GLOSSARY
Poland glossary

Anna

(POLAND 13)

Sex

female

Age

69

Occupation

pensioner

Location

Szczytna

Date

July 1999

 

transcript

Section 1
Where were you born?
I was born in Ostra Gůra, near the Stolowe (Table) Mountains. Half of Ostra Gůra belonged to Pasterka, the other half - to Karlůw. There were about a hundred of us living there. It was a very small village. Fifty plus houses, a school, two shops, a restaurant - even then it had a telephone, with a stage for theatrical performances, a huge, historical mill, ďPalenkaĒ, itís in Czech because it was right on the Czech border, it was a brewery. Very thick walls, small windows. And there was a foresterís lodge. We lived on a farm, I even have a photograph. Very big house. Probably, it used to be a restaurant sometime in the eighteenth century. Large rooms, vast storage area for barrels and other things. Such semi-circular cellars, so cold, so solid. There was this huge chimney, it covered half of the flat, going up from below, along the stairs. Some time during the war it was filmed, that chimney.

When were you born?
I was born in 1932. My sister is one year older; my brother - six years younger. My mother ran a farm, my father was in the war since Ď42. He got killed near Grodkůw, so he was almost back home. Not far away from here. My grandmother lived with us, she didnít speak German, at home we spoke almost only in Czech. My mother spoke German to us because we were going to a German school. I completed only seven grades of the German school, only seven grades. Nothing more.

Why?
In such a small village, there were no conditions for anyone to get educated further. I didnít know Polish, so I couldnít go to schools. My sister moved to the Czechs, she lived there, got married. But sheís already died. Half of our farm extended to the Czech side. We had an annual pass, obviously nobody was carrying it around, but we had to have one, just in case. My parents bought, no, it was my grandparents who bought that farm on the Czech side, it was a few hectares. I donít remember now how many exactly. It was the land adjoining our land, so the grandparents bought it. They grew those beautiful roses of Klodzko there.

Why did your family decide to stay in Poland while all the other Germans were forced to leave their land?
Perhaps it was because we were partially Czech by origin: three-quarters Czech.

Three-quarters of your family were Czech?
Three-quarters exactly, my grandparents were Czech. And my motherís grandmother. And my father had Czechs in his family, although himself, he felt to be a German. This is how it happens on the borderland, people got married across the boundary. And so international marriages were formed. My mother was trying to speak German to us. And we had this school in the village. In my class, there were only four girls. Including myself.
Section 2
And the rest was only boys?
No, those four girls were the entire class. There were no boys at all. One desk, and at that desk an entire class sat. There was one classroom for the eight graders, and there were eight desks, I think it was eight desks, I donít remember exactly. The chairs were adjusted to the pupilsí height. And so a teacher would teach us. It was a very strict teacher, really trying to teach us something. You had to be prepared for every lesson, otherwise you were in trouble.

So there was one teacher teaching all the subjects?
Yes, one for all. There was one woman who came along from Pasterka, she taught us knitting and things like that. And a priest - to teach us religion, for about two years. After that we had to go to the vicarage in Pasterka to have religion classes, cause it was forbidden to teach religion at school.

Do you remember some important event from that school?
Well, about school, Iíve prepared a summary of a certain event on paper.

