Poland glossary










Stara Lomnica


July 1997



Section 1
What’s your name?
Aniela Hrynowiecka.

When were you born?
In 1923.

Where were you born?
In Chodaczków Wielki.

Did you live in Chodaczków?

How many years?
Well, let me see. When did we come here? [thinks] Hold on a minute - ‘45 - ‘46? I think it will be 1945.

Where do you live now?
In Stara Lomnica.

How long have you lived here?
Well, it will have been some 40 years now.

Where did your parents come from?
They came from Chodaczków.

What did they do for a living?
They were in farming. They had a house, they had cows and everything, they sowed grain, planted things, sugar beets, and all that they had. Later, the war broke out and all that was gone. Yes. We were young at that time so what could we do? Later, when the war broke out, my mother got ill. There were four of us. One of my brothers died, and three of us were left. Mother died and we were left on our own. That was, it was… both the Germans and the Russians, the Germans came there, we ran away, they shot at us, we were running away, it was a war. They threw bombs, we hid in cellars, and once they threw a bomb directly onto that house. It was a brick-built house, we ran to a brick house, tin-roofed, so that it wouldn’t burn that much. And then we saved our own house. I went, because there was no water at ours, there was only a well, so I went to fetch some water from the neighbours. A Russian man came and asked me why I was moving about there. I said I wanted some water - we wanted to save our house, pour water on it. And he pointed his machine gun at me, so I put down the water and started backing up, and then I looked and he fell down. It was a friend of mine who killed him. I left the bucket with water and started running away. My father said, “Go and bring the water!” I said, “I won’t go there again!” I started crying. It was just awful, there was no way to live there. Nothing to eat, either.
Section 2
What were the relationships between you and your parents when you were a child?
We would go to a meadow - there was a meadow not far from home. We went there to graze the geese, all of us went, sat down, the geese were grazing, the cows as well, we sang, our parents sat next to their children, talked to us, listened to us. We said “God be praised” as a hello, unlike today, we kissed the hand of an aunt. There was an aunt of mine, she once came to visit us, she had this beautiful apron, she brought us those delicious sweets, she gave us those sweets. And we kissed the aunt’s hand for that and we went to play. We never stayed with the adults. The aunt was first to eat the sweets, only later we were given, it was unlike they do now - they sit together. Ours was to graze the geese, clean the house, we were obedient children as we were expected to be. If mother wouldn’t let us go somewhere, we wouldn’t go, if she let us go, we would. If she wouldn’t let us, we would stay at home, look after small children, graze the geese, fetch the cows from the meadow. On that meadow, we grazed cows, we had to fetch them back, we had to tie them, come home. Mother would give us supper, bread spread with butter, and we would sit in front of the house on the benches there. And so we would sit on those benches and eat the bread.
When mother gave us 2 groszy (small denomination of Polish currency) or something, we would go and buy some sweets or something. Other than that we wouldn’t go and buy things, only when mother told us to, only then we’d go and buy. We brought those sweets, they were such twisted ones. They’re no longer available, they were so delicious. And when we went to the May service (in church), we had to go to church every day, bare-foot, with shoes in our hands, through the meadows, to church. When we reached the church, we would put on those shoes and only then we would go into the church for the service. We had to go there every day. Do everything in the field, graze the geese and go to the May service. When we came back home, we would wash, eat and help mother put all the geese into the shed. It was unlike children now, they don’t do anything, they won’t listen to what the mother says.

So that was your normal day, wasn’t it?
Yes, yes.

