PEACE! ... How oddly strange and false does this word sound, like a forged medal thrown on the conference table?
For nearly six long years we had been waiting for this big word. We were longing for it like a blessing from Providence. "Pax Vobiscum" - these words willed our imagination. Bells would be pealing from all church towers of the world. The sound, touched by a magic wand, would bring radiating happiness to all the earth. Multitudes of homeless wanderers would by returning to their homelands like a procession. We hoped that these words would heal the wounds of the earth and human hearts, covered in mourning. Freedom would blaze pure and humane. .
The word was uttered. The sound touched our ears like a bell trying to proclaim happiness ... with broken ropes .....
Somewhere in far San Francisco sixty-four nations were discussing the act of peace on earth.
In the meantime dark, odd clouds were gathering in Eastern Europe. So far no thunder was approaching nor heard but the political atmosphere was unfriendly, heavy and sultry. Nobody was breathing freely but rather like in a stuffy room.
Those who would like to spread their wings and fly home were held back by others pointing to the sky - the weather is unsuitable, a storm is hanging in the air, wait a bit ... there is still time before winter. The Cold Front was approaching ...
In the streets were posters in French, English and German. Walls and shop windows were covered with colourful announcements. People were crowding, craning their necks, reading about the victorious processions of the army, about the erection of the banner over the ruins of Berlin, about the duty of men to be registered, about the time allowed to be in the streets - until six p.m. Also about giving rights is to the foreigners as members of the allied nations and their rights to move freely outside the radius of three kilometres, about the confiscation of cars and motor bikes, about the death penalty for possession of firearms, about the new allied money, about the order to bare one's head in front of a French banner, of the order forbidding fraternising with soldiers and the local German population, about bowing to a general of the Allied Forces.
The Germans looked in horror at the photographs taken in Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, Majdanek and many, many more extermination camps which had been hidden secretly by the fallen regime. They simply did not want to believe in the existence of these huge factories of death (or pretended not to believe?) where millions of people were transformed into ashes or skeletons - for the good of the Future Happy Europe. We saw pictures of chimneys of the dreadful crematoriums, of the skeletons dug out from the pits and others, dried out skeletons barely covered with rotting skin. Under the photos was written - "These shameful acts are on your conscience!"
These placards were a plain public act of accusation of the Germans or at least an accusation of complicity. It hurt. No wonder that one night 'unknown hands' tore down these placards. It cost the town a lot. Ten thousand marks and three days home arrest for all its people. After three days when they were allowed out there were the placards back again ... these shameful acts ... are on your conscience:
More and more people came to Isny. Many of the deported had been assigned as slaves to the German farmers where they had been the 'glebae adscripti' (attached to the land) for many years, torn away from the world and other people. At last they were able to throw down their shackles and leave to look for their own people. Many came by accident of war, just being blown in by chance. They were walking around the streets just looking for their own kind. It was not hard; if they did not hear their native tongue they could spot their national colours attached proudly to someone's chest. After the Allied Forces entered Isny, all the foreigners wore their country colours to distinguish them from the locals.
One day quite different people were seen in the streets of Isny. They wore odd striped uniforms. There were quite a few of them. They were all speaking Polish. We surrounded them immediately, asking who they were. They were inmates from the Auschwitz concentration camp. They had fled from a 'Bauzug' (a train carrying labourers to building sites) and had waited for some time until able to come to our French zone.
"This is the truth" said one, pointing to the placards "a factory of death."
