On 1st September 1939, Poland was invaded from the west, north and south by the Nazis. Three weeks later the Soviet Red Army moved in and occupied the remainder of the country. Twenty three year old Kazimierz Szmauz was picked up and taken into custody by Red Army border guards whilst trying to cross between the Soviet and Nazi occupied zones of Poland. After months of interrogation by the NKVD, the Soviet secret police, in Brest-Litovsk and Homel jails he was convicted by a court he had never seen, of trying to leave the Soviet Union illegally and was sentenced to eight years in a labor camp. In the following 18 months he found himself thrown into a living hell of backbreaking work norms, dominated by the stark realization that the amount of food allocated was dependent on work output. No work literally meant no food. The sick were considered unproductive so were put on a starvation diet and left to die. Amazingly Kazimierz Szmauz did survive and was perhaps considered one of the more fortunate of those that fell into the clutches of the notorious Gulag system. It is an almost unbelievable tale of survival and a compulsive read.