Poland glossary








pensioner/former farmer


Kudowa Zdrój


July 1999



Section 1
Could you say a few words about yourself, please?
I was born on 3rd March 1921 in Karlów, it was in the district of Nowa Ruda then, wasn’t it? There were five of us, all of us girls, and my father was a younger forester in the State Forest Office. I went to the primary school in Karlów - there were eight grades. Then I went to the secondary school, to become a pedagogue, you know. And I was looking for a job, I went to Dresden, and I was in Walbrzych, and so on. And then... my sisters also have various occupations. And when I completed all the schools, the primary one in ‘35, the other one in ‘38, I went to Dresden. During the war, I spent all the time there, looking after children. I returned to Karlów in 1944.
[telephone rings]
My mother was ill, each of us was away from home, and when the war was over, the times were very unpleasant, you know. When the Russians came here, I mean we were spared the front line, but still it was unpleasant. Then there was this displacement. My father was relegated from the forest, and my mother was seriously ill, so we didn’t go in ‘46. My sister had a baby, she had been chased away from her flat in Kudowa, but with the newly born baby, she couldn’t travel, could she? I mean, they didn’t displace her. And later, my mother died in 1949, and then we were trying, we wanted to go, but it was impossible then, it was too late. And then I met my husband. He was the first forester here, originally from Lvov - he was also displaced from there, they chased him away. And he worked in the Karlów Forestry Office. There we met. I thought a lot about it, and in 1954, I got married. We had one daughter, I was of poor health and so on. I’ve got a daughter and two granddaughters, and I keep on living somehow. Now I’m old.
Well, I should also say how we lived, how the children... Back then, children had to work, it was a period of hard work. Father would earn some money, we would earn some collecting blueberries. My mother always had some orders from various shops, so we collected blueberries, brambles and mushrooms. When I was 10 years old, I bought my first bicycle. With my own money. My mother saved everything we earned. She would write down everything. How much each of us had and I could buy something. I did the purchase, naturally, I bought the first bicycle, I was very proud, the first bicycle with proper tyres. I have told you the rest, haven’t I? We had this beautiful school, at the foot of Mount Szczeliniec. It’s gone to ruin, unfortunately. My daughter also went to the same school... until ‘72, there were eight grades, a modern school. There were eight grades, then there were just four, and later, they turned it into a hostel.
And later, there was a priest, his name was Babiuch, he repaired everything in the church. He was... he had studied to be an architect, but then decided to become a priest, so he knew what he was doing. He was going to renovate the school as well, but... that’s why there is no church in Karlów, people have to go to Pasterka. But unfortunately, they didn’t give them that school building. It belonged to the educational authorities, but it was damaged a lot, so what could they do? In the past all the small villages had their own schools. Now the children, they’re so few, they have to go to Radków. They have to go to Radków now.
What did people do? Mainly, they had such small farms, two, three cows, they sold their products in Kudowa, and so they lived. Even in Karlów, grain crops were planted. And now, people have deserted the place, there is nothing now. What else was I to say? There was a quarry in Radków, you may have heard about it. The rock mined there was used to build the Reichstagsgebaude, I mean where the government is in Berlin. In the Polish times, the stones were sent to Warszawa to build that huge building, what is it called?
Section 2
The Palace of Culture?
The Palace of Culture. It is built from the stones from Radków. It is a sandstone [building]. Because of that, the Forestry Office organised a trip to Warszawa. I went there. There was that plaque saying it. And now, there is the National Park, so you can’t enter it. And the quarries are closed down. And there were various factories in Kudowa, there were factories in Czermna, but that was a long time ago. In the Polish times, there was this huge factory in Zakrze, my father’s people worked there... the silk factory. But several years ago, 10 or something, they closed it down, now people are unemployed, no earnings. And there are very few bathers now - if they come, they have to pay for everything themselves. Oh, yes. Before the war, in Kudowa Zdrój, there were a lot of Jews. Very rich people and... people had jobs, but the riches were in their hands. Even that park... the park in which you can have a walk, it was fenced, there was an entry fee. Now it is better, the park is opened, you can walk there as much as you want. That’s how it is now. There were buses back then, but not many of them. We went everywhere on bicycles. We cycled a lot. My sister and I, we went as far as Walbrzych on bikes, long distances. But back then... the people... I remember kerosene lamps, when we were doing our homework, only about 10 years later we had electricity.

