My grandfather was born in 1939 in Delmenhorst. Two years later, his father, a public servant, was transferred to Orlová (in those days: Orlau), the very west of today’s Czech Republic. In 1945 the family had to flee in the direction of Germany. In the following interview, my grandfather tells about his childhood in Orlová and about his memories concerning the family’s escape back to Delmenhorst.
Extract from the interview with Anna H. in which she recounts her family history & her memories of the time of the Second World War and the post-war era in Lower Austria.
I interviewed my aunt, Czesława Poprawska, born in 1928, who used to live in Kościan (a town in the Greater Poland Voivodeship, between Poznań and Leszno). She tells primarily about villages near Kościan. She experienced World War II not far from her family home. Her father was displaced to West Germany to perform compulsory labor, and came back after the war was over. Her mother and grandmother worked for the Germans; her aunt joined them when she reached the necessary age. When the war was over, she started working for a tailor.
When Maria was only a few weeks old, the cruel and inhuman World War II was already raging. Her first years of childhood are marked by nearly losing her brother in a bombing attack on Bielefeld and Enger, the absence of her father, who was criticizing World War II and the Nazi’s attitudes towards Jews, and her mother, who got sick (cardiac asthma) and distant because of World War II and its consequences.
I interviewed my grandmother Hanna Marshalok (maiden name: Zemba). She was born on April 12, 1948, in the village of Stary Skalat in the Ternopil region. After the death of her mother in 1959 and her father in 1960, she was placed in a care facility in Brzezhany. After graduating from the institution, she returned to Stary Skalat, worked in accounting at the Pidvolochysk distillery, while taking a remote learning course on food technology in Lviv University of Food Technology. Having graduated from the university, she worked as a technologist, first at the distillery and then at the home care products factory in Skalat. She married a fellow villager from a Polish family, Stanislav Marshalok. She has a daughter and a son. She still lives in the village of Stary Skalat. The interview includes Hanna’s recollections, testimonies of relatives and acquaintances about family history, relations between Ukrainians and Poles during World War II and in the post-war period.
I interviewed my father who was born in 1959. In the conversation, dad recalls stories related to World War II that he heard from his parents. From an exciting conversation lasting over an hour, I allowed myself to choose the most interesting fragments in which my father, among other things, tells how German soldiers lived in his parents’ house, and about the German gendarme Engelbert Guzdek who terrorized our region (Powiśle Dąbrowskie). This interview is an example of the second generation memories.
I interviewed my grandmother on October 4, 2020. She was born in 1936 in Grünberg (Zielona Góra), close to Lodz (Poland). Lodz was named “Litzmannstadt” during the German occupation from 1940 to 1945. My great-grandmother, grandmother, and six siblings fled from the Red Army in 1945. Since the army caught up with them a few months later, they were drawn back to their home. The living conditions were very bad, so they fled again in 1946. They settled in Lütgenrode, Lower Saxony. A few years later, they moved to Essen in the Ruhr region. My grandmother got married. She has five children and eight grandchildren. She is now 84 years old. My grandmother and I talk about her flight, the trauma, the time after the war, and the question of how her family spoke about the war after 1945.
Genowefa Ruman was born in Jastrzębik in 1949. She had eight siblings. Their parents were working hard to provide for the family. They moved to Jastrzębik from Zaorzyn in 1949, when World War II was over. It was still hard to survive, but the family members were supporting each other. Children were playing with neighbors’ children, sharing food, and helping each other. Despite the difficult times, Genowefa has warm memories of her childhood and youth. As a teenager, she moved to Krynica-Zdrój to live with her aunt. There she was attending gastronomy school and later started working. She got married in Krynica-Zdrój, and she still lives there.
In November 2020, I called my great-aunt Ursula and my great-uncle Achim to talk to them about their experiences during World War II and the post-war period. He was born in 1940; she was born in 1941. Ursula is the daughter of Else and Hermann. Else and Hermann had seven children, one of them was Ruth, my maternal grandmother.
Unfortunately, my family has never been interested in family history before. The project offered me a great opportunity to make a difference. I decided to record an interview with my grandmother because ever since I was little, I remember her telling about her father and his participation in the war.
Oleksii Sydorov was born in 1920. Until the beginning of World War II served in the Soviet Army in the Navy since 1938. At the beginning of the war he was called up for service in the navy. He was seriously injured and then sent to the Hot Key Hospital. At this, my great-grandfather’s participation in the war ended. He returned to his hometown of Baku in Azerbaijan.
I’m sharing a story that helped me improve my relationship with my grandfather. This story is about how failure can become a blessing if you want that.
This story is about our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who took part in the most fierce battles of the German-Soviet war. The events of the 1940s affected him so much that the victory he won together with millions of other soldiers, did not become a matter of pride, but rather something that he preferred to forget. Our grandfather hardly ever mentioned any details, the details of those terrible times, but what he did tell has remained in the memory of his children, including my grandmother (his daughter), my mother, my uncle, and in my personal memories. Together we have conducted our family research and put together all the information provided by our great-grandfather. The text has been voiced-over by my mother as one of the bearers of our family history!
The story of Stanisław Iwach and his family that travelled all the way to Wysoka, Poland from the Tarnopol voivodship in the Eastern Borderlands. The story is presented by an elderly social activist in his eighties.
Zofia Listosz was born in 1951, after the end of the war. In the interview, she spoke about the difficult life under the occupation, which her family and her dearest experienced. She also spoke about discovering history.