Information for Veterans and their families
Christopher Juszkiewicz contacted me and explained that he was the son of Warsaw girl who lived through the horrors of WWII and the German occupation in Warsaw, Poland; 2 blocks from the Warsaw Ghetto; witnessed the holocaust in Warsaw; took a small part in the second Warsaw uprising; watched her father die soon after the war from his treatment at Dachau concentration camp at the hands of the Nazis after numerous escapes as a non Jewish Polish Army PoW.
Chris's mother, Danuta (pictured right), has seen Hitler and Stalin in
person in Warsaw. She is very lucky to have survived the war having many
close misses with death.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR/INTERVIEWER CHRISTOPHER JUSZKIEWICZ:
What my mom, Danuta, saw has left her with PTSD. She is cursed with a near photographic memory as am I. I have heard her recollections countless times and still live with her. It is strange, but I still hear new stories after all of this time. My mother is, but by the grace of God, a survivor of WWII and so am I, as her offspring. I too, like her, have a near photographic memory, and so we are both cursed in different degrees. Albeit, there are also good memories in these accounts. You’ll find some of them to follow. I feel that my mom has ended up an extraordinary person as a result of the war. As for myself - I struggle with things I don’t understand. I am going to send you things in pieces if you don't mind. There is a lot of material to cover. Oddly enough, the material upsets me very much at times. At other times I feel absolutely nothing working and dealing with it. I am trying to interview my mother without traumatizing her. Time has blunted some of the pain associated with the memories. I'll try to compile and detail things when I'm done. It will follow subsequent to this.
Here is Christopher's and Danuta's stories...some readers Will Find this very disturbing...
The Beginning of the War in Poland for Danuta Szymanik Juszkiewicz
My mother Danuta first memories of the war were of watching military airplanes flying aerobatic maneuvers overhead in the skies of the capitol Warsaw trying to shoot each other down from her home in Ursus in the suburbs. She watched from an open window thinking it was some kind of strange air show before she noticed some of the planes were falling to the ground. An airport was nearby and often there were air shows there. Her father chased her away from the window warning her about stray bullets. He hurriedly explained to her that the war had started. He also warned her about telling any strangers any directions or information as the Germans had dropped spies into Poland at the onset of the war. They had also dropped in saboteurs who were poisoning water supplies. Everyone was warned not to drink from wells.
My mother’s family decided to return to its other home in Warsaw at the outbreak of the war at the insistence of my mom’s mother because that was her family was and where she was born, and that was where the real home was with the house in the suburbs only for her fathers work in nearby housing and buildings working on tiled wooden floors. It was also where her father had to report to be mobilized into the Polish army from the reserves. They embarked on the 8 kilometer trek to Warsaw that night as it was the only safe time to travel and bombers had not yet arrived over Poland. For the moment it was only fighters fighting for the air over the country. My mother’s regular house was further inside the city limits of the large city. There was a small list of basic necessities like blankets, documentation, pillows, food etc… that my mother could carry on her trek along with the rest of the family to Warsaw as there were checkpoints at which people’s belongings were checked and people forced to abandon unnecessary items or return home. People were forced to leave behind fur coats and other worldly possessions that suddenly lost value in war. Nothing unnecessary was allowed that would slow a person’s journey on foot. My mother still managed to smuggle her pet cat and carry it with her to Warsaw. My mother was a couple of kilometers outside of the city when daybreak broke. German fighters and dive bombers came down and started to strafe the column of mixed Polish military and civilian refugees. My mother often tells of how unforgettable it was to actually see the pilot’s faces in their aircraft as they swept down to machinegun the column of people, horses, carts automobiles and artillery. Everything erupted into chaos with animals and people falling near her and people not getting back up after the planes had left. People, carts and horses were running over the living the dead and wounded. My mother cried out to her father that she did not understand what they had done that the Germans were killing them. He yelled out that now was not a time to think but to do everything to save one’s self. As mother approached a nearby railway bridge, the planes came again and she was pushed into an antitank ditch. It was then that her cat panicked from the noise and from being jostled and ran from her. After getting out of the ditch her father saw all of the scratches on my mother from the cat but she was allowed to keep the cat after it came back to her. She recalls how the cat later ate horsemeat, as did the family, from wounded animals and how it was smart enough to run to the fall out area in the basement when it heard air raid sirens. As the family reached Warsaw my mom heard distant rumbling in the air which signaled the arrival of German bombers over the capitol. Soon my mom was running through the city streets strewn with rubble with buildings collapsing around her from bombs.
Toys from the Heavens
mom’s family was forced to stop at her godmother’s house short
of their own house.
While my mom was in Warsaw her house was hit by a German bomb and the top floors of the house collapsed on her and her mother and others burying them in the basement. Her father who was nearby serving with a Polish Army unit along with others dug her out.
One day my mom was behind a trash container near her building relieving herself when she heard the drone of bombers overhead. She was not done but got a bad feeling and fled the area just in time to see a bomb hit the container and set it flying through the air in an explosion. It was one of her many close calls.
My mom’s dad found out that my mom’s permanent home in Warsaw was destroyed the second day of the war by German bombers with high explosives and incendiary bombs. This is how my mom’s journey started to one of the many different places that she lived at during the war. Her father reported to the Polish army where all that he had was an arm band and rifle like most reservists. He fought but wore no uniform like a partisan so when Poland fell in two weeks, at he hid his rifle and red and white armband and rejoined his family. My mother distinctly remembers the night Germans got into Warsaw as the Polish army was out of ammunition and sounds of the soldiers fighting the Germans with bayonets was everywhere to be heard.
After Poland’s Surrender to the Germans
Zdzislaw Szymanik was demobilized from the army after Poland’s surrender to Germany. Because he did not even have a uniform he just melted back with the civilians and hid his rifle somewhere. He was rounded up in a mass arrest in Warsaw soon after the occupation of Poland started and was sent to Germany to work as forced labor in a wooden flooring factory and at a farm. He spoke German and became trusted by his German boss so he was allowed to go out in town and buy provisions for the factory. He even was allowed to send home the Communion dress that my mother is wearing in one of the photos. He took another opportunity to escape and return to his family in Poland. My mother and her mom had to move repeatedly and hide during the war whenever he escaped and returned home as they were now being hunted by the Gestapo - as a logical place to look for her dad. After her dad escaped the first time my mom received his clothes and belongings from Germany. She thought that they had killed her father. Also during the war my mom’s mom worked at a café frequented by Germans which the underground attacked one day in a bombing after warning the workers of the upcoming attack. After the attack the Germans were looking for all those who worked at the cafe assuming that they were involved with the underground and could have information leading to members of the resistance. Everyone was afraid to shelter my mom and her mom because of German reprisals. My mom actually spent a lot of the war living in an unheated laundry building. My mom remembers the walls of the building being covered with ice in the winter. My mom’s dad was eventually caught in another mass arrest for forced labor deportation or in a reprisal for resistance actions. Whenever one German was killed by the resistance one hundred Poles were rounded up and either killed in the woods or in German concentration camps or sent to perform forced labor in Germany. There were signs posted throughout the city warning about the consequences of killing a German. My mother personally witnessed executions of Polish citizens by pistol and machineguns against walls of the streets of Warsaw as German reprisals against Polish underground (AK Army of the country –country starts with the letter K in Polish).