"My God: How many people went through these chimneys as smoke. Oh heaven: I am telling you!!! Millions!!! They were carted in wagons to the ovens. I was taken there in 1943 but just look at my number" - he rolled up his sleeve to show the tattoo marks - the number was 125,375. "Later on they even stopped numbering. It was terrible to become a 'Mussulman' (a name given to very emaciated people, thin as skeletons, near death from starvation). If a doctor saw such a 'Mussulman' he would send him immediately to the ovens. Many also died during work. When such a chap was already unable to work with a shovel, the S.S. man would hit him with a stick on his neck, hit him some more and when the fellow was on the ground unable to move much then the S.S. man, rotten bloody bastard, would put the handle of the shovel under his face and, putting his feet astride the shovel on both sides, he would swing a few times up and down and the Mussulman was finished. No gas chambers - he got his free ticket to heaven. When we came from Auschwitz to the 'bauzug' we thought we were grabbing God Almighty by his beard."
"'Why were you taken to Auschwitz?"
"I, personally, was there for political reasons. There were also some criminals but not many. During my tine the majority were Jews. There were even hutelders (in charge of barracks). When they went up in smoke the hutelders were allocated between us. Yes, my countrymen, it sure was a mangle. It is better to rot in the earth than to live in Auschwitz, I am telling you!! But now life is beautiful, like a fairy tale, and the Germans are now under our heel." Smiling and rubbing his hands he asked: "Look, folks, maybe someone has a smoke?" Many hands stretched out offering cigarettes. We Poles took care of our 'striped ones' as the people from the concentration camps were called.
In the small, crowded room of the Mitynski family stood a beautiful wireless. One of his five children got it from one of the 'Blacks' in exchange for a nickel watch and wristband. The 'Black' one already had three radios but no wristwatch and a business deal was easily performed. Thanks to this transaction I was often able to listen to the radio with my countrymen. There was usually a biggish group listening to news from London. One day there were many people. Among them was Mr. Goch who was arguing at length about the question of the 'Veto' which the Russian brought up once again. "I don't know much about politics,” interrupted Mr. Mitynski. "You had better tell us what is going to happen to us. The war has already been finished quite a while. When will we be able to go home? It is still impossible. Have they forgotten us back home?"
"Who is going back home, sir, when a new war is already hanging in the air,” replied Goch, a bit angry about the interruption.
"What? War with the Russki? My God, that would be the last straw. One war has just finished - people even have had no time to put their bodies and souls together. People must be getting quite mad:" Mrs Mitynska was moaning.
"You can't help it. As long as the Bolsheviks are alive there can't be peace" said Goch, full of conviction.
Maybe the Russki will give us our land back without a fight. He has that much of his own lands."
"Who is going to give back anything without a fight?"
"I am certainly not going back while the Russek is still there,” said Mrs. Cybulska. "I have heard that their GePeWu have already deported seven million Poles to their Siberia. Have you listened to this morning's news?"
"No." I became interested.
"They spoke so nicely from London about the sixteen Polish generals still being imprisoned in the Soviet camps. The news was saying that the imprisoned ones had been fighting for our and your freedom."
"My God, what is going to happen? When will it all be over?" Mrs. Eitynska was very upset.
At six o'clock ... "Here speaks the Polish radio Warsaw, Poznan, Lwow, Katowice, Wilno and Baranowicze on the London waves. Good evening. We are starting our third news broadcast from the London station ..." It became quiet in the room; people were listening with serious attention. Perhaps at last we would hear something about our country, about the possibility of returning home. There were so many rumours spreading anxiety ... the voice continued: "During the battles in the far east an important part is the relation between different castes in China ... now we are finishing our broadcast.
You can hear us again on the meter band…."
I switched the radio off.
"Now my old one, have you learned something of interest?" Mr. Mitynski asked his wife.
"No-one is telling the truth,” moaned Mrs. Mitynski. "The radio does not say anything of importance to us and the people are saying too much. What should one do? To whom should one listen? I even don't know if I should start these bags of flour now or if I should keep them until winter. Maybe we will have to stay here during winter. How will I feed seven?"