Did you go to school?
Yes. I went to school, they sent me, but when my mother died and my brother was a small child, and so was my sister, they didn’t send me to school, because it wasn’t obligatory back then. I only learned to read and write, and that was considered enough education. So I stopped going to school, I was needed to look after children. My brother, Józiu, was 4 years old, my sister, Manka, was three. Someone had to look after them. I would take them out, put them into such baskets, make them sit up, give them a piece of bread [laughs]. They ate and had to sit in that basket. Not like they do today, in prams, who heard about prams back then! There was a cradle we used, and when they were a bit bigger, we put them into those baskets, and they played there, a piece of bread in hand, they would make a noise eating this bread, some crumb, not the soft part for fear they could suffocate (choke). I once gave my sister this soft bit, she almost choked, so I had to hit her on the back, and again, until she spat that piece of bread. And later, a neighbour of ours told me, “Give them only bread crumbs, they will bite them, they will take long to bite each bit, and they will eat it.” Yes, yes.
Later, the war broke out, there was a war, they chased us away. Once it was the Russians who came, another time it was the Germans. The Germans threw bombs so we had to run away. And then the Germans retreated, and the Russians came. And then the Germans again - I think it was four times in Chodaczków that they came and went. The Germans, then the Russians. Later, when the Russians pushed the Germans away, the Russians remained there and the Ukrainians said it was their land. And they said, “You will go behind the San river, where the dogs go.” When we were harvesting, they would attack us, tried to chase us away, but we wouldn’t go, where could you go? There was nowhere to go! We used sickles for harvesting, unlike they harvest today. We harvested every single crop with sickles. And later, they finally chased us away, so we spent two weeks on that railway station waiting for the carriages to be sent for us. And so we spent two weeks at the station, we cooked on hot stones, but what could you cook? Some tea, we had some four potatoes, and it had to last us for the two weeks. Then they gave us carriages and we came here. We didn’t know, some Germans were good, some were bad. For two weeks they didn’t give us food. But we had our own dry food, some hard biscuits, and we ate those biscuits, drank water.
In the next house, there were good Germans. They let us wash, change clothes. And we lived like that - it wasn’t easy at the beginning. We were living where Adamski now lives (one kilometre from the present home). And the Smolak family lived where we are now. Later, the Smolaks found themselves something better, by the forest, and their German host was looking for some Pole. My father spoke a bit of German and went to live with some other Germans. And we were a bit better off there. They gave us clothes, gave us food, let us wash. During the journey here, it was difficult too. They left us in Nysa, and for another two weeks we were sitting there waiting. Whenever they talk about the war there now (referring to Yugoslavia), I think about those poor people, how we suffered. And nobody cared about us, they gave us nothing. We had those biscuits of ours and we ate them. Now they help them, provide transport, give them food. Back then, there was nothing of that sort. They threw us out of the carriages in Nysa, the rain was falling really hard, and we took out those biscuits of ours, ate them, drank some water, until they gave us some carriages to sit in. And now, they go there, give them everything, they have something to cover themselves with, they bring them food, various things. We didn’t have any vitamins. Nobody cared if we had food, the children were to poor. But [lowers her voice] what lice we had! Now, if there were so many of us, no way of washing, nothing, what else would you expect? That’s what you get then.
Section 3
When the war broke out you were a young girl...
Yes. I didn’t get anything out of the life. When I became a girl, the war broke out.

Did you have friends back in Chodaczków?
Yes, there were boys who came to me, there were boys walking with girls. There was one girl, she had more, she had 5 morgas (unit of land: 1 morga = 5600 m2) of land. Back then they married land. And more boys came to her, cause she had 5 morgas. And I think, you know, back then they didn’t come into the room or anything, they spoke on the bridge. A boy would bring a girl from the May service, they would stand on the bridge and talk, and I thought, “When will I be such a lass [laughs] that boys will escort me home.” [laughs]
Section 4
Did you have a boyfriend in Chodaczków?
Oh, well, they started coming in. There was one, he always came, when mother was out, and I... you see, at ours we had to dye ovens every week. There was this lime and such clay, and you had to mix it, and you had to break some brick, grind it, so when I was doing it, he was at the window, knocking at me. [laughs] He watched me do it [laughs]. That was life. But, you know what, it was merry, it sure was merry. I would like, before I die, cause I’m already 77 years old, but I would like it to be just like in the old days. People respected one another, they visited each other, talked, they would sit, girls would sing so nicely, people would gather to tear feathers, they would spin, gather together, sing. Boys would catch some birds and let them inside the feathers. All the feathers, they were everywhere! You know, being naughty like that. They would let a bird inside and it would get into your bowl of feathers. Can you imagine that! But no-one would get angry or something. We would put the feather together, it was everywhere, on your face and all. And later, we would go round with the distaff (stick for spinning wool or flax). And when they were spinning that distaff, they would gather and sing those songs, beautiful songs, and boys, you know, like I sing (sings):
There is this road in Mazerówka
Maybe I will find a lass I like there
I would go to her
Never stop
Under her window [gets very emotional, almost crying]
He came to her window, knocked hard
Open, my dear, cause I will cry
My dear got up from bed
Opened the window
I gave her my hand
My dear got up from bed
Opened the window
I gave her my hand.

