Stanisława Dudkiewicz
Class 7
Sławatycze, 13 June 1946

My wartime experiences

In 1939, when the whole Poland was happy and peaceful, I was in first grade. I didn’t understand a lot of things back then, I could only count to ten and I [knew] the alphabet. I often heard the adults talk about the coming war, but I wasn’t scared. A military draft took place towards the end of 1939, sometime in September. Everybody was talking about the war.

Three weeks later our enemies – the Germans – invaded Poland. Then I realized what a war actually was! In a very short time, hundreds of German planes traversed Poland, destroying its territory with bullets and thousands of bombs. No one had any hope to survive at the time!

When the wartime turmoil subsided, everybody calmed down, although not completely, for they knew that now they would be oppressed and persecuted by the enemy. The Germans committed heinous crimes in Poland; they built “death factories” where they killed scientists, doctors, true patriots and even foreigners using horrifying methods. People said that those who never crossed the gates of the death factories could consider themselves lucky.

It seems to me, however, that I also had some terrible and difficult experiences during this war, even though I didn’t see any death factories. The front passed three times, and both my father and mother were arrested. I lived with my little sister among strangers, because we had left Sławatycze before the front came there. After the front passed, mum and dad came back and told us that they had escaped the enemy and were certain of their lives [?], but they kept thinking about us. When the front passed, so did our bondage. Everyone was glad that our enemy was crushed and defeated, yet our thoughts were uncertain and incomprehensible. After such a terrible war our country is destroyed. We should try to make it as strong and great as it once was!