Days and then weeks of waiting. Spring had passed and with the Spring passed the hope of a quick return home. Summer came, with the corns and their ringing bells. It was a hot summer. Our Frenchmen, the previous war prisoners, had left long ago, going back home, and the next ones to go were the Dutchmen. The Germans, who were bombed out, started to return to their ruined cities to start rebuilding a new life. We were still here. We people from the East: Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Jugoslavs, Lithuanians and Estonians. The East was still closed to us. We were eating the well-deserved German cheese and butter, and waiting. We were free not to work. The days were ours to do as we pleased. People were walking up and down the streets, playing cards and drinking home-made vodka made from sugar. The girls were flirting with the 'Blacks' and the older men were organising associations, clubs, administrations and so on, thus giving their democratic temperament a wide field of action.
The Russians conformed to a less democratic system, obeying a self-appointed commandant. Their democratic feelings were satisfied by accumulating private property. Heim's factory they considered their own property. The red banner was raised on the roof and inside barter was flourishing. Machinery, tools, factory equipment were changing hands mainly going to the farmers. The most popular currency was Schnapps. With Schnapps came the wish to have a girlfriend, to take her for a walk. But why walking? Very soon pushbikes, motorbikes and even cars found their way into the camp. The boys, once mobile, were travelling over the roads, footpaths, squares, everywhere, going into ecstasies. They were taking sharp bends at sixty, gathering experience by chaffed skin, broken bones and broken vehicles. But who cares? Skin and bones will heal and there are still plenty of vehicles around. The young Ukrainian girls were dressed colourfully, the old berets discarded. In their permanent frizzy hair they wore red flowers. Couples were joining tenderly together. The young boys, Wasia, Ivan, Jaszem, Zonia, were allowed to take their girls on their bikes or even in cars. In the evening many cars were leaving the factory with boys and girls, all with happy, smiling faces. The driver, revving loudly and travelling fast, was very proud and happy - at last life was smiling on him.
The slow Lithuanians began speculating. They had to think about their future as none of them intended to return to Lithuania which had become one of the Soviet republics. They walked along streets with cases of goods such as cigarettes, cigarette papers, tobacco, razor blades, combs and other small goods which were hard to get in Isny.
The Yugoslavs, family minded, lived mostly quietly at home. They received better living accommodation and were happy with their families. The Estonians disappeared somewhere and started to build their permanent lives here in Germany. Only one Rumanian was left as he was a great friend of the Poles. He was playing sentimental songs on his violin, looking full of love at the Polish girls. He greeted everyone with the words 'Dobranoc, kochana' (goodnight, my love) as they were the only words he could speak in Polish.
Out of sheer boredom, people started to get married, making great festive weddings. They were mainly young people who worked before as slaves on tree farms. Now they arrived at the church in a farm cart covered with flowers. We were often at these weddings where I usually had to make speeches and give the bride away as only a few had their parents. There was always plenty of food - roast veal, and cakes made by the farmers daughters. There was a lot of dancing including true quick 'polka' and the last dance was always a mazurka.
In the meantime the Polish group and some other groups were creating and disbanding governing bodies, administrations and committees. There were many people who would like to be appointed as managers, directors, secretaries, etc. Meetings were called where one could hear monologues on topics such as who has the right to call himself a Pole or who are the 'Volksdeutsche', the 'Race People'. The arguments became heated and quite often ended with black eyes. Neither was the Press forgotten. For the 'sake of strengthening the Polish Spirit in foreign land:' appeared 'Gazeta Polska' (Polish newspaper). The editor was a retired major. He told me he was creating a new idea of the New Reason of State during conditions of emigration. His aim was to bring awareness to the masses and lead them to understanding of the New Reason of State in the way of .... then he would drink half a cup of 'moonshine', eat a piece of bread, sniff a lemon rind and finish his confusing argument saying: "I will show those f .... bastards from the committee who I am. Sir, before the war I was the local chairman of the Nation's Defendants Federation. Those smelly, rotten stinkers from the committee know only how to milk cows and scatter manure."
