Tchórzewek, 1946

The Germans’ visit to the Polish villagers

During the German occupation, an order was issued that slaughtering cattle in the rural villages would be severely punished. It very often happened that the gendarmerie would drop in for an inspection and search the houses for meat. During one such visit, the following scene took place in our village.

Gendarmes with threatening faces went into one of the buildings. They were received by an elderly woman, the only resident in the house. The gendarmes greeted her by saying: “goodbye”. The old woman was pleased and bid them farewell several times: “Goodbye, goodbye.” In spite of that “farewell”, they began their inspection by asking: “Mother, do you have pigs?”, “Nay I don’t, gents,” the woman replied phlegmatically, twisting the corner of her apron in her hands.

At that, the courtly sow which resided with her plentiful brood in the other chamber protested with a resounding oink. The gendarmes, astonished, went there and saw the abundant litter and asked: “And what is that?”. “Pigs, gents,” was the composed answer. “Why are they not ringed?” a gendarme asked sharply in Polish. “She’s done eaten it, gents”. “Register the pigs and ring the piglets! Do you slaughter pigs?” “Nay, gents.”

After this, the gendarmes started to search every nook and cranny and triumphantly pulled out a trough full of sliced pork from under the bed. “And what is that?” a gendarme asked the embarrassed old woman. “’Tis a piglet, mister”. “You killed it against the rules, didn’t you?” “Nay, gents”. “What do you mean nay and nay all the time, crafty old woman – who killed it?” “Died by ‘erself, gents. Done ate the ring.”

The gendarmes cursed and swore in that jabber that only they understand, and they threatened the old woman with their fists, ordering her to give the meat to the village head. They finally left, seen off with the woman’s submissive bow: “Goodbye, gents.”

And after them went the old Polish villager’s piquant Polish words. After [the gendarmes] left, the old woman seemed rejuvenated. She cleaned the pots vigorously and hid the meat in various places, grumbling to herself: “You lot’ll eat, (offensive)”. She looked lovingly at the pigs and said to them to cheer them up: “Don’t be afeard, I’ll nay give ye up! Yer mother does nay have a ring and neither’ll ye! Just rings and rings! They can go stick rings in them Kraut gobs!”

The gendarmes finally left, stating that the piglets that had been ringed two years previously had not grown at all, that is, that the magic rings had stopped the growth and development of the piglets.

Those are some pictures from the occupation in which the hated occupier was outmaneuvered by the jest of a Polish peasant.