Poland glossary












July 1999



Section 1
This was my second visit to the Muschiols. Earlier, I talked to Mrs Maria Muschiol. As the weather was beautiful, the conversation took place in the garden. Mrs Muschiol, a very hospitable person, offered me some coffee. My narrator is a highly intelligent, outspoken person. Mr Muschiol likes talking, and what he has to say is interesting, and thought-provoking. After the conversation - although we could have talked for much longer - Mr. Muschiol invited me inside, where he showed me a large number of brochures on using solar energy, a subject close to his heart and on which he attends professional meetings. He also told me he was going to write a book, a chronicle, telling the story of his family. When I visited Mr. Muschiol again, in order for him to sign his statement, I had the pleasure to meet his older daughter, Jadwiga Muschiol, who is a nun in Szczawno Zdrój. It was an opportunity to have another nice conversation.

To start with, I would like to talk a bit about you, where you were born, your early childhood, history of those areas.
My name’s Adolf Muschiol. I was born in Stolarzowice on 20th April 1934. It used to be a village, later, it became a part of the town of Bytom. Back in the German times, the village name was Schtielesfeld. My cousin’s daughter is a historian, and she has written the history of Stolarzowice. I know that the name Schtielesfeld derives from Mr. Schtiller, who bought the village at one time.

Did you have any brothers or sisters?
I was born in Germany. My father died when I was seven years old. There were seven of us, children. At that time, we were living at my aunt’s flat, because my parents had sold the house before my father died. They were going to take over my grandfather’s farm. But then the war broke out. My mother lived off her pension.

How did you manage during the war?
In 1939, I was five years old. I remember that I was sitting on a fence and watching the troops going to Poland. The border was 1 kilometre away from us. It was then that I heard the first shots, probably it was the heavy cannons in Gliwice, that were used then. I still have a clear visual memory of the marching troops. Before the war started, they had already built bunkers. All I know about what happened later, I know it from my mother, what she related to us from the radio news. She said that Hitler had plans that if he conquered the East, young people will be trained specially to go to Russia.
My parents were very critical of the war, of Hitler’s plans. We were very negative about it too, so when there were special trainings for young people at school, we didn’t like attending them. That was the reason why we were badly treated later on. We were treated as second-class people. What I remember from the war is that everything was sold for coupons, there were even coupons for shoes. There were special shops for that. And later, when the Russians came, problems with people began. When the German troops withdrew, men went to school, where they found a lot of food. Some of them brought my mother bread. They were such brown loaves that could keep for a long time, we kept them hidden in the potato cellar.
My sister was a clever one, she saw some people opening a warehouse with flour and sugar. She took her sledges and together with me, we brought home a 75 kilogram bag, but my mother told us to take it back, for we were not supposed to steal. But it wasn’t a theft, everybody took the food. Later that flour helped us survive.
Soon such times came that my sister and I, we took anything that was of any value in the home, went to farmers and exchanged that for food, like an egg.
Section 2
What did 1945 mean to you?
Well, it was a conquest, a war. The Russians came, they immediately withdrew, then came again in two weeks’ time, at night. When they came, they put all the restaurants on fire. Later, they burned all the castles. They caught people in the streets, they would catch about 20 men and shoot them. Then they caught young girls and opened brothels for the soldiers. That’s what I remember. In the spring, some stability was imposed, there were commander’s offices created, and they ruled. Later, it was the Polish activists who took over the power, they formed the authorities in the communes. The first thing they were after was the names, they tried to polonise (make Polish) all the names. We had to assume new first names and almost all of us had to change their surnames. I continued my education in a Polish school. Before, I went to the fourth grade of the German school, later, I went straight to the fifth grade of the Polish school.

How did you and your siblings manage with the Polish language?
We didn’t speak Polish, and so we ran away from school, sometimes even through the windows. The teacher did speak German, but he wouldn’t translate. You know, we wanted to learn but the teacher wouldn’t translate, so we ran away from the class.

