Describe the village of Zakyana in The Silver Sword.

Quick answer:

The prison camp Zakyna consists of a collection of drafty, uninsulated wooden huts on a hillside surrounded by a double-wire fence. These huts are packed with prisoners and covered in snow five months out of the year.

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In Ian Serrillier's The Silver Sword, Zakyna is the Nazi prison camp in South Poland where Joseph Balicki is taken when he insults Adolf Hitler by turning his picture to the wall. The narrator describes Zakyna as consisting of a "few wooden huts" that cling "to the edge of the bleak hillside." The wind beats down upon these little shelters, and snow smothers them for "five months of the year." There is a "twelve-foot double fence of wire" around the little gathering of huts, which are not at all insulated against the cold weather. In fact, they have cracks in their walls. In each block, there is an unheated hut called "the cooler" where troublesome prisoners are placed.

Zakyna is a crowded place where prisoners from many nations are gathered. The prisoners read and play games to pass the time, but they also tend to quarrel and fight, as people who are packed into small spaces will do. They eat potato and cabbage soup for every meal and drink "warm water with bread crumbs in it" (which the Nazis call coffee). They receive a little bit of butter twice a week and a teaspoon of jam on Saturdays. This food is barely enough to keep anyone alive, and many of the prisoners become ill and lose their spirit quickly.

Joseph, however, is determined to escape from Zakyna, and the thought of this, as well as the memories of his family, keeps him going through illness, suffering, and solitary confinement. Eventually, Joseph does manage to escape Zakyna, and he hurries to Warsaw, only to find that his wife has been taken by the Nazis and that his children are nowhere to be found.

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