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 travel with us, but that we don't know each other, yes, that we were not to talk to each other. We travelled two days from Hanover to Sosnowiec. It was a regular passenger train. We travelled through Wrocław, completely wrecked and full of holes. I don't remember what we ate there, surely some hardtack.
And you found yourself in Sosnowiec with your family. This was on your father's side?
Yes, on the side of my father. My father was a lieutenant in the 29th Kalisz Infantry Regiment and withdrew to Warsaw with the Poznań Army. He was only injured near Łomianki and ended up in Ujazdowski Hospital. Later he fled so he wouldn't end up in an oflag. The children weren't told where he was fleeing to and where he was hiding. We were to say that father was in the war and was killed, and we don't know what happened. When we wrote a letter to father, that only might reach him, we had to write to some uncle. Father hid out the entire war near Rzeszów. He didn't find us until June 1945.
How did the later history of your family play out? I understand that you arrived to Sosnowiec with your mother and brother.
It turned out badly again, because I had finished mandatory schooling already, reaching fourteen years old. Michał had to attend school. He was ten, so he had to attend the fourth grade of a German school, not knowing a word of German. The second problem, since he didn't speak German, they beat him so that the family decided nothing would come of this and they forced us to cross him off the records.
An aunt near Olkusz took me in to help me recover. My father's brother took in mother, to Kazimierz near Sosnowiec (now this is a district of Sosnowiec). We had to give up on ration cards, and it wasn't possible to live without them in the Reich (and it was indeed the Reich), because you couldn't even buy a shoestring. The family fed us in the period preceding the new harvest with hardtacks, carrots, potato peelings.
A man worked in the Kazimierz-Juliusz mine who was on the Volksliste, or the Reichliste - he was a member of the NSDAP, and there were underground classes for Polish youth there. He had school-aged sons himself. We went to these underground classes, I continued the sixth grade, and Michał the fourth. This was on the level of this prewar school, and not the German one. Those people lost a lot. It seems, that they finished him off after the war, and I think nothing worked out for his two sons. One became a drunk, the other is a poet, seems he's mentally ill, a schizophrenic. I don't know whether one or both of them are thriving in Kraków, their name is Kijanka. Later it turned out that he was also a member of the Home Army, but he walked around in this [German] uniform and he paid, and his family paid for this after the war.
How long were you in Sosnowiec and the surroundings? At some point the front arrived. Were you still there?
Then we went back to another aunt in Sosnowiec. I went to the Emili Plater secondary school. Michał attended primary school and he was moved at once from the fourth to the sixth grade. In comparison to the children with the German school, he was a genius. This way, he passed his A-exams before he reached sixteen.
Getting back to this "Polish-German Reconciliation" Foundation, it was terribly difficult with this compensation award.
Did you manage to arrange this or not?
It was settled after a very long struggle. They found fault with the fact that I didn't have repatriation papers. And when this man withdrew us from Hanover to Sosnowiec, and then the front came and Sosnowiec was a Polish city, so I had nowhere to repatriate myself to. That's why there were huge complications, to explain all this. In the end they granted it.