What were your relationships with the Polish teachers, with your Polish colleagues?
There weren’t so many Polish settlers around, we were all German, except the teachers, who were Polish. We were among our own folks. The children spoke German to each other. Only the lessons were conducted in Polish, but in time, we managed quite all right, a child learns quickly. And because the teachers who came to us were originally from the Katowice region, they didn’t speak proper Polish, either. They spoke in the Silesian dialect. I finished the primary school earlier because I started school at the age of five and I finished it at the age of 13. So I spent a year at home, because my mother had a job and somebody had to cook for the younger children.
After that year, I went to an industrial vocational school, then I worked in the construction, I got some knowledge about building. At that time, in 1952, my mother decided we would leave and move over here, because there was my cousin, he was working in the commune office in Bystrzyca Klodzka as a trainee. He was attending an Agricultural Secondary School, and he was there doing his job practice. He found out that there were a lot of farms to be taken, as the settlers from the central Poland came, took them over and then left, so the farms were unoccupied. So, we got this farm in Waliszów as a part of the population dislocation activities.
Section 3
How did it happen that you stayed here?
We wanted to leave immediately after the front line moved, but in Upper Silesia, they allowed only those from Hamburg or Luebeck to leave, as there were air raids there. They took over all the empty flats in our region, so only they were allowed to go home, but they would let anyone of us go.

When I talked to re-settlers, original inhabitants in Lower Silesia, I found out that they were all removed whether they wanted or not.
Yes. That was compulsory here, but not in Walbrzych because the industry had to go on functioning, and the people worked in the industry. The same thing happened in Upper Silesia. When the Russians arrived, within two weeks they took all the healthy men to Russia. Only those who held important positions in the mines and steel works were left behind. So were the older people and the youth. Women were also kept in confinement, with the exception of my mother, who had many children, but her sisters had to go to the lagers (work camps). They dismantled the machines in the factories. In Upper Silesian steel works, only one-third of the machines remained. If there was a four-turbine power station, only one turbine was left. All of that was dismantled and taken away to Russia. Very few men remained, and only about 10 per cent returned from Russia. My uncle stayed there as well, and he died of typhoid.
We came here because it was difficult to find a flat to live back there. Flats were not built. They started building only in 1952, when we left. We had this farm in Waliszów. I got a job in the carpentry shop at 1-Maja Street, and my brother was drafted to the army in the autumn. So I had to work, I was the oldest out of those who stayed at home. My oldest sister went to a monastery when we were still in Upper Silesia.

What were your relationships with your neighbours, with the re-settlers?
We were lucky to settle in Waliszów, where all the others were originally from Tarnawica Polna, in the East, almost the entire village. There were very few people from the central Poland. The central Poland was represented there only by the mayor and about four other families, not more. They were also treated as strangers there. Everyone in Waliszów was a stranger, but they received us very nicely, we looked very poor, there were so many of us, the children were growing, they needed food. You could see that on our faces. After the war, there wasn’t enough food, we were very poor. The neighbours here brought us some eggs, some four, that was very nice of them. Those people spoke Ukrainian and Polish, but there was cooperation. With another farmer, we shared the farm. We somehow managed. Only when we started to succeed, and we had more than the other farmer, only then did the envy start growing.
We noticed that when I returned from the army, cause I was working in the carpentry shop at 1-Maja Street. Within a year, in 1953, I was promoted to be the foreman, I supervised a group of 20 people. But in 1954, the Communist Party people came and they want me to join the party. Back in Upper Silesia, it was a tradition not to belong to any party, so I refused. My father was born and died without any party, and I want to do the same. I criticised them that they were organising meetings at the expense of other people. On the next day, when I came to work, I was not allowed on the premises of the company, I had been dismissed. Later, I found a job in Klodzko, but when they found out about it, they dismissed me as well.
It was very sad that the police, who are supposed to protect people, kept on bothering me. Especially the traffic police. Whenever they saw me in the road, they always found something wrong with me and gave me a ticket.
So I stayed on the farm, and I was drafted to the army in the autumn. At the same time, my brother returned from the army. I left the army in 1956, but since I was a child, I wanted to have a private workshop. So I tried to do everything to open it. But it turned out impossible. When I was in the army, the farm was taken over by the kolkhoz (farm cooperative), and my family had to go to work in the kolkhoz. And in 1956, they gave us back a lame horse and one cow. However, my mother was a very diligent person, and it wasn’t long before we recovered. We started pig breeding. I took up all the available jobs anywhere in the vicinity. I worked as a bricklayer, I made roofs, renovated plasterwork, erected ovens. I had learnt all that when I was in the construction business. In this way I earned money to purchase necessary machines. The farm that I had, I exchanged with Mr. Kolt in Waliszów. We gave him the farm and he gave us the house and paid 13,000 zlotys. In this way, in 1957, we had 55,000 zlotys. So I bought machines from Mr. Cinkowski - he was also from Germany originally. In 1958, I officially opened a carpentry shop in Waliszów. In Waliszów I looked for some house foundations to start constructing, as all the wooden houses had been dismantled and the timber used for fuel. You could get such a house in return for a bottle of vodka.
Section 4
You mentioned the problem of alcoholism. You said what you could get in return for a bottle of vodka... Did people drink more than they do now, or was the attitude to the problem different?
I was born in a family where alcohol didn’t exist at all. So I didn’t know the problem of alcoholism. In my town, you could count the men who drank vodka on the fingers of your palm. There were three restaurants, but there were very few drunkards. There was a tradition that you received visitors with a glass of wine. No more. But if somebody did drink alcohol - at that time, the alcohols were not so strong - I know it was just 100 grams and that was all. The culture of drinking was totally different. When we arrived here, in Waliszów, the people here didn’t drink, either. Only when there were special occasions, like baptisms, weddings, only then did I learn how people drink vodka. Our partners invited us to the baptism, offered us vodka. I drank it and immediately vomited. Since that time, I decided not to touch alcohol ever.

