The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for "Body of Christ") is the day on which the Catholic Church commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Also known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, it is celebrated annually on the church calendar on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, this year falling on June 8.
Holy Eucharist in monstrance carried in procession in Kadzidło, Poland. Author photo.
The feast day, called Boże Ciało in Polish, has been widely and solemnly celebrated in Poland since the 16th century and continues to this day. The Holy Eucharist is carried through the streets in a monstrance and stops at four different altars where it is venerated and adored.
An important custom of the Feast of Corpus Christi was the weaving of wreaths as small as the palm of the hand made of different herbs. This was especially true in rural, agricultural villages and areas where herbs and plants could be grown in home gardens or found in nearby fields and meadows.
In the Podlasie region, an area which runs along the Narew River in northeast Poland, the women wove nine small wreaths, each made from a different herb: thyme, hazelwort, stonecrop, lady's mantle, sundew, mint, rue, daisy, and periwinkle. Other plants which could also be used included lovage, sage and linden.
Lady's Mantle in author's garden.
Weaving a wreath made from Lady's Mantle for Corpus Christi. Images from Muzeum Rolnicztwa im. Ks. Krzysztofa Kluka in Ciechanowiec.
The wreaths were hung on the 4 different altars and then taken to church where they stayed for the week following Corpus Christi. The wreathes were believed to gain strength and power due to their proximity to the Holy Eucharist.
When the eight-day celebration of Corpus Christi was over, the blessed wreaths were taken home and served a variety of purposes. Healing infusions were prepared from the dry herbs of sage or linden for coughs, colds and sore throats. Some wreathes were placed under the foundation of a newly-built house to ward off evil spirits and protect the inhabitants who lived within. In Polish folklore it was said that when Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) called przywrotnik was thrown into the home fire, the smoke would disperse storm clouds that threatened the destruction of crops.
Wreathes of Lady’s Mantle were hung above the entrance to the house, near windows and on the walls above holy pictures, believing that it protected the house against fire, storm and lightning strikes.
Wreaths of Lady’s Mantle were also burned on hot coals, incensing sick people as well as ailing animals.
Lady’s Mantle can easily be grown in the garden. As a perennial, it does well in shady areas and is quite hardy in cold temperature regions. If you just want to add the yellow-chartreuse flowers to a dry arrangement for your home altar perhaps, they hold up pretty well after hanging the stems upside down in an airy space for a few weeks.
For more on the flowers and plants once essential to the people of Poland available in: Polish Herbs, Flowers and Folk Medicine, Hippocrene Books, Inc.
For more images on the making of Corpus Christi wreaths: muzeumrolnictwa.pl/aktualnosci/archiwum/rok-2018/wianki-w-oktawe-bozego-ciala
TODAY, ALL ACROSS OUR NATION, MEN AND WOMAN WILL STEP UP TO PODIUMS LIKE THIS AND TRY TO DELIVER TO THOSE ASSEMBLED BEFORE THEM, WORDS THAT ADEQUATELY EXPRESS OUR GRATITUDE TO AND UNDERSTANDING OF THOSE WHO HAVE DIED IN THE NAME OF OUR NATION. AND ALL OF US WILL FAIL, NO MATTER HOW WELL INTENDED, HOW HEARTFELT OUR WORDS AND FEELINGS, FOR THE WORDS OF ONE HUMAN BEING CAN NEVER EXPRESS WHAT THOSE WHO SACRIFICED HAVE DONE. BUT COLLECTIVELY, YOU AND I, JUST BY BEING HERE, ARE HONORING THEM AS BEST WE CAN.
Ronald Halicki in Vietnam who wrote this tribute honoring his troop and all those who have fallen.
AMERICAN SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN HAVE ALWAYS PLACED THEIR BODIES BETWEEN AN ENEMY AND THEIR HOMES -- HOMES THAT WERE USUALLY MANY THOUSANDS OF MILES AND TIME ZONES AWAY, IN LANDS WITH DIFFERENT NAMES, LANGUAGES, FACES, CUSTOMS AND ENVIRONMENTS. AND WHEN SITUATIONS AROUND THEM DICTATED WHAT NEEDED TO BE DONE, THEY DID WHAT THOSE WHO SERVE HAVE ALWAYS DONE. THEY MUSTERED THEIR STRENGTH BEYOND THEIR FEARS AND MOVED FORWARD, WEARING THE COLORS OF OUR NATION AND IN SO DOING, THEY PROTECTED AND LIBERATED MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD.
A SOLDIER'S LEGACY IS OF THE HIGHEST ORDER THAT ANY HUMAN CAN ACHIEVE, SACRIFICING ALL THAT THEY ARE, ALL THAT THEY MAY EVER HAVE BEEN, SO THAT OTHERS CAN BE FREE.THOSE THAT WE HONOR TODAY HAVE DONE ALL THAT AND, IN ADDITION, THROUGH THE CRUEL HAND OF FATE, MANY DIED DOING SO. THEY PLACED THEMSELVES AS THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE.
