Interview recorded:Mętków, Poland
Krystyna Środa was born in 1940. She has been living in Mętków ever since her childhood. She survived the war as a child and went to school after the war. In 1958, she married Tadeusz Środa. A year later, she took up a job as a shoemaker in Chełmek. She was also taking care of the household, which she still does.
Most of my grandmother’s stories were told her by my great-grandmother, who survived World War II.
What do you remember from the times of World War II?
I was still a child, so I don’t remember that much… Planes, shooting and rumble. Poverty prevailed everywhere. We had a farm, so we ate what we could produce: noodles, milk, eggs, potatoes, vegetables, bread, sometimes some meat.
How did the Germans and the Russians behave towards you?
Some Germans were stationed near our house and they would sometimes come to us. They were rather friendly, sometimes they took some food from us and talked with my dad. I didn’t speak German. I remember that once one of the Germans brought some sweets for me and my brothers. I kept them for a very long time, because there were no sweets during the war.
How did life look like back then?
My parents wouldn’t let me leave the house, I was seldom allowed to play outside. In the evening, even my parents didn’t go out. Everyone was scared. Luckily, our village was small and hidden between woods, so it was rather calm here. Sometimes there were some minor fights between the Russians and the Germans. There were also anti-aircraft cannons at the banks of the Vistula river.
How did people behave towards each other?
People were very helpful and friendly, everyone stood together.
How would you conclude your story?
I wouldn’t want to live through something like that again. There were good and bad moments, but war is never good. I hope World War II was the last war.