Taking into account the scenery, the location, shape of the terrain, what was that area like?
Upper Silesia is an area on an altitude of 350-400 metres above sea level. It’s a bit hilly. But where I was born, the whole area had been dug through in search for the lead and zinc ores. The original town was ruined. Those towns were founded in the 14th - 15th century. Bytom was the only town that was left, not ruined - only in the communist era, in the 1970s, it was destroyed. The town of Bytom was a private town for 200 years. The area where I was born belonged to earl Henkel von Donesmark. He purchased that area in the 14th century, and he developed the industry there. He was a very good host, he reconstructed the churches and factories, gave people jobs.
There were no political problems in Upper Silesia. Borders - always unattended - were only on the roads. Until the times of Hitler, church services were held in German and in Polish. Generally, people didn’t get involved in politics, only after World War I - from what my parents and grandparents told me - activists from the central parts arrived. They were trying to make people politically aware. They were fighting to hold those plebiscites, often organised unfairly. People living in Silesia were people who were constantly under the death threat - working under the ground. Before going to work, they went to a mass every morning in a chapel - those were our traditions. They were a God fearing people. All they cared for was the faith and the work.
Section 5
What cultural traditions did you cultivate in your family homes in Upper Silesia, and here in Lower Silesia?
I got to know what culture is in Lower Silesia, when we arrived here. Nobody would call us anything but “a German”, “a Kraut”. It’s been like this until this day. You could say everyone looks for their own folks, and we’ve found other families, people of German origin. My wife’s mother - when she was still alive - she was such a “walking book”, she remembered a lot of customs, traditions. And I got to know them. In Upper Silesia, the traditions were very rich. We had a lot of festivities, for example, two weeks before a church fair, merry-go-rounds would arrive and be installed in the fair grounds, it was fun for children. At the end of the rosary services in church, the children had lanterns made from beetroots.
The church fair on a saint’s day was the most important festivity in the parish. It was so because all the girls and all the boys belonged to saints’ associations. Girls belonged to St. Mary’s Association, boys belonged to the associations of other saints. They had their banners, statues, and they carried them in processions during such festivities. For example, when we were going on pilgrimage to Piekary, each town and village had a date appointed to start the pilgrimage, and ours was on 15th August. We always carried 15 statues and at least 20 banners, there was a band as well. In my town, there were a lot of musicians; young people often learned to play musical instruments from older musicians. My father also played, and so did almost all of us - my sister, brothers, myself. Since we were children, we played the accordion, and we were planning to learn more, to improve it. I was planning to go to the Bytom Opera. I was a tenor. My sister completed the musical school, she was an organ player. My children also went to a musical school, they play the piano, and my daughter also plays the flute.