YOU AND I RIGHT NOW ARE STANDING IN THE HOME TOWN OF MANY OF THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED AND DIED, A HOME TOWN THAT THEY WERE NEVER FAR AWAY FROM IN THEIR HEARTS, WHEREVER THEY WERE.
SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN ALL WANT TO GET BACK TO FAMILY…TO MOTHERS, FATHERS, SISTERS, BROTHERS, LOVED ONES, DAYS FILLED WITH SUNSHINE...ALL THE THINGS THAT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW IN THIS MOMENT...TO JUST REMINISCE ABOUT SCHOOL DAYS WITH OLD FRIENDS, FUSS OVER POLITICS, SHARE THE BURDEN OF SNOW STORMS, CREATE NEW STORIES, PUT THINGS AWAY IN DRAWERS, HEAR SONGS ON THE RADIO, PARTAKE IN THE LARGE AND SMALL THINGS OF OUR LIVES. THEY WANTED TO GET HOME TO BE ABLE TO STAND WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, TO SHARE A SMILE FROM A FRIEND OR STRANGER, TO PARTAKE IN A COMMUNITY BY DOING FOR OTHERS, IN OUR HOSPITALS, SCHOOLS OR FIRE DEPARTMENTS.
I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THEY CARE TO BE SINGLED OUT FOR RECOGNITION, BUT THEY DO WANT TO BE REMEMBERED COLLECTIVELY FOR THE HEROICS THEY WITNESSED BY THEIR FELLOW MATES FAR MORE THAN THEIR OWN SACRIFICES. I BELIEVE THAT THEY WANT US TO FIND ALL THOSE WHO ARE STILL MISSING AND BRING THEM HOME. BUT WHETHER OR NOT THEIR BODIES, KNOWN OR UNKNOWN, ARE ON OUR SOIL OR LYING STILL IN SOME FOREIGN LAND...ITALY, BELGIUM, KOREA... WE CAN BRING THEM HOME ONCE AGAIN, IN THIS MOMENT, BY JUST REMEMBERING WHAT THEY ALL HAVE SACRIFICED.
I USED TO THINK THAT FREEDOM WAS ONLY "FREE" FOR THOSE WHO NEVER SERVED. AFTER ALL, WE ARE THE LUCKY 99%. IT'S THE SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN, THE 1 PERCENT, THE 3 MILLION, WHO PROTECT THE 300 MILLION REST OF US. BUT I WAS WRONG. WE HERE AT HOME HAVE SHARED THE SACRIFICES OF THOSE WE HONOR IN A MILLION WAYS TOO NUMEROUS TO MENTION, BUT REALIZE THAT FROM THE TIME A SOLDIER LEAVES HOME UNTIL THE TIME HE RETURNS, HIS OR HER THOUGHTS ARE OF YOU, AS THEY AWAIT A SIMPLE LETTER OR KNOWING THAT THEY ARE IN YOUR SILENT PRAYERS, THE PRAYERS THAT THEY KNOW WILL PROTECT THEM.
BY STANDING HERE TOGETHER WE DO HONOR THEM, OUR FALLEN, IN THEIR COLLECTIVENESS. FOR TODAY, BY THIS REMEMBRANCE, BY THE READING OF THEIR NAMES, THEY ARE KNOWN TO US ONCE MORE THROUGH THEIR SINGULAR ETERNAL SILENCE.
ENJOY THIS DAY AND EACH OTHER. IT IS WHAT THEIR VERY LIVES HAVE GIVEN YOU.
TODAY, IN THIS PUBLIC FORUM, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I WOULD LIKE TO PERSONALLY AND FORMALLY HONOR THE FALLEN OF MY UNIT IN VIETNAM. THEY WERE JUST A SMALL SQUADRON, BUT THESE YOUNG MEN FOUGHT AS IF THEY WERE A DIVISION. TO THE 293 TROOPERS OF THE 1ST SQUADRON, 4TH CAVALRY, 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION, I SALUTE YOU AND BY REMEMBERING YOU, INTRODUCE YOU TO THE PEOPLE OF FORESTVILLE, N.Y. AND I REPEAT OUR MOTTO: NO MISSION TOO DIFFICULT. NO SACRIFICE TOO GREAT. DUTY FIRST. PREPARED AND LOYAL.
It’s always such a treat to walk your garden after a long, hash winter and discover that a plant has survived and is flowering. Hello there! You made it! So happy to see you! I was genuinely pleased to see the tiny rose- colored flower of lungwort.
Lungwort in my garden in early May.
Lungwort’s scientific name, Pulmonaria officinalis, comes from the Latin pulmo which means lung, hence the common name: lungwort. It was the name used by herbalists in medieval times who believed that the plant was effective in the treatment of lung diseases. In 1649, the noted English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, wrote that it was good for coughs and shortness of breath – all lung related illnesses. The plant was also known in Poland and utilized in much the same way:
"This is a plant found throughout all of Poland in woods and thickets that are somewhat damp and one of the first harbingers of spring, flowering as soon as March or April and recognized by its flower which begins rose-colored and later bluish-violet" says Sebastian Kneipp in his Zielnik czyli Atlas roślin leczniczych Domowa Apteka (Herbal or Atlas of healing plants for Home Pharmacy). He recommended using the large leaves that develop after it flowers to make a tea for those suffering lung and throat ailments, laryngitis, and hoarseness.
