To almost everyone in the world Siberia's name once conjured a picture in black and white -- a landscape of deep snow over which a band of dark figures, exiles, moved toward the infinity of low-hanging skies. Siberia and cold, exiles and vastness were interchangeable terms. Siberia, like Tibet or the Sahara, could be described by all-inclusive words: steppes, mountains, desert.
Travel into Siberia attracted few outsiders and was not encouraged. The few who did venture there displayed interest only in the climate, exiles, vastness. That was all we, a group of prisoners of war from Austria-Hungary, knew about Siberia when we first entered it in the summer of 1916. The very thought of Siberia . . .
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