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"Nomadic" life


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Testimony of Wiktoria Adamus

[...]  There we were given permission to bathe in the bathroom, and we got clean sheets and beds in a large, general Hall. As far as I can remember, there was a group of about 20 of us Poles together with the children. Mrs. Czugalińska worked very hard in the factory; she would return, dragging her feet, tired, she would fall into bed, rather than lay down to rest. Marysia helped her sometimes; Zenek and Mundek worked as farm-hands in a village; I - well, what could I do? I only observed all of this...  [...]

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Testimony of Jerzy Pawlak

[...]  In March 1945 I left for Warsaw. The train stopped even before reaching West Station (Dworzec Zachodni). The conductor yelled. A crowd of people with bundles and carriages tumbled out. Everyone walked along the train tracks, which led to "Śródmieście" (Center City). I walked after them, reaching the intersection of Aleje Jerozolimskie and Marszałkowska Street. I reached Krakowskie Przedmieście Street via Królewska Street. Quite a lot of snow was still laying around. It was covering rubble, which did not look too threatening yet. I think the snow softened the appearance of the rubble. Only when I looked at the walls with burned out windows, then I remembered what had happened here.  [...]

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Testimony of Janusz Waldemar Wilczyński

[...]  In the village of Opacz, in the afternoon, we managed to escape from the escort and we found a refuge in a casual shed. Nearby Hungarian troops were stationed.  [...]

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Testimony of Jan Ryszard Mleczek

[...]  Klaudyna was a prey to Vlasov soldiers (Russian units collaborating with the Germans), who used to shoot at everything that would move; there our group disbanded. During the nights I continued my march through the villages of Blizne and Babice towards Brwinów. There I was immediately caught in a roundup for people from Warsaw and taken to Pruszków, from where then by train in the direction of Żyrardów. Near Jaktorów, during a night stay of the train, I managed to escape and go afoot back to Brwinów.  [...]

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Testimony of Maria Kapuścińska

[...]  When we became "free", it turned out that we did not have anywhere to go because there had been an order, which prohibited taking in people who were registered in Warsaw and threatened the death penalty as punishment for doing so. And curfew was approaching!  [...]

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Testimony of Wacława Połomska

[...]  On February 2, the camp in Grupa was shelled by the artillery. Even this accident happened: one of the shells landed in our barrack and badly wounded five people. Among other things it tore off the foot of Ms. Jabłonka's son. During this time, we took shelter in bunkers, where we stayed for a few days. Nearby, the front rumbled. But the Germans appeared again, and around February 10 they rushed us in the direction of Świecie.  [...]

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Testimony of Włodzimierz Antosiewicz

[...]  From the side of Pomeranian Wall dead sounds of explotions were being heard, and even earlier we had seen withdrawing defeated German units. Expecting everything the worst from the police, which commanding officer was a German, who used to come to a woman being our host, we decided, that all three of us would run away to the forest. It was 2 km. from our farm to a neighbor one, or to the town. We told our "bauer", that we are leaving to Poland, we ordered to give us some bread and sausage, and at dark we left a farm. Instead of going east, we made a half a circle and stopped in a forest at a place, where earlier a Pole, a proffesional pork butcher, being under the threat of arrest and a death penalty was hiding with our help. This Pole, having a first name Jan, was from Kraków, I don't remember unfortunately his last name. He died directly after liberation us by the Soviet army, probably he poisoned himself by denatured alcohol.  [...]

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Relacja Heleny Balcer

Sunday, August 13
         I want to sell the watch, but I cannot find a buyer, even though one of the inspectors of the local Central Welfare Council is helping me. Today we were told that we will be receiving food for only three days - that is from Sunday until Tuesday - and I have merely 30 zloty to my name, which makes me devastated. I do not know anything about my family or about [...]

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Testimony of Maria Tryczyńska

[...]  After the fall of the Uprising, which ended on September 30, 1944 I got "tangled" among the civilians (I was by then nearly 15 years old and I was a tiny girl) through the Pruszków camp, then in Jędrzejów from where I got out to the local villages and temporary lived in Kozłów at home of chief officer of the villagers at the time - Mr Stawik, whose son Adam and cousin Kazik Palka were Home Army (Armia Krajowa - AK) soldiers.  [...]

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Testimony of Mieczysław Rychter

[...]  I am allowing myself to send a handful of information about children from Warsaw who were displaced during the uprising. The information is not complete because it pertains to children who attended the President Gabriel Narutowicz Primary School Number 1, after January 16, 1945 (liberation of Grójec). A small number of the children, along with their parents, returned to the ruins of the capital (4-6); however, the rest stayed until the moment when tolerable living conditions arose in the capital which was being rebuilt.  [...]