Already in the sixth issue of his paper he gave the general outline of how the new Polish constitution should be during the exile government.
In the meantime, the outside world started to take notice of Poland. On the 15th June, 1945, a conference of leading Polish politicians was held in Moscow. After a festive dinner in the banquet hall, they were invited by the Soviet Government to attend a Court session which was being held in the large hall of the Tribunal of the Red Army where sixteen Polish accused were to be tried. Many were invited, such as representatives of the Corps Diplomatique, representatives of the army and foreign journalists.
It was decided during this conference, supported by a few liberals from the London exiles, to change the name of the Communist Government in Lublin to the Government of Warsaw.
This way the Government of the National Unity was created.
New events occurred. Our London Government did not recognise the Warsaw Government and the Warsaw one did not acknowledge the London Government. Now, thanks to the thoughtful intervention of our allies, we had two presidents, two governments, two councils of state, two prime ministers and two marshals. But there was only one Poland, smaller and scaled down, shifted from East to West and uncertain of its own tomorrow.
This odd political concept simplified solving the conflicts of our countrymen in foreign countries. Each could now choose between two complete governments including two armies of which one had the white eagle with a crown and the other without a crown.
In this dualistic atmosphere the concept of Poland began to form and ripen between the emigrant Poles. Amid the ruins of Germany, groups started to develop, advocating the London Government. Very soon it started to take roots in Isny.
Two representatives from the London Government arrived during one of our general assemblies when choosing once again another chairman Mr. Goch was delivering a speech between catcalls from the slightly drunken audience. The cheering was enormous and went on and on. During the first short rest period from the discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the new chairman, one of the visitors took the floor. He was a non-commissioned officer of the highest rank. He wore an armband on which POLAND was written. He started with a polite allusion that his countrymen were not playing nicely and continued that he would not speak about politics. He mentioned that we all had to get adjusted to the new way of life and that we should start to take roots in the foreign country. He spoke about being united as only in unity is strength. Who knows what might still happen? We should start organising cadet corps. He finished his talk with a fervent promise of material help.
On our way home I was stopped by the ex-chairman who went under three different names: Bialy, Rely, vel Bielinski. He told me that he had spoken privately with the men from the Polish mission, who had entrusted him with the work to build a battalion for the Polish Army as he was a retired captain of the Polish Army. "Mr. Kruszewski, I will do it,” he told me. "I am already fed up with all the civilian gangs. Today they have overthrown me as their chairman. I will show them what the army can do. I am not one for talking - I love action. Look at the Town Hall and the French banner. I am telling you, the Polish banner will fly there. When I'll organise my battalion the French will transfer the power to me. I've had those stupid civilians. I will tell the German police to take off their uniforms and I will build a Polish police force with our strong boys. I will change all the German street names, giving them names of our big men. You know, in 1919 my battalion took the town of Bujazno. I, as the commandant, immediately gave the order that… " the ex-chairman was already infected by the old slogan: "Where we are, there is our country."
In the afternoon I went to listen to radio news. Mrs. Mitynska was peeling potatoes and her 'old man' was cutting tobacco. I switched on the radio. Odd how the voices came over the air. London was speaking in German, Luxemburg in English, Warsaw in Russian. At last I heard a Polish speech. I stopped tuning. Moscow was transmitting from the Festive Academy of the Society of Polish Patriots. Just at that moment the chairman of the honorary presidium was giving the chair to Citizen Aniol (Angel, a member of the academy). It became his honour to read aloud the telegrams addressed to Citizen Stalin.