Zdzislaw escaped from German factories in Essen and Hamburg and was again recaptured again in mass arrests in Warsaw. My mother used to get cryptic mail from him about his friends playing the accordion day and night referring in fact to day and bombings by the Americans and British of the factories. The Germans screened all of his mail and forced him to write his letters in this manner. The slave laborers used to celebrate as bombs rained down on the factories. When the letters from Germany stopped after his escapes, they knew he had escaped again as well as the inevitable visits from the Gestapo and Polish police working with them.
My mother recalls how her dad told her how the best place to hide was a big city like Warsaw where everyone does not recognize you and you can disappear into a crowd. My mom and her mom moved many times always being hunted by the Gestapo looking for her dad. He was finally recaptured again in a roundup after a reprisal and put in a PoW camp as a high escape risk. Again, he managed to escape but ran into a German guard in the process who smashed some of Zdzislaw’s teeth with a metal flashlight. Zdzislaw went into shock and rammed the German guard into a bunker many times and supposedly killed him. He returned home to where my mom was back in the suburbs of Warsaw knowing the Gestapo was hot on his trail and made the mistake of letting his neighbors know of his presence, telling them he would make sure to leave and hide in a few days. The Germans would round up everyone in a three or four block radius of a captured escapee and liquidate them for collaboration with the escapee. A neighbour turned in my mother’s father, Zdzislaw, to the Gestapo as he was afraid for his life. That neighbour hung himself soon after the end of the war.
My mom knew a Polish policeman who worked with the Germans after they arrived in Warsaw who told her dad was being held by the Gestapo. My mother recalls going to Gestapo headquarters in Warsaw and after being told by the Polish policeman where the commander’s office was ran past guards to the commandant’s office where she pleaded for her father’s life, offering to trade places with him, telling the German that her father only escaped because her mother was sick with malaria and that she could not adequately care for her and make a living selling vegetables at markets. The German was touched by my moms heart and told her that she reminded him of his own daughter in Germany and that he would be proud to have her as a daughter. He also asked her whether he had a pistol or other arms and if her dad was visited by any “strangers” at home. She was then allowed to visit him in the cellars of the Gestapo for three weeks where she recalls walking past the torture chambers and work benches with their whips and benches where the tied down face down, vise presses for crushing hands, pincers pliers for grabbing and pulling out finger and toenails, torches for burning flesh, bath tubs and boards that prisoners were tied to and drowned to extract information etc… My mom would bring her dad and others with him food. The Gestapo tried to get out of him who helped him escape from Germany to Warsaw and finally sent him to a place he could not escape from - Dachau concentration camp in Germany.
My mom and her mother were offered a factory in East Germany as compensation for what the Germans did to her father. They declined, knowing that Germans still regarded them as sub-humans. They heard that people who went to Germany would often end up being killed there because of the hatred taught by the Nazis. They also wanted to stay in their home country which they loved.
During WWII my mother lived two blocks from the Warsaw ghettos. She lived on the 9th floor of a large building, and was able to see what was going on in the ghetto over the walls. She witnessed Jews being beaten, rounded up for train transports for the Treblinka death camp as well as mass executions against walls by machineguns or pistols. She saw the dead Jews lying on the streets and sidewalks before being taken away on carts. She sometimes walked the street along the boundary of the ghetto wall that separated it from the rest of the city. The Germans were intentionally starving the Jewish inhabitants and preventing medical supplies from entering the ghetto as a method of killing those within its walls before the extermination camps were built and in full operation.
Fresh water supplies were cut off in the Ghetto so the disease Typhus ran rampant in the Ghetto in the 3 years of its existence before it was destroyed and liquidated by the Germans finally in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising when the remaining Jews in the ghetto that had not been already shipped out in forced train shipments found out about the truth about fates that awaited them after being “resettled in the east” (liquidation by mass gassings and mass cremations at Treblinka).
The small ghetto was liquidated and closed by the Germans first during the deportations. It was left walled off uninhabitable and guarded by the Germans, quarantined because of all the disease that was present within. The Germans occupying the city were tremendously afraid of an epidemic spreading to their troops. They had signs posted everywhere saying that “where there are Jews there is typhus” and “where there are Jews there is fleas”. The Germans of course produced the conditions for both in the 2 Jewish ghettos.
When typhus and fleas reached my mothers building near the Ghetto, all the occupants of her building were forced out, and the inside of all of the rooms and corridors and stairs of the building sprayed down with high strength bleach. My mother was taken with her mother to a high school were they were all inspected for fleas and shaved bald if any were found, along with sprayed with DDT. This was after a mass shower in which everybody was stripped naked and showered on mass. All the women and children were showered separately. The male German soldiers took special delight in checking out the naked women and played games hitting my mum with pure cold water followed by scalding water. Some of the women in the shower were pregnant and miscarried during the shower losing their babies. The Germans did not care about the Poles who they considered subhumans. My mum heard rumors of the non Jewish poles being next in line for extermination after the Germans were through with the Jews. The war fortunately ended before the Germans got to this level of purification in the process of making Polish land available for future German settlements once the Poles were “removed and dealt with”.
A lot of people were sick in the ghetto from typhus and other ailments compounded by malnutrition and fleas from improper bathing and clothes washing facilities caused by the sever lack of proper water supplies. Non Jewish Poles would walk along the walls and occasionally throw in food, medicine, bandages and other necessities over the wall in places that German bunkers situated alongst the entire walls of the ghetto that were more distant, when the Germans were not looking, were distracted or quite simply the distance from the bunkers was too great for proper policing of the walls,. When the Germans did see this happening they would gun down the people trying to help the Jews in the 2 ghettos. My mother has a very vivid memory of walking alongside the wall where there were small openings in the bottom of the walls for drainage. She would often hear machine-guns on the other side. From these openings the gutters of the adjacent streets would fill with - instead of water - blood. These openings were so small that a small emaciated child could squeeze through them.
