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Kresy Family

'My Story' - excerpts from Romuald Lipinski's memoir


Invasion

War: 1 September 1939

In summer September 1939,  we knew that the war with Germany was imminent, and my mother and I went to Lomza to bring Andzia to Brzesc nad Bugiem (now in Belorussia, Brest). Lomza was close to the East-Prussian border and we thought that it would be safer for her to be with us. The name Brzesc  nad Bugiem  comes from the River Bug nearby. Just when we arrived at Brzesc with Andzia and her little baby, at the railroad station there was an air raid. We did not know that the Germans had attacked Poland, and it was a complete surprise. This was my first encounter with the war. I was very scared when I saw a whole railroad car going up in the air as a result of an explosion. I looked up and saw the small points in the sky, which looked so innocent and yet were causing such devastation. I didn't see anybody dead that time but everybody was running in every direction in panic. 

I don't think that I realized the meaning of what was happening. I didn't understand the vast number of people that would be affected by the war. Somehow, it did not come to my consciousness. The grown-ups were talking about it and I could see that they were very concerned about it, but I just didn't understand this.

Soon after the first days of September, things started to happen. We could see that the war wasn't going well for Poland. There was an enormous lift in spirits when the radio announced that England and France had declared war on Germany. "Now," I said to myself, "we will certainly win." But we were not winning. The German planes were coming and bombing our town, aiming at the railroad station and other important objectives. We were living at so-called Bresc II, i.e., the freight station, and it was very close from our home to the railroad tracks. For safety reasons, myself and Tadek, used to go to the fields, a little further from the station and the most probable objective for planes. Sometimes my mother and Andzia would join us.

I think it was on 10 or 12 September that we stayed over night in a house in the field when it was evident that  the war was close. We could hear the firing of machine guns throughout the night. Next morning we went home and the Germans were already in the area.  The Germans didn't stay long in Brzesc. 

On 17 September the first Soviet troops entered the city and the German troops retreated beyond the River Bug.


Under Russian Occupation

The changes took place gradually but steadily. First two rooms of our four-room apartment were taken up by a Russian doctor who came and took over the dispensary and the clinic. Then my father started to complain that the new doctor in charge was harassing him for all kinds of reasons. Then finally the confrontation came when she asked my father to carry coal from the truck to the shed. My father considered this kind of job below his professional status and refused. He was dismissed for insubordination.  We moved to a small, one-room apartment which my parents rented.

1939-40, I didn't go to school. Somehow, everything was disorganized and I missed that year. We were waiting for something  to change, that maybe France and England would finally start fighting, that everything would be OK. But nothing changed. We listened to the news from the BBC. We heard about the Battle of Britain, and the war between Finland and the Soviets and, of course, about the German atrocities in Poland.


Romuald Lipinski

3 Deportation
4 Siberia
5 Amnesty
7 Evacuation
8 Training

9 Battle of Monte Cassino

11 Life After the War