In a few moments the clear, emotional voice of Aniol was giving thanks to the Big Leader of the Nations for the recovery of a free, democratic and independent Poland. Feeling lifted in spirit because even angels intervene for Poland, I shifted to the London station. The sound of music was just fading and the voice of the announcer began. "This is again the Polish Radio Warsaw, Poznan, Lwow, Katowice, Wilno and Baranowicze on the waves of London. Good evening ladies and gentlemen. We are starting now on our third radio news .... and now: finishing the programme, not in connection with political situation, just for remembering, just for sentimental reasons you will hear a Polish girl singing some old folk songs." A rich alto voice full of deep feeling, to the accompaniment of a guitar, began singing with sad emotion: "After many, many years you will find peace among flowers as if nothing has ever happened." "When we will be again together ..." and many more songs, all full of longing. Memories of previous old times started flowing. The lilacs in blossom, the walks in the large botanical gardens, the small cosy cafes in Warsaw, the gay crowds, the stuffy, nights in the basements of the well-known dancing hall, Adria.
It was like a swan song of Warsaw from before the war, coming on the air from London. When I switched off, still remembering, Mr. Mitynski asked as usual: "Mr. Kruszewski, what now? Will there be war again or not?"
"Today the angel himself was speaking to Stalin."
A few days later I left Isny, going with my theatre group to give performances in neighbouring Polish communities. I had organised an amateur revue called "Poland Pictured in Songs and Dances."
Our first performance was in the capital city of our country as there was located the Central Society of Poles which included other counties as well. This committee was working very poorly. When the war ended in Germany all the majors, captains and lieutenants started to increase in rank as they thought they deserved. Who was there to prove otherwise? On their epaulets new stars were added as in their opinion it was their due. They could not get adjusted to the co-operative civilian way of life. They started to fight between themselves. First they were fighting for influence, then for chairmanships, lastly either for London or for Lublin. The heated debates and arguments usually took place in the large local pub. Their large official working place, decorated with big printed words such as: 'Chairman', 'Vice Chairman', 'Vice - Chairman II', 'Editor', 'Secretary', was empty. After walking through the empty rooms, I at last found a member of the committee - Mr. Nowik. Mr. Nowik was called bitingly the boy from the cows as during the war he was working for a farmer. He was sitting at his desk, surrounded by files and letters.
"I have had it by now,” he greeted me, throwing some papers back on the desk.
"The major had quarrelled with the chairman and the chairman with the captain. Nobody is coming to the office. The French Governor had suspended our paper. I have to cope alone with this. I travelled to Baden-Baden where our Polish mission is located at present, asking them to intervene with the French. I could not find our mission for a long time. At last I found them. They had a lovely villa, probably 'inherited' from some influential German. I had to wait one and a half hours to be heard as they were all sleeping, according to their servants. At last, at eleven a lieutenant came still dressed in his pyjamas, yawning - probably sleepy from last might's party. He told me:
"I don't think we can do anything about your problems.
"Here I am back again. All is in a mess. The men from Lublin arrived in the meantime and ordered something to be stuck over the crown of the eagles. They also hung portraits of their men on walls. But that is not the end. Later on a few arrived from the London mission. They told us to immediately take down the portraits and to remove the sticking paper from the crowns. What should I do, I am asking you? It can drive one truly mad. Some are coming and saying hide the crown, the others - show the crown. To whom should I listen? And anyway what are they fighting about? I have really had it by now. I don't care. Let them paint me in any colour - white, red or even in dots or stripes ... I am now resigning from the committee." He finished, crumpling more papers between his hands.
In Biberach we were greeted enthusiastically. We had to repeat our performance twice, both times to a full house. The people were happy. Some were even crying with happiness on seeing after all these years Polish national dresses, old Polish folk dances and hearing their favourite songs. Flowers were thrown all over us. We were as touched by the people as they were by our performances. We were all invited to a sumptuous dinner for the opening of a new camp (for displaced people) to be called "Warsaw's Uprising". Biberach had many poles - over 1,200. It had three camps for the civilians and a military company consisting mainly of Polish prisoners of war. Their chief was Lieutenant Bojar-Tulipanski who was also the commandant of the camps. One could call it an autocratic government; Lieutenant Bojar could be called the Knight of Biberach. He had his army, his military police, his magazines of arms, his food stores. He even had a prison where he shut up all those who would not comply or who tried to take the power away from him.