One time she was walking near the ghetto when she saw a young Jewish boy squeeze through an opening and dart out to grab and start eating an apple core that had been thrown in blood filled gutter. At night Jews in the ghetto would send out their small children to forage for food and medicine in the neighborhoods immediately adjacent the ghetto. The Germans had signposts out that anyone caught helping Jews would be executed. Many Poles helped them regardless. My mother got to know a young Jewish boy who would visit her home at night with any possessions worth anything outside of the ghetto. He used to be a neighbor before the Germans forced him into the ghetto. He always wore clothes with lots of pockets sewn on them. The children would trade any physical possessions for food and medicine for their families in the ghetto. They had little value in the ghetto where people were very sick and starving to death. My mother and hers would then trade them for more food and medicine. Each time the boy came at night he looked skinnier and skinnier. Eventually he stopped coming. My mother always assumed that he was eventually deported to a concentration camp, got sick and died, or was killed getting caught getting things for his family.
After the extermination camps were built, transport trains full of Jews would leave the ghetto. Some of the train cars were open on top. My mother and her friends would toss food and containers full of water into the open tops of cattle cars crammed full of people crying out for food and water. The trains were packed so tight that people could not even lower their arms down. German guards riding on the tops of the trains would shoot to kill anyone trying to help the people heading to the camps. My mother got to know a German guard by sight that was an incredibly good shot with a rifle. She went to the train tracks one day with an acquaintance whose husband was missing and she was figuring he was heading to one of the camps. She insisted on trying to see her husband one last time and trying to get him some food and water. She thought he had been rounded up in one of the many roundups that occurred in Warsaw as reprisals for resistance actions in the city. My mother was with her when this woman stuck her head out from behind a tree and got shot by this German guard in the head. All she could do was watch her die as the train went by. Later on it turns out that the woman’s husband had died in a bombing of Warsaw by the British of one of the many munitions plants in the city that the Germans had set up to help with their war effort. All over the occupied lands non Germans were dying from the inaccurate allied bombings of the times.
Eventually word got around the Jewish ghetto that the people being “relocated” to the camps and the trains were being exterminated and the Warsaw ghetto rebelled against the Germans. The Jews of the ghetto refused to show up for more transport trains and took up arms with what little they could get their hands on. From where my mother lived near the ghetto she saw ghetto Jews jumping to their deaths sometimes on fire from multi-story buildings - preferring to die that way rather than burning to death from flamethrowers. The Germans raised the ghetto and that was the end of it.
the war broke out there were Polish policeman who chose to work with the
Germans. Most were policeman before the war who continued to work in their
field after the war started. My mother was told by a Polish policeman
(after he made sure that Germans there were not looking) where to find
the office of the head of the Gestapo at Gestapo headquarters in Warsaw
when she went looking there for her father after his arrest. The policeman
had a relationship with a relative and was known to the family. He was
later seen by my mother and grandmother after liberation by the Russians
and communist Polish army forces and tried to make believe that he never
worked with the Gestapo in the city. My grandmother reassured him that
they meant him no harm and would not divulge his activities during the
war which included the arrest of fellow countrymen for political reason
or for being in the resistance. After being confronted with this, he never
the less fled the city to family outside the city limits.
Another policeman who worked with the Germans met his fate at liberation in a strange way. The Russians that entered Warsaw at liberation had a deep seated hatred for the Germans. Many war crimes were committed - especially on Soviet soil - and the Russians wanted revenge. A Russian soldier told my mother that he would slit the throat of any German he would meet on his way to Berlin. Despite my mother’s young age he vowed to return and wed her at wars end.
Going back to Polish policemen, there was another one whole house was appropriated by Russian troops as were many in the city, at liberation time. The Russians did not know he collaborated with the Germans until he got drunk with them. Russian troops always had supplies of vodka and would fight under the influence (being issued vodka just before battle). The policeman got loose with his tongue under the influence and gave away his activities with Germans during the war. My mother saw him the next day with a wire tied around his partially severed neck being dragged behind a jeep.
There were some who made the occupation under the Germans more tolerable by bartering or working with them. This was the case of a Pole who was a foreman at a German run factory employing forced labor from the Warsaw ghetto as well as non Jewish Poles from the city. My grandmother worked at his factory where she saw him being callous and abusive towards Jews working there. Many Poles worked at German run plants. They had no choice. One time she brought some food for a Jewish worker who wanted to barter with her with some possessions from the ghetto. My grandmother did not want the possessions knowing that many Jews were starving to death in the ghetto, but the worker insisted on bartering. The foreman saw the trade take place and ran over and hit the Jewish worker in the face and took the food from him. He later told my grandmother that if he survived the war that this Pole would be the first he would come after with a noose. The Jew apparently perished at wars' end as he did not return to Warsaw. As for the foreman, fellow Poles saw him trying to loot leather from the factory at liberation time and chased him down cutting a hole in his bag of goods spilling the contents behind him. They shouted at him that it was bad enough he worked for the Germans and tormented fellow Poles but now stealing from the factory made him disgusting to bear. The Germans had brought many Ukrainians Cossacks and Mongols into Warsaw to wantonly kill Poles (especially after the Warsaw uprising) They were from the ranks of recruited Russian Pows and collaborators. They were given the choice to die in captivity or join the ranks of the Germans. They were less civilized than the Germans, and were recruited to do their dirty work. The Germans always made sure to give plenty of alcohol to ease their work. They were a constant menace on the streets. My mother was told that the Polish foreman ran into a Mongol soldier on the city streets on horseback that indiscriminately lanced and killed him. Another time my mum saw a mentally disabled person get bayoneted by another Mongol on a horse walking around a corner on a street, innocently unaware of his dangerous situation at the time. They were just one of many who perished being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
My mother had several close calls with death but those are different stories. World War II spanned five and a half years. In that time my mother had many memorable experiences.
Life during the Occupation
Life in Warsaw during the war oddly enough involved spending many hours indoors, as the Germans occupying the city were very ruthless to suppress resistance movements during the war. My mother was a child during the war and would often find herself playing in the blocks near her home when German trucks with loudspeaker systems would come through the city blaring that curfew time was going into effect and to clear the streets. Curfew time sometimes came as early as 1:00 pm in the afternoon. As the occupation lasted 5 years this meant much time spent indoors. The time seemed to vary a lot depending on whether or not the Polish resistance movement in the city had taken any actions against the Germans in recent times.
She once found herself a little too far removed from home and did not make it back to the house before a watchman locked a gate to her building. She scaled a fence in her dress and found herself hung up on the spiked top of a fence. The next thing she knew was being pulled off of the fence by German soldiers. They laughed at her calling her a harmless small child - “kinder” in German. They had the watchman let her back into the house.
