Oscar Wilde once said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” I interviewed my grandma who was born in 1935 in a small village of Gnatowice. She witnessed the war as a small child, and that experience stayed with her for the rest of her life. Nonetheless, she always seeks the best things in life, and each day tries to share something important with others. This story is centered around emotions and recollections, and describes the life in the time of the war, as seen through the eyes of a child.
Gert Malerius grew up in East Prussia, the town of Pillau. Close to the end of World War II, he had to flee with his mother and brothers. He tells how they fled as well as the living conditions afterward.
Grażyna Oczkowicz was born in December 1937 in the village of Rzędowice in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship. Grażyna was the third of the five children of Kazimiera Tkaczewska (maiden name: Grzywnowicz) and Stefan Tkaczewski. During the war, Grażyna’s father was a guerrilla fighter, so many of the interviewee’s childhood memories are related to the fight against the German invaders. 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 for an office in Sosnowiec. She still lives in Sosnowiec.
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’ve heard stories about World War II since my childhood. So during the project, I decided to learn more about my ancestors in those trying times. I am going to start with the stories of my grandmother Svitlana Pylypivna about her parents. My mother is a history teacher, and the issues of historical memory and the history of Odessa during WWII are of particular interests to her. Therefore she helped me voice the video and process it.
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.
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.
Bernd grew up in Northern Germany. He speaks about his childhood memories during and after the war, the role that National Socialism played in his family, and his mentally ill grandfather’s story.
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.
Halyna Serhijenko was born in 1946 in Mariupol, Donetsk oblast. She tells about the events that took place in her family and the town during WW2 based on the words of her parents and friends.
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!
Zinaida Laskova was born on August 21, 1926 in the village of Hnylozubivka into a large family. She survived the Holodomor of 1932-1933. My great-grandmother witnessed World War II. When she was 16 years old, she was taken to Germany, where she worked first at a factory and then in a local tavern, where the locals used to come for a beer. After the war, my great-grandmother turned back home. On her way home, she was accompanied by the scary-looking prisoners of concentration camps. After the war, she got married and had three children. Until the end of her life, Zinaida Laskova was considered by many to be a very cultured, honest, and kind person.
My grandfather survived the siege of Leningrad. After the war he studied Archaeology at the Department of History.
During World War II many families were forced to resettle and head to the West leaving behind all their belongings. It was an exhausting travel in goods wagons. Zofia Mazur was a victim of the process.
The story of survival, an unknown soldier and a family.
I don’t know where my dad went. He wasn’t at home for almost a week. When German soldiers left the village he came back and his friend told him: “Don’t show the dog!” But how to hide a dog, where?!
My grandfather speaks about his life, the main focus is put on the emigration from Lviv to the Polish Recovered Territories.
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.
The interview was conducted by my grandfather and his wife with her father, Edward Szukiel, and then prepared by me.