We heard a rumour that not so long ago a unit from the nearby town made a raid on Bojar's country trying to rescue one of their mates whom Bojar had jailed. The raid was not successful. Bojar's armed forces repelled the raiders from Schussenried, taking a prisoner. Bojar, feeling lenient, just allowed the prisoner to be beaten up before being released. Bojar must have felt really lenient at that time as he had empowered himself to deal out death sentences. This document I saw with my own eyes on the announcement desk, signed with his own signature.
The power and strong position of Lieutenant Bojar-Tulipanski was not so hard to explain. The French had only a small garrison but they had a very large camp of German prisoners, the so-called 'criminals of war', who needed to be kept under a strong hand. The French authorised the Lieutenant to take charge of this camp, giving him a good position supported by arms. They needed him and he needed them.
It was quite different in Leutenkirchen. The Polish camp was much smaller. It fitted into two buildings of the local school. In each hall slept thirty people. They were fed in one mess organised by the French. The leader of the Poles was a farmer captain of the Polish army who, during the war, was a prisoner in the camp of Buchenwald. He was a well-built man with dark eyebrows and gentle eyes. He usually walked with a revolver. He kept good watch so that his people behaved themselves. He told me he would personally beat up those who behaved 'like pigs'. The captain was against all prisons - maybe because he had spent a long time in one. His punishment ended with hitting someone in the face. He explained - "With this mob you can't do anything else." He did not believe in any democratic rules such as electing a chairman. But he was not a persistent autocrat. His power was just finished when we came with our group. I was astonished to see how he had changed. Instead of the military uniform, he was dressed as a civilian, including a soft felt hat. Instead of the revolver, he carried in his hand an ivory-handled cane.
"I am finished with this mob, Mr Kruszewski" he greeted me. "All day long they either eat, sleep or simply spoil the air around them. Their behinds will get rooted to the beds, the useless mob. One day I called same of the boys to do some duty and some women to go and help in the kitchen. Nobody care to work. I stopped dinner that day. They came to me telling me I should make a list, a roster of duties. To hell with them. Now I have to start making lists as well when quite often I have not even time to sit down and have a proper meal. Enough talking. I threw everything to hell. Let U.N.R.R.A. Cope."
It was raining and the attendance for our show eras not good. We returned to Isny wet to the skin. We had finished our first 'artistic tour'.
Weeks passed. July was ending. Fields were mown for the second time.
The Russians, Ukrainers and White Russians left Isny. Yugoslavs were also returned home ... only we Poles were still here in this country with the cheeses full of holes. We tried to cheer ourselves up by saying at last Poland was nearer to us by at least a few hundred kilometres.
We were still surrounded by a nightmare of uncertainty. Some gloomy frightening rumours were always circulating. The news from our homeland was always interspersed with anti-Soviet propaganda.
We began to organise a list of people who definitely wanted to go back to Poland. The others were jeering "Ha-ha, are you in a hurry to go to Siberia?"
Again some people started to doubt, became frightened.
"Is it true, Mr. Kruszewski, that the Russek takes everything away when one comes to the Polish border?" Mrs. Mitynska asked. "People are saying that they leave you only two shirts, marked with their stamps. People are saying that if someone comes in the street without the stamped shirt he is immediately taken to camps behind barbed wires. What should we do?"
"Best go without a shirt."
"You are only joking!"
Mr. Goch had not given up hope. He was trying to be active. He was trying to become a chairman. On a nicely printed letterhead he started to ask for donations to build a school for Polish children. His name even appeared twice - once as a general donor, the second time as the leader and inspector of the future school. All the activities and his flowery language were meant to make you forget that once he was co-working with the Germans, that he once fitted nicely into the place given him by the Germans. After a lengthy speech justifying why he should be the future chairman of the Polish organisation, he was beaten up and helped by the French military police to return home.