During the curfew time people had to keep quiet in the houses or Germans would fire their rifles in the air outside the homes as warning shots. The sounds of formations of German soldiers goose-stepping outside the home could often be heard along with Germans singing marching songs. The Germans seemed to like to move their military convoys at night also. At night every crack in every window had to be covered in thick tarpaper to hide any light from getting outside and getting to British bombers that would visit at night going for arms plants. Again Germans patrolled the streets looking for the slightest light leaving any house or building. If the Gestapo or Polish police came at night everyone turned off their lights
One of the ways that my mom helped herself and her mother to get what they needed during the war was to barter and make a profit off of farm goods from outside the city which she would bring into the city to sell and make a profit off of after paying the farmer his cut to buy other things that she and her mother needed. She would take a train back into the city with her goods as did many other people. One day the Germans stopped the train and commanded that everyone get off the train. The Germans would take everyone’s possessions and often even the people regardless of age would be taken away by large trucks. If it was a reprisal for resistance activities in the city, these people would end up on trains to concentration camps, or worse yet find themselves in a mass grave in the woods after being machined gunned to death. Some people were taken to Germany as slave labor. These people would simply disappear off of the streets and their families did not know their true fate. That is how my mom’s dad first ended up in Germany. Some survived the camps or factories and returned after the war. Some were killed in Germany by Allied bombings of the factories there. Going back to my mum, she was a young girl at the time and many times Germans told her that she looked like a German girl. She did not obey the Germans outside and stayed on the train with her produce goods hidden under her dress. A German soldier checking the train noticed her but let her stay and continue on the train smiling at her and calling her kinder (German for child) as he passed. The same German likely sent many other Poles to hard labor or death at other times. The train eventually went on and the conductor was surprised that someone was left on the train to signal it to stop down the line. My mom was the only person left on the train. It was just another close call.
During another roundup at a train station my mother and everyone on the train started to run away from the Germans trying to round them up scattering in all directions. The Germans had a couple of blocks around the station cordoned off and turned loose vicious German shepherds that chased after all of the people and started to tear them up with their teeth.. My mom hid in a bush away from the train and a German shepherd ran over to her. My mom spoke sweetly to dog that she did nothing to it, begging it to leave and it ran away without giving away her position to the soldiers and immediately jumped on another person and proceeded to attack him.
Another time a German soldier on horseback tried to intentionally force his horse to stomp on my mum with its front hoofs after raising its front legs. The horse started to dance on its back legs and eventually threw the German riding him. My mom was pulled from a rose bush by an older German officer who wiped the blood off of her face. He then called over the other German that tried to kill my mom and slapped him on the face.
My mom seemed to have a lot of luck with the Germans occupying her country. She was a cute little girl and reminded many Germans of their daughters at home. Not all Germans were bad. She was playing outside by a German army field kitchen one day when a cook called her over and told her to go home and bring a container for some hearty soup with meat that he would give her on her return. She was afraid to go back but her mother told her to go ahead. She had to go back two times as the German wanted a larger pot knowing she was hungry as well as others with her even though my mom refused to admit that she was hungry lying saying she had plenty of food at home. Mom returned home and her mother had her get the next door neighbors and they enjoyed one of the best meals they had in a long time thanks to an unlikely source.
Visitors From Above
An ironic part of WWII was that during the occupation of Europe by the Axis powers, the non German and Italian people were being bombed by the Allies as well Germans and Italians. The Germans had many armaments plants running in the occupied countries, including some near my mother’s house in Warsaw. As a direct consequence of this and the given inaccuracies of allied bombings especially at night my mom was being bombed by the British during the war. Everyone, including the cat ran downstairs to the basement at the first sound of air raid sirens. My mom’s mother was especially afraid of the bombings and my mom tried to cover her head with pillows to protect her from the noise as well as laying on her to physically protect her from bomb fragments or loose rubble from above. My mom had a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary which she always had in the basement with her to which she would pray for God to spare her and her loved ones lives. It was one of the few articles from the war which survived past the war and is up on a relative’s house in Poland to this date. During one bombing my mom did not make it completely to the basement before bombs started to rain down near her home. A bomb knocked her off the top of a flight of stairs leading down to the basement and dislocated one of her shoulder blades. Because it was wartime and the injury required a lengthy hospitalization in a cast after surgery, the injury was never treated and remains to this date as a physical scar from the war.
During another bombing my mom had another close call when a red hot bomb fragment landed between her head and nearby boys head on a pillow and started to burn the pillow. They were lying near a window. The weight and heat of the bomb fragment alone likely would have killed either of them had it hit them.
My mom had the opportunity to witness some of the British bombings of the city a night. The bombers would fly over and flares turning night into day as the Germans feverishly fired antiaircraft guns at them. Searchlights would be crisscrossing the skies looking for them and once a few converged on a single aircraft it would be singled out by the guns which many times shot them down in flames. Mom remembered that the Germans would be waiting to pounce on any crew members who parachuted down before the Polish people could help them and would cordon off the entire crash site of the bomber meticulously picking up and putting on trucks even the smallest fragments of the planes to later analyze for any new technology they could reverse engineer and put to use.
Hospitalizations During The War
During the war it was not uncommon for people to disappear from hospitals and later be killed by the Germans as they were not productive human beings. It was because of this that my mum’s injury during the war remained untreated. She was knocked off of a flight of stairs leading to her basement during a bombing and had her shoulder blade dislocated. Also my mom’s mother had to have a portion of her stomach removed during the war. My mom and her family and friends had to search for a doctor to agree to perform the procedure. They brought a retired army doctor out of retirement who agreed to perform the procedure under local anesthetics as she was too weak to go under general anesthesia. My mum’s mother suffered from malaria during the war from the pests that came with the horses from the bestial men from the Soviet Union that German recruited to terrorize and kill Poles in Warsaw. An unfortunate consequence of the German occupation is that the Germans rounded up and sent to concentration camps anyone who they perceived could be part of the higher schooled group of people including doctors, nurses, priest, nuns, civic leaders etc… They thought that these people would like be the leaders of any resistance organizations that would form under the occupation. In many cases, the Germans simply went through the phone books to identify many of these people and find them. My mom was really afraid for the safety of her mother after the surgery in the hospital and a strong girl friend offered to help bring her home on a stretcher if need be. Germans often killed people who could not work or sent them to concentration camps. Needless to say her stay in the hospital was as short as possible and my mom’s mother recovered mostly at home.
While my mom’s mother was in the hospital someone had to take care of my mom as she was still a young girl. She first stayed with a Polish woman who forced my mom to stay away from school and instead take care of chickens and ducks leading them around like a pied piper having tem follow her as she called out to them and fed them by hand. A German man who lived in Warsaw that knew my mom and her mother saw my mom crying doing this one day and took her in to his home to join his kids. He treated her like a daughter but she was only allowed to speak German in his home. My mom knew German and still understands it a little from the five years it was taught to her in school during the occupation.
After the war vengeful Poles accused the same German of wearing uniforms and collaborating with the occupying government doing all sorts of things. My mom and her mother testified on his behalf at the end of the war however he still spent time in prison and returned a changed man.
