wtorek, 18 września 2012

Made by TVP Opole

10:06, czeszka22
poniedziałek, 17 września 2012

For Poland, it was the start of a war that would leave millions dead and many more scattered across the world as refugees.

Danuta Maczka, now in her 80s, lived through this time. Her life traces a remarkable odyssey from her farmhouse in Poland, to a labour camp in Siberia, to Iran, Palestine and Egypt - and then her new home in London.

Danuta was born a country girl in Rovne, eastern Poland (now Rivne, Ukraine). She lived with her parents, brother Stefan and sister Zosia in a whitewashed farmhouse surrounded by cherry trees. In September 1939, Danuta was looking forward to starting grammar school - her father had already bought the blazer.

Then life turned upside down. German troops blasted into Western Poland - and Soviet troops arrived in the East. By winter, Soviet NKVD agents were rounding up the Polish army officers who would later be murdered in secret at the forest of Katyn. Ordinary families like Danuta's hoped they'd be left alone.

The knock came at 06:00 on the dark, snowy morning of 10 February 1940. Danuta remembers the voices at the door as the Russian soldiers ordered her parents out. They took what they could carry - food, warm clothes and blankets and bundled on to a sledge. "I looked back," Danuta says "and there was my little dog, running and running after us, until he couldn't run any more."

Hundreds of Polish families were crowded around Lubomyrka railway station. Some already understood that they were being deported to labour camps in Siberia and Kazakhstan, as civilians potentially hostile to the Soviet Union. No-one knows how many Poles were deported in those weeks, but most estimates reckon about one million.

"We were put on a cargo train," recalls Danuta. "It was full - 72 people in each wagon. There was a hole in the floor for the toilet, and a little stove." The Poles sang hymns and songs as they crossed the border out of Poland.

"There were planks to sleep on, like shelves. I climbed up to the top plank and lay looking out through a grating. I saw Russia going by - just empty spaces and snow." All the way, Danuta recorded what she saw in her diary.

As the journey wore on, babies fell quiet and died. "The guard would come and throw the dead babies out of the window into the snow. When an adult died, they'd put the body on a platform by the engine. When the train slowed, they'd put them off. But the children they just threw away."

The Poles eventually arrived at the Siberian logging camp where they would work. It was part of the old Gulag prison camp system - a complex of timber huts deep in the forest. There was no perimeter wire as there was nowhere to run to.

The forest was eerily still.

"There were no birds singing in the forest. No animals, no wolves or bears. There were not even mice. Nothing. There was nothing there. Perhaps the prisoners had eaten the birds, I don't know. But I never heard a sound."

Danuta's job was to strip bark from birch logs and feed them into a saw mill. She and her younger sister Zosia walked along the railway tracks to find tiny forest settlements. There they could trade their possessions for food.

Danuta's wristwatch went first. "The people there had never seen a shop. They had never seen something like my nightdress - our things were marvels to them. So we had a little food and some seed potatoes."

Danuta's mother grew enough to keep the family fed. "A lot of families died. There was a family nearby, seven children and the parents, and all of them died except one daughter. The mother had no milk to feed the little ones. There was no cow for milk. So they just died."

As the winter of 1940 drew in, Zosia fell ill with pneumonia. There was a hospital, with beds but no medicines. On Christmas Eve, Danuta and her father went to visit her.

"We went to her bed. We saw that she was dead. So my father had to carry her home. On Christmas Day he made the coffin and a little sledge to carry it. On Boxing Day we went to bury her. My father pulled the sledge and my mother and I walked behind, crying and praying. And we put her in the grave."

In June 1941, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. The captive Poles were now Soviet allies. They were given the choice of joining the Red Army or forming their own Polish army in exile, which was to muster in Uzbekistan, in the far south of the USSR.

Tens of thousands of Poles went south. Some boarded cargo trains once again, cramming into filthy wagons for days. Many thousands died of typhus inside - Uzbek villagers recall opening the train doors and bodies falling out like sticks.

Other Poles hitched rides on carts, or lashed-up rafts, keeping alive by eating raw potatoes in the fields.

The Poles marshalled at Guzar in Uzbekistan, under Gen Wladislaw Anders.

Danuta added two years to her age to make 18, and joined up. She embroidered a white Polish eagle on her uniform herself, and stuffed her huge boots with straw so they would stay on.

The Anders army was like no other in modern times. Not only was it formed in exile, but it travelled with all its dependents - husbands, wives and thousands of children, many of them orphaned.

Anders led this huge, diverse population of Poles through Central Asia to the Caspian Sea, where they boarded oil barges and sailed to Iran. British allied forces met them on the beach at the port of Pahlavi.

It was just luck," says Danuta. "The British made us all walk through disinfection spray - and while we were in there, they burnt all our things. Like my school blazer. What was really lucky was that I took my diary and my drawing book into the disinfection tent - so they came out with me."

The Polish orphans stayed in children's homes in Iran, but the military moved on to North Africa.

Still only a teenager, Danuta became one of 800 Polish women and girls to work not as army nurses or secretaries but as military truck drivers delivering ammunition, petrol and food all over Palestine to Polish and British forces.

"I drove a three-tonne Dodge. I was very small so I folded a blanket and sat on it so I could see over the wheel. The men were amazed to see us girls driving the lorries."

Danuta heard her first English words from the British Tommies. "They called me 'Baby'! I didn't know what they meant. I learnt 'Baby', 'corned beef' - words like that."

Many of the Jewish Poles decided to stay on in Palestine. Others, like Danuta, moved with the war to Italy in 1943, supporting Polish troops at the battle of Monte Casino. It was in Italy that Danuta met the young Polish officer whom she was to marry, and it was here the war ended for her. 

