Oliver Jagolski
Oliver Jagolski

Interview recorded:

Oldenburg, Germany
04.03.2018

Tags:


I interviewed my father, who was born in 1972 and will talk about his father and grand father as well as his uncle. His grand father, my great grand father, Georg Oscar Jagolski, was a major in the German army (Wehrmacht) during the second world war. He died in a battle in Russia. He was born and raised in Danzig and lived in Greifswald with his wife Meta Marie Jagolski and 3 children: Werner, Georg and Gisela. He also had 6 siblings, from which 2 emmigrated to the US. My great uncle, Georg Jagolski was a part of the German's 21. air force field division (21. Luftwaffenfelddivision) during the 2nd WW. Later on, he wrote 2 books about his work there. My grand father, Werner Jagolski, was born in 1928 in Greifswald and was a part of Hitler Youth. He was eventually captured by British soldiers during the war and imprisoned near Bremerförde.

My Name is Oliver Jagolski, I am 45 years old and I am going to talk about my grand-father Oscar Jagolski and my father Werner Jagolski. My grand-father came from a family of officers from Danzig [today Gdansk]. He died in 1944 as a major during a campaign in Russia. My father was part of the Hitler Youth.

Has the family ever talked about things that happened during World War II?

Only very little and in a dragging manner. The only thing I know is, as I said, that my grand-father died as a major and that my father was in British captivity near Bremervörde, where he was called to kitchen patrol, which later turned into his job.

In our closest family, hardly anyone ever talked about this kind of things. The only one who tried to come to terms with what had happened was my uncle Georg Jagolski. In the 1980s he wrote a book on the 21. Luftwaffenfelddivision, “die Adler” [“the Eagles”, an air force division], where he had served during that time. However, it was more of a factual book that did not express any emotions or anything like that.

Has anyone ever talked about blame, confessions or regret?

I have never heard of anything like that. No one ever mentioned something like regret.

They hardly talked about it. Even if we were just talking about the topic in history lessons and I asked them about these things, I only received avoidant answers or none at all.

Whenever I started such conversations, this immediately dampened the mood and they tried to change the topic.

What was the atmosphere like while talking about these events?

In most cases, it was rather cold and avoidant. From a present-day perspective, I would even say that not everything they told me was necessarily true. Only through this project [History begins in the family] did I learn that my grand-father actually came from Poland. Every time I asked where our family was from, I was told that the Jagolski family had been living in Germany for hundreds of years.

Have there ever been any investigations on the family’s history?

The only one who ever did so was my deceased uncle Georg Jagolski, who tried to find out more about where our family came from. This is why I know now that my grand-father was from Danzig [Gdansk], because in our family, our Polish roots had always been always kept secret. Everyone was proud to be German.

Did it have any effects on your generation that your Polish roots as well as the events during World War II had been kept secret for so long?

Well, it did not have any direct impact on us, since we always thought we were German. That my grand-father himself was actually Polish is something we learned only later on.

The most profound effects this has had on us, are the many questions remaining. Why did a Polish citizen fight for the Germans during World War II? Two siblings of my grand-father emigrated to America, they did not fight in the war. Why has the Polish background been kept secret in the first place? These are all the questions I am asking myself today, which unfortunately no one can answer, since no one who could is still alive.