A gratitude that has never been directly expressed is lying dormant somewhere in the recesses of memory; it is an energy that is alive although the human beings whom it is meant for have already departed from us, nameless.
Gratitude moves me to write down this story. I would like to, no, I have to protect it from being forgotten.
It all happened during WWII and is about my long deceased parents. I have to admit that neither as a child nor as a youth did I have a particular interest in the stories about the past which were passed around in my family.
Only now, as an adult, do I have a strong desire to hold on to some of the stories.
In 1940 my parents Alicja and Franciszek lived in the small border town of Terespol on the Bug, not far from Lublin. The area was occupied by Hitler Germany and German military police was stationed in town. My father frequently went to one of the pubs in town. The place, overflowing with people and cigarette smoke, served as a center for the exchange of information and gossip as well as the black market. Military policemen came here to play cards and to drink beer. My father spoke German well and sometimes engaged in conversation with them. One of the gendarmes, the tall, redheaded Georg ( I am calling him that because I cannot remember his real name) was an especially friendly man. Leaning against the bar together and already quite inebriated, Georg and my father forgot for a moment that they were actually enemies. Georg made it clear to Frank that he did not approve of the war.
Later on, at home, my father told my mother about it. She got very upset and reproached my father: “Franiu, how can you befriend this German ! Don’t you understand that there is a war going on ? You are unbelievably irresponsible.”
At this point I want to add that Alicja’s nature was to be a very thoughtful, responsible and serious woman. Franek only responded, “ we have war this way or that way” and continued to meet with Georg. A year later my parents left Terespol and my father lost contact with the redheaded military policeman.
In the summer of 1944 my parents lived in Warsaw. They did not know that an uprising against the German occupiers was planned in town. They survived the Warsaw uprising in basements where they found protection from bombs and escaped from danger through sewer lines. That was not easy with a small child. My brother Andrzej was barely three years old.
In September of 1944 the uprising was crushed. Warsaw was transformed into a sea of ruins. The inhabitants of the capital who had survived were ordered by the Germans to gather in certain locations in the city. From there they were to be transported to concentration camps. Alicja, Franek and little Anrdzej were in the crowd that had gathered in front of what remained of St. Francis church in Warsaw. They were exhausted and hungry, and their faces had taken on a greenish color from living in basements and canals for a long time. All around them Germans screamed orders.
Again and again empty trucks drove to the front of the church into which additional groups of human beings were driven brutally. Desperation took over the crowd; everyone knew that they would be transported to death camps and that in their weakened condition their chance to survive would be minimal. ‘This is the end of us” Franek repeated from time to time, resigned.
‘This is the end of us.” Silently Alicja tended to their son.
Then suddenly Franek noticed his redheaded buddy from Terespol among the German soldiers. He felt a glimmer of hope and yelled as loud as he could, “Georg, Georg!” The soldier approached my parents and said, surprised, “I am not Georg.” My father looked at him with desperation. Undoubtedly, he had made a mistake. The tiny spark of hope in him died. For a moment he and the soldier silently looked into each other’s eyes. The unknown redheaded soldier hesitated for a moment and then added, “Georg is my brother.” Feverishly, Franek began to explain ,”I knew Georg well, we were friends in Terespol.” Georg’s brother looked around nervously and whispered to my father, “stand back with your family and wait over there under the tree; I will be right back.”
A few people standing close by had heard the promise and so, after a short while, our large ‘family’ gathered under the tree; uncles, aunts, cousins and in-laws, altogether about twenty people. A few minutes passed. Georg’s brother showed up again and looked around impatiently. After a short time an empty truck stopped under the tree. ‘Go, go,’ the redheaded soldier yelled at them and chased everyone who stood under the tree on the truck. Then he quietly exchanged a few words with the driver of the truck and disappeared.
The closed truck drove through the streets of Warsaw over potholes and debris on dusty streets in the suburbs until it reached the little town of Wlochy (now a district of Warsaw). There the driver, who appeared to be scared, ordered them to get out quickly, and then drove off.
It turned out that the German Army had already pulled out of Wlochy.
They were free! Twenty human beings had been saved by the redheaded soldier and the truck driver.
Translation U. Scott Washington State
Renate W. is very happy. She met her two brothers December 9 in Moscow. Thanks to the first Russian TV. They made this miracle possible.
This event is here on screen. Scroll to 27:46 and watch the first meeting.
The Portuguese journalist Catarina Gomez is interested in CBOW in Indonesia. Does anyone have answers to the following questions:
Can you tell how many Dutch military served in Indonesia during the colonial war?
Is there an estimate on the number of mixed children?
What happened to the children after independence?
I've read there was a genocide of eurasiatics during 1945-46. Can you confirm this?
If you have any information you may contact Catarina directly at Catarina Gomes firstname.lastname@example.org
She also published a very interesting article on CBOW in West Africa Guinea-Bissau:
Ingvill C. Mochmann
International Network for Interdisciplinary Research on Children Born of War