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 (Wojewódstwo) Nowogródek
ALICJA JANKOWSKA (ROZWADOWSKA)
The Kuszelewo Settlement was located en-route from Nowogródek to Nowojelnia. I write “en-route” because our settlement’s meadow (although distant from our homestead) was located along the road connecting the two.
My most pleasant childhood memories are of this very meadow. A small river flowed through the meadow and there was also a huge tree with a stork’s nest - a sight typical of the Polish landscape. The distance from the meadow to the rest of the property demonstrates that the division of land for settlers was subject to certain criteria to maintain equilibrium, value and yield.
In writing about the settlement, where I had spent eight years of my life, it’s difficult for me to simply give dry, statistical data. Statistics are not important for children; experiences related to them have left an indelible mark in my memory and a fondness for the things that Mickiewicz writes about in the fourth Book [of verse] of Pan Tadeusz [“The Last Foray in Lithuania”].
Peers of the great Lithuanian princes,
Trees of Białowieża, Świteź, Ponary, and Kuszelewo!
It’s difficult not to love something about which our great poet wrote a lyrical poem.
From what I can recall, there were very few settler families in the Kuszelewo settlement. They included: the two Rozwadowski family brothers, the Piotrowski family, the Dąbrowski family, and the local, non-settler Chłodowski family. The local population lived in the area and we were on relatively good terms with them.
I remember that, on the night of the first of May, someone always hung out a red flag on the well gantry. The settlers and Poles local to Kuszelewo kept watch that night to find out who was making this pro-Communist demonstration.
The family of my father, Antoni Rozwadowski, consisted of six people: father, mother, and four children.
There was a four-form primary school in Kuszelewo which we attended together with the local children.
The local population was Orthodox. We had classes in religion separately; we were taught by a visiting priest and the Orthodox were taught by an Orthodox priest. There was no church in Kuszelewo, the nearest one was in Nowogródek, which was 10 km away.
We were baptised and received our First Holy Communion in the Church in Nowogródek, and we were confirmed by Rev. Kazimierz Bukraba, Bishop of Pińsk. My parent’s farm and homestead: a wooden house with a thatched roof that consisted of a hall, kitchen and two rooms, as well as an outhouse that included a barn for the harvested crops and a stable for livestock. There were horses, cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and geese. My father cultivated rye, oats, barley, buckwheat, flax, potatoes, and there was a vegetable patch next to the house.
My father’s land formed a strip with a wood at one end and a pond at the other. The pond bordered a section of road but was integrated, not like the meadow.
From what I remember, my parents worked hard and encouraged us, children, to take on some responsibilities and work.
On winter evenings, we were encouraged to take part in plucking down feathers (the most disliked activity). Showing dissent was not recommended due to the likely consequences. The pleasant side of these evenings was listening to stories and fairytales.
Then came 1939, the fairytale came to an end, and we shared the same fate as thousands of other Poles.
I will end my reminiscences with the words from the very same fourth Book [of verse] of Pan Tadeusz [“The Last Foray in Lithuania”]:
My homeland Trees! If Heaven grants
that I return to behold you, old friends,
shall I find you still? Do ye still live?
Ye, among whom I once crept as a child;