The school must have been a good one if youíve prepared yourself so well to this conversation...
I must say, Iíve got good memories from school. We often went to school barefooted because it was very near, quite close. You went uphill a bit, and you already were in school. During the war, the teacher often went to the forest with us to collect raspberries, and above all, leaves from the young bushes. We picked those young leaves. Everyone of us had this rag bag, we didnít have plastics then, so we couldnít use plastic bags. And then those leaves were dried in the school attic for tea for the soldiers. It was like an antibiotic for them, the raspberry is very good for you. And always during the break one of us had to go to the attic to stir the drying leaves a bit, so that they dried quicker. That attic was ever so clean. As children, we also knitted socks for the soldiers, we tried to because we were learning to do those things back then. We also made woollen ear muffs for them. And all that was sent to the soldiers. We even got some response, some thank you letters. In one of the homes in the village, they manufactured some sort of badges as well. Unfortunately, I donít remember what the inscription on them was.
In order to make some money, we would cut such small elements from wood, later they were painted and we had to submit a given number of those on time. I donít remember exactly what it was, I donít remember those elements, what they were, I was only ten years old. And our teacher taught us to sew using a sewing machine, we had two machines at school. And she taught us to spin wool. We often went to Wambierzyce, on pilgrimage. I was no older than five. I have a photograph of myself with my sister, in identical dresses, we spent nights on straw mattresses. I donít remember what we used to cover ourselves, but I remember those mattresses, a huge hall and a lot of people. But, you know, I was a child, I went to bed and slept.
Section 3
Apart from helping the soldiers, could you feel at school that there was a war going on?
I started school at the age of six, practically my school years were the war years, I completed seven grades. Our teacher was a very good man. We often won various competitions with Karlůw, in Karlůw, although our school was much smaller. There were only about 30 plus children in eight grades. And that teacher went sleighing, skiing with us. Our school was very well equipped. We had those wooden boxes you jump over during physical training classes. And hand balls and all. Really, there was a lot of it. Some Polish schools donít have that until this day, and it was such a small school back then, and it had such good equipment. We even had a film projector. Our teacher would hire some films, some fairy tales that the postman would bring. And the teacher showed them to us. Our teacher played the violin. We staged performances in our small village, there was such a room with a huge, fold-up stage. Our parents were so happy to see us perform. There was one play that I remember especially well. It was about dwarves. And even us, girls, would perform on the stage, with dolls and prams. Well, you had to learn as well, didnít you?

Do you keep in touch with your school friends?
No. I keep in touch only with one boyfriend from school. He sometimes comes to visit me here, every two, three years. He comes along with his wife. I also keep in touch with my teacherís son. I had contacts with my teacher until the end, until he died. We often wrote to each other, sent postcards, letters. And his son still comes to visit me. I donít remember when the teacher died, some time in the 1970s, but I donít remember when exactly. He died in Germany, he had been deported. I also visited them a few times.

How did your teacher remember these areas?
He worked as a teacher all the time, then he retired, and eventually he died. His wife lived longer. When we were at school, she cooked cocoa for us, we drank it during breaks. Every one of us had a mug hanging on a peg. Or she cooked broth for us, that one in small cubes you can get now. And she would cook the broth from them. We never drank just milk. And we would get grape sugar in tablets during the war. I remember that. We were well taken care of, really. And one more thing I wanted to say, maybe itís interesting, our village had electricity back in 1924 or in 1926, now some places do not have it yet. My grandfather was an activist, he worked in various organisations, associations. And he directed high voltage electricity from Scinawka to Kudowa, so that it went via Ostra Gůra. At home, we always had an electric iron, never one with a heater or anything. Since when I remember, there has always been an iron. Then we had a butter-maker, that was electric as well. And various other machines. It was a small village, but a very strong one. People supported one another.

Did the teacher live in the same building where the school was?
The teacher lived there, and there was one classroom, and a playing field. Not too big, but we could play football there. And the geographical maps were rolled up - you unrolled them pulling a string. That was necessary. I donít think any Polish school at that time had such equipment. I seriously doubt it.
Section 4
During geography lessons, were you taught about Poland?
I donít remember him saying anything bad about Poland, I donít remember him saying anything against the Poles.

What was the name of Ostra Gůra before the war?
Scharfenberg; Pasterka was Pasenberg, and Karlůw was called Karlsberg, so theyíre not Polish names, but German ones translated into Polish. In Pasterka, there is a church where we used to go to pray. But above all, we went to the Stolowe Mountains a lot, almost every Sunday. We had to help on the farm a lot, cause father wasnít there and there was only my grandmother, but she was old, over 70, and in the farm, my mother had to work alone, cut the grain, all the harvesting work, ploughing the ground with the ox we had, cows as well.

What German dishes did you learn to cook from your mother?
Well, I think the first thing would be blueberry noodles, thatís for sure.

