Friday, August 4, 2017

Mom's WW2 Stories: Grandma Arrested

When Nazis attacked Poland in 1939, they took the Poles and the entire world by surprise. It all started in the very early morning on September 1.

Mom, her family and other people in the neighborhood of the war port heard a Polish soldier cry:" Germans on the hillocks!". It was too late to evacuate or do anything. Nazis were too close and approached very quickly. Soon, my grandfather, his Polish Military Police Unit men and many Polish soldiers who were in the area, were captured. The Nazis took over the port and the city as well. Grandpa was transported to the Stalag in Torun. At that time, however, the family did not know what happened to him and where he was taken.

Not long after that, Gestapo men came to our family's apartment to arrest grandma. Mom and her sister were little then. They were in their beds as they had got ill. Grandma was told to say goodbye to her children and was taken away. The little girls did not know where to. They were horrified. The children neither knew what would happen to them nor whether their mother would ever be back.

They did not know either that she was taken to a local Gestapo station for questioning. An important part of the story was that my grandmother was born during the time when Poland was partitioned. I wrote about the third partition of Poland in my previous post. In case if you have missed that information, I will repeat it here:

Poland was partitioned for the third time in 1795. Three empires Prussia, Austria, and Russia divided Poland into three parts and took control over it. It meant Poland no longer existed as a country and the Polish people automatically became citizens of the suppressant empires. They not only were forbidden to speak Polish but also, when WW1 began, depending on where they lived, had to serve in the Prussian, Austrian or Russian army. In that way, Poles fought against their own people as well. My great-grandpa was one of them. Poland regained its independence after the war, when the peace treaty was signed in 1918.

Anyway, grandma was born in the part of Poland which, at that time, was controlled by Prussia. Therefore, her father fought in the Prussian army during WW1, he also perished on a WW1 front.

All the above was enough for the Nazis to say grandma was not Polish, and she had committed a crime when she married a Polish military man. They wanted her to sign the Volksdeutsche list. Maybe she was even told, her husband would be released from the Stalag to make her sign the paper.

But grandma was Polish, her parents were Polish. If she had agreed to sign, it would have been a betrayal of herself, her husband, her family. So she refused to sign anything.

Of course, it had its consequences. You could not just say 'no' to the Nazis... Grandma was severely beaten by Gestapo men. They beat her all night long, with their guns as well.

Finally, she was let go home. She came back to the apartment where her little girls had kept crying all the time when she was away. The kids also cried when they saw their mom - she was covered with her own blood, her face was bruised, and she had no teeth. All had been broken when she was tortured at the Gestapo station.

Since mom and her sister were ill, grandma had their family doctor check on her daughters. After the examination, the doctor stated that the hearts of both girls had significantly enlarged due to the horror they had gone through. According to the medical man, mom's heart was as big as a heart of an adult. The good news was that the condition was to pass.

Most importantly, grandma was home so her children felt safe again. It was the best cure of all to the despair and distress of the little girls'.

Grandma and her daughters

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