How about Christmas, Christmas Eve dinner? Do you remember the dishes, snacks that were served in Upper Silesia, those we Poles do not know at all?
I lived in an area where more affluent people lived. In the German times, we were quite well-off, my father earned 50 deutsche marks, which was a lot. Because of that, my mother could afford to perform various experiments in the kitchen. She was a very modern woman: she had a washing machine as early as in 1930. My father was a very skilful man as well, and as a child, I often helped him in the workshop.
There is this old Christmas tradition from Upper Silesia that probably everybody knows. In Polish it is called siemiotka. You cook a soup from hemp seeds. You cook the hemp, then grind them in a grinder, and then you add the juice to the soup. It’s like a bitter oil. The soup contains buckwheat porridge and pearl barley, thick one. That was properly seasoned. It was a traditional soup prepared only for Christmas. Another soup, probably more modern, was sweet. The basis for that soup is ginger bread. In the past you could buy a ready-made ginger bread for this kind of soup. You had to add dried plums, dried apples, dried peaches, tangerines, a lot of raisins, walnuts and almonds. A bit of wine was also added to it. That soup was a favourite among the children.
There were also poppy-seed rolls. Women baked long rolls, then they sliced them, added ground poppy seeds, boiled in milk, with sugar, raisins and almonds, and those rolls were soaked in the milk, and the poppy seed mixture put between the slices. I think the Polish kutia is a similar dish. I liked the stewed fruit most - from peaches or pears. And there had to be some sort of fish as well - carp, with potatoes, some cabbage. There was a special variety of cabbage grown in Silesia. In Polish it was called iron cabbage. It was a whitish-blue colour. When you make it into sour cabbage, it produces a wine-like juice which is drunk, not thrown away. Usually, there was a salad made from such a cabbage on the Christmas table. There was always a candle lit. There were also a lot of other things prepared: some jelly, some pudding.
[Mr Muschiol’s sister, who’s a nun and has just arrived to visit the Muschiols, joins in the conversation]
During the Christmas Eve dinner, there had to be a candle lit on the table, a white tablecloth and some hay underneath. There had to be a purse so that you never lacked money, and there was an axe under the table, but I don’t know for what reason. There was a long silence; nobody spoke. Only when we’d eaten, the lights were turned on, then we sang, and eventually went to look for presents under the Christmas tree. They were various books, fairy tales, sometimes a dress, shoes. Very few toys because when I once received some toys, such a beautiful dolls’ house, my brothers were very curious what was inside, and they broke it open with a hammer, and it was the end. At midnight, we went to the mass, and after the mass, we ate the poppy-seed rolls.
Section 6
Your favourite childhood plays?
[Mr Muschiol] At school, we had gymnastics classes, mostly gymnastics with equipment. My mother liked sport very much and she trained with us. We were quite fit and because of that I got promoted in the army every now and then. Often - when the school tasks had been completed - we would sit down together in the evening, and someone would read a book. Usually it was the lives of the saints or the Bible. In the childhood, we got to know those thick books of the lives of the saints. We read the stories of lives of noble people, serious books. My mother made sure we did. Small children were read fairy tales to. We read in the family. Mother or someone older would read, others would listen. Likewise with the music - somebody played the accordion, others sang. Such joint singing or reading took place almost every day. Or we went to our cousins and we read fairy tales together, or some other interesting books. That was very nice.
Section 7
What do you now think about your decision from 50 years ago? Did you want to stay or perhaps you wanted to leave with your relatives?
We wanted to leave for Germany but the authorities wouldn’t let us. It was impossible. There were possibilities offered to large families before the front line approached us, but my mother was ill at that time, so we had to turn it down. Those were terrible journeys, the trains didn’t go, people had to walk for hundreds of kilometres. One of my aunts travelled to her husband who was working in the north of Germany, so we know what it looked like from her.

Do you know - from letters, information from your relatives - what conditions those Germans had who left their homes after 1945 and moved to Germany, to strange, unknown places?
It was hard for them. Those who left, most of them were displaced from here. After all, nobody would leave for places they don’t know. If you had a sister or someone, the situation was different. But most places in Germany were crowded because all the families were rather large, with lots of children.
Those who arrived in Germany, they went through such ordeals, sometimes they were moved into somebody else’s homes by force. Every farmer had to give up a room for such a family. They helped the hosts in the farm, worked in the fields. It was awful. Because they didn’t have their own homes, only later, they were able to start building. And because they didn’t have homes, they sent their children away, to boarding schools, anywhere - most of them completed studies, and now they have leading roles in Germany. Or they became factory owners. Those who had factories here, tried to open new factories over there, in Germany. My wife’s aunt had a factory in Miedzylesie, and when they went there, the host gave them one room, then they took out a loan, bought machines and opened another factory there. They were very noble people, they created the Expatriates’ Charter as early as 1952. It says nothing about hatred, only that they didn’t wish anyone to go through what they had to.