Life did continue as on as best as possible during the war. My mom remembers a wedding during the war that took place at night. It was held in a big church and many people were invited including a few higher ranking German officers. They were invited so that the Germans outside would leave them alone as the wedding took place after curfew and the Germans were suspicious of gatherings of larger groups of people. The wedding took place in the dark under the light of only one candle in the front of church because of blackout rules. Even the windows of the church were covered by tarpaper. The service was done in relative darkness with everyone singing and responding to the priest from memory. Surprisingly the wedding went off without a hitch and afterwards everyone enjoyed whatever food was scavenged for the reception in the basement. The German officers proclaimed that it was the best food that they ever had in a long time.
Courier and Lookout
As my mother was a small girl during the war she was used to transport small arms, pamphlets and notes for the underground. The Germans walking the streets did not pay much attention to small children. She was taught to swing her bag of goods (most of the time not knowing the exact contents were) in a nonchalant way skipping down the streets. Other times she and her friends acted as lookouts for the underground in the street as they played, signaling the presence of Germans. During the Warsaw uprising my mother helped sew the white and red armbands that those who took part in the uprising also wore in addition to preparing bandages for the wounded.
Shopping With Her Escapee Father
One of my mom’s memories of the war involved her with her father window shopping at a For Germans Only store. A pair of lacquered black shoes caught my young mom’s eyes. My mom’s Dad was a fugitive escapee from Germany at the time however he insisted on taking and unnecessary risk and using his German language skills to convince the German shop keeper that he was a German. My mom explained to me that she just wanted to never go into the store and just wanted to leave once in however her father insisted on her try out shoes and even eventually asking for the shoes in the display in the window as her size was not on the store shelves. She could not believe he potentially risked recapture for a pair of shoes.
day my mother has told me about several times, was when she was staying
with relatives during the occupation. Germans came banging on the door
to the home with their rifle butts. They were looking for younger men.
Either some Germans were killed in an attack by the Polish underground
in the city and the Germans needed people to execute as a reprisal, or
they needed more able bodied men for slave labour sometimes as far as
away as France.
This day the Germans came too quickly and he had to hide behind a dresser with a cavity in its rear. The Germans were let in the house and they commenced looking for men. The cousin happened to have a cat in the house that liked him and would follow him around the house. As the Germans were searching the cat jumped on the dresser from a couch and started to nose around behind the cabinet meowing away at the cousin behind. The Germans were starting to take notice of the cat so my mother hurriedly snatched the cat and took it to the ground where she attempted to entertain it and maintain its attention, as it was again meowing away staring away at the cousin’s feet which it could see from by the cabinet’s legs. The Germans laughed as my mother toyed with the cat and left the house without finding the hiding cousin who was white as a sheet after coming out of hiding.
The Jewish Woman and the German Soldier
During the war a Jewish woman lived with my mom and her mother for four or five months. A German soldier found her and forced her to have a relationship with him as she was an attractive woman. He constantly threatened to have her picked up by the authorities in which case she would have more than likely lost her life. The relationship was abusive and the woman eventually ran away. The German came to my mom’s house threatening to turn in my mom and her mother for harboring a Jew which would have ended up in them being killed. He gave my mom six hours to produce the Jewish woman to him or else. My mom ran around like crazy to all of the Jewish woman’s friends and eventually found her and brought her back to the house where her mother told her she could no longer stay with them and that she had to go back to the German. When the Germans left Warsaw, she went to Germany with the soldier and remarkably survived the war to later return and thank my mom and her mother after the war for hiding her.
After the outbreak of the war my mum and her mother returned to a house on the outskirts of Warsaw from the city when it was safe to. They had left this house because my mum’s father knew the front for the fight for the capital would include the area around the house. The city had been occupied and Poland had surrendered to the Germans. As my mum approached her home, she noticed the neighbourhood kids that she had often played with wearing her clothes. The neighbours’ houses had been bombed out and they lost all of their possessions when this had happened. My mum’s house survived the fight for the capital but had been looted by the neighbours. My mum told me her mother could not even get back one dress for a change of clothes from her former neighbours. The only thing that was salvaged in the home was bread dried in the oven and overlooked by the looters prior to my mum leaving her house as emergency provisions for the trek to the city. So were the fortunes of war when it became everyone for them selves.
During the occupation my mum knew a woman whose husband was being held by the Germans at a prison as a political prisoner. The prisoners would communicate with people on the outside by rolling up bread putting it on the windows with water and making words on the windows to their cells. This woman found out this way that her husband had found out that an execution date had been set for him. The woman was determined to save her husband. Everyone thought that things were hopeless for him. She was able to obtain some high proof, high quality Polish vodka and trade it with German guards for her husband. He survived the war because of a couple of bottles of good liquor.
Value of a Name
During the occupation there was a period of time when my mums mother worked in a café frequented by Germans. There were times that she would work late and not make it back before police curfew hours. She would have to try to make it home avoiding German patrols. One night she found herself being chased by Germans who caught up with her and demanded to inspect her bags. She explained that she had food for her child but a German insisted on sifting through her bags with his hands. The underground would sometimes move arms and leaflets around the city in the bags of civilians. The German soldier put his hand into bag and found it in the middle of a jelly roll. He angrily withdrew his hand and went for his pistol swearing at my grandmother until the other German with him told him to stop because my grandmother had a German name - Frank. Her life was saved by her still having her first husband’s last name. A horse drawn carriage was then called for her to finish her trip home - frightened, but alive.
My mom’s mother did suffer from having a different name from her husband when he was in forced labor as the children and wives of those in forced labor in Germany received stipends to help their families during the time their loved ones were in Germany. My mom received a stipend having the same name as her father however her mother did not ever formally being married before the war.
Foraging for Food
Food was very scarce during the war. Everyone lost weight. Everything was rationed. My mother and hers often ate raw potatoes, beets and onions because they were so hungry at that point. The farmers guarded their fields often with dogs and manned shacks. My mom’s mother at one time worked in a factory as an inspector for heavy machined parts for the Germans. She received extra ration cards for performing had labor but this job did not last throughout the war.
During the beginning of the war, the Germans were bombing Warsaw and strafing columns of refugees and soldiers on the roads or anywhere else they were caught in the open. It was during these air raids that the children of the civilians under siege would take advantage of the air raids and go out into the fields and dig for vegetables for food before all of the all clear sirens sounded and the farmers and their dogs reappeared. My mom’s part in getting food was relegated to this type of activity. My mom was caught in an open field foraging for food with other children when German planes appeared and started to strafe the children caught in the open with machine gun fire. My mom remembers seeing the faces of the pilots in their goggles. Her dad had instructed her not to try to run but to hit the deck when caught in this situation, so she shouted out to the other children to drop down flat on the ground. After the planes had left she got up and noticed that a lot of other children were not doing the same having been hit with machine gun fire.