Iím sure you helped your mother prepare the Christmas Eve dinner, what dishes were there?
On Christmas Eve, we had those noodles. We didnít like them that much. You cut a roll in cubes, added raisins, nuts - there was a walnut tree growing in the yard - some other exotic stuff like figs or something. You poured milk on it, and it was just too sweet. Thatís what I remember from the Christmas Eve dinner. There were lots of home-made ginger bread, always at Christmas. Shortly before the Santa Claus day, there was such a big tin box full of ginger bread, and my mother would hide it from us, she even prepared it in secret. And a lot of fruit, quite a lot.

Is there anything from that Christmas table that is still there today?
Yes, the noodles, definitely. What I donít do from among my motherís dishes is pork. Although back then we had meat only on Saturdays and on Sundays, unless some farm animals were slaughtered on another day, a hen or a pig. My mother also made what was called prusica. Itís a sort of a red berry. It was fried, and then thick cream was added. It was not a drink but an addition to the dinner. A kind of dessert. God, how delicious that was. We liked it a lot because it was a bit sour. And we ate a lot of sour cabbage. And a lot of fresh fruit, and even more dried fruit - pears, plums, apples. And mother would cook fruit soups - from those dried fruit, with noodles and cream. We made a lot of preserves in the jars, I remember because I did gooseberries today. Fruit, meat preserves, because we didnít have fridges back then. There was a good cellar, but that was not good enough.

Is there anything special that you learned from your mother or maybe from your grandmother?
Every Saturday, we had to have a cake. Nothing luxurious but that was a must - with cheese, fruit, whatever we happened to have at home. I donít know what hunger is. No luxuries, but we never had dry bread, either. There always was either lard or butter in the house. Not too much meat, but we never complained. We even helped others, cause there were poor families back then. In one family, there were nine children, so they needed help. They came up to get some milk, we would give them fruit as well. When we were going to school, we would take full pockets of fruit and give them to those children.
Section 5
The war broke out in 1939 - what does that date mean to you?
As a seven year-old child, I didnít really understand what it meant. Only when my father left, you could feel the war. By that time, I was a bit older, I was 10. You could feel that there was no father. He was in the eastern front. In January 1945, he came home on a leave, but then he had to go back to the front line, and he got killed near Grodkůw, as Iíve already mentioned.

After the war, how did you learn Polish?
That was not difficult, we knew Czech, and these two languages are similar. So we didnít have any problems.

Still, the language was a deterrent to your further education...
Yes, but there were no conditions to continue education, after the war they closed down the school in Ostra Gůra, there was no school in the village at all. The nearest one was in Karlůw. My youngest brother went to that school, it was a Polish school. My sister was already in the Czechs, and I didnít have any opportunities.

After all those years, do you wish you hadnít finished your education so early?
Yes, I do. A lot. I always wanted to work with children, I wanted to become a kindergarten teacher. I didnít want to teach at school, I knew I wasnít fit to that. But I always wanted to do something like that. I also wanted to be a bee keeper. We used to have a lot of bees. My father had 17 hives. And my grandfather had five or six. And so, in 1940 all that was put together. There was this big shed with such a huge hole, and at the back of it, there were all the necessary machines, tools. So when we didnít have butter at home, we had honey. Above all, it was good for you.

Did all your friends leave Ostra Gůra after the war?
Not all of them. One left as late as in the 1950s, I think two. They got married. One left with her Polish husband, the other married someone local. And they left as well. All that somehow got muddled.

Did you make friends with other girls immediately after the war, with Polish girls?
I had real good friends among the Poles. I keep in touch with some of them until this day. We donít live close to one another, but always, when there is some occasion, a funeral, a wedding, they call me or I call them. A lot of those friends came to my husbandís funeral and my daughterís funeral. I went to Klodzko. And they helped me a lot, when there was hay-making season or some other hard jobs. There were no problems. Personally, I didnít have any problems with anyone in Ostra Gůra.

Wasnít your German origin something to sneer at?
No. Perhaps it was because of our Czech roots, although we were German, after all we lived in Germany, we had German citizenship and all. Everything was German. We didnít have any problems with the language, which usually is the greatest barrier, sometimes impassable. Only my younger brother went to a Polish school, he was sometimes called names. I donít remember now what he was called. In the lower grades, he had to go to school in Karlůw. He would go there on foot, in the winter, we would take him in sledges, horse, because later, there was a horse in the household.
Section 6
What is it like nowadays?
I donít manifest my origin. In the 1970s, when someone came from Germany, I sometimes interpreted for them in the shop. I have never heard anything bad said to me.

