Born on 23 July 1927, residing in Anielin, Mińsk Mazowiecki postal area.

Memories from 1944

It was Monday, 22 May 1944. The day was cloudy and strangely sad. Classes were passing by quickly, but by the third class, and that was product knowledge, we were tired and exhausted. The teacher was all the time quizzing students in front of the class and giving them grades, since the end of the school year was approaching. We were longing for the end of classes. Finally, the bell rang. We ran into the schoolyard with smiling, carefree faces. My classmates took a ball and we went playing dodge ball behind the school building. Having a happy and noisy time, we didn’t notice either the enormous black dog running at us from around the corner, as if launched from a slingshot, or the few gendarmes approaching from both sides with machine guns in their hands, ready to fire. One of them was shouting: “ Halt! Halt!” in German, another one was shouting: “Stop! Do not run!” in Polish. There was a commotion. We did not know what to do. Some of us were jumping into classrooms through windows, hiding notes, notebooks, and history books, others were running away home through the fence, others still were hiding in closets. But no-one was able to hide or escape properly. The schoolyard was surrounded by Mongols, and the sly and cunning eye of the German found us everywhere. Boys were ordered to stay in the schoolyard, girls were herded into one of the classrooms. We started to cry there. Bitter tears were running down our faces. No-one was saying anything. We were standing side by side, tightly clutching one another by the hand. All our thoughts seemed identical, repeating: what is going to happen, what is going to happen? One of the gendarmes ordered us to go out into the corridor and line up in twos. With an expression of awful cynicism, of disgusting mockery on his face, he inspected us inquisitively one by one and conversed with another gendarme. After a while he separated the shorter girls from our group and let them go home. He left all the taller ones. Neither the teachers’ pleadings nor the worksheets we all had were of any help. We were destined to be deported to Germany for forced labor. All that time Germans were in the school, carrying out a search. They leafed through all notebooks and books. They were looking for something in stoves and on top of them, in all drawers and on all tables, they looked in almost every hole. After a while, the girls were ordered to go to the schoolyard and in fours, together with the boys, we were taken to the Labor Office. They wrote down our names there and loaded us onto the truck called a buda [literally: a shed = Black Maria]. We were crowded, since girls and boys were loaded onto the truck together. It was pouring. We were horribly cold. A moment later the truck started to move. Our mothers came to say goodbye, blessing us for the road. Our thoughts roamed everywhere. To our family houses, to fields and meadows, to those careless moments that had passed. And to the school. We did not know ourselves when we got to Skaryszewska Street, where we were locked in a dark basement the floor of which was covered with chlorine, after we had been separated from the boys. Sometime later we were brought to a large room where we had our clothes disinfected. After a bath, never to be forgotten, we went to get some rest. We were woken up by women working there, although none of us could sleep. All of us were counted in the corridor, and then we were taken to clean floors and walls, on which there were all kinds of bugs.

After a few hours two people were released, namely myself and one of my male classmates. I was sad to part with my friends who were going to Germany. Two years have already passed since then, but visions of those horrible moments still appear in my memories and will remain there forever.

The above memories were presented at the ceremony of the end of the 1945/46 school year in the Merchant Secondary School and Trade High School [Gimnazjum Kupieckie i Liceum Handlowe] in Mińsk Mazowiecki, Kościuszki Street 8, by Alicja Paszkowska, presently a pupil of the fourth grade of the secondary school.