People did what they had to do to eat and stay alive. My mother often felt guilty about stealing from the farmers and felt compelled to confess to this to a priest in church who told her it was all right considering the circumstances and to return to the fields for more should the need arise. The farmers harvested their crops in such a way that they often left vegetables behind unharvested, from which people were able to get at least a little food if they took some risks and looked hard enough. My mom and her mom often ate raw beets and onions from the fields from which they just brushed off the dirt from the fields because they were so hungry.
A somewhat funny story related to the food problem involved the family cat.
Again food was scarce and everyone my mother knew, including herself, was losing weight and going around hungry. In the meantime the family cat was strangely enough gaining weight and getting fat. It was found out later that the cat was raiding a pen of pigeons from a neighbour on a regular basis. The pigeon owner swore to get even with whoever was stealing his pigeons but could not later bring himself to hurt the cat when the mystery was solved. It was just another necessity imposed by war. Even the animals did what they had to do for food.
mother owned a rooster as a pet. One day it too disappeared. She found
its head thrown in the garbage of a neighbour. Someone apparently stole
and killed it for food.
Struggling To Make a Living
During the war people did whatever they could to make a living. My mom remembers four former Polish soldiers who were all amputees that made a living during the war going around in a group and with their beautiful voices singing La Poloma and other songs. People would toss money into a waiting hat to support these unfortunate men and listen to some wonderful tunes. The men were popular with the German soldiers who also liked to sing as comrades during the war.
The General Warsaw Uprising
As the Russians neared Warsaw on their way to Berlin, my mother was in the nearby suburb of Ursus because of the aftereffects of the bombing at the café her mother worked at and because her father kept escaping from the Germans and the Gestapo always came looking for father to her and her mother. My mother moved over 5 times during the war because of this. Most of the time she moved to relatives houses or whoever was willing to hide her and her mum despite being hunted by the Gestapo trying to find her father. The underground resistance in the city rose up against the Germans to try to free the city and establish a Democratic Polish government as was in exile in Great Britain supported by Britain and the United States.
The uprising started in a neighborhood of Warsaw called Wola. The underground was so active in this neighborhood that the Germans did not enter it except in extreme force. My mum often saw effigies of Hitler hanging from lampposts often in this neighborhood. German patrols would reach a bridge going to this neighborhood and turn around being afraid to enter it. Poles died for this act of disrespect and anger. The Polish resistance was poorly armed. The Russians purposely stopped their advance on other side of a river outside the city and let the Germans build forces and destroy the city and kill as many of the combatants as possible. Hitler proclaimed that he would leave no stone unturned in Warsaw for having the audacity to rise up against the German occupation. Warsaw was the most severely destroyed city in Europe during the war. The Russians dropped only WWI rifles without parachutes and incompatible WWII ammunition for them.
The Russians supported their own puppet communist government and found it convenient for the Germans to get rid of free Polish forces supporting the government in exile in Great Britain since the onset of the war. My mother recalls watching as United States and British planes tried to drop supplies by parachute in containers to the nearby Poles battling the Germans in Warsaw. She rejoiced with her mother as the supplies parachuted down to only later find out that 80% of the supplies fell into German hands because the front lines were changing in the city so much. The resistance was loosing the ground that the drops were going into and they had no means to communicate the changes in front lines to the planes making the drops. The planes had no way of accurately making drops into the shifting and small drops with the technology of the day. The uprising was eventually crushed by the Germans and the home army that orchestrated it was at least allowed to surrender with POW status. As for the civilian population, they were all rounded up and sent to concentration camps. There were placards posted that anyone who helped the Warsaw inhabitants did so risking their own lives.
During the uprising, the Germans had a large railway gun near my mom’s house which they were using to shell the city which my mother called “Big Bertha”. The windows of my mom’s house were all broken from the gun firing. The whole house shook as the gun fired. My mom recalls even some doors falling from their hinges from the firing.
My mother remembers how a couple of German soldiers came to her home in Ursus immediately after the uprising looking for Warsaw inhabitants knocking on the door and how the Germans could not even open the door because it was blocked by a room full of Warsaw people and their bedding on the floor as well as two Jewish women that had somehow eluded the Germans for 5 years. The young German soldiers started to laugh when they looked in the room. My mom’s mother was only able to get out the situation that could have gotten everyone in the room killed by appealing to the German soldiers who she called sons by again speaking about her once having a German for a husband who was lost during the first World War as seen on her identity papers with the German last name of Frank. The soldiers told her mother that they would not arrest everyone this time but to get rid of everyone except her daughter, because those following them likely would not be so understanding if they discovered what they saw in the house. My mom’s mother was forced to tell everyone to leave for fear of the safety of herself and especially her child.
the uprising the Germans were ordered by Hitler to blow everything up
in what was left of the city. My mom was witness to a German being captured
by Poles after the Germans left the city who had been blowing up bridges.
He had not managed to get out of the city with the German army. A crowd
of people gathered around him furious with what the Germans had done to
once beautiful capital city. They started to pick up rocks and rubble
and started to stone the German. The crowd tried to get my mom to join
in considering what the Germans had done to her father but she refuse
saying that the German might also have love ones at home like her father
My mom witnessed the German being stoned to death in the end run.
A few days after the uprising failed my mother heard the sound of tanks, accordions, and singing. It was the Russians and Poles fighting with them in the communist forces. My mom remembers rejoicing that the occupation was finally over after five years. She watched as a Russian tank drove by. There were drunk soldiers on it in addition to a fruit tree from which the soldiers were eating off of.
Later a Russian soldier came to mom’s house demanding a watch. My mom and her mother had already hidden all of the valuables knowing of the reputation of the Russians. My mom recalls pointing out to a clock on the wall with pendulums in response to the soldier’s demand. He barked out that he needed a watch for his hand and not for his back! My mother then grabbed a knife and stood up on a chair with it raised towards the soldier fearing the stories of Russians raping women and girls. The soldier told her she was pretty but also a little devil.
The same soldier later returned and told my mom to grab a bucket and cleaning supplies and she joined a whole truck load of terrified young Polish girls sent out to clean Russian soldiers’ quarters. She was introduced as a pretty little devil to a higher ranking officer who she told what had happened to her father. She was later released as the only girl sent home with food without a frightening and tiresome ordeal at the hands of the Russians.
My mom saw many people die during the war. Near the end of the war she was crossing a bridge with other civilians and Polish and Russian soldiers on their way to Berlin. The bridge had been mined by the Germans before they left, and sappers only had time to clear a narrow path for traffic. An old woman with a cart strayed off the marked path and set off a mine which started a chain reaction with the other mines. Everywhere the mines were going off and people were running and screaming. Pieces of people and animals were flying everywhere. My mom recalls seeing arms legs and head flying through the air. When it was all done everywhere lay wounded people and animals. The people were all screaming and moaning. A badly wounded soldier begged my mom to finish him off. My mom went into shock and started running away until she found herself kilometers from the bridge in a ditch crying before she came out of hysteria.