Danuta and thousands of other Poles were de-mobbed finally in Britain, where she was reunited with her brother Stefan and her parents. Some did return to their old homes in Poland. But Eastern Poland was now Soviet Ukraine, and they found themselves on trains to Siberia once again. Very few survived this second deportation.

Gen Anders lived in London for the rest of his life. Danuta had six children and settled near Epping Forest. Her house in east London is crammed with plants on every windowsill, her garden overhung with cherry trees.

They remind her, she says, of the farmhouse in Rovne she left 70 years ago.

All non-watermarked pictures courtesy of Gradosielska family archive and Kresy-Siberia. Monica Whitlock's programme A Polish Odyssey is broadcast on Witness on the BBC World Service at 08:50 GMT on 17 September 2012.

12:02, czeszka22
czwartek, 13 września 2012
poniedziałek, 10 września 2012


13:37, czeszka22
niedziela, 09 września 2012

After two great weeks in Bandera, Texas, we had to spend 9 hours in the plane flying from Houston to Frankfurt. Magda Dimitrowa was the one who was boring enough to start reading Lufthansa Magazin. To her surprise, the head article was "Texas: Where urban living meets the Wild West". And on the very first picture was Kevin Fitzpatrick, Lasso World Champion who performered for polish group during official welcomming ceremony, and also during Celebrate Bandera and Rodeo at Mensfield Park. In article one also can read about Twin Elm Guest Ranch, 11th Street Bar and Dixi Dude Ranch.

Amusing, isn't it? :)


Kevin Fitzpatrick performs during welcoming ceremony in Bandera

00:02, czeszka22
sobota, 08 września 2012

Autorzy projektu: Błażej Duk, Bruce Elicker i Agnieszka Pospiszyl

Sponsorzy: Towns for Towns - Polska, City of Leśnica - Polska, Richardson Custom Cabinet Doors - Pipe Creek, Texas

Pomocnicy: Debbie, John and Cameron Brzezinski - Pipe Creek, Texas and father Frank Kurzaj - San Antonio, Texas 


Wystawa 30 zdjęć formatu 100x70 cm, przedstawiających migawki z terenu powiatu strzeleckiego. Autor - oczywiście Błażej Duk, Zalesie Śląskie, Polska!

Zdjęcia dotarły do USA w tubie schowanej w mojej (czyli Agi) walizce i ważyły prawie 8 kg! Na miejscu już czekały ramy przygotowane przez chłopaków z Richardson Custom Cabinet Doors, których o pomoc poprosił Bruce Elicker.

W przewożeniu, montowaniu (nie ma to jak klej w spreju) pomogli Debbie, John i Camerom Brzezińscy (dzięki wielkie za pożyczanie samochodów).

Zdjęcia były prezentowane przez gmachem sądu w Banderze, przed kościołem w Panna Maria (podobały się biskupowi Yancie, emerytowanemu biskupowi diecezji San Antonio, który jest Teksańskim Ślązakiem), w Karnes City (miasto partnerskie Leśnicy) i Falls City w czasie dorocznego pikniku parafialnego.

Ks. Franciszek Kurzaj, pochodzący ze Sławięcic a obecnie pracujący w San Antonio, w najbliższym czasie przewiezie je i będzie prezentował w Poth, La Vernia i innych miejscowościach, w których mieszkają Teksańczycy polskiego pochodzenia.



Falls City, Karnes County, Texas, USA


Art exhibit to feature Polish photos

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

In conjunction with the bi-annual exchange visit of Polish officials, an exhibit featuring images of Bandera Sister City-County, Strzelce Opolskie, Poland, will take place at the Bandera County Courthouse. 

A group of officials and dignitaries will travel to this area just in time to help "Celebrate Bandera," the three-day event scheduled for Labor Day weekend. The Polish visitors will be in and about Bandera from Wednesday, August 22, through Thursday, Sept. 6.

With the assistance of Precinct 1 Commissioner Bruce Eliker, Agnieszka "Texas Agnes" Pospiszyl has prepared an outdoor photo exhibition of images highlighting the Opole Region of Poland that will coincide with the visit.

The display features 30 framed color photographs, measuring 27-inches by 39-inches. The exhibition will take place on the lawn of the courthouse complex from August 23 through August 26. However, during a meeting on Thursday, August 9, Eliker told commissioners it might continue through Celebrate Bandera on Saturday, Sept. 2. At night, the photographic images will be stored in the courthouse and re-installed on the lawn the following day.

After its debut in Bandera, the exhibition will be shown in Karnes City and La Vernia.

The photo on the left shows a field of poppies. According to Pospiszyl, the poppy is as typical to Poland as the bluebonnet is to Texas.
In the center photo, equestriennes wearing historical cavalry uniforms prepared to celebrate Nov. 11 - Polish Independence Day. On that date in 1918, Poland once again became an independent country. Americans know this date as Armistice Day - later Veterans Day - which marked the end of World War I with the surrender of Germany. However, the end of World War I enabled the Polish people to regain the freedom and unity of their country after more than a 100 years of partitions by Russia, Germany and Austria. The last partition, which took place in 1795, began a 123-year period that essentially wiped the country of Poland off the maps of Europe.
The third photograph shows the Mala Panew River - the only river in Poland. As Pospiszyl noted, "In this picture, it looks like a slow, lazy river, but after few days of heavy rain, the water rises three meters high. It's a good river for canoeing and fishing." For the math challenged, a meter is the equivalent of 39.37 inches.


22:29, czeszka22

21:51, czeszka22

Foto: Agnieszka Pospiszyl


20:20, czeszka22

 Foto: Agnieszka i Józek Pospiszyl


19:44, czeszka22
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