Family stories
Grażyna Oczkowicz
Interview recorded: by Aleksandra Oczkowicz Katowice, Poland 24.11.2020

Grażyna Oczkowicz

Grażyna Oczkowicz was born in December 1937 in the village of Rzędowice in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship. Grażyna was the third of five children of Kazimiera Tkaczewska (maiden name Grzywnowicz) and Stefan Tkaczewski. During the war, Grażyna’s father was a partisan, so many of the interviewee’s childhood memories are related to the fight against the German occupier. Grażyna Oczkowicz spent her childhood and youth in Rzędowice, and after the birth of her children, she and her husband moved to Silesia, where she started working in an office in Sosnowiec. By these days she lives in Sosnowiec.

My name is Grażyna, now Oczkowicz, but I came from the house of Tkaczewski. My father’s name was Tkaczewski, so I came from this Tkaczewski house and we lived in a house where my grandmother, that is my father’s mother, lived on one side, and we lived on the other. And there were us. There were five of us, and then during the war, well, it was one less of us – there were four of us. The oldest sister was taken by my grandfather, my mother’s father. He took her  to the other village where my mother came from. She was from Częstoszowice – so that we have fewer children at home. So, she (older sister – A.O.) was not with us throughout the war, there were only me, my brother Dzidek, who was a year older than me, and Kazik. And Andrzej was also there, but he was already born during the war.

My father was a very, very fierce Pole-partisan. He was very handsome, tall and, as far as I can remember, he was only talking about fights, and about those partisans and he was a proud Pole. It was all a mystery. I remember my father teaching me that I shouldn’t say a word anywhere (about partisans – A.O.), because partisans were not welcomed. Some were with the Germans, you know how it used to be, because they liked them, others defended Poland, and my father was very stubborn. He would have sacrificed children, as long as Poland existed.

Our house was well situated, it was protruding into the field, not to the road. As all the houses faced the road, this one was not, and therefore these partisans could come […]. And later (father – A.O.) he would come and decide about something, and usually it was at our house. What to do, where to fight. How else can I say that…

But the people in the village didn’t like my dad, because he was helping the partisans. Because they thought that these Germans were so beautiful and good, and why risk everything? And people were against my father, because he also introduced misery on one side. As if he was taking care of the whole village, he was sort of commander and he looked after this village, but at the same time they did not like the fact that he was in the Home Army. But it was also that… You know, they bombed Warsaw. Warsaw, this Warsaw often appeared at home in the conversations, yes. Varsovians … Varsovians were brought to Tunel (the village nearby – A.O.) as far as I know and my father took care of them, so that they were taken from Tunel. He organised transport.

He was appointing people… I remember how they quarreled and yelled and called my father names and everything, but there was transport to bring the Varsovians. These Varsovians came to Tunel, they brought them by train. And from this Tunel,  father determined who had a horse and a cart, and who would ride and drive. In the village, he brought these Varsovians into some houses to live, but  they (the inhabitants – A.O.) had great grudges against my father.  My father took me everywhere. Somehow, he felt so good that wherever he went, he was always taking me and he felt even better. And father later looked after them (Varsovians – A.O.)He was going to  to see if they had anything to eat. Sometimes he would bring something from himself, would give them groats or potatoes. And these people (residents of the village – A.O.) complained about that, because they did not want to keep those Warsaw residents, but dad somehow forced them to do so. Warsaw was destroyed and these people must have been somewhere. Scholars also came. There were doctors, teachers, father took them, because there was a palace. The gentlemen, the owners (Mr. and Mrs. Zdziechowski – A.O.) had already escaped from the palace and the palace was empty. And my father put doctors and some professors there.

A girl would come. So “dry”, grandma said. Skinny, “dry”, and when she was coming she was so fat. And she was wearing a coat with rifles underneath. She was bringing weapons and bullets. I remember it, things like that. People used to say: Oh there she goes! What a fatty! She was bearly walking. I remember how they symphatise with her for carrying such weights. And later, one day she just didn’t come. They said, that she was dead, that Germans shot her.

This German was beautiful. I liked the way he was dressed. When he came, those officers’ shoes shone so much. I remember I was observing him. People from our village were so shabby in comparison with him. As if I envied my cousin, that those Germans were coming to her (German soldiers used to visit Mrs. Grażyna’s cousin, because the cousin was unmarried – A. O.). He (father – A.O.) consented to this so that they would not know that my father was in the guerrilla. That was what it was said. 