While Away from Home
One day mother came to the door and found a strange woman there. She was asking for him, explaining that she was in the camp with him and he had helped her and her daughter getting food and in doing so helped them to survive the war. My mother, who was 13 at the time, chased her away swinging a broom at her telling her she would wrap it around her head if she returned. The woman left telling my mum that she was a little devil. And so ended something started while away from home and the wife.
The Return of Her Father from Dachau Concentration Camp
At the end of the war much time was spent waiting for people to return from places far away as in Germany. Most of the time people did not even know if family members were still alive as with people in the concentration camps or what awaited people as they returned home. WWII spanned over 5 years a lot of things happened in that time. My mother did not know that her father was alive until he arrived at her doorstep at the end of the war. My grandfather survived over a year at Dachau only because as a doctor after the war said he had a strong heart and body. Zdzislaw walked back from Germany at the end of the war with a cart full of things for his family. He was too weak to fight his way on the trains coming back from Germany. My mother watched what was left of him die a few months after the war ended, before he could make it to scheduled convalescence in Sweden. She remembers that he could only sleep with pillows around him from the beatings and broken bones. He had a lot of scars of torture on him from when the Germans had him at Gestapo headquarters in Warsaw trying to find out who helped him getting back to his family after his escape in Germany and Poland. Zdzislaw lived only a few months following the conclusion of the WWII in Europe. He was a walking skeleton and extremely physically abused.
After my grandfather had returned back from Dachau concentration camp in Germany, my mother desperately wanted him to formally wed her mother so that her mother could have the same name as her father. Kids at school often asked her why her name was different than her mothers and she felt almost illegitimate. It turns out that her father was previously married to a Russian woman in Eastern Poland who had died. Because no death certificate was obtained he could not remarry. My mother as a child actually went to the authorities and was able to get the death certificate to the amazement of her father.
Her father was on his deathbed after his ordeal in the concentration camp. One of last things he did while alive was change from his pajamas for the priest to carry out the ceremony to marry my grandmother. He died a few days later with my mother at his side. He knew he was dying and asked my mum not to go to school that day and sure enough he passed away, but his name was finally passed to his wife, and his child now came from a normal marriage which meant a lot to my mother.
Aftermath of the War
My mom was in the Polish girl scouts at the end of the war. The girl and boy scouts were much different than here in peacetime Untied States. Many fought in the Warsaw uprising. My mom used to go out into the woods looking for mass graves from German executions. Her group would ask people living near the woods if they saw trucks going into the woods during the war or if they ever heard machine gun fire. They would often find mass graves or the mangled bodies from Gestapo torture with people with missing nails, mutilated breasts and faces, broken bones and crushed hands etc…The bodies were so bad that the funerals had to be with the coffins closed if they could identify the people. One day my mom walked into a minefield by mistake. She was still young and thought that the mines were giant mushrooms. Luckily older scouts wizened her up. There were times that the scouts also found overgrown Germans in the woods or their camps with hot cooking utensils still there. The army was called in these cases. Another time my mother got lost deep in the woods and had to follow a small dog accompanying the scouts to get out of the woods.
World War II did not end at the conclusion of the war for my mom. After the war my mom turned grey at a very early age from all of the stress and memories. For a while my mom was paralyzed from the waste down from her nerves being shot. Doctors told her that she would never walk again but she overcame this and as a matter of fact even still works to this day.
My mom worked in the old city of Warsaw after the war. Although the city had been destroyed during the war this market center of the city had painstakingly been rebuilt to look as it did for centuries before the war had destroyed it and the rest of the city. My mom was working in a store in the center when giant rats the size of cats started to appear skirting all over the shelves and through the doors. It turned out that the building had been rebuilt on rubble from the war and that the builders had not dug out the remains of people who were amongst the rubble. The rats were literally growing huge and multiplying in large numbers on the remains of human beings. Sanitation crews were forced to be brought in and properly clean up the rubble of the uprising in Warsaw.
After the liberation of Warsaw the devastated city started to rebuild. The fallen bricks from the bombed and shelled out buildings were used to build new buildings. The rubble was taken apart to build. It was during this time that the masons started to find stashed away valuables moored into the walls and buried in basements by the previous occupants of the buildings trying to save the belongings from the pillaging German Army earlier in the war. The masons became rich on the valuables of the dead and soon began the full scale treasure hunts in the wealthiest parts of the city once word got around about what was being found hidden amongst the rubble. Soon everyone not only the masons started to dig and search the rubble of the basements of destroyed buildings and the skeletal walls that remained standing of people’s houses and apartments. One of my mum’s friends tried his luck at finding hidden treasures and unfortunately broke into a basement that had been an air raid shelter and landed in the dark amongst decomposing human remains from shelter that suffered a direct quite some time earlier in the war from a hit from either a railway gun or heavy artillery or large bomb from a plane. My mum told me that he was so disturbed and traumatized from this experience that he did not eat for a week. Needless to say he vowed to remain happily poor after the experience and never to treasure hunt again in the rubble of the wealthy in Warsaw.
The Experience In the Basement
Another of my mum’s friends entered the basement rubble of a friend who lived there during the war and found the what was left of his remains of his friend blown flat, smashed into a wooden walls from a direct hit of a large shell which penetrated the walls and floor of the building and detonated in the basement with the friend standing in it taking shelter. He recognized the corpse and also vowed to never search the rubble after the experience
The Story Behind the Memories
first started hearing my mother’s memories of the war in the 1960s
as a child. The stories fascinated me as I heard them and they helped my
mother deal with the emotional trauma of having experienced all of this
first hand. I cannot express watching someone close to you relive these
memories as they are told and the effect this can have on you. I’ve
seen my mother in deep pain in the past with things hurting her so much
that her eyes well up with tears and eventually her losing the ability to
speak. When my mother told the stories often she was not in the United States
in her mind but back in Poland during the war. I’ve heard her stories
many times. Again in a way her memories have become mine in a second hand
way over time. I’ve heard them so many times that possessing a good
memory I have memorized them.
My mom’s memories caused me to build a true fascination with World War II and the war in Europe in particular. I have grown up in a home in which I watched countless hours of footage of the war through documentaries and movies. All of the black and white video combined with all of the memories in addition to thousands of pages of books and photos on the subject that I read have really left a lasting imprint on me. The footage of the concentration camps; the walking skeletons, the bulldozers with the bodies, the piles of bodies in the gas chambers, they all haunt me. I cannot explain what drove me to read over four hundred page books on what happened in the camps other just wanted to know what my grandfather went through. I know of the pyramid shaped piles of dead, purple, naked, people that fellow concentration camp special commando inmates were forced to cleanup after the gassings and of the open pits of railroad ties that bodies were cremated, as well as the feet deep soil around the camps human ashes.
