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July 1999


Elzbieta (nee Brauner) is one of the few Germans who stayed in the area after the Second World War, because she married “a handsome Pole”. She paints a picture of initial hostility from the Poles and prejudice against the Germans which is at odds with some of the other accounts. At first she was “called names, spat at, and my husband could not always defend me cause he wouldn’t get into conflict with the Poles”. He, too, was treated badly: “people couldn’t understand how he could marry a German”. She had to deny her German roots and did not “teach my children my mother tongue although I wanted to very much …[but] the Polish children might have treated them very badly”. At home, she lived “in accordance with the Polish traditions”. Although she preferred being with “her own folk”, she “got used to [Poles] after some time”. Gradually, people calmed down and the couple became “more accepted, and Franek became the mayor”. Her perception of her identity is that she is “a Polish citizen, but my nationality is German. Now I know I’m Polish, but I’d rather consider myself to be a German”.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Stayed in Poland because she “met a handsome Pole – Franciszek Komaniecki – and I fell in love with him”. Her family were moved to East Germany and the Polish authorities wouldn’t let them visit each other until 1961.
Section 2  Life before WW2. Her family were not well off. Then, “when the Germans got displaced and the Poles arrived”, customs changed. The German language was forbidden.
Section 3-4  Says the Poles “ treated me in the worst possible way”. Was accused of calling people “Polish swine”. Her children were bullied at school. She taught them to fight back. Sometimes wished she hadn’t stayed, but her husband would not move because “here he was somebody, and there, he would be nothing”.
Section 5-7  She has been the only German in the village since 1947, when her father left (his departure was delayed until the authorities had found someone with his skills to replace him in the local sawmill). Family life, everyday details, pre- and post-war. Recalls a major storm in 1928.