Warsaw, 31.8.1939.

My darling Marushka,

You certainly will be astonished to receive this letter from Warsaw, as less than a week ago in Wilno you said goodbye to me, the called-up soldier.

I went east to my formation and now I am in Warsaw as a civilian. Here is what happened in this short time: after arrival at my regiment I presented my call-up card and, after completion of formalities, I was sent to the supply stores. Rushing from one corner of the barracks to another I received all my equipment consisting of wearing apparel and also utensils for eating as well as killing, such as mess tin, cutlery, rifle and bayonet, haversack and hand grenades.

In the afternoon I was detailed to my company which was bivouacked in the forest near the railway ramp. There was great activity in checking lists, etc. Liaison officers were running forwards and backwards, the field telephone situated under an old pear tree was chattering busily.

Before I had time to get acquainted with all my companions and commanders, the field telephone summoned me to the headquarters of the regiment. With my heart in my mouth, I ran to the barracks. What could have happened? In my mind I ticked off all I had done during my short military service. I was certain that during these few hours I had done nothing to warrant the attention of my superiors. I arrived out of breath at the threshold of the regimental adjutant.

"Lieutenant Kruszewski?"  a voice called out from behind the desk. "Yes, sir...."  I stopped and it sounded odd and stupid. In addition, I made a move something between taking off my military cap and saluting. At this moment I did not know two main things - firstly, the military rank of the bald gentleman who was sitting deeply in an easy chair behind a high desk and, secondly, if standing on the threshold of the room, does one take off the cap and stand to attention or should one salute?

The adjutant gave me an indulgent smile and said; "You are demobilised, return clothing and weapons 'to the store, get back your civilian clothing. You will receive your travel order back home. Understand?"

Seeing me agape and staring, he added, "You were drafted by mistake. You don't belong to the first mobilisation. Your call-up card should have been blue and not white."

I felt disappointed and humiliated, as if I was publicly degraded, as if the stripes of a national hero had been stripped. Can you understand me, Marushka, the ambitious male? In this moment I understood the might of the war psychosis - after all, I am basically a pacifist.

Only when I wore my grey, slightly crumpled suit and soft hat did I feel my spirits rise and my mood became cheerful. I passed the barracks gate and started my way homewards, me –Ha! Ha! - the one-day soldier in active service.

I immediately sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advising them about my demobilisation and received from them a cable with instructions to start work in Head Office.

I left for Warsaw on 28th August and for the last two days have been working in the archives of the Ministry. I have already met quite a few friends - they arrived mainly from Germany. We are all working sorting documents. Most of them have to be burnt in huge burners in the basement. Diving in and out from huge crates with documents, we all look like chickens covered in feathers. Paper was everywhere, in the main hall of the Ministry, in passages, on desks, chairs and floors, even over windows. Office messengers are constantly carrying big bundles away. Truly paper work.

My God, why did the gentlemen from the Diplomatic Service have to write on so many tons of paper to achieve such an uncomplicated result as the possibility of a second world war? But to be truthful I must admit that the majority of the docu­ments do not concern the intellectual effort of peaceful co­existence between neighbourly nations. Mainly there are bills from embassies, consulates, legations, etc. for champagne, liqueurs, wines, vodka, sardines, chocolates, extra-special cigarettes and cigars, biscuits, etc.  anyway they were for food items of first necessity to sustain a friendly atmosphere, candid exchange of thought and cordial neighbourly relationships.

The food consumption of our diplomats was really out­standing, although I must admit that I can't visualise any conference for peace by the four powers being conducted with salted herring and rye bread. On the whole, my darling, the atmosphere at M.S.Z. (Ministry for Foreign Affairs) is rather feverish. Politics are also heatedly discussed in the streets. We are counting on a firm stand from our western allies. The spirits are rather high. We feel like the placards say strong, united and ready.

As to myself - I have a large room, received my wages in advance, so we will have enough to live on. There is no danger of an immediate war. This situation may last for months according to people in the know. Some even assure us that, under the pressure of the big powers, Hitler will never start a war but will try to negotiate and look for a political compromise. Therefore, darling, take only a few frocks, some linen and some of my personal belongings and come to Warsaw - the rest could be sent later.

I am waiting with many kisses,



Warsaw, 31st August, 1939.


Next morning at dawn the Second World War started.

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