social relationships

culture and customs
environmental knowledge
family life

introducing the area


 quotes about resettlement
 key testimonies featuring resettlement

The Klodzko Valley was directly effected by what has been called one of the greatest population shifts in European history. Once German, the Valley formed part of the Northern and Western territories "recovered" from Germany after the Second World War (see map). The redrawn boundaries of Poland involved Germans being expelled across the border to the west; Ukrainians west of the Bug River being exchanged for Poles living to its east; and in turn, Poles from these eastern provinces settling in the towns and villages vacated by the Germans. This testimony collection contains stories from some of the few German "original inhabitants" who stayed in the Valley after 1946, even though their relatives were displaced to the west; and from the Polish "resettlers" who were moved into the area by the Soviets, dispatched from Poland's former eastern territories (now Ukraine and Byelorussia). (See map on History page.)

Although experiences differ, few Polish narrators experienced significant hostility from the German residents when they arrived. Most spoke of the kindness that was shown to them. Some of the German narrators differentiated between the settlers from central and eastern Poland, as "those from the central parts of Poland were the worst . they looted households". It appears that not many of these Poles remained in the area. In contrast, settlers from the "flatlands" of the "east" (beyond the Bug River) were seen to be in a similar position as the Germans, as "they were so very poor really. They had been displaced from there as well, weren't they?". Several of these narrators had spent time in Siberia during the war and were traumatised and disorientated. Most were quite unfamiliar with mountain terrain and some found it alien and almost threatening at first. Others, however, "foresaw our future [as] very bright. We were very happy to see beautiful, well-furnished houses with electricity" (Poland 40). Indeed, many remarked upon how much better the infrastructure and housing was in the west. Only one man, for whom deportation to Siberia and survival through resourcefulness and adaptability, had been the most formative experience of his life, confesses that he still feels that "Spiritually, my home is beyond the Urals, I spent so much time there" (Poland 43).

Since then, more voluntary resettlement in the area has taken place, principally by Poland's disillusioned intelligentsia déclassé (see Migration).

quotes about resettlement

""It was July. We arrived there when plums were ripe. I remember a German woman shouting at me when I picked a plum from a tree. We lived with the German for a year.The German hosts were very kind to us.""
Adolfina, F/63, pensioner, Poland 40

""The original [German] inhabitants. have always held and still hold some sort of a grudge against us. As if we were the cause of their co-patriots having to leave their homeland. As if we had not been deported as well.""
Romuald, M/67, pensioner, Poland 25

""It happened that the Russians, the Ukrainians chased us away . They assaulted us at night, told us to go out, because the land was theirs.... And so we had to leave everything and go away. They forced us.... We didn't know where they were taking us, whether to Siberia or elsewhere. No-one knew. When we finally arrived, we found they were speaking German, so we knew.""
Aniela, F/77, pensioner, Poland 9

"".where the Germans were still living, they would come and bring things. They were good people.... We lived in peace [with them].The most difficult thing was how to communicate with them, cause they didn't speak Polish and we didn't speak German - we used gestures, but we were good neighbours.... We were sorry for them.... We cried as much as they did [when they were deported], cause, you know, my parents, the Russians chased them away from their home as well, so we knew what it meant.""
Anonymous, F/67, housewife, Poland 5

photo of Franciszek, Poland 34""In the east we got used to small, chimneyless cabins with a hole in the roof for the smoke. Here, each house was big and made of brick. Moreover, we did not have electricity in the East. We used kerosene lamps. And here we had electricity! For the first few days, me and my brother were queuing [for] who was to be the first to turn the light off.""
Franciszek, M/68, electrician, Poland 34

""We didn't have any opportunities to see our motherland anymore.... There was nobody left there from our family.... We heard some news of Tarnawica Polna [in Ukraine]: hardly anything has changed there. It is said to be still poor and dark.""
Adolfina, F/63, pensioner, Poland 40

""In Gorzanow they threw us out of the carriages . and then we saw those Germans riding on cows. We couldn't believe our eyes. Cows are to be milked, not ridden. Apparently, they used those cows to work. We were all scared. Those mountains are so high around here, we thought they were such huge clouds, and that it would start raining soon . They asked if we had such mountains in Chodaczkow, but no, the area there was flat, not even a larger rock to be found, and those rocks here were so enormous. We couldn't get used to it for quite some time, we cried.""
Aniela, F/77, pensioner, Poland 9

key testimonies featuring resettlement

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   12   Jan   male/60   former baker/hunter   Bystrzyca Klodzka  
Summary Transcript   17   Adolf   male/65   carpenter/pensioner   Wilkanów  
Summary Transcript   25   Romuald   male/67   pensioner   Klodzko  
Summary Transcript   28   Hane   female/85   pensioner   Klodzko  
Summary Transcript   3   Leokadia   female/74   pensioner   Miedzylesie  
Summary Transcript   34   Franciszek   male/68   electrician   Bystrzyca Klodzka  
Summary Transcript   4   Franciszek   male/79   former local mayor   Dlugopole Zdrój  
Summary Transcript   40   Adolfina   female/63   pensioner   P  
Summary Transcript   41   Irmgard   female/66   baker   P  
Summary Transcript   43   Edward   male/72   former teacher/ pilot/general manager   Klodzko  
Summary Transcript   5   Anonymous   female/67   housewife   Bystrzyca Klodzka  
Summary Transcript   9   Aniela   female/77   pensioner   Stara Lomnica