What did the settling of the people from the east look like?
The Poles who were driven away from the east had to move in with the German families. They lived together for about half a year. If the Polish mayor was untactful, he would take away the key from the German host, give it to the Poles and tell them that it was their house, it was they who are the hosts and that they should rule. Some people did. And the Germans had an awful time with them. It was the case of my neighbour - a German who had to go and ask for food at the neighbours’. People with whom he was living, used him to work, but they wouldn’t feed him. There was another case in Waliszów, where the new host, originally from central Poland, would mount a horse and beat those people, force them to work. We later witnessed his death. He had wounds on the hands that wouldn’t heal, and were bleeding all the time. Later Filipek (a village fortune teller) said that he’d sinned with those hands and that’s why he got punished in such a way after death. He died on my mother’s hands (in her arms?) because he wanted my mother to be with him when he was dying. He wanted some German woman to be with him. He’d made the Germans suffer a lot and so he wanted to apologise somehow. Yes, when you’re dying, you see the mistakes you made in your lifetime. But some people lead a very peaceful lives together.
Section 8
How do you like living here?
We wanted… we didn’t have much contact with the local people. There was this priest, Mróz, he arrived in Waliszów. He saw the differences among people, that we were apart. At first, there were such families who would throw stones at us, although the closest neighbours were nice for us. It was strange. The priest that I’ve mentioned, he tried to unite the people from central Poland and those from the east. He founded a theatre with us, he took people from there and from there, and we had to work together. Those were very nice experiences.
I was looking for a place for a workshop. In Roztoki, one family had left, so I hired the rooms for a workshop, and I had a workshop there for a couple of years. There I met my wife. Later, the young owners saw we were making money, so they told us to leave. I decided to start building. I wanted to put up a house and a workshop in Wilkanów. We were building from nothing. We manufactured hollow bricks from slag, and slowly proceeded with the construction. But I must say we never had good neighbours, with the exception of one, Mrs. Hulikowa. You could always have a chat with her, others preferred to keep away from us. We didn’t have any contacts. Later, the counter-intelligence got interested in me, they wanted to recruit me. They had a very stupid approach to recruiting people. First thing they did was to cover you with filth. At public meetings they told people I was a German spy, that they should keep an eye on me, described every single car visiting me. And because my neighbour knew it wasn’t true, he came and told me all about it. Then I understood I had to be very careful. Much earlier, the counter-intelligence officers came up to me, to interview me, they taped those interviews. They brought files, they wanted to know what we were doing. They wanted us to keep in constant touch with them. They wanted to recruit me but I strongly refused.
When, in 1988, the counter-intelligence left me alone, the Internal Affairs Office started to pick up on me. They refused people permission to leave the country for good. Because our life was made such a nuisance, we wanted to leave in 1957. But our letters didn’t reach Germany, they were intercepted in the post. We were never able - because of that - to get an invitation to Germany. Only in 1970, when a letter reached our uncle, he sent us invitations, but they refused us permission to leave. They said it was because catch 4.5 (Catch 22?) - because of important state matters, they always refused us permission to leave. Our children had unpleasant experiences: one of our neighbours is still negative towards us, and that’s how she brought up her children. There are always some people like that. When the children were going to school, stones were thrown at them, they were forced to a ditch, into nettles. They were tormented. So when they graduated from schools, they ran away to Germany immediately. Nowadays, young people are nice. My daughter got married, she’s a music teacher, she’s going to stay there. My son married a Polish girl, but they live in Germany. The Internal Affairs Office made this stupid movement, they allowed my mother to go, but refused us permission. Mother was too ill so we couldn’t let her go on her own. We took it as a joke.
On my wife’s side - her mother and her grandparents are buried here. I was born in Silesia as well. This is our mother land. And we will stay here now. If it weren’t for financial constraints, I would leave. I would like to build myself a house. But the German culture can be maintained here as well. Recently, I went to a German mass in Bardo. When they started singing, I cried. I couldn’t sing, the experience of my childhood songs was [so] strong.
Section 9
How often do such masses take place?
I think there is one every year.

If you were to move to Germany, where would you like to settle down?
Certainly, I would choose some mountainous region. I was born in Silesia, in a mountainous area. This region here has become my second home, although contacts with people are scarce. There is a priest in Wilkanów who keeps away from us, and you wouldn’t say he is friendly towards us. We know the history of this region, we know every single mountain stream.