This is what they sang. They stood up and sang. Unlike today - only vodka and vodka. They gathered, sang. When we had finished, the boys came, made some coffee, there were cakes baked in the oven, the boys came, had some. Unlike today, one hates another, one is bad, that vodka, they just deceive themselves. It was beautiful! I would like to be there again. We lived near a stream, water was flowing by. We would bring some hemp, put it into the water, later we would throw it out, laughed. We made such beautiful linen out of it, and we spread the linen, sprinkled it with water. We put the linen on a washing contraption - two boards tied with wires, cause there were cows grazing nearby, so that the cows wouldn’t jump on it. And we washed, hit, hit, hit, hit. Two of us were needed to do that. We used flails to do it. We rinsed it with water, and spread it again. The linen was expected to be impeccably white. They sewed sacks from it, bedclothes, such beautifully white. There were weavers, they had those weaving machines and they made this linen. It was very nice, I liked it. When I sometimes think about it now, I feel like crying.
When I look at those young people of today, how backward they are. Life used to be so nice, they sang, went to May services, [there were] cockchafers, frogs. In the summer, there were lots of cockchafers flying about, they caught them into baskets as pasture [?] for hens. What fun that was, my God! And the distaff thing! They arranged that usually in December, after Christmas. My aunt would jingle, jingle, jingle, come in sledges, they would bring everyone - five, six sisters there were. They would come with bells, laugh, mother would cook ravioli, make coffee, cook cabbage - to feed everyone. Ravioli were made from cheese, cabbage and beans, later there was coffee, home-baked rolls. Mother baked them in the oven, there was such a huge one at ours, twelve loaves could be baked at one time. And so she baked. Later, after bread, she would bake rolls. You had to grind some potatoes, there was wheat flour, and you made such small rolls. Later, mother took a large clay bowl, ground some garlic and hemp oil. She put all that into that large bowl, mixed it, covered it, and that was how those small rolls were made. We ate everything: garlic, onions, everything. Unlike they say now, “Garlic smells!” Garlic is good for you.
Section 5
Did you help with any of the household chores?
Yes, I did. I had to. Later my mother got ill, but she had taught me everything before. I had to do everything, and I had learned all that from my mother. She showed me how to mix bread dough. There was such a basket, you took some dough, rolled it and put it into that basket. Later, you put such round pieces into the oven. It burned only wood. When there were sparks flying, it meant that it was ready for the bread to be put inside. And you put it, and it had to stay there for one and a half hours. You had to watch the time, there was a clock, you closed the oven, and took the bread out after one and a half hours. And after the bread baking, you would bake those rolls. You put them inside, put some more wood on the fire. They were delicious. All of it was. unlike today. There was everything. And cheese - you had such small roll, you put some cheese on it, simmered it a bit, put some salt into the cheese, and you put it into the rolls. Then there were such special rags on which you put them, and pressed by putting a stone on top of that. That cheese had to be sour a bit. You had your own cows so you had your own cheese. And butter - we made butter as well. And we put it into such small sacks. Everything was well preserved, it didn’t go mouldy as thing do now. Everything was home-made: various cereals, buckwheat porridge, corn groats, everything. We had a pantry, and everything was stored there. We had our own flour as well, and we made ravioli from it, rolls for holidays. And when mother baked so much for Christmas, you could see there was a lot, the children would take as much as they could and hide it under their pillows.