He was the last of tine 'democratic' reigns in Allgau. U.N.R.R.A. took over and it became quiet in Isny.
Churchill, speaking as the opposition leader during the opening of Parliament, said the words which will be remembered by Poles for a long time: "There are only a few virtues which the Poles do not possess but there are also only a few errors which they have not committed."
Near us lived a Mr. Toofil Pietrzak. A little man, by profession a boilermaker. He loved his drink and preferred to drink in company, as drinking alone made him very sad. Now he discovered a new hobby - black marketeering. He was dealing with everything but his passion was musical instruments although the profits were not as good as with other goods. He could play a few instruments - not well, but very lovingly.
To his dark room came one day a young Russian boy from Lublin - Rysiek Glowacki, who loved to write poetry.
"Mr. Pietrzak, I would like to buy a violin. I can't play it - it is to be a present to my sister who is engaged. I heard you have many."
Pietrzak, taking a good swig straight from the bottle, pointed to three violins lying on his trunk.
Rysiek fondled one, which was shining and looked new.
"You will not buy that one."
"It will be to dear. Look how she looks, straight from the factory. It would cost you a thousand."
"And this one?" asked Rysiek, pointing to an old box, partly broken and patched up by an old piece of plywood.
"That is also a violin. A bit old maybe but one can still play on her quite well."
In the box lay a violin, shining on the clean green lining. Taking it out, Rysiek came close to the window to see if, in addition to the two broken string, it was not cracked. Something was inside it. He tried to read.
"What are you doing?" asked Pietrzak.
"I am looking to see that it is not bent."
Holding it in the light he could just maze out the writing: 'Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis. Paciebat anno 1727.'
He did not know about violins but, being a bright lad, he thought it might be an old Italian instrument. Nothing seemed to be broken. He remembered that, as a child, one of the neighbours told him that a violin had to be old, like old wine. He decided to buy it.
"How much, Mr. Pietrzak?"
"I am not selling for money, only goods in exchange."
"What goods would you like?"
"I would need three kilos of sugar, one kilo of butter and a cigarette lighter."
"I can give you the butter and the lighter but I have no sugar."
"No business Mr. Glowacki, I need the sugar."
"Mr. Pietrzak, you just look at this old box, two strings missing. Look how worn down the wood is and the box is broken. You are asking too much for this old thing."
"Just for you I will let you off with one kilo of sugar."
"Shake hands". They shook hands.
He took the violin and left. Next morning Miss Isa was astonished when Rysiek stopped her, asking if she knew the name of a good violin.
"I know,” she told him proudly - "Stradivarius!'
Rysiek grabbed his head in both hands: "My God, as true as I live, I have one!"
"You? Here in Isny? You must be joking."
"No, I am serious. I have it here at my room in Isny." They hurried to his room, grabbed the violin and came to me.
"We have a Stradivarius!!" Isa shouted as she came rushing to me. Behind her came Rysiek with an old box under his arm. I took the violin in my hands. It was not very big, extremely light, of noble lines, a light hazelnut colour shining in a peculiar soft light. The narrow neck was worn down by many loving hands. On a card, yellow with age, were the words - Antonius Stradivarius Cremonen Faciebat anno 1727. Beside it, in a circle, were the letters A S and above them a small cross. The letters were printed; only the last two - 27 - were written by hand. When I touched a chord, there came a full beautiful sound, hanging long in the air. I looked a long time at his violin, full of respect and admiration, still not quite believing. What could I, who did not know violins say about it?
I turned to the happy owner - "Ryszard, if this is a forgery I think it is a good forgery. If it is the original, you are a millionaire. I would advise that you keep it and look after it carefully until you return to Poland. There go to a specialist, to proper Authorities."
They left. I remained for a long time under the spell of the violin and its sound. What became of it? If somebody reads this or hears about it, try to find Ryszard Glowacki, a baker from Lodz, and learn the fate of this violin.