Do you know what it’s like to live in other regions - at the seaside, in the lowlands?
I was in the army at the seaside, but I find the sea rather unfriendly, I don’t like it. You can watch the water for a couple of minutes and leave it. Besides, the Baltic Sea is a cold one. I have been to the island of Hegoland in Germany four times. It was beautiful there. I was at sea when the wind was 7 Beaufort, the sea very rough. This is a terrible power, we don’t know how to fight it. I can’t see anything beautiful in the sea.
Mountains are something out of the ordinary for me. I have been to the Alps in Austria and Germany. The deep valleys, extremely high peaks. This is where you can admire God’s power. Man, nature, couldn’t create such things. It was God who created such things of exceptional beauty.

You seem to be strongly attached to the scenery in which you live. Do you use the forest to go for walks in the mountains or anything?
When I was younger, we often went to the forest. I climbed Mount Czarna Góra, Mount Snieznik, when there was still the viewing tower. I climbed that tower a few times. I helped the priests who first came to Mt. Maria Sniezna. I had a workshop, they needed me. I went there many a time. With one of the priest I watched the sky, he had a telescope, we watched the Moon, or the stars. I know all the Klodzko Valley, the Valley of Bystrzyca very well. Later, when I had a car, I went to each of the villages, there was work we did for people. And we liked the mountains, tourism, very, very much. My wife, my mother cooked something on Saturday, and on Sunday afternoon, we went to the mountains, to a meadow, we opened the thermoses, ate the food we’d taken with us.

You’ve spent a considerable amount of time here. Watching the scenery every day, have you noticed any changes in the mountainous landscape?
The difference between what it was like in the German times and what it’s like now is tremendous. In minus.(?) This area was densely settled. If there were three villages neighbouring on each other on Mount Czarna Góra or on Biala Woda, it means there was no place left for settlements. People built homes high up on the hills and lived in difficult conditions there. They lived there and then they missed it, cause they had been born there, that was their home. This area had a well developed infrastructure, there was culture, rich traditions, people would go into tourism a lot. Horse riding, hiking. You could say that the villages that once were in the mountains have disappeared. Poles don’t like living in the mountains, they prefer comfortable lives in the lowlands.
Section 10
Why, do you think, Poles don’t like the mountains?
Perhaps I put it wrongly. You could say that the ones who settled here don’t like the harsh conditions resulting from trying to till the soil in the hilly areas. Perhaps the reason why is the fact that they came here from Tarnawica Polna - flatlands, and therefore they don’t like the mountains so much. Also, the State, the authorities made their lives even more difficult, they closed down shops, schools. People living in the villages had to de-snow the roads on their own, and the authorities paid them for that. Such job were given up later. And people found it difficult to move around, commute, and live in the difficult conditions. They had to go to Miedzylesie or to Bystrzyca to get supplies. In the 1960s, I had a commission in Lesica. I was installing windows and doors at a farm. It was beautifully renovated. Now when I go there, I can see the farm totally desolate, the buildings dismantled. The farmer moved away because it was too difficult for him. There are more instances like that. It’s the State’s fault, they didn’t get interested in these people, didn’t create conditions for proper living.

Back then, could you drink the water from the stream or catch fish?
There was no water contamination the way it is now. People knew that it was the source of life, a cow would drink the water, all the wells were supplied with water from the river. Now people throw everything they don’t need to the river - litter, old tyres. I once touched the subject at a meeting, and I got punished for my remark. I was summoned by Civil Defence to clean the river. They made me clean the river on Sunday at 11 o’clock, because I had said it was contaminated. There were songs sung about the river in the Klodzko Valley. There is a song about the village of Lautebach, it means “a loud stream”, that’s the original name of the village of Goworów. Yes, beautiful songs were sung about these areas.
[Mrs Muschiol (or is it Mr Muschiol?) comes in with some unrelated thoughts:]
I got to know what communism was, I was born under the Nazis, my family, my grandmother knew the times when the earls lived and ruled. I have heard about beautiful times, when man was free. Later, when Hitler came to power, there was violence. I experienced it at school because my parents didn’t belong to the party. Later, under the communism, we were surprised to see the Poles suffering the same that we had suffered under Hitler. Because of those trainings, teaching false history -we didn’t want to learn the false history in Polish schools because we knew another one.
We lived in interesting times and I’m glad we never joined any parties, that I never became a spy, I never did no harm to anyone. I was able to serve my mother, my siblings. Now I use the fruits of that service. God has blessed me. At the moment I am 65 years old, I will soon be leaving, and I’m getting prepared for death. I want to be well prepared and it doesn’t matter to me now whether I am in Germany or in Poland. I had an opportunity to help the poor here.
Section 11
What were the reactions to such help, are they grateful for it?
When I walk down the street in the town, and one of those children notices me, they wave their hand at me, they’d like to stop me, get something from me. There are such families in Klodzko in Miedzylesie - very poor. In one family, there are 12 children. When they meet me, they smile, they’re nice. I give them what I can. At the moment I’m a pensioner, I’ve got little. And I am a surrogate father for my sister’s child. There was a family in Germany who would send money for the poor in Poland. They sent me 1000 marks every year. I used the money to buy clothes for the children in Wilkanów. At the moment, they’ve decided to help the poor in Yugoslavia, so they don’t send us any. Now I use my own savings to help people, but because I’ve closed down my workshop, it will not be easy. And I’m of poor health now, soon I will be operated on.