What are your recollections of Christmas?
It was nicer than it is now, we brought some straw in, brought some nuts, put the nuts on the straw. We played falling over in that straw looking for those nuts. And how beautiful houses were! We made such flowers on the pictures, put roses in the corners, various flowers. And the curtains! There was such white creased paper, and we cut various flowers, birds and things from that paper, and we put them on the curtains. And there was this green curtain over the door to the hall, and we put some grapes on it. Not real grapes, there was this thing we bought, soaked it in water, and it looked like grapes. Such a plaited thing, and a leaf. It was really beautiful! And the myrtle! Every Christmas it was all decorated like that, everyone tried to make the house look beautiful for Christmas. And then, it got green under the thatch, cause the houses didn’t have tin on the roofs or anything, they were thatched. We put there such small twigs and bigger branches near the door and such reeds - it all gave this wonderful fragrance. It was a hundred times more beautiful than now. When I think about it, I feel like crying. I would like to see all that again before I die. At least a week, a couple of days, to be able to see all that.
Such nice people, how good people were then. It’s not like today, people don’t like each other, they did back then. They helped each other out. When someone was building a house, they would help one another, they made such rolls. They mixed some clay, using horses, put some straw into it, and they made such rolls. Women would kneel down by the clay and make such rolls. I did it myself. Men made those houses from sticks. Sometimes they took them just one day to build a house. There were so many of them - horses, people. They came to help one another, unlike today. When they saw that someone was building a house, they came without being asked to. And when the house was built, they would help finish it. Next to us, there was this Szklarczyk family living, and they could play the accordion, so we invited them to play, we baked rolls, made coffee, there was no vodka. We would eat and then we would dance and sing, sing so beautifully, nobody can sing like that nowadays.
Section 6
How did you plan your future life?
Well, I planned to get married and stay in farming.

Did you plan to stay in Chodaczków or did you want to leave?
No, I didn’t want to leave. I liked it there. I wouldn’t go anywhere else. If they hadn’t chased us away, I would have never left the place. They chased us away unnecessarily, we were not needed here.

Do you remember the moment when you learnt there was a war going on?
Well, it was the men, they came and talked something about it. But nobody had a radio or something back then. And if there was someone who did have a radio, they would go to them and listen. Men said, “You know what, Józek, it’s getting worse and worse. Who knows, maybe the war will break out.” And then men were drafted to the army, so we knew what was coming.

What did you feel then?
We cried. My sister came and said that they were taking the brother-in-law. She cried, everybody did. She came to my mother, all in tears, “Mother, mother, they are taking my Wladek to the war.” Well, if there’s a war, there are tears.

In the area where you lived, were there any fights?
Oh, yes, there were.
Section 7
Can you tell me about it?
We were living next to the main road. And then my uncle, they lived in the centre of the village, so father gave us one cow, and my sister Manka, brother Józiu and myself, we went to live at the uncle’s. My father stayed at home. When the Germans started throwing bombs, we ran to the cellar at our neighbours’. The Germans came there, and the Russians were not far away, either. It was quite quiet where we were, but there, they threw such bombs. Terrible things! The Germans were holding machine guns in their hands and shouting, “Russ, Russ!” And we cried to them, “Polnisch, Polnisch!” In the street where my mother and grandmother lived, there was a woman whose name was Ruska, and there were Russians, so the Germans burnt everything from aeroplanes, from cars. So we decided to run away. But there were tanks approaching, the Russians lying about, hands outstretched.

How did it happen that you had to leave Chodaczków?
Well, it happened that the Russians, the Ukrainians chased us away. They assaulted us. They assaulted us at night, told us to go out, because the land was theirs. And we should leave. And so we had to leave everything and go away. They forced us to.

What was the journey like?

Can you describe it?
We went to the station. We spent two weeks there waiting for the carriages. Then we were travelling. We had a horse and a cow, others had feather quilts. We had prepared dry biscuits for the journey, some bread. In Nysa they threw us out of the train. So we spent another three weeks there. It was raining heavily, but no-one asked us if we had enough food or anything. After the weeks had passed, they put us into some other carriages. I went to milk the cow and no-one asked if I had finished milking. The train started and so I stayed with the cows, that’s how I travelled. And when we stopped again at a station, I could take the milk and run back to our carriage. Sometimes my hand hurt and I spilt the milk. Because I had to hold on so that I wouldn’t fall with one hand, hold the milk with the other, the hand finally started hurting and I spilt the milk. That was terrible.

