Family stories
Teresa Kozyra
Interview recorded: by Klaudia Fizia Kraków 26.11.2020

Teresa Kozyra

When the war started Teresa was 10 years old, she lived with her family in the small village of Sikorzyce in the Tarnów poviat. In the interview, my friend recalls the fate of her great-grandmother Teresa during World War II. Gabriela also told about her own feelings about the Second World War and the knowledge about 1939-1945 gained throughout all the years of study.

What is your general knowledge about world war II?

In general my knowledge concerns what i have learned during all the years of education and also the subjects i had during my studies. And generally from such stories of my great-grandmother, want i know from school? Here are certainly basic things: when the war started and ended, who took part in this war, what consequences it had, issues of the Holocaust, the Jewish population and also discrimination, and how the Germans tried to justify their policies and actions.

In your opinion, was the knowledge given to you at school reliable or was it cursory overwiev of the topic? Was i tan important topic?

I think that when it comes to the Times from elementary school to high school, it was rather in the form of e-lessons and according to the study program. So we had a few hours and we just discussed this topic. In college i had the opportunity to choose more specialize subjects that were more interesting for me so then i could explore this subjects more, but i think it depended a lot on me and what interested me the most.

What age was your great-grandmother during the war? And in what area did she live then?

She was 10 when the war broke and she and her family lived near Tarnów, in the village Sikorzyce.

So your great-grandmother was no longer a child but was also not a teenager, she was in a transition period? Does she remember anything from the that period?

I think yes and that of what she knows she always told me and my family. She does not remember much from that period and as a child she was not too interested in military actions. She knew that there was a conflict but she did not explore this topic. The situation was different in the countryside than in the city.

Did your great-grandmother go to school during the war?

You know what about school, it’s hard for me to say but probably not. Because there was a kind of prison organized at the school.

What was life like on countryside during world war II? Were people on the countryside witnesses of the conflict?

I find it difficult to say, there were situations related to, for example denouncing the Jewish people or the fact that one of the German soldiers came to their house. Only as if lot of things were not said and my grandmother knows only some and fragments of the history. She knows that there was a war but she never talked about some details.

Was your great-grandmother eagerly returning to her memories of war? Was she eager to talk about them?

On the subject of war, it was never a problem to return to this topic as we asked questions, my grandmother was always willing to answer. In total she talked more about such everyday simple things because it was the most important for her. Then i do not remember if someone was active in any organizations or structures. So she didn’t talk about it, this was rather a story about everyday life.

Did your great-grandmother know about the existence of concentration camps?

They certainly know because on of her brothers died during the transport to the camp, only that they not  know it directly but someone just told them that such a situation had happened. The awareness of the existence of the camps was perhaps in the later period of the war. I don’t remember exactly in witch year but she was sure there were camps and this is not a good place.

Do you think it is important to cultivate the history of world war II?

I believe that we should cultivate knowledge and tradition and pass this knowledge on to the next generations. I also think that it would be nice to open up to the history of other countries and allow young people to learn about events from Poland but also from other parts of the world about what happened in time of war, so that knowledge would simply be alive and be passed down from generation to generation.

Should history be conveyed only as a theory or should modern forms of communication also be used?

Such transfer of theory is needed because we need to know the facts i think it also depends on how the teacher presents the knowledge to us, but also i think it would be nice to create international platforms were people could exchange their knowledge and experience and it would also open people more to themselves and made it possible to understand another person.


The interviews are given in the original language or a transliteration of it with preservation of national, regional and individual speech peculiarities.

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