It was already two years since we had left our home. We never received any news about our family. The Front did not exist any more. It was over three months since the war had ended for us but an impenetrable wall divided us from our homeland. Letters to Poland were not accepted.
Lying on our bed, we would return in our mind's eye back home, back to our children and parents. To the last moments of departure. I was dreaming about little Jurek standing on the highway and, behind him, the policeman. Jurek's form became smaller and smaller the distance was growing, becoming unending ... and I would wake up looking at the ceiling in our room in Isny. Where are they now? Are they still alive? Do Jurek and Roman still remember us? Are they in Poland or Lithuania? Or were they deported?
Sometimes during the silence of the night we would spread out on the table our most valued possessions - photographs. In one Roman was just trying to walk, holding a finger of Grandmother Julia, in the other Jurek was playing with little pups in the kennel of old Ralph. We went to sleep with their faces close to us. At night Marushka would whisper:
"Are they alive? Will we find them? I am so-frightened." She used to cry during the dark nights.
On the 6th of August, 1945, the world was informed about the first atomic bomb over tire city of Hiroshima, The white people produced an until now unknown energy, harnessing it behind armoured plates and dropped it quickly on the yellow people.
The military news announced proudly the power of this new weapon. One small bomb killed 50,000 people and wounded an additional 30,000. The city ceased being, going up in flames and ruins.
The resulting turmoil caused destruction for ten kilometres. The unbelievable heat near the explosion charred buildings, trees and human beings and, further down, the radioactive dust condemned thousands to a lasting agony.
One of the American papers wrote: "The genius of the human brain gave the world a method to release the unknown, until now, nature's energies for the benefit of mankind. It marks a new phase in human history."
If it is true that the human mind is able not only to discover this energy but also able to harness this natural energy, we are standing at the threshold either of total annihilation or before fantastic blossoming. Now it would depend not so much on the genius of this human brain but on his humane conscience.
Emotions were running high. In the Far Fast the last epilogue of total war and immense human tragedy took place.
The loudspeakers from the world were announcing in short clipped sentences:
“The Japanese received their knock-out"
"Reached by the penetrating atomic bomb, the bleeding and frightened Japanese consider further fighting senseless."
"The new weapon is causing them to face unaccountable losses."
"The Japanese Government agreed to accept the unconditional surrender if the sovereignty of the King will be acknowledged."
On the arena of the Far East appeared the young Caesar. The news hurried on:
"The Caesar of Japan, Hirochita, called the Son of the Sun, is of small posture. He has two daughters and four sons and wears glasses. No-one is allowed to touch his body with naked hands. If a doctor has to examine him, he has to do so while wearing silk gloves."
New developments continued. The Japanese Government was still sitting. The Russian armies continued to advance hurriedly to Mandzuria, Sachalia and Korea. Great concentration of the Anglo-American bombers with their deadly loads were ready and waiting.
At one and the same time the radio stations from Washington, London, Moscow and Chanking were announcing the news:
"The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tojo, is herewith announcing in the name of his Caesar to the United States of America, Great Britain, Russia and China - the acceptance of the last conditions of capitulation.
The Son of the Sun issued orders to all the armed forces on land, sea and air to lay down their arms,
On the 14th of September, 1945 at 23 hours, after 2175 long days and nights ended the second and last great war….. the last one as, during this war, were released the two most horrible powers in human history: atomic energy and the energy of evil.
If people realise and acknowledge these powers, then peace on earth will come for all, times, and, if they do not fight these powers, then it will be no longer war but suicide of humanity.
During these long, bloody years, through great pain a dazzling truth was born ,..., war is absurd.
Let those who come after us understand this truth born in the blood of our generation, let them on the anniversary of this day ring the bells of happiness, as it should be the holiest day for mankind … the day when Peace was resurrected!!!