What did you take with you for such a journey?
What did we take? And what did we have to take? There was a war on, we had very little. A lot had got burnt, we hid some stuff in the cellar, like our feather quilts. The Russian took all that away later. We arrived almost naked. What were we supposed to take along? A horse, a cow that we had, we brought them along with us. We had one quilt. We were poor people.

What did packing look like?
Well, we had some chickens, so we made such a coop for them. And other things we had. We had such linen sacks and we put all the stuff into them. You would fill such a sack, tie it with string. We didn’t know where we were going. Nobody knew. And so we all cried.

How did you feel about it?
We didn’t know where they were taking us, whether to Siberia or elsewhere. No-one knew. When we finally arrived, we found they were speaking German, so we knew.
Section 8
When did you learn about coming to Stara Lomnica?
Well, when they loaded us onto the train in Nysa, they said we would be going this way. They took some of us to Wroclaw, some to Prudnik, so we knew they would be taking us this way. In Nysa they told us that we would go to Bystrzyca. And we had such beautiful houses there, in Nowa Bystrzyca. The train stopped and they said we would be getting off there. There was such a hole in the ground, and behind it, there was a field. We started crying, cause back in Chodaczków the land was even. When we started crying, they reversed us to Gorzanów. And in Gorzanów they threw us out of the carriages because they said they needed them. And then we saw those Germans riding on cows. We couldn’t believe our own eyes. Cows are to be milked, not ridden. Apparently, they used those cows to work. We were all scared. Those mountain are so high around here, we thought they were such huge clouds, and that it would start raining soon. And then Klara said, “Come on, Anielka, it’s no rain, these are mountains.” They asked if we had such mountains in Chodaczków, but no, the area there was flat, not even a larger rock to be found, and those rocks here were so enormous. We couldn’t get used to it for quite some time, we cried.

When you arrived here, were you on your own or with your family?
With the whole family. All of us. We settled down, we took all the horses, cows, whatever whoever had. And then they said that the Germans were supposed to give the Poles a piece of butter and some milk every week.

What did the settling down look like? How did you get accommodation? Was it directed somehow?
There were people directing it, but, you know, there were people who had come earlier, from central Poland, and they had already taken most houses. They put white and red flags out. For example, we came here, we stopped, there was no-one around, so you had to settle down there. There was no choosing, people were coming in waves, one after another, you had to take what was available. That’s how we settled. Someone came along in a horse-drawn cart, they stopped here. They went to look if there was anyone around - there was no-one, so the German guy says, “Keine, keine.”

How did you feel when you finally got a house, when you started living in it?
Not so well, I didn’t like it. I always missed my home, I often cried. Somehow we had this hope of returning there one day.

You hoped you would come back?
Yes. We hoped we would come back. We hoped we would stay here for some time, and then we would be able to return. All of us hoped so, my father did and so did all of us… that we wouldn’t have to be here, not so many years.

What were the beginnings of normal life here like?
We had to leave those cows, chickens. They didn’t displace them from here, we were together for a year.

With the Germans?
With the Germans. We washed, they baked for us, we talked. Slowly, we tried to communicate with one another. There was one woman who spoke some of the language, so we could communicate. And then we - a whole year long.
Section 9
A whole year?
Yes. A whole year. We arrived here in autumn, then the winter. They helped us pick potatoes. They are very frugal, the Germans. There were, where we settled, there were four women and one old woman, the host’s mother. They were well organised - for one week two of them cooked, did the laundry. Another two were with the animals, milked the cows, made butter. And the host tended the pigs. And they cleaned the pigsty. Another week passed, and they changed. Those who were previously at home, went to tend the animals, and those two came to look after the household. They knew how to do everything: cooking, the laundry, tending animals. And so we learned from them everything.

You learned from the Germans?
Yes. Although we knew how to do all those things, but they were so well organised.

