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The Impossible Escape - Proposed Feature Film about Polish GULAG survivor

Fridge 1 | -  
28 Nov 2007 /  #1

I am a Producer/Director in the United Kingdom who has been developing a film for 2 years about a Polish man's experiences in 1939. His story is incredible and one that we believe needs a large audience.

The synopsis of the film can be found below. We still have a long way to go to get the film off the ground, with much specific research still to do. Particularly around his arrest by the NKVD (KGB) and resultant incarceration in the Soviet GULAG in Kolyma. Like many, Jan was held in deplorable conditions, but made an escape and arrived in Alaska months later. Finally, re-enlisting with the Polish Free Army in New York, before being dispatched to North Africa and eventually fighting with the Allies at Monte Cassino in Italy. Settling in the United Kingdom in 1946, where he still resides today.

Certain aspects of the story still need clarifying, such as :

1. NKVD operations in and around Lida/Baravoniche/Novojenia (now Belarus) between 1939-1940
2. NKVD prison in Baravoniche
3. Current state of the narrow-guage railway near Novojenia
4. Other members of the escape party who made it (2-3 other Poles out the 7 in the group)
5. Information about Sergey Garenin (NKVD Magadan, Kolyma)

A pitching trailer showing the style of the film proposed is available at :
web: (with Polish subtitles)

All information received would be welcome.


David Jinks
Fridge Productions
United Kingdom.

email : enquiries _at_
web :
Myspace :

The Impossible Escape (Working Title)


With everything to live for, a young man will stare death in the face.
Experiencing brutality, cannibalism and almost certain death in the Arctic wasteland of Siberia. This is a true story of courage, sacrifice and endurance.


Jan, is an 18 year old engineer working in the railway yards. Betrayed by an old School friend he is sentenced to death for de-railing goods trains laden with food destined for the Soviet war effort. It is 1939 and Poland has been annexed by the Nazis and Russians.

Standing in front of the firing squad, facing certain death, he is given a last minute reprieve. A shortage of engineers results in him being transported by rail and sea with 1000’s of other prisoners to support the work in the labour camps deep within Siberia. Living a squalid existence in snow-covered, tents housing over a 100 men they work more than 12 hours a day. Every day prisoners die around him. For 8 months Jan is moved from camp to camp, repairing the diesel engines used to excavate and mine gold.

Whilst working in the most easterly camp he is involved in overthrowing the guards. Masterminded by an elderly Russian General to the deposed Tsar, himself imprisoned since the 1917 revolution. 84 prisoners make their escape, but the cold and dark Arctic winter is quickly descending upon them.

They walk constantly. Day and night with only the stars to guide their path. Taking it turns to pull their resting comrades on makeshift sleds made from the skins of bears that that they have been killing for food. As the Winter takes its icy grip their numbers dwindle through starvation, exposure and suicide.

Within 2 weeks half are dead. Surviving over 1,000 miles, cannibalism, the Arctic winter and now pulling the now dying General on a sled the remaining escapees make it over the mountain range which separates them from the frozen Bering Straits and their only passage of escape.

Encountering a ravenous polar bear foraging on the sea-ice. It
indiscriminately and savagely attacks, brutally killing a further 6 men until they
overcome it using only knives.

Only 58 miles separate them from Alaska and freedom. But the crossing is
tortuous. Food is no longer available and they are totally exposed on the ice
and are soon engulfed by freezing blizzards. Exhausted, one-by-one they
collapse and lose consciousness. Seemingly lifeless, malnourished and
wrapped in bear skins they are discovered by an Inuit hunter. Only 7 of the
original 84 men remain.
hello 22 | 891  
28 Nov 2007 /  #2
I think in Polish it's called NKWD, not NKVD. The movie should be interesting.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,161  
28 Nov 2007 /  #3
Is that a real story ? Once I read about a Polish guy, who escaped from Siberia walking thousands of miles.
JWB 1 | 12  
28 Nov 2007 /  #4
You are probably thinking of 'The Long Walk' by Slavomir Rawicz, that would be a good film as would the stories of pretty much everyone who was deported and survived.

David, I will PM you some info tomorrow. I don't know if it will be of any use but may help you.
isthatu 3 | 1,164  
30 Nov 2007 /  #5
You are probably thinking of 'The Long Walk' by Slavomir Rawicz

It would be if it hadnt been proved to be complete and utter fiction.
celinski 31 | 1,258  
30 Nov 2007 /  #6
utter fiction

By whom? Carol

The remarkable tale of cavalry officer Rawicz and six fellow prisoners, who escaped from a Siberian gulag and trekked across the taiga to freedom. It's an astonishing tale of strength and determination. These men, already in poor condition in Yakutsk, manage to sustain themselves on foot over 4,000 miles of barren land and mountains.

When we look at this and remember what happened when amnesty was granted, the people were half dead and now they were out. Many who could not afford a train are still there today. Others who paid for a ticket out were abandoned along the way.

Going from Kresy took 3-4 weeks with very few stops and a train to get to Siberia. Going out our families had many casualties. Some found farms along the way to work for food.

Even if you were lucky enough to make it to Teheran look at the cemetery's there because they were so depleted and disease was epidemic because of the conditions. Look at the children that were orphaned after amnesty, this continued well into the fifty's and possibly 60's. I read story after story of families having to leave deceased members in unmarked graves on the road out of Siberia. Many of them were woman and small children alone as the husbands and older children went to regroup the Home Army on Russian soil.

On the link below are some that lived to tell. An epic story of human endurance is being challenged. Did wartime prisoners really walk from Siberia to India? What choice were they given? Carol

Once I read about a Polish guy, who escaped from Siberia walking thousands of miles
isthatu 3 | 1,164  
6 Dec 2007 /  #7
Quoting: isthatu
utter fiction

By whom? Carol

well,where do we start, The fact he sees a Yeti,the fact that no record of his companions exist in any country,the fact he claims to have spent time in a british hospital in india yet there are no records of him and no one remembers him (think about it,your a bored DR in india,a Pole walks in,tells you his amazing story and you completly forgetabout him?), the fact that his prison records have turned up in belruss and moscow cleary showing he was transported straight from russia to Iran with the rest of anders army..........Å?awomir_Rawicz

and many many other sources to discredit him as a complete Walter Mitty.

see also ;

An epic story of human endurance is being challenged. Did wartime prisoners really walk from Siberia to India?

In 1956, a Polish man living in the English midlands published an extraordinary book that became one of the classic tales of escape and endurance.
30 Jun 2009 /  #8
There are such true stories. I published the English translation of a book titled "Escape: A True Story", by a relative - Valery Yankovsky(Jankowski), who was taken from Korea in 1946 and imprisoned in Siberia. He escaped once, but was recaptured because he was trying to help some others escape. He saw his first-born son for the first time,when his son was 40 years old.

I have the story on a blog:

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