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War children - their fate


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Testimony of Jerzy Pawlak

[...]  In April 1947 I joined the Volunteer Brigade for Rebuilding Warsaw (Ochotnicza Brygada Odbudowy Warszawy); we were located in Park Traugutta, right near Cytadela. The leader was General Brigadier Marian Spychalski. This period lasted for three months. We were dressed in army uniforms, and had mandatory drills. We cut out the route for the street that would later be called M. Nowotki Street - through the ghetto area, from Gdańsk Station to Plaza Bankowego. We collaborated with international brigades like, Hungarians, Czechs, French, Yugoslavians, Bulgarians. Our tools for work were the following: two kinds of pickaxes, shovel, wheelbarrow. We arranged the tracks ourselves, and we pushed the wagons with rubble to the Vistula River. We did not receive a salary for this work. At the end of the period, there was a parade where the camp used to be, with wheelbarrows, pickaxes, and shovels. Diplomas were handed out and referrals also, to the trade schools that people had signed up for. I declared an interest in the school of fine arts, but I was told that these kinds of schools do not exist yet. So I signed up for the Preparatory School of Industry in Będzin (Szkoła Przysposobienia Przemysłowego w Będzinie), for electrical engineering. Other volunteers dispersed across the whole country: Łódź, Kielce, Szczecin, Poznań, Wrocław, Żagań, Bielsko, etc.  [...]

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Testimony of Wiktoria Adamus

[...]  In 1950 our house was marked for demolition, in exchange for an apartment in Świder. Father agreed to this. I, unfortunately, could not come to terms with this - I had lived through so much in this city and suddenly I was to leave and go somewhere else...  [...]

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Testimony of Jan Ryszard Mleczek

[...]  In 1949, having no chance to enter university (as I was told each time when I had to contact the UB), I volunteered to participate in a traing course for instructors of the Service for Poland (Służba Polsce) in Lubliniec, due to which fact, as well as a support from my supervisor, a frontline officer of the People's Polish Army, I was allowed to pass an entrance exam and to be enrolled to the Law Department of the University of Warsaw (which I never finished). While living in Piotrków and studying I was forced by my material condition to deliver cookies from a bakery to confectionery shops. I did it every morning from 6 till 7:30, carrying the cookies on a large tray placed over my head, which caused my colleagues to mock at me.  [...]

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Testimony of Halina Paszkowska

[...]  In 1950, I got married; I have two children who are already adults. I was under the care of the Psychological Health Clinic (Poradnia Zdrowia Psychicznego). I do not work; my husband supports me financially.  [...]

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Testimony of Jacek Fedorowicz

[...]  My remaining expulsions briefly. Only that now I was being expelled not by the Germans but their successors - the communists. At the end of the war we all lived in Kielce.  [...]

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Testimony of Maria Tryczyńska

[...]  Here I continue my studies at Żmichowska High School, from which I have been penally expelled in the last grade (December 1948) as a part of severe political fight. Neither I nor my father escaped many questionings and repressive measures of the Security Office (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa - UB). I pass my matriculation exam at Hoffmanowa High School. And in spite of all I manage to get to the Medical Academy in Warsaw, which in spite of all the adversity of political nature I finished on October 13, 1954.  [...]

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Testimony of Aleksandra Wróblewska

[...]  In 1946, my brother brought the children to Switzerland. While there, Hania graduated from a three-year program in nursing, and Bohdan devoted himself to architecture. My brother died from lung cancer in 1955 at age 53 in Baden, where he is buried.  [...]

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Testimony of Idalia Olszewska-Klemińska

[...]  As soon as things calmed down a little bit, when the Russians were already on the right bank of the river in Warsaw, nuns started to lead classes. Mainly children who lived nearby the convent attended the classes, but unfortunately, I had to travel rather far to reach them. Mother could not always walk me because after all, she had to work, so I would walk alone; it was around a kilometer and a half. But those were not calm times; Germans were still shooting from the Vistula. And sometimes, I found myself in the midst of a battle, in a shooting. I would walk through a field; at the time buildings had not yet been built everywhere. Mother would be terribly nervous at those times. Sometimes the nuns would not let me leave the school, if a shooting was beginning... And I would stay with the nuns - but Mother would not know if I had already left or not, so she would be in despair; she was horribly nervous, terribly.  [...]