My dad had a friend, who lived nearby, his name was Molenda. And I can say this out loud, because it is definitely somwhere in the documents. He (Molenda – A.O.) went to these Germans. What was it called… He became a Volksdeuthe. And they were both great friends, because they used to go to the same class with my father. And he kept persuading dad to change sides. At the same time, he was my father’s friend, because he had warned him several times that the Germans… that the Germans were coming. He also warned him, because the uncle in Wola (the village nearby – A.O.) also helped the partisans a lot. And he warned that the Germans were going for control. He (Molenda – A.O.) did not even betray my father, but father kept saying that he was a Pole and he would not go to them (to the Germans – A.O.). There, I did not understand what they were saying, that Molenda’s head will fall one day[…]. In the end it was like this… The guerillas issued a sentence! The death penalty by shooting him. It wasn’t easy to get him (Molenda – A.O.). I remember that there was some kind of talking that it lasts a long time, that they cannot get him. How long will he be betraying Poles. But he did not betray my dad! He was close friend. And one time, they said they had killed him. They (the Molends – A.O.) lived below and my father told me to go check it, because I could go anywhere. Somehow they liked me very much as a child. He (Molenda – A.O.) was carried in a ladder wagon. This is how I remember it – he was lying on this cart, dead and they were taking him to his parents’ house. And dad told me to go to see it. And I went there and they didn’t kick me off from this house. And I remember him (Molenda – A.O.), I had this picture in my head for a long time. He was sitting on the chair, they put him there because they were shaving him. And surprisingly… I sat and watched it and they did not tell  me to go away from this house, because later I was telling everything to my father.

And the Germans came, I don’t know how many of them came. They shouted “open the door”, but there was no grandmother on the other side, because grandmother might have opened them, but grandmother was not there then. Grandmother liked to disappear. And they (Germans – A.O.), with their stocks  just smashed that door. I cried a lot, because these were such  beautiful, new door. I liked them so much. I felt like I could have something nice […]. I liked  beautiful things very much. Well, I liked these (door – A.O.) so much and they took it and destroyed it into nothing! I remember them like that, splinters everywhere… Germans screamed to open the door, and then we didn’t open them, because daddy was at home. From this partisans.. from this forest… And in underpants he fled the room. As he slept in the room, he did not have time to get dressed or catch anything. When they hacked this door, they entered  because they were looking for weapons. And they put us against the wall, they told us to keep our hands on the wall, and I remember that I was holding one hand on the wall and holding my mum’s dress with the other. And they screamed a lot. Some curses, they were yelling a lot, and we were so scared. I think they were supposed to shoot us, but they didn’t shoot us then, just… And they took everything in the room, threw it out, trampled it, smashed it, broke it with their stocks.

After, my father was already seriously sick. Somewhere out there, when he was running away barefoot, undressed, in pants, as my mother said, because he was running away straight from bed, this is how they slept in their pants. That’s how father escaped. And it ended with the fact that he was gone for a long time. Was my mother looking for him or she didn’t look for him, I don’t know. I know that my father did not come back and he wasn’t there, and then he suddenly appeared and did not go to fight anymore, because he was terribly sick. But he lived to see the end of the war. He was lying on the straw, in the barn and on the wagon. In the middle of the barn, my father was seriously ill and I remember that I had communion somehow then, it was probably after the war. I came and started complaining to my father that I wasn’t dressed nicely (during the communion – A.O.). That I didn’t have a nice dress, that others were dressed so nicely, and that I was so poor in a borrowed dress, and I remember how I was bewailing. And daddy told me: my daughter…My dear daughter, he told me, “Daughter, if I were healthy, I would send you in a veil!” I remember him saying that I would go to this communion in a veil and that I would be happy. Well, you know, some things that you remember so well.

There were many people against us. They teased us terribly, because they said that because of our father, they lost a lot, because he wanted to be a partisan. They were talking badly about guerrillas all the time, they didn’t like us in the village. Even at school, when we were attending, they were still teasing us. Partisans! Partisans! They used to call us that way. They did not like us in the village very much, and that lasted a long time. They were not in favor of the partisans in this village. On the other hand, there was the headmaster of the school[…] and one more man, who together with my father ruled all these partisans. But then he went somewhere, because they were looking for him, because Poland was against the partisans. There were times when they thought that if it weren’t for the guerrillas, there wouldn’t be such a war or something. So I also know that they didn’t like my dad very much, but the headmaster was for the guerrillas. Because he understood it, he was very rational and he knew what Poland was. But he didn’t show it because he couldn’t show it, but he was helping us. He helped a lot.

From left - Stefania (the oldest sister), Zdzisław (called Dzidek), Kazimiera Tkaczewska (mother of my grandmother). Kazimiera is holding little Andrzej. Stefan Tkaczewski (is standing), Kazimierz (in white clothes) and Grażyna (my grandmother as a child)From left - Grandfather Grzywnowicz (father of Kazimiera Tkaczewska), little Zdzisław sitting in the middle and Stefan Tkaczewski

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