Class 4
Smardzew, Radzanów commune

My most memorable moment from the occupation

Five o’clock in the morning. In my sleep, I hear my mother boiling potatoes for the pigs by the light of a small lamp and singing prayers in a quiet voice. It was so nice under the plaid blanket that I didn’t want to open my eyes at all. There was silence all around.

Suddenly we hear a heavy trudging in the mud, the crash of doors being opened and two Germans with loathsome, bloated faces are in the house, standing in front of my mother. They say to her sharply: “Nobody has an hour”. I remember those words to this day. The village head came in after them and explained that everyone had to get out of our village within the hour. They were resettling the whole of Smardzew. They will kill whoever stays and burn down all the houses.

I don’t remember if I ever heard more crying, shouting and despair at a funeral. Father got out of bed heavily. When he was putting his trousers on he put both feet in one leg, and afterwards he went to look for his jacket that he was already wearing. And I lay there quietly, forgotten.

Suddenly mother remembered me and with a cry, she pulled off the plaid blanket and told me to run off with the cows to Błeszno because the Germans were already taking them away. I dressed quickly, snatched up a crust of dried bread and a whip. Our cows were standing just behind the barn outside. As if out of spite, the wind and rain drove right into my eyes and my feet sank into the autumn mud. It was still dark as I drove our two cows straight ahead, and I heard crying, shouting and a lot of activity from the village.

That was the start of our wandering which lasted the next two years. The Germans hounded us from village to village, looking in at what we had and stealing more and more from us. It was a hard and sad life for us without our house and the bed with the plaid blanket.