I’d like to ask you, when Poles arrived here from the east, what did it look like?
From the east? Here?

Well, I must say there were various kinds of people. Those who came here from behind the Bug river, they arrived, they had their papers, they got the farms the Germans had to give up. Although they usually stayed behind. Well, I must say, those who came from central Poland, they came here only looking for profits. Those houses... they got those houses and they dismantled them, took everything away and went elsewhere. Those who were originally from the Lvov region, they stayed behind until this day. Unless they’ve died. The whole of Karlów is gradually dying out. On top of the mountain, there is that tourist centre, have you been there? But the rest of the village... In the German times, there were over 60 children, and now you’ve got 4 or 5, but they are in Pasterka or Ostra Góra. And now there are very few people... there is just one cow there.
Section 3
How did the Poles treat you? Did they want to chase you away, or were they afraid of you?
You know, they were... There were different people. There were such who were very friendly from the very beginning... Everybody was rather sad when the time to leave came. There were also... At ours, it was all very well, my husband was a forester, state employee and so on. People were given means of transport, but elsewhere it was worse. Well, what should I say... The people here are the same as they were before.

How did you learn the Polish language, surely you had to communicate somehow with the newcomers?
Yes, they arrived... my husband was a forest engineer, he spoke German. And a lot of people... we used hands, legs, everything to communicate. And then I spent a lot of time in hospital, so I learnt a lot there. And we went to school. To school... I mean, there was this teacher, she wanted to teach us... a Polish teacher, she wanted to teach us in Polish. And there were people who knew Czech as well. Do you speak German? Yes? Everything was alright. Sometimes it was funny, she wanted to teach us, gave up from time to time. She wanted to say in German, we were supposed to repeat in Polish. She said, “Ich habe auf dem Kopfe eine Mitze.” She meant “Muetze” - a cap. So we laughed. She said, “What did I say?” So we told her. “Muetze” and she says, “Mitze”. So she said she wouldn’t teach us improper language. And so on. And later... with my husband, my daughter went to school, I had to... I read everything that she wrote. I read all the newspapers and so on, but writing was a bit more difficult... you know, there are letters like those “sz”, “cz”, and so on.

When you were living here, you must have had some traditions of yours. When you got married, did your husband teach you his traditions? Perhaps the dishes...
Oh, yes, yes.

How did you celebrate Christmas or Easter, was it the way your husband wanted?
No, he didn’t interfere. But there were a lot of guests from my husband’s side. One of his sisters is still alive, my husband died three years ago. He was buried in Czermna: heart attack. He was older than me, he was an old bachelor. He came from a very intelligent family. What was I going to say...

What was the church situation, were the services spoken in Polish or in German, did you have your own churches?
No... It was in Polish. But there was sometimes a German mass held in Szczytna, we would go there through the forest. Later... now sometimes in Wambierzyce. Every year, there is a mass. And there are priests who speak German so you can go to confession as well. But I can manage in Polish. After all those years. There’s always the accent... they will hear anyway.

