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Stara Lomnica


July 1997


This is a rather sad interview, with a woman resettled as a result of the war. Aniela still longs to return to her homeland, where she had an apparently wonderful childhood which she describes in vivid detail. This came to a brutal end with the war. Her family was caught in the middle of the fighting, with Chodaczków invaded several times by Russians and Germans. The narrator faced the barrel of a machine gun more than once. Eventually the Ukrainians “said it was their land. And they said, ‘You will go behind the San River, where the dogs go’ ... they would attack us, tried to chase us away”. They were sent away to Stara Lomnica, where she lives today. Her descriptions of settling in are poignant. Although they were farmers, the environment was different and they learned by watching the way the Germans lived and farmed (using machinery). She admired how frugal and “well organised” the Germans were. “When we first arrived, we looked at them and we thought how poor they were … [but] when Sunday came, they came in their Sunday best clothes, hats, handbags and things, so elegant. Our folks don’t know how to be frugal, the way the Germans are. Oh frugal, they are. And we learned some of it from them”. She recalls their sadness when the Germans were forced to leave, but they kept in touch and “during martial law in Poland, they sent us packages”.

Her nostalgia for the past often brings her to the verge of tears. Christmas, she says, was “a hundred times more beautiful than now”. At the end of the interview, she says she’d like to return to Chodaczków: “I’m still thinking about it. I was born there, I was brought up there. I always think about being there.”

detailed breakdown

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Section 1-2  Born in 1923. Vivid description of farming and family life in Chodaczków.
Section 3  War breaks out. Caught in the middle as “the Germans retreated, and the Russians came. And then the Germans again – I think it was four times in Chodaczków that they came and went”. The Ukrainians “finally chased us away” and they were sent away to Stara Lomnica.
Section 4-5  Returns to warm recollections of daily life and work (eg making linen) in Chodaczków. Remembers how “they would gather and sing those songs … [she sings one] … they stood up and sang. Unlike today - only vodka and vodka”. When she recalls those days, she feels “like crying”.
Section 6  Stresses “how good people were then. It’s not like today, people don’t like each other, they did back then”. Says there was more solidarity: “when someone was building a house, they would help one another”. How they heard that war was coming.
Section 7  Describes the journey from their old home to Stara Lomnica (“we didn’t know where they were taking us, whether to Siberia or elsewhere … When we finally arrived, we found they were speaking German, so we knew”).
Section 8  When they first settled in Stara Lomnica; “I didn’t like it. I always missed my home, I often cried. Somehow we had this hope of returning there one day”. “We were all scared. Those mountain are so high around here, we thought they were such huge clouds…” There were some problems of communication with the Germans, but “we washed, they baked for us, we talked”.
Section 9  Learned from the Germans, who were “so well organised….. They were frugal, they would put a patch on a patch”. German farmers had more technology and machines than the Poles in Chodaczków: “we would harvest with scythes, we used sickles”. Stories of courtship and pressure to marry.
Section 10  She regrets having got married, because she “you’re no longer free, you’ve got duties. You are like a servant”. Sad because they only had one child, and then only after eight years: “what good is one child? It’s like nothing”. Her son “was of weak health”, which she found “difficult”.
Section 11  When the Germans left “we cried, all of us .. I had got used to them – it was a whole year together. But they visited us later”.
Section 12  Her mother died before they left their homeland. Father re-marries three times. She would go back to Chodaczków if she could, because it was “where my mother was buried, one brother, another brother. I’m still thinking about it”.