Some Sadly Prophetic Words

This section was one of the first parts that I translated and my father’s poignant comment has stuck in my mind ever since.

 

22/08/1939

On the 22nd August I received an order by telephone from Lieutenant Colonel Szebesta, to go immediately to the Pszczyna area and take up the position of doctor for the Katowice National Defence Battalion. It was a strange command as there was already a battalion doctor there – Dr Stawarski. It suited me very well though as it meant I could stay at my brother Joachim’s, who was station master at Suszec railway station. Unfortunately this pleasure was short lived as there wasn’t much work. The two of us arranged a visit to the wounded and afterwards I led some training with the sick bay staff. Here I came across Frank Mildner, an old friend who was manager of a manor house in Kryry, where there was some good beer and even better cigarettes.

24/08/1939

This idyll was cut short when a bomb fell in the morning of 24 August and I heard from Dr Stawarski that he had been notified of the unofficial mobilisation and that the National Defence Battalion would be marching past Wyry at any moment – and so, war. And yet, maybe it wasn’t inevitable. Anyway, in the eyes of Joachim and his wife Aniela at our farewell, I saw the hidden anxiety, concealed to some extent by their tears. They loved me very much and they said goodbye as though the campaign was at the point of no return. I did my utmost to hide my emotions with sufficient assertions: “there won’t be a war and even if it’s already broken out, it’s we who will win.” And so I left – this was the last time I saw a member of my family.

My father’s closing words here would have referred to his situation while he was in France in 1940, but were sadly prophetic as in fact he never had the opportunity to return to Poland or to be reunited with his family.

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