1940–46: the diary
The diary itself is a sewn, leather-bound volume measuring 120mm x 175mm. Within its covers and watermarked endpapers it includes 122 pages. Many pages have been removed by cutting close to the spine from parts of the book.
The content of the diary falls into three distinct sections.
- pp1–44: written record by Zygmunt Palka of the forced journey endured with his son, Jan Palka, from Rawa Ruska, Ukraine (formerly Poland) to a labour camp in a remote location north of Biysk, in the federal region of Altai Krai, Russia. This journey over a distance of 4960 kilometers took place between 29 June and 25 July 1940. Zygmunt made entries daily.
- pp47–89: content includes sketches by Jan Palka of life and people in the camp written in retrospect while in the army in Palestine, neat transcriptions of his father’s diary entries, poems, prayers, lists, scraps of news and English phrases to be memorised.
- pp90–121: numerous sketches and caricatures in pencil and ink by Jan Palka. In a variety of styles, these depict people and places he encountered during his journey after escaping captivity, and his service in British forces.