Interview recorded:Trzebinia, Poland
My great-grandfather Józef Graboń was born on 17th July 1913. My great-grandmother Rozalia was born on 8th February 1916.They were living in their own house in Libiąż and gardening their own vegetables. If they had some money, they bought additional food or exchanged it for potatoes. My great-grandmother helped my great-grandfather in his work, which was e.g. making coffins. Sometimes some Germans would come to collect the coffins. Some of them were friendly and helped my great-grandparents.
My name is Agnieszka Gomółka. My grandfather Józef Graboń was born on 17th July 1913, my grandmother Rozalia was born on 8th February 1916.
My grandparents told me about the war and what they had to live through. I remember these stories from my childhood. I was a small child back then, so it was mostly my parents who retold me these stories later. However, I remember a story about a situation which was difficult and traumatising for the entire family, when my grandmoter was captured by the Germans during a round-up. They were taking her to Auschwitz already, but she was saved thanks to my grandfather, who was a carpenter. Among many other carpentry, he also made coffins for his German clients. As I said, I was a small child when I was told this story, so I don’t remember the details, but I know that my grandmother was rescued from the transport. The Germans hid her in a coffin and she was taken back home to Libiąż.
I remember that my grandfather was very emotional about this. He would always say that some Germans actually saved other people’s lives and that my grandmother was able to survive thanks to them. My grandfather was a good man, he had a lot of strength and held a strong belief that people are essentially good in their nature. This is why it was difficult for him to understand how people could do something like that, how they could make others suffer so much and commit such atrocities. My grandparents managed to survive and I think this is a proof that there is a God. In those times, people had nothing to look forward to, nothing to eat and no one to help them, so they believed in God and that he would help them.
What did you feel when you first heard the story?
As I mentioned before, I was a small child back then, so I didn’t fully understand the meaning of the story. Only later, when I grew up and started reading more about those times, when I heard my grandfather telling those stories during family gatherings, I was puzzled that all of this actually happened quite a short time ago. That there were people who committed such crimes, that even children had to suffer. I understood that those situations, those stories I had only read about in books, had really taken place, that people had actually been that cruel.
The fact that people had really committed all those crimes made me feel sadness and sorrow. What is most inconceivable to me is the suffering of the children. In their short lives they had already had to endure it all, to suffer and to watch their loved ones die. I can’t imagine how much they were suffering. I was unable to understand it for a long time, but when you grow up, you learn to deal with things in your head. Nevertheless, I was very sad that something like that happened and I hope it will never happen again.