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Testimony of Konrad Zienkiewicz

[...]  We have spent one night in the Wilanów palace farm hands' living quarters. On that day or on the next one we have been given a loan of bread per each person. It was a brown bread packed in cellophane as well as grey paper with a stamp dated from previous year. It had been baked probably still in the Ukraine. It tasted a bit strange but was palatable after all.  [...]

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Testimony of Aleksandra Wróblewska

[...]  My elderly mother and I did not know where Hania was. After the concentration camp came under the control of the Polish Red Cross (PCK, "Polski Czerwony Krzyż"), I wrote to Auschwitz, and after a short while, I received a response from Dr. Józef Bellerta with the addresses of people who might be able to provide some information, so I immediately wrote to these advised addresses. The grandmother of the children, Mrs. Szczawińska, following her intuition, wrote to the parish priest in Wiśła, who asked from the pulpit whether there was in the area a six-year-old girl - Hania Wróblewska, prisoner of Birkenau. After the church service, a woman came to the vestry with news that in the village of Poręba, near Pszczyna, there was this girl staying with the blacksmith Pająk. The priest promptly headed for Poręba, and on June 5 at 9 pm, he sent notification that Hania Wróblewska is in Poręba, outside Pszczyna.  [...]

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Testimony of Idalia Olszewska-Klemińska

[...]  Later it turned out that the person who had welcomed us into his place - because the six people mentioned before went to a different apartment - he was a Volksdeutsche (ethnic German). But he took us in, and he was good to us. So he behaved decently. Decently. He had a teenage son. His wife stayed behind somewhere in Warsaw. She had not made it in time to return. And so we moved in with him. But we stayed there for a very short time...  [...]

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Testimony of Jadwiga Kołodziejska-Jedynak

[...]  Of course, we planned to return to Warsaw at once - we didn't know what condition the city was in - but we had to feed up, because nothing looked very interesting, father was very sick. And we started to feed up, mother took out various jars and fed us. But we had to leave there; we lasted maybe two weeks, but I am not even sure if that much. We had to flee, because the Russians started hounding us. There was my sister, there was me, my mother and my father. Our main tasks included standing next to the gate and distracting the Russians. He spoke a bit of Russian, not much, but added bit and drove them away from these three women.  [...]

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Testimony of Ludmiła Niedbalska

[...]  On the 7th or 8th of November, Mom and I headed out to explore Bukowina Tatrzańska. We traveled for what seemed like an eternity in I think the fifth class. The wagons had compartments, each of which had a door without a window or did not have a door at all. Along the outside of each wagon there were ledges, and people - mostly young men - traveled by sitting on these ledges. Inside, the crowd was incredible - packages, baskets, women in head-scarves or under sheepskins would stand or kneel, some little kid was screaming, someone of course was praying, and the people on the ledges were blue from the cold and the effort to hold onto the frames of the windows and doors - they were thinking out loud "What would happen if now...". They were wary; every time the train slowed down, they were ready to jump off and disappear into the forest that came all the way up to the tracks.  [...]

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Testimony of Elżbieta Żakowicz-Prejzner

[...]  It must have been somewhere near Częstochowa, since as soon as mum had gathered some money we got on a train and went to Częstochowa. How much time did you spend with your mum and sisters with those people in the country? It could have been a week. Not much longer.  [...]

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Testimony of Eugeniusz Spiechowicz

[...]  Our limited funds did not permit a longer stay with the farmer. Mum remembered that in the locality of Stąporków lives aunt Amelia whose husband (my mother's brother who died at the beginning of the German occupation) was the head master of the local school. Mum went to see aunt Amelia and find out if we could stay with her for some time. Some days later I got a very friendly letter from my aunt saying that, though she is not very well off and lives alone in a small room from a modest pension, we are cordially invited to come and stay with her. Her supply of potatoes and flour will take us all through the coming winter. Early-November 1944 I left our room and took the train to Stąporków.  [...]

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Testimony of Włodzimierz Szurmak

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Testimony of Leszek Kazanowski

[...]  And so we reached that place after three days, I think, even though it was only about 40 kilometers away, but we traveled like this: someone would give us a lift in their wagon for about 10 kilometers, we would make our way to the next village, and so on. That is how we reached Mszczonów. From Grodzisk we got to Mszczonów.  [...]

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Testimony of Elżbieta Dankowska-Walas

[...]  We found ourselves in Rozprza village and we were allocated there to same farmer family. Those peasants fed us with such soup: milk, in the milk were potates; it was disgusting. My Mum wanted to get something better for us so she gave that village girl a holy medallion and a small chainlet of mine, but we kept my holy medallion. So they were flaying us.  [...]

