Very interesting article from a Historical point of view, in this personal testimony. History is everywhere, keep an open mind, everyone has a story.Message 1 of 1 , Dec 29 5:37 PMView Source
Very interesting article from a Historical point of view, in this personal testimony. History is everywhere, keep an open mind, everyone has a story.
Mr. Leon Solowiejczyk is 82 years old. He comes from the eastern part of prewar Poland, the area of the city of Vilnius (today Lithuania), from a relatively well-to-do small town family of orthodox Jews. We talked in his apartment, which he hardly ever leaves. He suffers from serious asthma, which made our conversation difficult. He tires easily and uses an oxygen tank. Mr. Solowiejczyk is a warm and cordial man. He told his story willingly, without reservations and our meetings seemed to please him considerably.
I was born on 25th March 1923 in a small town called Dzisna [the town of Dzisna is located on the river Dzisna, a tributary of Dzwina], in the Vilnius district. I knew my grandparents from my father's side better, because we lived together. They were born in the times of Tsar Nicolaus I [Nicolaus I Romanov (1796-1855)]. The grandparents spoke Yiddish at home and Russian when there was company.
When the Russians came there was no joyful atmosphere. There were some greetings. It was mostly those leftist organizations greeting them: ‘Long live the Soviet Union!' For the young people it was a novelty. Something new. An interesting thing, but usually it was horrible. We felt it was war, because by then we knew what war was. When the Russians came, on the first day we hid in the basement all day long.
Later, after Father went to the other side of the river, he saw all that chaos. Until that time people didn't know what was happening there. On the first day Father said that this song which they were singing, this ‘Katyusha' was very nice, used to be very nice when we heard it from the other side of the river [Mr. Solowiejczyk means that when the Russians were singing the popular Russian folk song ‘Katyusha' before the war it was a simple and nice song. After they invaded Poland, the song became a symbol of the presence of the occupant.] And he found out then, he found out about the hunger, the terror, everything.
Then the deportations began. First they started deporting all the members of the intelligentsia, teachers. Arrests began. The first from among our friends to be arrested were Pawel Skolysz and others, who had restaurants. We were nervous, perhaps not as much as the Poles, but still, you couldn't be sure of anything. They could come and get you, point their fingers at you. There were no differences, Pole, or Russian, or Jew. They deported lots of our friends. There was general chaos, general ‘trauer.' A general insecurity about tomorrow. So it was a tragedy.
I was never in the ghetto in Lodz . I was a soldier, so I couldn't do that. But I was in touch with the Jewish community. The head of the garrison here in Lodz was Colonel Friedman [Centropa interviewee Michal Friedman]. He is in Warsaw now. He is some 90-something years old. He was one of the first lecturers in that officers' training school in Zytomierz. He was promoted to the rank of major very quickly. He was a professor from before the war. He never hid that he was a Jew. For Easter 1945, while we were still there on Zachodnia Street, he organized a Pesach celebration. Later there was this colonel, Subicz. He almost killed me when I was working in the warehouse. He was an anti-Semite. A Jew, but an anti-Semite. He was later in Warsaw, he was said to have signed jail sentences for pre-war officers. He shot himself after Stalin's death.