Help locate this Gulag-camp or village listed in post-war record #holocaust #russia

Moses Jefferson

Greetings all,

I’ve come across a post-war record (attached) for a great-uncle of mine, who was exiled with his entire family (including my grandparents) to Stalin’s labour camps, know also as GULAG.

The record states (if I interpreted it correctly) that they were interned at Bawao - Siberia, Russia, however I cannot seem to locate this town/village, or any mention of such a place. I hope I didn’t get the spelling wrong! Or perhaps the place got a name change?

This bit of information is vital to me, since my grandparents never mention where they were kept during the war (other than talking about the fact that they worked hard in a village in Siberia).

I would really appreciate any help.

Best, Moses Jefferson
London, England 

Barbara Hemmendinger

Could it possibly have been Baikal, north of Mongolia, in Irkutsk Oblast?

Barbara Hemmendinger

Dr. Ruth Leiserowitz

I think that the author of the questionnaire did not know how to write the Cyrillic name of the place with Latin letters. He writes once (above) "Banao" and then (below) "Barnao". In my opinion, it is Barnaul in West Siberia.  A lot of civilian internees were concentrated in this region during the Second World War. But they were mostly internees. They were not in penal camps of the Gulag. But it was nevertheless a difficult situation for Jews, as a report by the Jewish telegraphic agency testifies: 

Moses Jefferson

I think Dr. Leiserowitzs’ suggestion is most accurate. In a memo written by my great grandfathers sister (written after the war), she writes that at first they (her parents and siblings) were taken to a forest where they were forced  cutting down large trees and preparing wood. In the end of 1941 they were set free [?] and went to the nearby town Byisk

Once in Byisk her brothers found work in Barnao which makes very much sense to actually be Barnaul as suggested, which is around a days trek from Byisk (160 km).

What troubles me most is obviously the lack of personal records that the Russians might still have. Sadly the Russian still boast about “thank us for saving the Poles from the Nazis”.

Moses Jefferson

Michael Turnbull <corbie41@...>

It would be very helpful for you if you filled in the online Enquiry Form for the International Tracing Service:
It is a Free service.

Michael Turnbull



regarding Bawao "Gulag-camp". I have no intention to dispute your family history but would like to clarify the following. Some Jews from Western Ukraine voluntarily left their birth towns for Russia proper after 1939 events, some to return back after the war to finally leave the area for good. They did it for many reasons, some to get an education, better job prospects in cities, etc. Jacob Biber from Wolyn town of Maciejow, who survived the war hiding with his wife with the help of some friendly locals, writes about it in his book "Survivors". 

I read the information in this document as your great-uncle was working for Town <authorities> as a worker (sic) from 1940 til September 1945 in Siberian city of Barnaul with compensation of 150 rubles a month. This particular document, most likely written from his words, has no indication that he was in Gulag camps. It's interesting that he was an elementary school pupil in 1937-1939. Was he too young in 1940 to be placed in a penal system? The next line stating that in September of 1945 he was already in Berlin, Germany collaborates the idea that he (his family) wasn't interned. I highly recommend the above mentioned book to better understand how a civilian family/person could possibly leave USSR  at the time your great-uncle did. The book also mentions that the most local Jewish survivors were among those who moved to Russia in 1939-1940.

Best regards,
Olga Slavin (Barsht)