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Testimony of Wiesław Kępiński

[...]  They turned away after a while - a minute or so - and went away. And then I stood up. It is daytime. I am on display. Coming from that field into Redutowa Street I ring the bell, or knock at the gate. A little house with a garden, people living normal lives, a dog barking, nothing wrong going on, no Germans. A completely different world from the one at the borderline of the embankment. I was let in and fed.  [...]

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Testimony of Jerzy Ekner

A wagon pulled by two horses pulls up - on wooden wheels with spokes, with wrought rims - and we sit down on that straw, I ended up sitting next to the wagon driver, who was Polish, with a visored cap, with a mustache. He made a sound directed at the horse - and we were off. Other carts, horse wagons, are riding ahead of us, with us - and this line of vehicles is riding on a road that is between forests [...]

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Testimony of Andrzej Janowski

[...]  Did some of your acquaintances or relatives live nearby? No, not there. But - I had forgotten about it but I recently asked my cousin (that one who was going with us; she lives here quite close) - how did it happen that we, from Jędrzejów, found ourselves in Lanckorona... And she told me that our fathers came to telephone my cousin who spent his holidays there. And they got through somehow although telephones weren't common at that time, but they contacted him and he said: "Come stay with us". And we went there on our own...  [...]

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Testimony of Grażyna Dorota Duchniak

[...]  And the third stage was the liberation by the allied armies, the creation of a Polish committee, organizing schools - I quickly finished two grades there.  [...]

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Testimony of Halina Wiśniewska

[...]  In any event we arrived in Radom, it was already night, but next to the station there was again some central welfare council building and we went there, to spend the night. I went to the women there and begged for a drop of milk for the child. "But no, mam, not a chance for any milk." There were bunk beds there, though I was afraid to sit down because of lice, but somehow we made it through the night.  [...]

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Testimony of Elżbieta Massalska

[...]  Accompanied by German shouts, we boarded the cattle car. We we so crammed in, that you could only stand. The metal doors were slammed shut and the train moved off to the unknown. When was this? I think the fourth or fifth of September. As time passed, each of us found a place to sit down on the floor. There was just enough space to sit huddled over, to lie down was out of the question. The train stopped in Koluszki, where RGO workers served us bread through the slightly ajar door. While taking the food, we heard a warning, spoken in a hushed voice - "People, flee, they're taking you to a concentration camp, flee if you can, a terrible fate awaits you".  [...]

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Testimony of Anna Teofilak-Maliszewska

[...]  I have to write about how I was dressed - after all, in August I left the house in a summer dress and in sandals. So Mom sewed me an overcoat for the winter - it was made out of a cousin's brown bathrobe lined with some rabbit fur which were given to us by an acquaintance. My shoes were composed of pieces of wood; Mom nailed fur onto them and smoothed the inside with fur. They were very warm.  [...]

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Testimony of Ewa Kirszenstein-Skrzypczak

[...]  And then, at some moment, just before we reached Końskie, the Germans opened the wagons and said "Go off". So we did. There were some really charming people from Końskie who treated us to some tomato soup, served on plates laid out on a kind of low wall in a park or just a green square. Just imagine: after all one had gone through - a plateful of hot tomato soup. The best meal I have ever had in my life. I still remember the taste. We spent a couple of days at Końskie, there was a family kind enough to give us a room, but mum had an idea, a good one, as it turned out, to get to Łowicz.  [...]

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Testimony of Jerzy Uldanowicz

[...]  Soon after the beginning of the Soviet offensive, that is around January 20, 1945, we heard quickly amplifying sounds of the approaching front, and we also observed an equally sudden growth in chaos and signs of panic in the German community, which was accompanied by a sudden change in the Germans' treatment of us - they became polite, often almost servile; many of them "remembered" their knowledge of the Polish language, which earlier they would not admit to, etc.  [...]

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Testimony of Danuta Nizińska-Grzegrzółka

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Testimony of Jerzy Kasprzak

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Testimony of Wiktoria Dewitz

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Testimony of Dariusz Karolak

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Testimony of Barbara Rybeczko-Tarnowiecka

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Testimony of Izabella Wciślińska

[...]  Several days later I made it to aunt Weronika's, my father's sister, who lived in Pruszków with her family. I also received shelter and food from her. From aunt Weronika's I went to my sister Zdzisława Świetlik, who lived with her family in Grodzisk Mazowiecki. There I found out that my husband is looking for me and wrote that he'd be leaving for a train from Grodzisk to Częstochowa.  [...]