Did you teach your daughter to speak both Polish and German?
Since she was a child, she would say, “Daddy - goraco (hot), mama - heiss”. She doesn’t know how she learnt it. She always spoke German to me and Polish to my husband. Later, when she was four or five years old, she played with children... When she was born... in ‘55, she went to school in ‘60... or in ‘58... she would say, “Mom, you see... Siehst du, Mutti, siehst du Mutti, ich ferstehe alles, und ihr ferstehen nicht.” (You see, mom, I understand everything and they don’t understand anything.) [laughs] And when she was nine years old, we went to Germany. To visit a friend of mine, where I had worked looking after children, that was in the East Germany. We crossed the border, and I asked for the toilet, I asked in Polish. And my daughter, “We are abroad now, now you have to speak German.” [laughs] That’s why she didn’t have any problems. My grandson, Janek, learns German at school and Ewa, my granddaughter, goes to the secondary school. And they learn German there, at school. But my daughter, she didn’t even notice when she learnt it. She went to the secondary school in Walbrzych. It was a boarding school, run by nuns. You had to pay for it... you had to pay.
And later, I started farming in that forester’s lodge, I never liked cows anyway, but I had to... I didn’t want to leave my husband, but he got some land, and so on. In time, I managed to make some money out of it. In those years, they were the best years for farmer. When Gierek was in power. It was a good time for the farmers. They received their pensions later as well. And in the 1970s, until 1980, there were 56 cows in Karlów, now there is just one. They came to collect the milk, you know. And my husband said, “Look, you’re making more than my salary here.” That was for the milk. But you had to get up at five o’clock. Well, but I’m still alive.
Section 4
Do you wish you hadn’t stayed?
No, I don’t regret anything. At first, it was difficult. But my husband was intelligent, he didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, we were alright together.

Did you go to Germany later? Perhaps to visit your relatives?
I’ve been to East Germany. One of my sisters died quite early, in ‘66. She died in Germany. She was only 46 years old. When there were air raids over Berlin, when Berlin was bombarded, she came here, in a burnt coat, and then via Czechoslovakia to Germany. Later, I didn’t see her any more. There were two more sisters in Germany, one of them in East Germany, but she died, the best sister of mine. And another one, she visited me here recently, but she’s ill as well, she’s got a cancer. But I never regretted my staying. But I didn’t have time for travelling, I had a farm. I went once, a friend asked me to, near Berlin, when Poles went trading. [laughs] You may have heard, no? You were too young. It was in ‘90. When we were allowed to go West Berlin. I mean, you were not allowed to go to West Berlin, only to East Berlin, but then you could walk there. And there was one of my sister’s daughter, she worked there, she’s still there somewhere. Yes, but I never regretted. The work was hard, but somehow... My husband had a hard job too, he was the first forester in the whole forestry district. They wanted him to join the party, but he wouldn’t. So he couldn’t be a forester any more. But he wanted to be in Karlów. And so we’ve been in Karlów for 15 years now. He died three years ago. But everything in Karlów is so deserted, the meadows unmowed...
Section 5
People from Karlów move away to larger towns, does nobody want to live there?
They still are those who live there, but young people are not into farming. I know one person, he’s got children and... he could have that hay for free, but he doesn’t want it. I used to have three cows, and pigs, and ducks, and calves. A beautiful forester’s lodge, sometimes, when visitors arrive, they say, “How nice it used to be, and look how deserted it is now.” A drunkard lives there. But what can you do?

Do many Germans come here to see their homeland?
Fewer and fewer. Children are not interested; older people can’t. One cousin from my father’s side is blind, another cousin cannot walk any more. My sister was here for the last time, I think. Her husband was 77 years old, he has a heart starter (pace maker?), he came to Kudowa, he wanted to come by coach, he cannot drive any more. My sister is to be operated because of that cancer, her hand is all swollen. She also had five children, life was (word missing?) for her, too.

Is it easier for you to speak in German or in Polish?
It doesn’t make any difference to me now.

But when your sister arrives, you speak German, don’t you?
Naturally. In German. And we also have a Klodzko dialect, you know. Sometimes when people arrive here - like there is this friend of mine from Halacz - I always go to do the translation job for them. There is a very nice, clean Polish family near Lewin, some... they don’t speak Polish(?), so I translate for them. Back then, there were four brothers and one... of those brothers was in Indonesia... a missionary. And I had to translate a lot, and then he says, “You know, I don’t understand Polish.” Oh, was I speaking Polish? [laughs] Yes. It makes no difference to me. Nobody will sell me any more. [Mrs Klimowicz’s grandson enters] My grandson has done the second grade at school. Now he’s going to the third. And Ewa is going to the sixth, they are supposed to come today as well. And he’s been here for three weeks now. And in Kudowa, we paid the deposit in Housing Cooperative, to get a flat. Fifteen years ago, my husband retired, the forester came and we got the flat. So it was better for us, better for my husband, he had had a heart attack, so he had some peace and quiet here.

