Translation from the book
Z Kresów Wschodnich R.P. Wspomnienia z Osad Wojskowych 1921-1940
(From: The Eastern Borderlands of Poland, Memories of Military Settlements 1921-1940)
Pub: Ognisko Rodzin Osadników Kresowych (OROK)
(Association of the Families of the Borderland Settlers)
London, UK. 1992 and 1998 (out of print)
ISBN 1 872286 33 X
Province (Województwo) WILNO
HALINA KURZAWA (ZWIERZCHOWSKA)
District (Powiat) Dzisna
In the early days, there was forest on one side, farmlands astride the road from Szarkowszczyzna – a little town located 9 km away – and Dzisienka river which surrounded this small estate. There were only 4 hectares of arable land and no buildings. So Helena and Ludwik Zwierzchowski settled in Hajkiewicz’s neighbouring house with its stables that were almost as important as the house. Hajkiewicz was also a military settler. Daddy was a cavalry man and loved horses.
The stable, cowshed, pigsty, and barn were the first priority. My parents had their hands full, working and learning how to farm. The soil was not the best and there was not much of it. Therefore it was necessary to burn thickets and cut down trees for additional farmland. One had to learn how to reap, scythe, tend to the cattle, learn the skill of converting milk into cheeses and butter, and in general all activities connected with farming. Yet, even immediately before the war if someone had offered to buy the land Mummy’s answer would have been - “never, what we have is a reward to my husband for his participation in the fight against the Bolsheviks”. Only later did I learn about how difficult life was for my parents in those early stages.
In the first year before Christmas there was nothing at home to eat. Mummy put us to bed: Luduś – 3 years old, Halusia (me) – 2 years old and one-year-old Laluś-Andrzej. It was frosty outside, the soil frozen through, and in such weather Daddy was reluctant to ride the horses to Szarkowszczyzna. So he went on foot. Awaiting him there was a money transfer and a parcel from our grandparents. Tired but happy, he arrived home that evening with this parcel and a loaf of bread. Mummy woke us all up, joy-filled our home even though we were so poor. The kitchen was a bare earthen floor, and only in the bedroom large, old barn doors served as a floor.
Slowly, with hard work, and with help from two families: Zwierzchowski and Kracewicz, this small settlement Karolinowo, located in Dzisna district in Wilno region, became a prosperous farm, and an example to neighbouring settlers, and a great help to the nearby farmers, mostly Byelorussians. It was as if it had been taken out of the pages of Sienkiewicz’s “Trylogia”, [Translator’s note: “Trilogy” a series of three books written by Henryk Sienkiewicz, very popular in pre-WW2 Poland] unfortunately with a sad ending.
The main source of income was from sales of high-quality linen, in addition we traded clover and hay for the military, calves, piglets and sometimes a foal.
In summer, parents’ friends and family visited for the holidays. Then we would sleep on hay in the attic or in the barn. During the day everyone worked at harvesting or haymaking, bringing it home in the evening. Hired labourers, the household and guests worked in the fields from the early morning till sunset. Mummy, in turn, cooked and prepared meals to feed everyone. Afterwards, we swam by moonlight in the Dzisienka.
We quickly forgot the lean years. The happiness and charm of Polish village completely fulfilled us. Until the year 1939 arrived. A part of our home was taken from us, livestock was shared, and finally we were expelled from our home to the far north, into the forests of Arkhangelsk, 60 km from Kotłas, to a “posiołek” [Ed, note: family work camp] Dziabryno. We were “enemies of the people”, people for whom our parents never spared time nor help, in material and in legal and office assistance. Both of them were active in social work and in culture-entertainment. They instilled in their children, Ludomir, Halina and Andrzej, a motto: “For you Poland, and for your glory”
Karolinowo Military Settlers listed on OSADNICY WOJSKOWI on https://kresy.genealodzy.pl
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