culture and customs
environmental knowledge
family life
social relationships

introducing the area


 quotes about health
 key testimonies featuring health

Given the average age of the narrators, it is natural that some were experiencing problems of failing health. But a significant number of the settlers from the east of Poland, whose war years had been spent in camps and/or Siberia, have had poor health ever since then those days. "I was an 8-year-old child when they took me, and so for six years I didn't know what an orange was, an apple or white bread. I knew nothing about such things, I didn't even know they existed.... Well, I was such a small girl, 8 years old, but I returned without health at all. The joints - inflammation all over, and now, as you can see, I sit and I can't walk too much.... [My] health was left behind in Russia. All of [my family] have this [athsma] in the chest - all of us.... When I was getting married, my teeth had already fallen out, we didn't have any vitamins" (Poland 5).

A few claim that the local environment and the clean mountain air has had a positive influence on their health - especially the spring water, which was believed to have healing properties. One narrator says "this region is so interesting from the curative point of view. It is all connected with the natural radioactivity. Because of the higher ionisation of the air, people coming there with, say, catarrh, they are alright within one day." Uranium was in fact mined locally, by "Polish hands" under German ownership.

Others express some concern at the rising cost of healthcare and medicines, while several narrators highlight a growing problem of alcoholism and drug use. One of the original German inhabitants observes that although "you cannot generalise . Poles drink more!"

quotes about health

""People working with this uranium, they did not work in safe conditions, because they did not use any type of security measures.... they were sorted by workers with bare hands, and also radiation was huge and not many people survived till these days, very few, although they were quite young then." "
Kazimierz, M/45, forester, Poland 30

""I remember famine and poverty [in Russian camps], nothing else.... You didn't think about anything but how to get some food.... All I know is that my mother wouldn't let us die. She stole wherever she could.... we were not allowed to go to Russian villages, but she would somehow creep there.steal some carrots.mostly it was garlic.... Sanitary conditions? There were none. They didn't give us any soap.... we didn't have any hair, cause mother cut it to the skin, cause there were lice, they were like ants on an ant-hill." "
Anonymous, F/67, housewife, Poland 5

""The problem of alcoholism has always existed here. When I was a child, when we first came here, there were, say, two or three drunkards always looking for a glass. [But today] the age of drunkards is getting lower and lower. At present, you can come across drug addicts in Bystrzyca as well. We didn't have them in the past." "
Adam, M/62, vice-president of Siberian Deportee Assoc., Poland 21

""When we started organising the Siberian Deportee Association in 1989, there were still over 800 Siberian deportees still living in the neighbourhood.... We are trying to help those people, as for two years now there's been a possibility of them applying for war benefits. Unfortunately, the Act is prepared so badly, that you have to prove that your present state of health has been caused by your stay in Siberia. Only 33% of the applications have been accepted, the rest was rejected.... It's as if a camel was trying to prove it's got a hump. They require certificates that you were in hospital, certificates that nobody kept. Besides, after the war I was living in the country, where nobody saw any doctors, we cured ourselves using traditional methods.""
Adam, M/62, vice-president of Siberian Deportee Assoc., Poland 21

key testimonies featuring health

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   17   Adolf   male/65   carpenter/pensioner   Wilkanów  
Summary Transcript   21   Adam   male/62   vice-president of Siberian Deportee Association   P  
Summary Transcript   4   Franciszek   male/79   former local mayor   Dlugopole Zdrój  
Summary Transcript   5   Anonymous   female/67   housewife   Bystrzyca Klodzka