culture and customs
environmental knowledge
family life
social relationships

introducing the area

culture and customs

 quotes about culture and customs
 key testimonies featuring culture and customs

There are few commonly held traditions in the area, mainly as a result of the shifts in population. Some of the narrators were German residents who stayed on after the end of World War Two and married Poles. They are particularly informative about the German culture that had previously characterised the area. Many customs, including traditional cuisine, disappeared when German families were deported after the war and their farms and homes were taken over by Poles (who had been forced from their homelands in the "eastern borderlands"). The Poles originated from very different landscapes; and many found the environment difficult, even threatening. Family roots had been torn up and it was no easy process to "replant" them in the Klodzko Valley. Initially, there were few social ties between the different groups of settlers and for nearly 50 years, some held to the belief that they were living there on a "temporary basis". As a result, there is no real Polish Sudeten tradition - no folkdance or costumes, songs or local dishes. This is in strong contrast to other mountainous areas, which usually have distinctive ethnic and cultural identities. However, the settlers brought some new customs which have flourished locally, for example, "Name Day", when people celebrate the day of the saint whose name they bear


Those Germans who did stay in the area adapted or replaced their cultural traditions with Polish customs. However, the creation of the German Minority Association in 1993 has provided a forum for the original inhabitants to share memories of past traditions, and sing traditional songs. The interviews also contain some vivid descriptions of Russian and Siberian culture, from Poles who spent their childhood in the old eastern territories.

An artist in her thirties talks about her own work and the uphill struggle she has to run a academy for local children to develop their artistic sensibilities: "the kids around here don't have anywhere to develop their talents, they don't have the basic things that kids in towns do, in large cities. But what do they have? They have the silence" (Poland 46).

quotes about culture and customs

""When I married Franek, we lived in accordance with Polish traditions, I simply cooked the way he told me to. At first, we went to visit his relatives in Niedzwiednik, so I could learn a lot from them, especially Christmas dishes"
." Elzbieta, F/74, pensioner, Poland 20

""And the church fairs were beautiful there, in the [then] Czech [side of the border].... There was a service in the church, and the whole square was full of it - various things, a fair, stalls, everything. Oh! The hot sausages, Jesus! What wasn't there? Beautiful! Merry-go-rounds and swings for young children.... it was always at the end of June. We always went. My mother once wrote me a letter from East Germany: "We will never again see those church fairs, we will die here." They were in Freiberg.
Now I am a Pole. I did what [my husband] said things should look like, for example at Easter. We used to have different customs, at the table and so on. But we did everything the Polish way, the way they did in the east, at his. Every nation has its own customs.""

Maria, F/80, pensioner, Poland 19

""What I sometimes missed was an opportunity to have a conversation in German, you know, in the company of friends.""
Hane, F/85, pensioner, Poland 28

key testimonies featuring culture and customs

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   13   Anna   female/69   pensioner   Szczytna  
Summary Transcript   17   Adolf   male/65   carpenter/pensioner   Wilkanów  
Summary Transcript   19   Maria   female/80   pensioner   Stara Lomnica  
Summary Transcript   20   Elzbieta   female/74   pensioner   Wójtowice  
Summary Transcript   25   Romuald   male/67   pensioner   Klodzko  
Summary Transcript   28   Hane   female/85   pensioner   Klodzko  
Summary Transcript   40   Adolfina   female/63   pensioner   P  
Summary Transcript   41   Irmgard   female/66   baker   P  
Summary Transcript   46   Ewa   female/39   artist   Katy Bystrzyckie  
Summary Transcript   9   Aniela   female/77   pensioner   Stara Lomnica