I know about the medical experiments without anesthesia on inmates especially twin children and how the second twin not experimented on was immediately killed after the first died and dissected for reference comparison, and how lampshades were made from tattooed human skin.
I know about how human hair was used as U-Boat insulation and furniture packing.
I know about the shrunken human skulls with their hair.
I know about the two twin children that were sewed together by the infamous doctor Mengele without anesthesia in a pointless and grotesque experiment, and later smothered to death by their own mother after she could no longer bear to see them in pain with festered infected wounds. I know too much that will never leave my memory.
I personally had experiences in the US Marine Corps that reminded me of footage of Jews getting into ditches for executions with shaved grey heads I underwent extreme abuse personally for being only 135 pounds and being 6 foot 1 inch tall and joining the Marines as well as being punished for needing to use medical facilities after experiences serious medical problems that could have killed me in boot camp.
I watched healthy young men being broken into crying babies calling for their mothers in only 11 weeks at the hand of a sadistic drill instructor who probably had something happen to happen to him in the Vietnam War. He did his job weeding out the weak and unfit. The recruits he put in the hospital should have never been allowed to enlist in the US Marine Corps. The military recruiters who signed them up for service should have been brought up on charges for the damage to those men. They knew what those young men were in for bringing in a person that was meek and stuttered and a grotesquely out of shaped recruit shaped like a bowling pin.
I can not imagine what it took for my grandfather to have survived the extreme abuse of Dachau concentration camp but I have experienced sadism first hand. It took 7 years for my abuse and my mums memories to catch to me and end my career in the US military. I don’t know why it happens, but sadism happens, and I am not ashamed to admit that I will be mentally ill and on medicine and getting therapy for the rest of my life. The material I have presented causes me a lot of pain at times. Again at other times I feel nothing extremely strangely.
I watched a story on Auswitcz concentration camp by the BBC in which camp inmates emptying gas chambers and throwing corpses on railroad ties in pits and watching and tending to their cremations said they got used to the smell and sights and were just happy to be alive and survive the war. After what happened during the war unfortunately I agree that human beings are capable of anything, and can get used to anything. That is an extremely alarming conclusion to reach.
From my mum experiences I also know that human beings are also capable of the great kindness and the willingness to take great risks to help other people. Not all Germans were bad in Warsaw during the war. The majority took no part in the barbaric acts detailed in this document. Some helped my mum and her mother. Look at the story of my mums experiences with the German officer in the Gestapo. He ran one of the evilest places in Warsaw yet showed kindness to my mum.
Writing about World War II and my family’s experience is part of my cathartic effort to deal with it. Maybe knowing that other people know about this material gives me some comfort. My mother would never have written about her memories. She does not know some of what I know about the camps. I will not expose her to more than she already experienced. Her material would have never left the close circle of the family. That would have been a serious wrong in my mind. Knowing that it out there serves a historical purpose also. Just like with the films made of the camps, I am documenting what happened during the war so that no one can say it never happened. I can not believe that there are actually people who can say that the holocaust never happened! I have tried to be very accurate with the material.
As more material surfaces I will update my mother’s memories as well as adding my Dad’s and other grandfather’s that also served during the war. I have been traumatized by this material and in no way want to share my trauma with others but I felt deeply compelled to take the time to write and share these memories.
World War II may have ended in April of 1945 but for my mum and me and millions of others it never ended and will never end in the future. I hope mankind learned some good lessons from the war. Evil, brutality and ethnocleansing unfortunately did not end with the war.
One only has to look at what happened in Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia and places in Africa.
World War II has left some permanent lasting effects in my home with my family. The refrigerator is always overloaded with food. My mum wastes a lot of food cooking too much food. My mum knows how it feels to be starving for food.
In the 41 years I have lived in her home she has only allowed one friend to visit me once in her home. I strongly feel she will never trust another human being outside of her family after what that neighbor of hers in Warsaw did during the war turning in her dad to the Gestapo. The Germans would have killed everyone in her neighborhood in a reprisal if they found her father hiding in that neighborhood. That man saved himself but paid a very heavy price. My mum’s dad was very well liked in her neighborhood. His funeral gathered a very large crowd of neighbors who loved him in his short life. Children especially loved him. As for the man who turned him in, he was harassed until he eventually hanged himself soon after the war. My mum used to see him always praying the rosary after the war I guess asking God for forgiveness for the terrible thing he did. I guess he never found his peace.
As for me I have had over 35 hospitalizations on psychiatric wards of hospitals since I first became ill in August of 1987. In my first hospitalization and manic episode I went psychotic and convinced myself I was Jesus Christ taking on the pain of the world. It has taken me 20 years to recover to where I am now. I just got of the hospital 2 days ago after 2 visits in 3 weeks spending 10 days in the hospital. I suffer from manic depression, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I have survived multiple suicide attempts. I am extremely lucky to be alive and especially so is my mum. Both of us know pain very well.
In addition to the war, my mum and I also suffered when her daughter died of leukemia at the age of 14 in 1975. I am not angry at my mum for hearing her memories of World War II. At one time I was. I fell very lucky to be her son and to be first generation of a survivor of the war. World War II has made me a much stronger and decent human being than I would otherwise have not been had I not been exposed to the war. This concludes this account and most recent revision. I have been typing for 6 and one half hours now and it is 6:00 am. I feel very much satisfied and at peace right now. I will heal over time eventually just like my mum. It is true time heals. World War II taught a lot of people how to hate. World War II has taught me and my mum how to love.
It's been great working with Chris and he has kindly sent me a recent photograph of him with Danuta (which you will understand will not be published on this site). Chris is going to do a little work in tidying up this page so keep an eye out for updates.
Christopher is open to people downloading his mother’s and his material and can be reached through the hoster of this site upon screening for genuine fear of repercussions from Germans in denial or Neo Nazis that will be offended by this material.
Chris is extremely interested in finding someone who could translate and type this material accurately into Polish. His family in Poland does not know of the history of their own family during the war.
Chris is also extremely interested in finding someone to accurately translate and type his other grandfather’s accounts of his experiences during war from Polish to English. Chris’s other grandfather Victor Juszkiewicz fought the Russians during the beginning of the war, spent time in Russian Gulags, and fought with the Polish Army under British General Anders at Monte Casino in Italy. This was after being released to the British along with other Polish PoWs . He was fortunate as an officer to not have been murdered by the Russians under Stalin at Katryn Forest or the camps. He could not return to Poland after the war having been a Police Officer Administrator before the war in Vilnius Lithuania which at that time belonged to Poland. He would have been hunted killed by the Russians as were all who participated and survived the Warsaw uprising. He spent time in England and later immigrated to the United States of America where he helped bring over Chris’s mum and Father.
Danuta died on 8 July 2012 from complications following surgery.