entering or leaving the village; travel was only permitted with special passes.
“I will never forget the cold morning of February 23, 1944. The dogs’ whining had never been so sad, the hungry cattle were wailing helplessly for their feed, and the crying of the women and children completed the heartrending scenes. It was a true apocalypse.
“The army gave us half an hour to pack. They told us we would have to walk to get to the raycentre [region’s administrative centre], and that it would be no longer and no shorter than twelve kilometers (about eight miles).
“Walking through the freezing snow at gunpoint, I had to carry a very heavy sack of food and, for all twelve kilometers, my mother was carrying two younger children in her arms.
“On the second day we were loaded into cattle-wagons, and in those “prisons on wheels” we started our long journey.
“I remember people being indignant at what was going on, saying that Stalin didn’t know the truth and he would never let this disgrace happen. Today, recalling those days, I realise how naive we were…”