Additional Food for the Amount of Labor

The most important job of the provision manager was the calculation of the increase of food. Depending on the varieties of labor in the gulag the amount of work required for it was quite different. As a result, the food allocation began to reflect that. For example, the labor of carrying logs was extremely difficult. They had to go out in the snow early in the morning and pull the heavy sleigh instead of using horses. Sometimes they came back very late at night. It was not fair for people who didn’t go to work and stayed in the room all day to receive the same amount of food as the log carriers. That is why the increase of food allocation became necessary.

The thing was how much increase was necessary. The possibility also made other labor areas such as food carriers, wood choppers, farmers, and the ones who work in the laundry and banya (public bath) give demands for the increase of food.

However, I had to think about what to do without any increase of what was provided by Soviets. I had to come up with a method by reconsidering how to reallocate the food to each person. It was extremely difficult because everyone was already at the verge of losing their health with the small amount they were receiving. Taking any amount from their need was not easy to do.

Regardless of such a situation, those who had to go out to work in the severe condition kept sending the leaders of their groups to me in order to secure what they wanted.

I was under extreme pressure. In the kitchen, cooks were waiting for my direction. They wanted to make sure to keep the kasha (rice gruel) warm. In the meantime, workers who came back from outside wanted to eat as soon as possible. They waited outside in the cold until the decision to increase their food was made however. Their leader yelled at me, but I could not yield that easily. Such heated negotiation lasted sometimes for an hour or more. During that time, the cooks in the kitchen urged me to tell them what to do.

Sometimes, I ended up giving a slight increase, but still, the leaders did not accept the increased amount. Then we had to keep staring at each other. It was really something that such incidents seemed to happen more frequently especially when the weather was bad. I was in a truly difficult position because one new decision would affect another and it would become a precedent. I had to stay strong in order not to give in too easily.

What a miserable condition we were in! There was no trace of being officers of the Japanese Imperial army. The cookware for the rice gruel was made of tinplate. We used the wooden spoons we made by ourselves to eat the rice gruel in a extreme hurry. (Thank goodness it was still warm!) When we went back to the cold beds, we lamented on our misfortune of becoming captives. Or sometimes, there was no such feelings left, and the only thing we did was to fall asleep like pigs.