How did the changes in village take place, gradually or abruptly; or maybe the village did not change after the war at all?
There were no war activities here, so there was no damage. At first, a lot of Poles lived here, almost in every household, but they later moved to Kudowa, to Radkůw, to Klodzko [pauses, showing me photographs of her home, a restaurant and a map of Ostra Gůra]. Behind the restaurant, there was a mill, a historical one, it had this huge wheel. The restaurant was demolished for the reconstruction of Warszawa - in such condition as you can see it in the picture now, quite good, with a telephone. And this is my family home [shows me a photograph].

Would you be able to describe your room to me now?
The house was very big, our room, too. I shared it with my sister and my brother. It was accessed directly from the corridor, a long room, two beds, I shared one with my sister, the other one was used by my brother, two windows, a wardrobe, glass cabinet - I wish I still had it - smaller closet, a table, two chairs and a large stove, you could use it for baking. But the baking took place from the corridor side because this stove was partially in the room.

Does your family house still exist?
No, itís been demolished.

When was it demolished?
In the 1960s. My parents moved to Kudowa, where they bought a small house. And they sold this big house for 3000 zlotys. Such a big house. The roof was thatched on one side; on the other, it was tiled. And there was a new barn, built after the war. All that was gone. Next to the house, there was such a huge walnut tree. And there were fruit trees everywhere, my father was a good farmer. He would import such quality trees. I remember, there were pineapple trees and such delicious apples. All that probably is still there, overgrown with nettles.

Why did your parents sell the house?
You couldnít live in Ostra Gůra. We lived virtually on the border, so we couldnít have a dog or a rooster, cause there were soldiers. Wild boars would come close to the house, and the dog would fight them. They set up a chicken farm, fenced it in, because it was in the forest, but still, a fox came and killed, I didnít know how many, 10 or 15 chickens within a short period. Crows killed about 50 young chicks. There was no way to lead a life. They had to move. They sold it after a year or two of living in Kudowa.

How did you get to Szczytna?
I got married, and my husband lived here. Heíd been here for some time, since he was 15, initially he lived in Karlůw. He was a forester. Not a forester, but an accountant in the forestry office. And then he moved here. My husband was Polish, and from him Iíve got the surname Furman.
Section 7
What was your maiden name?
Kulich.

What is the nameís origin? It doesnít sound either Czech or German.
Itís hard to say, cause here, in the borderland, you never know. My grandmotherís maiden name was Hupka, the otherís Ė SchelferÖ it sounds more German. And there was such a belfry in our village, I think it is still there.

Do you associate any events with that belfry?
They rang the bell every morning, evening.

How often do you visit Ostra Gůra now?
I donít go there at all. Today, thereís just old nettles growing. The village doesnít exist any more. There are just three houses left. Some maps do not even show it at all. It is sad, I spent there my childhood, my youth. And now look at this old map, how many houses there are. A friend from Germany brought it for me [Mrs. Furman shows me where her family home was on the map]. There was a fire brigade, in such a small village, there was a fire brigade.

Did they have a lot of work?
I donít think so, maybe in the forest. But it was there for safety.

What did other church holidays look like before the war?
On Thursday before Easter, grandmothers and godparents brought presents to the children. I still have one towel that I got from my granny, I keep it hidden. When we were going somewhere, we always got something special. Not only sweets, but something more. And at Christmas, we sang standing next to the trees. We would knock on the fruit trees and sing songs, but that was in a dialect: either in Czech or in German. On Palm Sunday, girls would go round the village singing songs. We had this ball on the stick, with colourful paper ribbons, and we collected eggs, sweets. That was a custom. And boys, on the other hand, I donít remember what day it was, either on the first day of Easter or the second, they had those willow twigs, and they chased girls and beat them. Not too hard, of course. Here, in Poland, youíve got Wet Monday, and there, we had willow twig beating. After the war, it all disappeared. But we were looking for eggs in the straw at Easter, unlike nowadays, when presents are put so that children can find them. I tried to introduce it to my children, but now itís only presents. And we really were looking for presents in the garden, presents from the Easter Hare.

