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former farmer




July 1999


Not a long interview, but lots of personal detail. One of the area’s original inhabitants, she stresses the strong work ethic of the German pre-war community and the lack of time for other activities: “we didn’t have time to get close with the nature, admiring it”. She comments that the post-war Polish settlers “didn’t know how to handle certain things. They learnt a bit from the Germans … some of them didn’t have the slightest idea what to grow, they didn’t know how to till the soil”. With hindsight, she wishes that she had left the area when the other Germans were being deported, stating “I am German and I will never be Polish. It’s impossible. Nobody will convince me … after all, my mother was German, we all were, so what do you expect me to feel?”

detailed breakdown

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Section 1-2  Early history. Grew up in relative poverty (“we didn’t have much money back then”). “Work was the most important thing. My parents didn’t have much time for us”. Details of when the Russians came. Unlike other Germans, she was not deported because her mother had remarried someone from Lvov (which was Polish until ’39 then Russian till ’41) “We were their children – how could they deport us?”
Section 3  She didn’t have any problem integrating with the Poles until she moved to Wilkanów in 1963. It was her children (the next generation) who were teased about their German origins at school .
Section 4  Asked about German and Polish traditions, she says “this was a poor area, we all lived simple lives … we were thinking only about work”. But the few tensions between the nationalities that existed have died down: “people have got used to us, we have got used to them. So many years have passed now”.
Section 5  Talks about her early family life, the jobs she had and the changes in farming.
Section 6  Says youth go “to the towns, because young people are like young people have always been, they’ve never wanted to work hard”. But many returned “because life wasn’t easy in towns either”. Details of everyday life.
Section 7  Her children married and moved to Germany. However, she believes her daughter is unhappy there (“she never admitted but I think she cried from time to time, but she wouldn’t come back, it would be such a shame”). Says that other Germans come back to the area occasionally and “want to talk”.
Section 8  Never thought of opening an agro-tourist farm as “there was too much work in the carpentry shop”. The flood: water got into the cellar and demolished the road. People’s initial reactions were “alright”, but “when the assistance was distributed, there was envy, hatred”. Doesn’t believe the flood was divine punishment: “God doesn’t want to punish anyone”.
Section 9  Feels she “made a mistake” to stay after the war ended because “everyone left, all the village”. Her relatives found it difficult to adjust to their new life when they were deported, as “they were not welcome there either”. Gives details of what it was it was like for the German deportees. Believes she will always feel German, not Polish.
Section 10  The reason that she stayed was “to have a house with a garden”, which was “what I dreamt about, and my dream has come true”.