Was farming here more difficult for you at the beginning?
It has never been difficult for us. It maybe difficult for those who have never been in farming, but if you’ve been into farming, you know what it’s like. We learned to organise our work their way. For example, if you came from the stables, you would take off your apron in the stable, come to the house, wash yourself and sit down to breakfast which was already ready. Later, they sat, mended their clothes. They were frugal, they would put a patch on a patch. When we first arrived, we looked at them and we though, how poor they were, a patch on top of another patch. And when Sunday came, they came in their Sunday best clothes, hats, handbags and things, so elegant. Our folks don’t know how to be frugal, the way the Germans are. Oh, frugal they are. And we learned some of it from them. Darning socks - we never did that, if there was a hole, we would throw them away, and they darned theirs. That’s why they are so well-off, it’s because they are so frugal.

Were there any differences between how you ran your farms and how the Germans did?
There were a lot of differences, they had more machines. Back at home, we used mainly scythes. We would harvest with scythes, we used sickles, and here they had machines. Now it is even better, cause their machines would cut the grain and put it on the ground, and you had to go and tie it into sheaves. Still, it was better than the scythe! We knew how to, but there were differences. Back at home, we used mainly sickles, so if you cut 1.5 - 2 heaps it was good, a lot of work. We also used the scythe, so you had to tie the grain, and now it’s better, there are combine harvesters.

Do you remember any funny situation from the period you were living together with the Germans?
Once, this German woman asked me, “Anielka, how do you say in Polish ‘to sleep’? [laughs], you know, schlaffen?” So I said to her, “Spac.” And I said, “How do you say when a man and a woman kiss each other, cause in Polish it is calowac sie.” And she said, “Ah, Anielka, you mean ‘to make love’.” We laughed. And when a boy came to see me, they would say, “Are you Anielka?” And I would say, “Klara, look this is my boyfriend.” And she would say, “Anielka, he’s not schune! But look, what a fine one, gut.” And I said, “This Pole is for you, Klara.” “Nein, Anielka!”
Section 10
When did you meet you husband?
Ah, well, I don’t quite... I didn’t go to those dancing parties, I didn’t go anywhere. I preferred staying at home. On the farm. I liked to be with cows, chickens, ducks, I liked it. I didn’t like men that much. You had to go to the parties. My younger sister was once going to such a party, and she said to me, “Come on with me to the dance, there are so many boys there.” But I didn’t find it interesting. At that time we had a stepmother, she would shout at my father and say, “Yes, if you let them go wherever they want, you’ll see what good it will come to.” She wouldn’t let us go anywhere. So when my sister was going to a party, I would always let her in. My boyfriend returned from the army, he didn’t want to go back home. He stayed with the neighbours of ours. And they said, “What else are you going to look for? Let’s go there, we will find you a match.” I was milking a cow here when they came, they were standing and talking. And I was going on with milking. I finished, took off my apron, took the milk and went away, I wasn’t at all interested. They came to have a look, they did and they went. Later, Miecku came, my brother, and he said, “You know what, we’ve got a boy for you.” I said, “I don’t need a boy who needs to be brought to me like a bull to a cow.” He said, “You’re stupid.” I said, “What do you want? What kind of a boy is he that he cannot come by himself?” That’s what he was like. He said, “Don’t be stupid, he’s a nice boy, where else will you find such one?” And my stepmother said, “Yes, where else with you find such a boy?”
There was another boy, he came to my younger sister, they wanted to get married. But my father said he would first have to marry the older one, only then can the younger think about marriage. Then Mikola sent his hosts and he said, “What is it going to be? Will you or won’t you marry him?” So I ran away. My stepmother came up to me and said, “What are you ashamed of? He came to ask you to marry that man or not.” I said, “I’m not getting married and that’s all there is to it.” My father said, “Look, he’s a fine man, what else do you want? How long are you going to wait? Who are you going to wait for?” And so Miecku came and he shouted at me as well. I thought, “I’m not going to get married!”

What are your recollections of your wedding?
Well, I don’t remember much. You know, I was sort of disorientated, scared. I can’t really describe it. Yeah, I was scared what this would look like, how I would be. Then the music started. I danced with various people. I thought, maybe it would be better for me to be a maid. Cause it’s taking responsibilities, getting married is. You’ve got a husband, you’ve got to cook for him, do the laundry.

Did you regret having got married?
Yes, I regretted. I preferred being a maid.