Where do your grandchildren look for presents now?
Not in the garden anymore. When they were small, I always left something for them in the corridor, for children and grandchildren.

Do you remember any folk traditions celebrated before the war?
We had bonfires on St. Johnís Day, but I was too young to take part in that. Oh, yes, and there was the figure of Our Lady on the hill, and we had May services there, always with the accordion. Even after the war, in German, in Polish, in Czech.
Section 8
What games did children play?
The teacher organised various trips. You wouldnít call them long journeys, we went to Karlůw, I went to Klodzko twice during the war, only twice.

Were there any war activities in Klodzko?
No, I donít think so. There was only one bomb dropped over it or something.

Do you remember the moment your co-patriots were deported from these areas?
There was this mayor or something going round the village. They were told to pack up. So did we. We were already on our way. We left the house, but there was that man, Mr Grabowski, a new farmer in our house, and he ran out of the house after us, he wanted to have us back. He kept us from deportation - there was my grandmother, three children and only one person fit to work, my mother. So he had few people to work, a lot to feed, and the farm wasnít big. But he said, that Mr Grabowski, if he helped some German children here, maybe someone would help his children in Germany as well. His wife had been sent to Germany to work there, he had just come back from England. He hadnít had any contact with his wife since the beginning of the war. All he knew was that she was most probably already dead. And so he helped us so that someone would help his children. But those children never returned to Poland. But it was a really beautiful thing of him to do. Later, my mother married him, and I had another brother from that marriage, but he died at birth.

What was your attitude towards Mr Grabowski?
No problem at all. He spoke German, not to well, but he managed. And I think language barriers are the greatest deterrent to making friends, generally communicating. We didnít have that problem. He was a hard-working man.

How did the deported ones behave?
They were desperate, they didnít know what would happen to them. They took them in horse-drawn carts from Ostra Gůra to Radkůw, I think, and then further on. But I didnít take part in that so I donít know what happened then. Everybody cried, I saw that, we spent a few hours preparing to leave as well, we thought we would be getting on those carts as well.

Did any of your more distant relatives have to leave?
Most of my relatives were in the Czechs. My mother had just one sister, and so did my father. It wasnít a large family. All my cousins left.

How did you imagine your future life if you had got deported?
My mother was scared because there were rumours that they were taking children away from their mothers, some were sent to the east, others to the west. Nobody knew where, what would come out of it. We were glad to have those Czech roots, which eventually helped us. Because of that we didnít have any problems with the people who arrived here. All the village could speak Czech, I donít know if you could find a person or two who couldnít. Those who came to Ostra Gůra, got those farms for free, only later, they had to pay for them. I remember, we paid back this house, here in Szczytna, only some 15 or 12 years ago, cause the prize was transferred into the value of grain. And they deducted it when collecting taxes. Luckily, we didnít have to pay back the house in Ostra Gůra, that was a private property.
Section 9
When did you move to Kudowa?
In 1963, I moved to Kudowa and here, cause I got married later. My parents were almost the last ones to leave that village. Now the village is deserted. There are two houses on the hill, at the bottom of it, there are two houses too. The two at the bottom belong to the army, theyíre close to the border. And in those up the hill, there is someone, breeding sheep.

The last inhabitants of the village?
No, I donít know who they are. I know they are quite young people, middle-aged. But theyíre not the ones who came there first. Thos two houses belonging to the army were salvaged from demolition by my brother and my stepfather. They wouldnít let them get demolished when they came to do it.

Who was it, did they have a demolition permit?
It was ďsomeoneĒ, sent there by ďsomeoneĒ else. They had some paper. My brother was an adolescent then. They wouldnít let anyone in, they even spent the nights there.

Compared to Ostra Gůra, what was your life in Kudowa like?
Life was easier in Kudowa, we didnít have a farm.

Where did you work?
Only on the farm. Here, in Szczytna, I completed an agricultural school, such a winter school. I spent three winters attending the course in Szczytna. But as far as reading and writing in Polish, I am self taught. I learned most with the children, they were going to school. I saw their mistakes, but I made others.

