Elementary School No. 2 in Hrubieszów
17 June 1946
My wartime experience
The year 1939 was very sad for us – our age-old enemies, the Germans, invaded Poland. Day after day we heard the drone of airplanes and the dull whine of bullets. We Poles thought that we would be able to defend ourselves, however our efforts were in vain, for we had not prepared ourselves properly for this war. The Germans drove deeper and deeper into our lands. Until finally we saw them in Hrubieszów.
Even when I was small, I knew that the Germans were our worst enemies. When they came to us for milk, I did not want to give them any. A Ukrainian who lived with us practically waited on them, and they were very happy. The Ukrainians started to listen to what the Germans were telling them and behaved violently towards Poles. People from Volhynia fled on carts to the Lublin region, taking with them whatever they could. A few families would live together in a single barn.
Soon, the situation in the Lublin region became just as bad, while worse still, many Polish families were evicted in winter and sent to Majdanek. Scores of children and older people died of cold in the wagons, while the rest perished in Majdanek, in Lublin, of hunger. Those who were sent there never returned.
Assaults or evictions could be expected nightly. I trembled when walking past a Ukrainian policeman. Searches of our house became more frequent, and many of our neighbors spied on the others. One day in November, two of my uncles were arrested; I never saw them again, they were executed by the Germans on the Twelfth Night. Many young Poles, the pride of the nation, perished at the time while trying to free their Homeland from the Hitlerite yoke.
During the day, our school was visited by the German who administered schools in Hrubieszów. He kept on giving us ever newer warnings and orders. He saddened us especially when he said that Poland would be no more, however we made light of his statements and readied ourselves to help save our country. Mummy always told me: “Do not listen to the Germans’ orders and never forget your Homeland – remember that you are of Polish blood”.
The Third of May was not officially celebrated, but we commemorated the holiday in our hearts. Oftentimes a great sorrow would overtake us, however then I would think that we are Poles and that Poland can never die. Our Queen, the Blessed Virgin Mary, cared for us and gave us strength.
Murders became more and more common in Hrubieszów. We left for Kazimierz. Only there did my frame of mind improve, for there were no Germans there, while the partisans were not afraid to come openly to the town. The ruins of the old castle brought to mind brave and famous people.
The partisans were active, and they forced the Germans to withdraw, on trucks, tanks and supply columns. I got to see many Germans in Hrubieszów. The partisans would regularly disarm the Germans. One day shooting broke out in the small township of Kazimierz. More and more people fled to the countryside.
The Germans bombed and completely burned down Kazimierz. When our house burned down, we were forced to become vagrants. We would frequently move from village to village, going in the direction of Hrubieszów. Poland was slowly regaining its freedom, so we greeted Hrubieszów with joy. I recalled these tribulations more than once. But my dreams came true, for you always have to believe and hope.