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May/June 1999


A detailed interview, in two parts, which is at times hard to follow but which contains an interesting personal history. Leokadia is one of those resettled to this area after the war, from her original home in the east of Poland, now Ukraine. The first session contains much about issues of identity and relations between Poles, Ukrainians and Germans. The second session is a bit more descriptive, and fills in some of the gaps in the first.

Leokadia was borne in Równe (then Poland, now Ukraine) in 1925. When the Germans invaded, she, like other members of the family, worked for them, until they were taken away to a lager (camp) in Weissenstadt, Germany. After a short while, she was separated from her family and employed by a series of German landowners. However, she managed to stay in touch with her mother. During her time on the farms, she was often threatened with violence by a Ukrainian and several times during the interview she mentions her fear of them and how they terrorised the Poles in the area she was born.

After the end of the Second World War, Leokadia was reunited with her family and they went to Poland, staying for a year in Kozle, before settling in Nagodzice. The area was the “only place with settlements” and “most people settled here”. After a while, she moved to Miedzylesie. Despite her experiences in German camps etc, and her admittance that “they made me suffer”, she has “got nothing against the Germans”. She notes individual acts of kindness, such as the German friends who tried to help her stay in touch with her scattered family during the war. She says although the Germans did try to convert Poles into volkdeutsches, they also allowed them to worship at a Catholic Church and didn’t force the German language on them. She returned to her hometown of Równe, but her continuing fear of Ukrainians puts her off any idea of ever settling back there.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  First interview session: Early life history. During the war, she was taken to a camp in Germany, and then employed by a German landowner. Her family were taken 380 km away. She managed to keep in touch, but the German authorities intercepted the letter and she was imprisoned for three weeks.
Section 2  She was moved to another farm, where there was a Ukrainian co-worker who threatened to kill her. She ran away but was caught by the Germans. Altogether, she spent 3 years in Germany until the Americans arrived, and she went to Kozle in Poland, and then Nagodzice. In 1945 she married.
Section 3  She doesn’t fear Germans, even when they caught her after her escape from one farm: “when one held me like this here, he torn away all my buttons and things. But I wasn’t afraid…”. In contrast, she says “everyone was scared of the Ukrainians. I’m telling you that, that they would come in the evening and they would shoot, and they would kick in the doors and break things and destroy things”.
Section 4  More discussion about Polish fear of Ukrainians and how it limited their activities. Why she eventually moved to Miedzylesie.
Section 5  The Germans tried to transform the Polish into volksdeutsches.
Section 6  She tries not to recollect the war years because “even if you try hard to recollect something, it will bring no good…”, yet her tales of the past, life on the German farms etc are studied with vivid detail. Doesn’t want to live in Równo because of the presence of Ukrainians.
Section 7  Talks a little about her 6 children and 14 grandchildren.
Section 8  Second interview session: She and future husband worked in the same (German) village. They had to celebrate Christmas apart; couldn’t leave the farms where they worked. Her life and work in Miedzylesie after moving from Nagodzice.
Section 9  Moved to Miedzylesie, took over abandoned flat, her husband got a job in a butchery, where later she worked and did the laundry. Lots of detail about everyday life. They kept animals at home. Says the area used to be much more beautiful, but “they demolished all that, destroyed everything”.
Section 10-12  Details of different jobs. Her family is scattered now. Her brother remained in Równo but then had to flee: “Whether he was a partisan and was hiding or…. all I know he was hiding from the Ukrainians.”