Did you teach your children to speak German?
No, they learned German in the secondary school. They understand a bit, but they donít have much contact with the language so they canít be fluent. My husband and myself, when we wanted to hide something from children, we spoke German. Because my husband had been in Germany, near Karlove Vary, five years working there, and there, he learnt quite good German. So sometimes we were able to hide something from our children.

How many children have you got?
They were four, but one daughter died of appendicitis.

When did that happen?
That was in 1973, in Klodzko, but it was a mistake of our local doctor. And in Klodzko, they operated on her too late, they operated on her twice, and she finally died.

How old was she then?
Ten years old. It was the third child.
Section 10
What attitudes were you trying to instil in them?
I have always been trying to be a good example. No lying. If you promise something, you have to keep your word. When you ask for something which I donít have today, but I will tomorrow, in a weekís time or something. There was a cinema, I said, ďYou canít go today, cause I donít have any money today. You will go tomorrow.Ē And they understood it.

Do your grandchildren know about your origins?
Certainly, they know where I was born, where I come from. We went there many times together. They are very keen listeners when I talk about the past. I would now have a lot of questions to ask my mother, but itís not possible - therefore, I tell my six grandchildren to ask questions if thereís something they want to know. Two of my granddaughters are students: one of them studies in Poznan; the other one - in Wroclaw. They are students of economics. One of them, the younger one, is now on leave. One of my grandsons is 18 years old, now heís in a secondary school. We will see whether he will go to university or not, if theyíll be able to afford it. We have a farm, but we donít do anything in the soil. We have transferred the land ownership to children, thatís how Iíve got a pension.

Why is the land untilled?
They donít till the soil because thereís nowhere to sell the crops, like it is in the mountains. There, near Zabkowice, it is not far from the silo, so they take it there and sell it. But before the harvest time comes, the silos are full and they no longer accept new deliveries, you canít sell anything. My son planted some potatoes and some wheat, but only for his own needs.

Do you remember the moment you started going to confession in Polish?
No, I donít remember because in Pasterka, there was a priest, Drzymala his name was, he spoke Polish and German, so I donít remember the exact moment. I simply had to eventually.

Which language do you pray in, Polish or German?
After the war, they prayed in Polish in the church, and so did I, but individually, I donít remember when I started praying in Polish. But sometimes I still pray in German, when I get to think about the old days.

And when did you start to ďthink in PolishĒ?
Yes, after some time. I always tell my children, if you want to learn a language, you have to learn to think in that language. Only then they will get to know it well.

Who do feel yourself to be - a Pole, German or Czech?
Perhaps a European? Soon, they are going to open the borders... Well, Iíve got some Czech blood, some German, all mixed with Polish - who could I be? Only a European. Especially if you live in a place where there are lots of people coming, passing through. Iím not a fanatic. Iíve never been, nor has my husband, although he worked in Germany, walked the fields in wooden shoes. And when we went there, he kissed the doorstep of the church there, in the place he had worked so hard. And he never said to me, ďYou GermanĒ or anything like that, as it sometimes happens in other marriages. They sometimes say to one another ďYou UkrainianĒ, or even worse. We have never done that. We didnít have this particular problem, but we had others. When youíve got children, you always have problems. Or if youíre in farming, always either heavy hail or some other pest.
Section 11
On whose initiative was the German Minority Association founded in Klodzko?
There were those gentlemen who arrived from Germany, and they invited us all, I donít know where they got the addresses from. They invited us to a meeting at the Franciscan church, six years ago that was. And they elected the Board. In the autumn the same year, there was another meeting, when I was elected the chairman. But it came from that side.

How does it feel to the Chairman of the German Minority Association?
Somebody offered myself as a candidate, and I was elected. When I was told it was me, I couldnít put my signature on the document at that moment. I felt so nervous. I am a rather modest person, I donít know how to behave in such situations. Making speeches is a serious problem for me. I know German very well, Iím not scared, and even if I said a word in Polish, nothing would happen, everybody knows weíve been living in Poland for so many years. But those speeches made me doubt if I could manage. But the Board is alright. Women only.

Who were those gentlemen who founded the Association?
They used to live here, but they have been deported.