Do you like living in Kudowa or would you rather return to Karlów?
No, I wouldn’t like to go back there. Not in the present conditions there. But to have a walk around there - yes, why not. The air is much better there. At first, I didn’t notice that, but now I know it’s easier to breathe. And here it’s... it’s much lower.

When you were living there, in that forester’s lodge, did you find the forest clean, or did you find litter, contaminated water or something?
Well, I will tell you. Nowadays... You know, in the past, one forester had some 20 forest workers. Now there are three foresters and perhaps one worker. In the past, when my husband worked there... they fed the animals in the forest. Now they don’t. They say animals should look after themselves. The chestnuts and all... my husband would go, there were two pasture points in the forest, perhaps you’ve seen them, he would take some hay and leave there for the animals. We made the hay, kept it in the attic. That was all it was used for. There was one person who would take the hay to a barn. And from there, it was distributed to the pasture points in the forest. We had to carry the hay on our backs, there was no way of using any transport. We often went there with my husband, the sacks on our backs - with hay, carrots... In the past, we didn’t have cars the way they do now. When my husband died, the head forester told everyone to be present at the funeral, but one wouldn’t go. The forestry head office was in Szczytna... or Polanica... And he said, “It’s too hard to go there.” First the head office was in Karlów, then they moved it to Polanica, and now it is in Szczytna, I think. “He had to go 20 kilometres on skis, there and back, and it’s too far for you to go on a motorbike? And you’ve got a car as well, can’t you come?”
Yes, in time, my husband got a WSM (a motorbike). First it was the head forester who had a motorbike, then others. They replaced them every four or five years, gave them new ones. And my husband said, “Now, learn to ride a motorbike.” I was 43 or 44 years old then, my father was still alive. He said, “You’re going to kill yourself.” My father didn’t speak Polish, you know. My husband would start the bike, I would get on it, there is that straight road through the forest to Zlota. The bike was magnificent! But he didn’t show me anything. How to brake or anything, the bike was in the first gear... I started riding... I went round and round in circles... Then my husband realised he’d forgotten to tell me how to stop [laughs]. But later, he showed me. I went to a course, to do a driving licence... in Batorowa (neighbouring village), but I already rode the bike there, through the forest. I thought I wouldn’t pass the exam. He said, don’t worry, everything will be alright. He told me everything in Polish, I wrote in German. And later, I learnt all that. And then I took that exam in Polanica. Everybody had been studying hard for that, you know. One of the workers taught me how to maintain the bike in the winter time. How to dismantle it and so on. My husband didn’t have the patience to do it. Alright. They made us ride in the figure of eight. I did two eights alright. I got an A for that. I passed. And then there was the written part. There were three of us sitting together, two men and me in the middle. They asked one of the men a question. The only thing that he didn’t know. I thought, “That is the only thing he doesn’t know.” He didn’t know how to answer. They asked me. I answered properly, without hesitation. They said, “Look, a woman...” If he had asked me anything else... He said, “Alright, you’ve got your driving licence, but never ride to a town.”
Well, I was afraid a bit, we always rode together. My husband on his bike, me - on mine. I never dared take a child with me. He always did. One day, he shouted at me so much. We were going from Batorów to Karlów, and there were those huge puddles in the road. And I always rode through them. I’d put my foot down and go through the water splashing it around. He stared shouting at me. I thought, “Why is he shouting? What does he want from me?” And then he said, “Are you stupid or what? You shouldn’t accelerate when you go through the water, you should brake!” [laughs] He’d got splattered with water. Well, this is how it goes anyway. I used to ride a motorbike, a bike, but I don’t any more, I was operated on my eye, I can see only with one eye - the other one hasn’t been operated on yet. What else can I say, I’ve already told you everything.
Section 6
What does your normal day look like nowadays? Do you stay at home or do you go for walks?
Oh, I will tell you something more about that forester’s lodge. When I was still living there, at first I had one cow. But when my daughter went to the University, I needed some extra income. I never wanted a cow, but I had to. So then I had three cows, very good breed, black and white ones. I sold milk, it was good quality and so on. And calves, ducks and rabbits - various things. And hay-making period was much easier in time. We belonged to the farming cooperative, so we had access to machines, they would come to mow, rake, carry it home. It was much more convenient, much better. And later, we paid money into the housing cooperative, to get a flat. It took 15 years to get one. In 1985. At first, it was all very sad, we missed everything, I had to liquidate everything, I cried after every single cow, I had to sell them.
But everything was passed on into good hands. And now we had some time for ourselves, we could go for walks with my husband. But I didn’t have anything I could do. Nothing for me to do. We arranged the flat a bit, we could go and visit our relatives. Before that, we had never had time to go anywhere. Now we could. We went to Krakow, to Zakopane, we also went to Warszawa twice. I’ve got a sister there. So, I was able to see other places. I liked Krakow very, very much. And he had relatives in Opole. And now my husband is dead. Three years ago, he died of heart attack, it was his second. He was buried here, in Czermna. It’s here that he spent his lifetime, not there, in... now he’s close to the forest and so on. He knew... My mother-in-law was also buried in Lewin. Now it is a bit sad... but I never seem to find time, I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s getting older, you cannot work so fast any more. In the past, there was so much work, and still...
Now my grandchildren come to visit me. They are very nice children. My grandson in 17 years old, he’s 187 centimetres tall, he’s in the third grade of the secondary school. Ewa, 13, she’s going to the new secondary school now. My daughter is of weak health, often gets ill. She’s got problems with her legs, the veins. She was operated on her legs. Felt much better, could go swimming with the children or something, but she phoned me two weeks ago and she told me a huge wound had developed on the leg that was operated on four years ago. She says she suffers with every single step she makes. I am old, I wanted to help the children a bit, live for them. My daughter cannot go to work, she’s on the doctor’s leave most of the time. And the son, he’s in the Agricultural Secondary School in Bozków. And so I lead my life. I sometimes go to Karlów. My husband had this small room promised in the forester’s lodge for his use any time he came. So we could go there and use it, spend the night there, you know. A small room. My daughter used it for three years. Now they told us to leave the room. There was some sort of an accident, a fire in the forester’s lodge. There was this man, a cripple, he had an amputated leg, he was to get that room, but he couldn’t climb up the stairs so he got a former office room. And my daughter asked the director to give us back that room, and I have been there a few times and I slept there.
Section 7
Do you like going for walks, hiking in the mountains? Do you like the mountains here?
I certainly like them. Very much. I know these mountains very well, and all, Mount Szczeliniec (the highest peak). We also quite often went to Zieleniec with the children, they liked skiing in the winter there. Yes, I must say the whole of the Klodzko region is exceptionally beautiful.