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Testimony of Ludmiła Niedbalska

[...]  And that is how the first phase of normalization of our postwar lives began. Things were difficult, but all right. I joined the Polish Scouts, which made me very proud. It was a goal I pursued from the moment I returned to Warsaw. I was in the Eighth Warsaw Women's Scouting Troop, I had a gray uniform of course, a brown scarf with a golden ribbon around the edges, which I had made myself, and a forage cap with the Scout badge, which I had searched for with great difficulties, all over City Center, getting lost a few times. I attended Scout meetings, gatherings around the fireplace, bonfires; I learned about independence, resourcefulness, and cooperation skills. I made the pledge in December and to this day, I am faithful to it. You make that kind of pledge once in your life.  [...]

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Testimony of Elżbieta Żakowicz-Prejzner

[...]  Especially as our uncle, my father's brother, was found. He worked for the district office in Bystrzyca Kłodzka and, in a letter he wrote to mummy, he offered to arrange everything for us. Yet when we came there, he hadn't arranged anything. What he did arrange later was really the worst - some miserable place for a shop, with no back room (which has never been used as a shop until present day and that proves it was not an attractive place either for a shop or for anything else) and a room to sleep in, which had previously served as a storeroom for Germans. The owner of the shop, Anna Brauner, and her family lived in the same house. They had come from Wrocław, running away from military operations. There were only women and children among Germans, too, and they were terribly crammed. There were no amenities in the house - the toilet was in the back yard, the sink in the corridor - but it was really clean, they paid such attention to aesthetics [that] when I saw that beautiful city, after I had been living among debris, so clean, full of flowers, the flat seemed a fairy tale to me. Incredibly beautiful.  [...]

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Testimony of Eugeniusz Spiechowicz

[...]  Since February till December 1945, once again adding a few years to my biography, I was employed as a worker at the Social Building Enterprise in Żoliborz.. In September 1945 I entered the III Municipal Secondary School for Adults in Żoliborz (Warsaw) and in 1948 I was the only one out of more than 40 class-mates to obtain the final certificate. Then life took the usual course.  [...]

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Testimony of Włodzimierz Szurmak

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Testimony of Leszek Kazanowski

[...]  Later on, things were normal. Toward the end of May there was an announcement that we must go to school. And so we went to school. The grades varied. They separated us into grades - they assigned me to the second or the third grade - I no longer remember exactly - but the students there were 15 or 16 years old, attending the second grade, not knowing how to write or read.  [...]

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Testimony of Elżbieta Dankowska-Walas

[...]  I spent in Żerań first years after the war, I went to school there and my brother went to kindergarten. Because there, in that Pelcowizna, my brother was born. When he was born all his all body was pimpled with huge boils, because, as I heard, he had a cold still in my mother's womb; he was dying and more than once we kept candles lighted for him.  [...]

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Testimony of Wiesław Kępiński

[...]  We are in Wola, it is the year 1945 already. In summer I went away to see uncle Tarnowski to a place near Połczyn Zdrój, where he had taken over a farm that had formerly belonged to Germans, very affluent, with a house for the masters and one for the workers; all those barns, cowsheds, stables... He took it over together with the livestock - cows, horses, chickens. The previous owners, and old couple, stayed there as long as they could...  [...]

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Testimony of Elżbieta Massalska

[...]  We spent the first year after the war recovering in Warsaw, in the Praga district. Mother was incapable of working, I intensely got down to studying, completing two years of studies in a single school year. My sister returned a year later. Since none of us had housing rights, and the primary resident - my aunt, left for the Regained Territories, the housing office wanted to quarter a five-person family to the two-room flat.  [...]

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Testimony of Jerzy Uldanowicz

[...]  She worked extremely hard, first and foremost in order to obtain the financial resources necessary for my medical care, since it had turned out that as a result of being sent to forced labor, I had become sick with tuberculosis and my heart was in bad condition, even though previously I had stood out for my good health and exceptional endurance in physical activity.  [...]

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Testimony of Danuta Nizińska-Grzegrzółka

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Testimony of Jerzy Kasprzak

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Testimony of Izabella Wciślińska

[...]  In every predominantly German city there were old -age homes, where old people had a room, care and food. In Wrocław, not far from our flat, there was also such an old-age home, where very bad food conditions were created after the war, though not just. One of the neighbours, a German lady, proposed that one of these German women would come and for watching over the children receive a bit of food.  [...]