How many members does the Association have?
About 140, plus 20 people from Germany. Most of them live in Ladek, Radkůw, Karlůw, Stronie, Bystrzyca, Klodzko, Nowa Ruda. Getting together is a problem -travelling costs. They all are old people.

How often do you meet?
Quite often. The Board meets every Friday. In the winter - once a month; in the summer - from April to October - every week.

What does the work of the Board consist of?
People want something translated, something to read, to borrow books - weíve got quite a nice library. But a lot of it is written in the Gothic type, not everyone knows how to read it. They come to sit, talk, have coffee. Thereís always a meeting in the spring, a priest from Germany arrives then, Reverend Jung. He serves a mass in Klodzko, and then we have a meeting, drinking coffee, a short report is presented, in items, so that they know whatís going on. We also have a meeting in the Advent, we sing. One of the Board members plays the piano. There is a room next door that we can hire. There are always a few guests, we sing, have coffee. In January we have what you refer to in Poland as the Christmas wafer meeting. Although it is done with the wafer. Then we sing Christmas songs in German. One or two in Polish, too. Those spring meetings are often attended by Father Leisner from Wroclaw, the Silesian Catholic shepherd, those who stayed behind. This week we are going to Wroclaw, to see the Panorama of Raclawice, and the museum, and we are going to visit him, heís invited us for coffee. This cooperation is very good. On the second Sunday of July, thereís a German mass in Bardo and on the second Sunday of August, in Wambierzyce. Itís quite hard with travelling, we are not young any more, not all of us have cars, but we always try to attend all those masses.
Section 12
When you meet, do you talk about the past?
I donít think we do. What for? Everybody has their own houses, their own families, their pensions. Why should we go somewhere, complain at the old age? What good will complaining bring? It would do nothing good.

Do you hold a grudge against someone for your fate?
I donít hold any grudges against anyone. Iíve never had any complaint against anyone. The only thing that was sad, was when they were gradually leaving after the war. I often think about it.

Do you think that if Ostra Gůra had been administered by the Germans, the village would have developed differently?
Itís difficult to say. Back then, we had holidaymakers in the village, and the restaurant was large. And if there was no place, everyone had a small room for their relatives from Berlin, Katowice, Wroclaw visiting them for a week or two. They came, it was a beautiful, mountainous village. Clean water, tasty, you could drink it without fear.

What is your attitude towards the mountains; there are people who live here but donít like the mountains?
The views are beautiful. I was born in the mountains and Iím strongly attached to them. Those who donít like them were probably forced to settle down here, they were deported from where they used to live. I remember from my childhood, how often we would go blueberry or raspberry picking. We, the children, earned enough to buy a feather quilt in this way. We collected blueberries, mother sold them and bought the quilt with the money - such a good, feather quilt. That was back during the war. Besides, working in the field is harder in the mountains than in the flatlands. This hay that we had to bring from the mountains.

What was your youth like, it is often said that young people had to grow up very quickly after the war...
That is true. I didnít travel anywhere, hardly anyone did, our help was needed at home. At the end of the 1940s, I went once to Wroclaw. I think I was 19 then. And only because my friends had their relatives in Wroclaw. We were able to stay there for a few days. That was my first time in Wroclaw. We didnít have much fun when we were young. How can you talk about fun if you had just one dress to wear all the summer? We didnít have much. And there was a lot of work. There were various dancing parties, though.

What did they look like?
Somebody played the accordion and that was all. There were no drunks, no alcohol. Such small meetings. Even stage performances took place. One of our teachers taught us to dance. Before the war we had the radio. We sang a lot in Czech and in German. In the winter, we spun the wool, tore feathers for quilts.
Section 13
If young age, there must have been the first love... How did you meet your husband?
We knew each other from Karlůw, as a young girl I went there to plant trees all summer, to earn some money. He was a forester, but we didnít work at his, cause later, he was in the accountancy. He had been married and his first wife died. And later, we got married. The children are my husbandís. In January 1986, he got killed in a car accident on the bridge. A car ran over him. He was 66, he could still live. He had never been ill.

