In this entry, the extent of the occupation (after just the first week of action) starts to become clear. 08/09/1939 Dawn broke as we glimpsed the Nida River in the distance and beyond that Nowy Korczyn. With the Nida came the hope of creating an organised resistance against the pursuing enemy. But we were naïve … Continue reading Two Glasses of Good Vodka and a Very Brief Respite
In the previous extract Józef wrote, “it is difficult to describe what happened” as they faced yet another obstacle, this time in the form of a bridge on the point of collapse, but a little later he went on to describe the situation in more detail What went on there, what we saw, gave the … Continue reading Pandemonium and Sandy Terrain
Last week I shared some of Józef's words from a different part of the diaries, to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Poland. The extract below now returns to the chronology of the previous posts I've shared, the last of which can be found here: My Beloved Kraków. 7/09/1939 I kept my … Continue reading German Armoured Units Already in Sight
On 1st September 2019 people across Europe are remembering the events of 80 years ago today, when war broke out following the German invasion of Poland. Józef’s experience of that day is recorded in the entry he titled, “War… War… War” which can be found here: Waking up to War. In a subsequent entry covering … Continue reading 80 Years On
Just under a week after war was declared, Józef and his squadron arrive in Kraków. Having heard rumours about the city's fate and seen the devastation in towns and villages on the way they would now able to see for themselves what the situation was in Kraków. 6/09/1939 We arrived in Toń during the night. Every … Continue reading My Beloved Kraków
Kraków is in sight but there are more and more signs of the impact of the invasion. There are quite a few place names in this extract as Józef’s squadron continues its journey towards Kraków. In 1939 these would presumably have been separate villages and settlements whereas now they are part of the city of … Continue reading News of Kraków and Częstochowa
Over the next day or two, Józef goes into a lot of detail about the continuing journey towards Kraków. He describes the difficulties of potholes and of manoeuvring the carts across ditches, damaged bridges and past roadblocks of various kinds. His long entry for the 4th September includes the following: We crossed the Kreszowice to … Continue reading Continuing towards Kraków
Here Józef gives a brief example of the plight of civilians as they try to escape the invasion and the dilemma he faces in obeying the rules or following his instincts. It was a beautiful day and the sun was scorching as on all those September days. We passed another manor house set up as … Continue reading Fleeing Citizens
At the end of the previous extract Józef set off with Lieut. Zielinski in the latter's car towards Ząbkowice and took the opportunity to ask him what he knew about the situation. 3/09/1939 Once the whole supply column had arrived, the sergeant received instructions and we continued on. We arrived in Ząbkowice and headed to … Continue reading Ząbkowice towards Kraków
The old man chauffeuring me wasn’t managing very well and because of his age he was driving haphazardly in the dark. So at his own request, he was released from the army and praising God he made his way back to Giszowiec. I was given a young driver and we headed towards Siewierz but it … Continue reading From Giszowiec towards Siewierz – part four: Sad News from Silesia
You may have noticed that in the first part of Józef’s entry for this date, both the squadron and the supply column travelled together. However in this third part of the entry, the squadron moves on towards Siewierz, while the supply column remains behind until the evening, at which point Józef receives some different orders. … Continue reading From Giszowiec towards Siewierz – part three
To read part one of this section click here. Part two below. 02/09/1939 It was already well after midnight when we reached Strzyżów. The Commander called a halt here, so the supply column personnel made themselves comfortable keeping out of sight under apple and pear trees in local gardens. The kitchen was set up in … Continue reading From Giszowiec towards Siewierz – part two: Who Can Sleep?
As the unit continues its preparations on 1st September, Józef’s description of the rather ad hoc motorised squadron highlights some of the differences in provision between the German and Polish armies. The far wealthier German army was heavily motorised whereas this unit appears to be relying almost entirely on private vehicles. In this, the … Continue reading From Giszowiec towards Siewierz – part one: Without Lights
After Józef's heartfelt passage about Poland's fate, he writes a second entry about the events that unfolded in the camp on the day war was declared. The fact that this was written at a later date explains the apparent irony of his comments on the state of the army. 01/09/39 Whatever was that terrible explosion … Continue reading Waking up to War
Józef’s diary entry for 1st September 1939 was simply one line: Wojna…Wojna…Wojna. (War…War…War). After that he starts a new section of his diary headed The September Campaign. He begins this section with a very patriotic and poetic passage. Well, his Polish is very poetic but is therefore hard to translate. I'm not sure my translation has … Continue reading O Poland! Who Saw You?
Over the coming months, I would like to share with you some extracts from my translation of Józef's diaries. During the first two weeks of August 1939 my father was based at Mikołów (near Katowice) as the doctor with his battalion, 23rd Infantry Division. He writes that there were clear signs of approaching war but … Continue reading August 1939