Do you like travelling further away?
I used to like it, but I find it tiring now.
[a neighbour enters asking for help in translating instructions on a German medicine bottle]
The first time I went to West Germany was in 1994. It was organised by Mrs. Furmanowa (local organiser of the German minority meetings). Freundschaftskreitz, isn’t it? It was a package tour, so I went. It was my first time there, I liked it a lot, we travelled via Czechoslovakia. And I met quite a few people there. We stayed with families, but I also phoned my sister and she took me, and I had my first opportunity ever to meet my whole family. But, as I said, it was too tiring for me. I had those cramps, you know. But I did go there, the journey was pleasant. Now I don’t want to go as far as Klodzko, I prefer them to come to me. It is all very tiring. I’ve got various ailments, this and that, you know. So I prefer them to come here. What else was I going to say... A long time ago, my daughter and myself, we would go skiing together, but it’s all past. Even when my husband was over 70, we still went skiing. Not downhill, but cross-country, slowly. Still, we did. It was very nice. What can I do now? I thank God I’m still on my both legs, it would be worse on three, and I couldn’t on four. [laughs] Well, that will be all.
Section 8
Thank you very much.
You’re welcome.

1921 - birth
1938 - leaves for Dresden
1944 - return to Karlów
1949 - mother dies
1954 - gets married
1955 - daughter is born
1982 - grandson is born
1985 - moves to Kudowa
1986 - granddaughter is born
1996 - husband dies
1999 - present day