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Testimony of Wanda Jarczyk

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Testimony of Witold Jerzy Niewiadomski

[...]  At the end of the third day we figured out that the Volkssturmists that were guarding us, had fled. We felt free and decided to head west, closer to the allies. We had a bag of shelled peas with us. We asked some farmer on the outskirts of Essen if he could cook this for us. The farmer, a good-natured guy, threw the peas to the chickens and then set out a bowl of food for us. We ate what they gave us. The servant girl asks if we want something else? Of course! She went around three times with seconds, and the next day brought the four of us food in a bowl. We stayed with this German guy. After half a year stay in Germany, it was the first time we felt revived. Finally we could wash up, really scrape off the dirt. After all, I hadn't taken off my shoes for a month. Even then, the Americans occupied the Ruhr basin, we didn't really want to leave his place. Actually the first meeting with the American army wasn't the best. My friend, who had a scout badge tried to explain to them that we're Polish scouts transported to Germany, but they didn't even want to listen to us.  [...]

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Testimony of Stanisław Milewski

[...]  Three times I was on the verge of disaster but with varying luck after three days I reached Cracow, at the curfew at that. At the end of the platform gendarmes were strolling. Rescue came from an elderly railway-man who gave me his uniform cap and hammer and led me in front of the railway station.  [...]

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Testimony of Bohdan Lewandowski

The friend was affluent and charitable. A large flat over a store on a busy street, it was already full of runaways from Warsaw.  The friendly owners were keen to feed everyone.  More than a dozen people gobbled down dinner at a large table.  I ran around the outskirts of Piotrków for several days with the host's son, my peer, where the garden plots were still full of fall fruits.  We didn't [...]

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Testimony of Tadeusz Klemiński

[...]  Had your father been taken away to the forced labour to the Reich, hadn't he? Yes. They took away my father on the very next day after our arrival to Grochów. We were helping the wife of my godfather to make some cigarettes, we filled such cigarette tubes with tobacco and she sold them in their shop. This shop was rarely open, but people came to her to buy things and she was selling them these cigarettes. The shop was officially closed but one could but things at the back, as one could say. After we came there were additional four people so one would need to get some extra food. We have had a garden before, there were potatoes, tomatoes.  [...]

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Testimony of Krzysztof Radlicz

[...]  At this time were you already aware that the war is nearing its end? Did information from the front reach the camp that Americans are approaching from one side and Russians from the other? All the time the Germans were so insolent because of their victory that no news reached us. Our situation was completely different, we did walk out hungry, we had only some beans from a shattered warehouse and nothing else. We had only few personal belongings. The Germans shot everybody who lost strength on the way. This was a so called death march. On the first day we passed a camp for English POWs and the 12 Englishmen who marched with us remained in that camp. The rest was pushed forward to leave the American encirclement as soon as possible.  [...]

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Testimony of Halina Rozwadowska, mother of Marek age 8

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Testimony of Leokadia Ciekanowska

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Testimony of Wanda Kamieniecka-Grycko

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Testimony of Henryk Piotrowski

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Testimony of Aniela Libionka

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Testimony of Leszek Mieczysław Muszel

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Testimony of Mirosława Grabowska (Gelber-Olszowa)

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Testimony of Zbigniew Badowski

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Testimony of Bogdan Kapica

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Testimony of Angelika Józefowicz

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Testimony of Stefan Wojciech Niesłuchowski

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Testimony of Andrzej Korgol

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Testimony of Halina Olk-Wieczorek

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Testimony of Ewa Osiecka

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Testimony of Alicja Rzaczykiewicz

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Testimony of Bohdan Lewartowski

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Testimony of Danuta Wierzbowska-Pawlik

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Testimony of Jadwiga Szczęścik-Perucka

Local peasants - we stopped at Wolmbrom near Cracow - picked us up. They took us to their cottages; I was living with my mother, my sister and aunt were seperated from us. We spent the rest of the occupation in that village. So you were living with a local family?They were good people. My mother visited them long after the war.Do you remember their surname?Mrs. Bieniowa from Sobiesenki. My mom always [...]

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Testimony of Władysław Sala

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Testimony of Krystyna Krasuska (Górecka)

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Testimony of Marta Gadomska-Juskowiak

Later, the family from Silesia got us out of the camp.  Some kind of connections, my father's aunt, I no longer remember the name of this man from Sosnowiec, hired mother supposedly as a qualified weaver. I don't remember, surely it's in the papers there. I do remember that he came for us on December 11th, took care of the papers in the camp, put us on the train. He said that he'd [...]

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Testimony of Blandyna Surmiak (Lewińska)

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Testimony of Wiesław Zorgier

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Testimony of Danuta Kusińska (Śpiewak)

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Testimony of Wojciech Prośniewski

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Testimony of Julia Tazbir-Ehrenfeucht

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  The project is implemented by the Museum of Warsaw in cooperation with the State Archives of City of Warsaw, and the Niedersachsische Gedenkstatten Foundation