Moldovans who managed to survive deportation from Soviet times are still haunted by memories. Today marks 77 years since the first mass deportation. In 1941, thousands of people from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were forcefully boarded in carriages and sent to Siberia and Kazakhstan. Most were accused of being wealthy, or working with Romania.
"In early morning they came with carriages. We were all boarded and I was the youngest. We were three brothers and three sisters" victim Ştefan Sprânceanu said.
Ştefan Sprânceanu was only 9-year-old when he was deported with his family to Kazakhstan. There, they were forced to work in a stone quarry. Two of his brothers having passed away in the mine.
"I cannot say everything that happened there. I remember a week when I could not see a thing" victim Ştefan Sprânceanu said.
Vasile Busuioc is also haunted by the night his family was awakened and boarded on a train to Siberia.
"A car came into our yard, they destroyed the fence. Then we were told that we are going to Siberia. We are being deported" victim Vasile Busuioc said.
The man was only 14-year-old at the time and was forced to hard labor to survive.
"I had to think of feeding my two younger brothers, one of whom passed way by now, and my little sister. I was working for masters that would give us some milk" victim Vasile Busuioc said.
Despite being only 7-year-old, Ion Ciorescu has also lived through those horrors.
"The road lasted three weeks. We were 60 people crammed in a wagon. With my parents and siblings. Upon arrival we were told that this is the place where we will spend the rest of our lives in" victim Ion Ciorescu said.
Out of the Moldovans that managed to return home, at the moment, only around 8 000 are still alive.
"The biggest problem was that we were forbidden from going back to our childhood homes, to the villages and cities we were deported from. We were told to go anywhere but there" head of The Association of Former Deportees and Political Prisoners, Valentina Sturza said.
In 1941, over 33 000 people from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were taken to Siberia and Kazakhstan. Other mass deportation followed in July 1949 and April 1951.