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Testimony of Marian Grzegorz Bergander

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Testimony of Tadeusz Klemiński

[...]  When did you go back to school? From the moment when the school had been organized in our building. This school occupied the whole ground floor and this school I was attended, but it was difficult for me to tell you exactly when. Anyway when the school had started to work I started to go there straight away. There have been built a railway bridge in the forest, where the a nature reserve is now, and there were a lot of sticks. Me and my sister were going there with a sledge and loaded it with the sticks to bring it home for heating. One time when we were loading the sticks on the sledge some men saw us and told there was no use to take such green and wet sticks.  [...]

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Testimony of Danuta Napiórkowska-Jarzębowska

[...]  Meanwhile I, after a few months, got sick with a peptic and duodenal ulceration. I was seriously sick for almost 26 years. Until today I am on a limited diet, some food is very harmful for me, a mucous in my stomach is not healthy at all. I have almost no duodenum. In its place I have an artificial passage, created not surgically but spontaneously. And all of my passages were narrowed. This was dangerous because each narrowing threatened of immediate rupture and death.  [...]

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Testimony of Eulalia Matusiak-Rudak

[...]  After some time we received an allotment for an apartment. Here, eleven persons lived in this small room, my sister-in-law's entire family, an aunt and her son, and us. Where did the family get an apartment? Only we got an apartment, they remained there. Father got an apartment and took in my aunts, his sisters. We got an apartment on 6 Leszno St. The first annex was destroyed, we got an apartment in the second. The apartment had a kitchen entrance, there were six rooms. We were a bit surprised that there were such luxury apartments before the war, it had moulding on the ceiling, a floor with different colours of wood, a beautiful tile stove with cast iron doors.  [...]

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Testimony of Aleksandra Diermajer-Sękowska

[...]  Was there a return to Warsaw? Well no, to my aunt's in Sopot. There was nothing to return to here. So you first lived in Sopot? And later, three of us including my step father lived in Mikołowice near Warsaw. My husband returned in May. Already working, as a bus driver, he was accepted for university studies. We had to authenticate our secondary school examination certificates. My matriculation student record book is conditional, for the reason that I had to pass Latin, because I completed a mathematic -natural science secondary school. There was no other possibility, though I attended a humanist department. I had to pass Latin and classes on contemporary Poland. We were treated very nicely at the Ministry of Education. My husband was accepted without an examination, I passed the examinations.  [...]

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Testimony of Krzysztof Radlicz

[...]  My aunt invited us to stay with her and I immediately enrolled to the Sobieski secondary school in Batorego street where I met with a very warm and friendly welcome. The social custodian in this school was Mr. Felewski, a Varsovian. Every time when goods from UNNRA were available he said that I deserve to be helped because I was the one who was fighting. He was very kind to me. Our class-master was Mr. Kloske an outstanding biologist, we had marvelous pre-war teachers - very helpful and warm-hearted. Unfortunately I could not join the scouts in Cracow because in June or July I was to leave for Warsaw. My uncle and I came to Warsaw, to the apartment in Żoliborz inhabited by his mother and sister and I stayed with them. The furnishings in this apartment were intact because a shell hit the staircase and there were no stairs, no access and nobody could enter.  [...]

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Testimony of Wanda Kamieniecka-Grycka

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Testimony of Henryk Piotrowski

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Testimony of Jadwiga Kowejsza

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Testimony of Bohdan Kapica

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Testimony of Cecylia Krajewska

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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 von Janusz Kosk

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Testimony of Jadwiga Szczęścik-Perucka

It took you some time to realize what had happened.After the Uprising, when I was six or sevene years old, my mother could not leave me be myself - I was seeing dead bodies everywhere. I saw them when I was alone in our apartment -  my mother took me to many doctors, because she was afraid I had been traumatized. And I was, for a very long time.
When I was eighteen I still afraid of staying home [...]

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Testimony of Władysław Sala

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Testimony of Bohdan Lewandowski

In 1949 I started at the middle school for electrical studies in Żyrardów. At this time, the regime established by the Soviets had disclosed is true nature. Even in the first class, our geography teacher disappeared without a trace, since he talked about areas lost to Poland in the east. All the children quickly learned that the words Lwów, Wilno, Wołyń, Piłsudski, Anders should be avoided. The [...]

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Testimony of Zygmunt Walter

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Testimony of Jadwiga Szmidt

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Testimony of Paweł Ambrożewicz

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Testimony of Michalina Walter-Horst

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Testimony of Janina Loth-Borkowska

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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