You’re no longer free, you’ve got duties. You are like a servant, you have to cook, bake, iron. When you’re getting married, you’re taking such a load on your back, you’ve got duties. I wanted to have children - there were no children. I needed some treatment. Because if you’re getting married you have to have children. Bring them up, that’s what people get married for. I couldn’t get pregnant for quite a while, I went to see doctors. I liked children. It took us eight years for Stefan to be born. And that was it. No more, only one. What good is one child? It’s like nothing. He himself often says, “What is one child? I don’t have a sister or a brother!” What can I do? It’s not like something you can buy in a shop.
Section 11
How did you bring up your child?
I was happy, but he was of weak health. It was difficult, there were no medicines back then. He went down with pneumonia and we needed injections - penicillin. The doctor looked for it, some people got packages from their relatives in America or elsewhere. There was a nurse who had such relatives, she got those injections from them. It was a hard job bringing him up, he often got ill. Later, when he’d recovered from pneumonia, he had ulcers. And again, he spent a month in hospital. It’s extremely difficult when a child is ill. If an adult is, it is not so bad, but if it is a child, it’s really hard.

What plans did you have for your son?
I wanted him to go to school to get educated, I didn’t want him to do anyone any harm, I wanted him to friends with everyone. I taught him to support the church, give some money when there’s a collection. They say a single child is mean, and I taught him to share with everyone. It means a lot when parents bring up their children. He needed a lot of care, a lot of explaining. He will go out to the world but he will come back to what his mother taught him. You have to be patient with children, explain things to them. Now I wish there were more of them, but what can I do?

What are your recollections of the moment the Germans were leaving Poland?
We cried, all of us. And how their cattle cried after them. They gathered them next to the bar, kept them there for the night, and then took them to Miedzylesie, the Poles had to take them there. They went cried, kissed cows on the way, they left everything. We said, “Take whatever you want.” But you can’t take cattle, how could they? So they took what they wanted, quilts and things. We had a horse-drawn cart, so my father took them to Miedzylesie in it.

They say that some Germans hid their possessions somewhere around. Is that true?
Yes, we saw them prepare such huge packages. But we didn’t sneak on them, so we don’t know where they hid all that. We’ve never found it. They prepared such huge packages, they put dishes, cutlery there. But we don’t know where they hid them, where they dug them. They dug bicycles. We hoped we would come back home, and so did they. We to ours; them to theirs.

How did you feel when the Germans were leaving?
I cried for them. I had got used to them - it was a whole year together. But they visited us later. During martial law in Poland, they sent us packages. Well, they never had any harm from us. We were unlike those settlers from central Poland, they could have a grudge against them.
Section 12
What was your life like after the Germans had gone?
We had a horse, we ploughed the soil, we used the machines, we no longer used the scythe. And later we bought machines. We had this potato digger. When one farmer bought a machine, he would help others. Someone would come and cut the grain or dig the potatoes, we would help them gathering their crops or we would pay. In time, everyone got machines. Later, my grandfather bought himself a tractor.

What happened to your parents?
When I got married, my sister got married too, my stepmother got ill and died.

What happened to your natural mother?
My mother died much earlier, back in Chodaczków. We arrived here without her. And my brother, after the war, came across a mine. Big as a plate. They took spades, you know, boys, and they started to dig. One of them got massacred altogether, and my brother lost his legs and an arms, and got killed as well. When my stepmother died, my father re-married again.

What happened to your father?
Later my father re-married again. For the fourth time. That mother died again - she had a cancer. When he married for the fourth time, he was 90 years old. When he died, me and my husband, we were left on our own. We had a piece of land, then we had to give it up, cause my husband couldn’t work on it, he was crippled.

What happened to your husband that he became crippled?
Something wrong with his legs. He had been at war, later he was a railway track-walker, he got a cold in the legs, and he couldn’t walk any more.

What is your life like now?
It is sad somehow. I’m quite old now, my legs are not healthy either, I’ve got liver condition, pancreas problems.

If you had a chance to go back to Chodaczków, would you go?
I would go. Oh, I would.

Wouldn’t you be sorry to leave this area?
No! I would like to be there. Where my mother was buried, one brother, another brother. I’m still thinking about it. I was born there, I was brought up there. I always think about being there.