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former local mayor


Dlugopole Zdrój


June 1999


A coherent and flowing interview, perhaps reflecting the fact that it was conducted by the narrator’s granddaughter. Resettled to this area in 1945, Franciszek ended up as mayor for Dlugopole Zdrój during the 1980s and 1990s. He was born in the “flatlands”, in Borek Wieki, district of Debica (now in southeast Poland) but in his 20s, when his home was occupied by the Germans, “they appointed me and my brother Stefan… to go to Germany... whether we liked it or not. Father had to agree, cause there were too many of us at home, and there were no conditions to live properly.” He worked in Bavaria. His father was sent to a camp and ended up disabled but Franciszek harbours no strong feelings against the Germans, and felt sorry for them when they were displaced after the war.

He talks with passion about how beautiful the area was, and how it has deteriorated. He bemoans the lack of employment opportunities, and the rapid depletion of the forests. Believes the way of life has changed significantly, with very few people still employed in farming and most traditions either disappearing or being transformed (“all those traditions are so unfashionable now … generally speaking there are no traditions”). The lack of opportunities has led to a decline in mountain life, he feels. He highlights the ageing of the local population, as “everybody ran to towns, they got married somewhere and so … only old folks stayed in the villages”. This has, in turn, led to a social as well as environmental decline within mountain areas: “the villages are dying out here in the mountains … the land is not attended to, it gets grown over with bushes, weeks. There is nothing”.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  The narrator was born in 1920 in Borek Wieki, Debica. When war broke out, he ran away to Janowskie Lasy (Forest of Janów). He returned to find the area surrounded by Germans. In 1940, German officials sent him and his brother to Germany. He worked in Bavaria until 1945 (“it wasn’t that bad”).
Section 2  When he returned from Germany: “everything was burned, destroyed, the land ploughed with artillery, there was no food, nowhere to live, nothing to do”. December 1945, his family move west to Poreba village (district of Bystrzyca Klodzka). His father obtained a farm, which “wasn’t anything so … too much … cause the mountains were terrible”. Up to 1946, Germans were also living there. When they were displaced, the narrator’s family took over one of their farms. He then married and moved out of family farm. Got a job with District Cooperative and moved up the ranks until he became a president.
Section 3  Feelings about mountains (he came from “flatlands”): “in the summer it was very nice, cause the place is some sort of tourist place, Poreba …. in the beginning it was a beautiful village”. Tourists were Polish. Most settlers in Poreba came from Central Poland, mixed with those from further east, beyond the River Bug: “up to ’55, yes it was, farming flourished”. The Germans were displaced in March and September 1946, which was “a bit sad for them, and perhaps for some of the Poles as well…. the Germans treated us very, very kindly, very well”.
Section 4-5  No Germans stayed behind in his area and “the Poles started doing what belonged to them, each to himself”. They only taught Polish in the schools. Out-migration became common: “the villages are dying out here in the mountains. In 1955, he moved to Dlugopole and became Chairman of the District National Committee. Talks about how “farming was good business back then, really – life was easy back then. Everyone was happy, cause there was also food production co-ops, and those co-ops later collapsed”.
Section 6  In the 60s, he works in the Spa (some good detail) and gets an education. Retired in 1980.
Section 7  Mayor for 12 years in the 1980s and 1990s. Now he is disabled. Very few farmers left in Poreba and Ponikwa. Feels many cultural traditions are seen as “unfashionable” and are fast disappearing.
Section 8  Things have changed: “the dishes (cuisine) now are different from what we had before the war”. Talks about his journey to and from Germany in 1940s.
Section 9  “[The] forests are truly beautiful, but… they are getting thinner”). They are being cut down and attacked by pests and “all that will remain will be bare hills if it goes on like this. Unless they prevent it”. Believes people “want to be here, live [here], only there are no jobs … if only something was developing here”. The Spa is declining, the FWP and timber works closed and “lots of other places of employment have been liquidated.”
Section 10  The Spa cinema he used to run has “declined totally”. Ends on a wistful note: “if the weather was better, if I were a bit healthier, if only it was a bit better. Other than that …. I lead a quiet life, nobody does me no harm”.
Section 11  End of interview. Chronology.