Do people who once lived here still want to come here, to see their homeland?
Most Poles receive them very warmly. There are exceptions. Even those who used to be negative about them, now receive “their” Germans, even offer to sell them their houses again. [laughs]
I’d like to say a few words about the flood: I had the opportunity to take part in the renovation of Wilkanów after the flood, cause I could see the helplessness of the mayor and the people. I wrote a few letters, I sent film documentation, and a lot of people reacted positively to it in Germany, even one of the Bavarian papers. My friends bought a machine, brought furniture, kitchen equipment. I couldn’t understand why there was such envy among the people. I wanted to help my neighbours, and there was someone who wanted to beat me for what I did, that I built the road and he didn’t even touch a spade, and he was ready for a fight. I don’t understand things like that. All because he didn’t like me deepening the river, remove[ing?] the debris brought by the flood. After all, I did all that for the common good. One of the neighbours will not talk to me until this day. We started working at hers, removing the damage, and she was very glad at that time, but when we started working at other people’s, she wouldn’t talk to us. For me, it doesn’t make any difference if a neighbour is good or bad. God gave me so many talents, so it was easy for me to work removing the flood damages in Wilkanów. If the mayor hadn’t taken away from me half the funds that we received from Germany, I would have finished everything in Wilkanów alright.

Have you experienced such calamities, similar to the flood from two years ago?
I’ve been living here since 1952. In ‘52, there was the first large flood here. From my observation, I can say, there are floods in 10-year cycles. Sometimes it’s every 12 years, sometimes every eight years. These are the flood cycles in the Klodzko Valley. What I noticed is that throughout all those years, the rivers have become dirtied, narrowed, muddied, and nobody has ever taken to removing the flood damage. In my plot, the flood barriers were broken and the ODGW never repaired them. I always did it at my own expense, the river got narrower. The river bed got so filled with mud, it couldn’t hold so much water any more. I was glad it was in my hands, that I could supervise it a bit, to deepen the riverbed to the original depth and width. In Wilkanów now, the river is made deeper and a bit wider from the main bridge upwards.
I was a farmer, I liked watching the weather change here in the summer. What were the rain cycles, etc. I watched the life. I know how to make hay in a year like this, when we had rainy weather until July. I didn’t react so badly to the flood. I know that God gives and God takes away. All I knew was there were damages that had to be removed. Before the flood I made sure everything was secure in my workshop, that the machines wouldn’t get flooded when the water was high. I succeeded.
Section 12
Do you think such calamities are the nature’s revenge, a punishment from God, or maybe a natural way things turn?
Calamities are brought about by man. God is love, God does not punish. Satan makes man do evil. Satan made the scientists produce an atom bomb, they made so many trial explosions, heated up the atmosphere. After all, such an explosion is a release of enormous amounts of energy, heat going into the atmosphere. The higher parts got heated, the temperature produced larger amounts of steam, the ozone layer got damaged, that’s why there are more rainfalls and stronger winds. It was man who did it. It is the fault of evil people who don’t understand that the world belongs to everyone, not to a particular country. There should be no borders in the world. That’s what the Expatriates’ Charter talks about.