So you experienced the deaths of two very close people, what helped you live through this?
In the case of my husbandís death, it was a priest - not the parish priest but a vicar, a young priest, a historian. He came along with such a huge book and asked me to help him read it and translate the church chronicles. So I took to the work. The book was very difficult, it was written 250 years ago, in the Gothic style. Besides, it was hand-written. It cost me a lot of work, a lot of effort. I did it. We translated it with that priest. And it helped me, it was in the winter - short days, long nights. I would take a lamp on the table and I spent all the time doing the book. First, I had to decipher the alphabet, it was an old writing after all. I didnít have time. Until this day, I often think about my husband, I miss him a lot, life was easier when there were two of us. That work helped me not to get depressed. I canít complain about my children, theyíre good people. Every now and then someone comes to visit me, they ask if I need anything, if they should buy me something, help me with something. Two of my children live here, with me, a son in Kudowa. Iíve got very good relationship with my children, the fact that we live together is evidence enough.
Coming back to my husband, he no longer worked in the forestry, he completed a secondary school, cause he hadnít before - he had been in Germany as a young man - and then he worked in Wroclaw, in the Provincial Agricultural Chemistry Office, as an agronomist. Here, he supervised a few districts, he examined the soil and cooperated with the farmers. He was well respected by his superiors. Now I donít read that much because my sight is considerably weaker now, but in some German calendars it said that there was a flood every few years, maybe not as serious as the one last year, but still, they happened.

Did you think about getting married again?
No, never. I was too attached to my husband.

After all those years, what do you think about your motherís decision to stay in Ostra Gůra?
Itís difficult to say, I think I would miss these mountains. And my relatives were not far away, closer than from Germany. My sister lived in the Czechs, my mother got married, so what should I do, leave? My mother died in Ď67, father two years earlier. It was quite a good marriage, he didnít drink, only sometimes, like any other man. We renovated a house in Ostra Gůra, and then we had to leave all that, practically new barn. People lost a lot, both here and in the east, and in Prussia, everywhere. Somebody bought it for demolition, for fuel, the wood was good quality and so were the roof tiles.
Section 14
What is your opinion about the Germans?
Well, they are frugal. What I like most about them is lots of flowers everywhere. I went there a few times for short visits, those villages look like our spas - flowers, clean - although I donít like exaggerating in this respect (ie too much tidiness). I like it when things lie about a bit at mine. Perhaps they are a bit less hospitable, although when I go there, I never have any problems with that. But I know you have to phone first, before you visit someone. Thatís the way it should be, but to an extent only. At ours, if you go for a walk and you happen to passing by your friendís, you just drop in. They donít, you have to arrange visits first.

What is your opinion about Poles then?
They are not bad, either - clean people. Some like to drink a bit, but I think that happens in any nation. Once, a friend from Germany came to visit me. We both smoke, but I will never go out with a cigarette. None of the Poles would do it in the village, this is a village after all.

Letís come back to Ostra Gůra for a while now, did the ways farming was organised change with the onset of the Poles?
It seems to me that nothing changed in this mountainous area. Only later, mowing machines were introduced, but that was much later.

What were the authorities governing Ostra Gůra back then, was there some sort of a local government?
No, because half of it belonged to Karlůw and half to Pasterka, and there were village mayors. There was one church for the three villages, a mill, but it was in Ostra Gůra.

Where was your father buried?
I donít know. Near Grodkůw. I went there at the beginning of the 1960s, I wanted to find out something, but even the priest there knew nothing.

What was the usual day like in the farm in Ostra Gůra?
As a child, I didnít have to get up early to attend the cows, but I went to school. My breakfast consisted of sour soup with fresh potatoes, some eggs with cracklings. It was no delicacy, but a hot meal was a must. Then I went to school, with some sandwiches. My parents and grandmother worked in the cowshed. After school, when there was hay, we had to go and help; if there was weeding, we went weeding. And that fantastic hide and seek play in those rocks. It was never difficult to hide. Sometimes we were naughty.

Is there anything you would like to add at the end of our conversation?
Itís a pity the villages are so deserted. There used to be so many bees, cows and all that. And now it is all empty. People donít have jobs. That hurts, itís not the way it should be. It is unthinkable that my son had the grain on the trailer a whole year round. What worries me as well, is the state of my backbone and my sight, Iíve got glaucoma, but complaining will not help.
Section 15
Thank you for the conversation.