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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. 
And when was the wedding?
We got married in 1948, after my return. The first years of studying were difficult. I resigned after giving birth. We lived in Komorów and the commuting took up a lot of time. I had a small child and the studies were increasingly difficult for me.
Please tell me again how experiences from the Warsaw Rising and later from the camps had an impact on your psyche?
A Swiss clergyman asked me this same question recently, and even earlier I was asked about the 50th anniversary of the Rising, when there was a lively discussion in my church community about hatred towards Germans. I was in happy situation. I started to work in the church in 1964 and there was a lot of guest traffic from the GDR and FRG, I met with Germans, but with people working or active in the Church, with honest people who strived to take the least participation in the war, who suffered terribly even though they served in the Wehrmacht. Friendships arose, here, in this apartment. We drank a lot of alcohol together. These prejudices quickly cracked, but I had conditions favouring this. The Germans from FRG were open and honest and this suited us greatly. On the other hand my sister, who remained in the West, it is worth noticing that those who remained in the West stand at the same point in their hatred towards Germans to the present. Just like this hatred looked like after the war, later it did not undergo any transformations and was the reason for which they had to emigrate. The first visits to the military cemetery were connected with such a feeling that if so many people lay here, then maybe I'm alive because I was too sparing, that I didn't fulfil my duties. 
Were these pricks of remorse?
Yes, of course there were. Later we talked in the confines of the church, that the answer to this is very simple, that if was experienced, then it was to do something else in life. To document this, to do something for other people.
Yes and take care to remember those who died and bear witness to history.
Yes, exactly, hence the 50th anniversary of the Rising, in a military church, Evangelical-Augsburg, I had a sermon on this subject. There were two sermons, mine and bishop Dembowski's, who I knew from various ecumenical activities. Father Dembowski talked about when he was young man and chopped wood and when that axe struck the wood, he imagined that's how he kills Germans, that he could unload his anger towards Germans by chopping wood. That's just what he recollected in this sermon. Even today I am working on the history of my community. Both that what turned out in the Evangelical-Augsburg Church, and that what happened beyond it, which is a performance of this duty in relation to those who no longer could do this. These experiences are hugely significant. It was very difficult to enter into an adult life, because I lacked the chance to grow up. I had no father, later a step father for a very short time.   
You entered adulthood very quickly under war conditions.  
Yes, if it concerns resourcefulness, if you have to repair fuses with a wire or some such things, then sure, but this growing up meant going down a certain path, and some things were terribly in need of. Surely I feel this somewhere even today, I don't know if my children feel this somehow. My oldest son says that he was born too soon after the war, because everything was still vivid for us, we hadn't yet obtained some kind of internal peace.
And internal anxieties related to post-war stress, did they last a long time?
Yes, for this reason that we were these "wretched stunts of reaction". From the start I was my husband's secretary, when we started to write on the subject of chemistry, and later I worked at the church, as a result of this I had no contacts at work with party authorities. On the other hand, arrests among my closest friends and family, went on all the time.  
This ordeal continues. 
     It ended end this way, we joined in Workers' Defence Committee activities. We were active in the second or third circle, nevertheless we thought this was needed and we suffered very serious consequences for this, especially my husband, for the reason that, in terms of me, the Office of Religious Denomination, which it immediately reached of course, told my bishop, that they would either release me or the first Xerox machine. This was the first Xerox from the West, and this Xerox was in customs at the time. They said that the church where this person works doesn't have the right to have a copying machine. To that my bishop said that we chose Mrs. Sękowska. I found this out years later, because the bishop kept this secret.


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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