You have mentioned that Charter before. Could you say a few more words about it, its message, the circumstances in which it was written?
The Expatriates’ Charter is very interesting. In 1952, those people who were driven away from Silesia, they analysed their situation, the lives of their likes (those in similar circumstances?), and they decided to write a Charter so that no-one in the world had to go through similar ordeals as they did. They declared in the Charter that they would be working towards uniting Europe, so that the borders get liquidated (abolished), so that the ruling powers could never chase away anyone from their homeland. I recommend reading it and give it as much publicity as possible. It is an act of love, solidarity with other expatriates. Now that the borders cease to exist, Poles got to know that it was not only the Germans that were chased away, that there are a lot of Poles driven away from their homes. They live in Siberia, in Kazakhstan, some stayed in Latvia - their rights were taken away from them. These days, Poles found out about the people who were harmed, and they should be more understanding towards others who were driven away. Poles should get interested in their co-patriots living in Russia, in Siberia, they should bring them back again. They were the hostages of their freedom. Like us here. We stayed here, and we had to receive the hatred, the evil. That’s what we were bred with. And because of that, we’ve got to understand that you cannot pay back with hatred. You have to pay back with the good.

What would you do to improve your life, the lives of your relatives?
I have never done anything evil. I was born in a Catholic family. I happened to [be?] such a type of man who wanted to experiment, I listened to my parents. I obeyed the elderly and I learnt from their experience. That’s what I suggest young people now should do. The experience of the elderly is a treasure. I never followed the wrong track. I looked after my family from a young age, I worked for them, I looked after my mother until she died, she died in my hands, I’m glad it was in my arms. At the moment, my children have been brought up to be self-dependent people, they don’t even want our help. I managed to help those in need during the flood. Luckily, nobody ever thanked me, which makes me glad, for God will remember it.
Section 13
Have you got any dreams?
I don’t have any dreams. What I want in life, I get it myself. I do a lot of things. I learnt to be a carpenter. As a child, I spent a lot of time in the smith’s shop. When I was ill, I did a medical school in Wroclaw, I had four years of practice in a clinic. I know something about Chinese medicine as well. I’m quite good at acupuncture. My cars have never been in a garage, I’ve always knew how to maintain them. For a number of years now, I’ve been into solar energy, since 1974 to be precise. I even went to the solar energy fair this year. I study professional literature on the subject. If I have time, I will go to symposia. But my main occupation now is winning the heavens. I want to get prepared for death. One should work, help the poor, but mainly I’m looking for salvation.

Is there anything you would like to add?
I would like to tell young people to discard false history and try to look for the truth in the world on their own. To go to France, Germany, Austria, Russia to see for themselves what people are like there, that they are the same, that they should love them. So that there were no political differences. Avoid primitive people. Or try to convince them. But I’m afraid, if someone has never looked for wisdom, they will never reach it. I advise young people to go to church with all their difficulties, and share them with Jesus Christ. Pray to the Holy Spirit, who’s the source of wisdom and talents. I was lucky when I was young, whenever I had difficulties, I prayed and at night I had a dream about what to do. This is miraculous.
And if you are a wise person, you should go into dieting. I am very ill, my health got damaged by chemistry, I was badly treated by irresponsible doctors. I know a lot about dieting now and advise everyone to be careful with eating pork, as pork in any form is dangerous to the circulatory system, and you can shorten your life considerably. You should eat a lot of vegetables, fruit - olive oil is a wonder.

Do you apply such a diet yourself?
Yes, I have to, because I suffer from mucous membrane atrophy, and I’ve got a liver condition. My organism tells me what’s bad for me - I suffer from awful heartburn or I vomit after eating something like that. If I open some tinned food, I later vomit with the taste of iron. The product in which iron compounds get into the food is not a good one.

Thank you for the conversation.

Important dates in the life of Mr. Adolf Muschiol
20 April 1934 born in Stolarzowice (Bytom)
1940 German school
1945 war ends, the areas are handed over to Poland
since 1945 attends a Polish school
1952 with the family moves to Waliszów, to a 7-hectare farm
works as a carpenter in a Bystrzyca Klodzka Co-operative
1954 gets drafted to the army (2 years)
1956 leaves the army
Since 1958 organises and runs a carpentry shop
1960 construction of a chicken farm in Wilkanów (approx. 1000 chickens)
1962 moves his carpentry workshop to Roztoki
1963 marries
1964 or 1965 opens and enlarges his workshop in Wilkanów
1982 enlarges workshop and the farm (status of an exemplary farm)
1985 enlarges the workshop yet again
1989 export production (entrance doors)
1998 export production ends.