Zbigniew Dyk
Class 7

My memories of clandestine teaching

I lived in Skrzelczyce (Kielce district) during the occupation. Even though I was only small – I was eight years old – I started to attend underground classes. A network of clandestine teaching operated all over the country throughout the occupation. The clandestine teaching was supposed to teach children the subjects which the Germans had banned from schools and to fill the pupils with patriotic sentiment.

Our group studied after classes in school or at the teacher’s home. We learned under constant fear of the occupier who kept coming to our village in search of partisans. I was in June. We stayed behind after classes at school. The teacher was reading The Outpost to us. Suddenly, there was a growl from a car[’s engine] and [a vehicle] stopped outside the school. At once, we mechanically took out our exercise books and started doing exercises. The teacher hid the book between some wooden boards in the hallway. A few minutes later, we all split up and took the side roads leading home. I watched through the window as three Germans climbed out of the car. Half an hour later, two trucks filled with partisans arrived at our village. It turned out that there were also partisans in the first car, only they were dressed in German uniforms. At around 2 p.m., the partisans scattered. Two hours later, several cars carrying German gendarmes set off in pursuit. Another time, we were studying at the teacher’s house when one of the girls suddenly came running and said that the Germans were in the village. The children quietly snuck out of the teacher’s home one by one.

We were always very serious and focused during every clandestine class. Everybody knew the value of those classes where we learned an ever-greater love for our nation. The Germans were unable to stifle our patriotic spirits; the more they tormented us, the more feverishly were adored our country, the more voices joined in to sing: “Oh God! Break the sword that cleaves our land, bring us back to a free Poland.” In the end, we held out to moment when we were once more allowed to study all the subjects and when nobody forbade us from expressing our feelings.