The flower of lungwort does change color as the flower ages. Opening pink, it changes to a rose-violet color over time and at maturity will be blue due to a changing pH value within the flower.
It's Polish name miodunka, meaning honey, also indicates that it was a source of early flowering source of nectar for bees.
Illustration from Kneipp's Zielnik (Herbal of Healing Plants for Home Pharmacy)
For more on plants and flowers and Polish gardens: POLISH HERBS, FLOWERS AND FOLK MEDICINE. Hippocrene Books, Inc.
Driving along a country road last August, I caught sight of a patch of bright yellow flowers out of the corner of my eye. I pulled over and turned the car around to take a better look. I had to climb through a ditch to get close and realized I was looking at a beautiful stand of the Jerusalem artichoke flower. The sight of them on that sunny Saturday morning was uplifting.
Jerusalem artichoke is not an artichoke at all but belongs to the sunflower family (hence it’s Polish name, słonecznik which means sunflower) but with a flower that is much smaller. It does, however, have that tall stature in its lineage along with many lush green leaves along it’s stem.
Besides the flower which gladdens the eye and heart, the plant produces roundish and oblong tubers on the underground shoots that are edible as a root vegetable. The plant was at one time plentiful in Polish gardens, the tubers a food staple until it was replaced by the potato as a common dish on the tables of the wealthy and poor alike. Polish gardeners advised: "Once planted, they always persist, planted one elbow length from one another... Tubers for winter left in the ground will become a great delicacy in the spring."
Flower of Jerusalem artichoke. Author photo.
Historians say that Jerusalem artichoke first appeared in France in 1607, supposedly by way of Canada, and then appeared in Poland in the 17th century. Recipes for its use can be found in the first Polish cookbook titled Compendium Feculorum published in 1682. When it stopped being food for the table, the tubers were used as fodder to feed the barnyard animals.
Why hadn’t I planted it in my garden? It attracts birds. It’s hardy in winter climates. It tolerates damp places fairly well, is ideal for the back of a perennial garden and apparently a prolific grower and spreader. It only downside seems to be that it can become invasive. This latter fact would be a feat, indeed, in the clay soil of my garden. But if it can grow along roadway ditches and neglected empty fields maybe it has a fighting chance. Another plus is that it can give continuous bloom from August to November when my garden is really waning.
I’m ordering the tubers for this year's “something new” to try in the garden.
Common Name: Artichoke, Jerusalem
Species: Helianthus tuberosus
Polish name: Słonecznik bulwiasty
Happy National Gardening Day!
For more on plants and herbs in Polish gardens: Polish Herbs, Flowers and Folk Medicine, Hippocrene Books, Inc.
March 24th is recognized by Poland as the National Day of Remembrance of Poles Rescuing Jews under German Occupation during world War II.
On October 15, 1941 during the German occupation of Poland during World War II, the Germans issued a decree that anyone who provided any form of aid to Jews would receive the death penalty. For Poland, the symbol of Polish martyrdom for helping Jews is the Ulma family of Markowa. At the end of 1942, Józef and Wiktoria, who lived with their six children welcomed to their home eight Jews from the Goldman, Grünfeld and Didner families. Everyone, including the seventh child in Wiktoria's womb, were murdered by the German police on 24 March 1944. That day, March 24th, was chosen as a day for Poland’s Remembrance of Poles who saved Jews.
This is the story of Righteous Gentile Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter, Helena Liniewska-Halamajowa.
Photo: Museum of Jewish History NYC
On September 1, 1939, the day Germany attacked Poland and the world's worst war began, Moshe Maltz started keeping a diary. He wrote regular entries in it until V-E Day on May 8, 1945. Without his detailed account of the period in hiding, without the exact names of people, places and streets he so assiduously recorded, it's doubtful that his granddaughter Judy Maltz would have known where to start to tell the story of the hiding of his family during World War II by Franciszka Halamajowa.
Moshe Maltz and his family lived in the town of Sokal, Poland in what is today Ukraine. In 1942, after the occupation of the town, a ghetto was established by the Germans. When the Germans began rounding up Jews, Moshe and his wife searched for somewhere to hide outside the ghetto. They approached Franciszka Halamajowa and she agreed to hide them in the attic above her pigsty. Moshe Maltz went into hiding in November 1942 with his wife, son and extended family – Moshe's mother, Rivka Maltz, his sisters Chaya-Dvora, Yetta and Leah with her daughter Chashke (known as Fran). About six months later, they were joined by Moshe's brother Shmelke and the four members of the Kindler family.
Franciszka, a Polish-Catholic woman in her late 50s and her daughter Helena, a young woman in her twenties, cared for the hidden Jews. Halamajowa's son who worked in the area, also assisted.
Judy Maltz, journalist and granddaughter of Moshe Maltz writes: “Francisca Halamajowa, a Polish-Catholic woman in her late 50s from the East Galician town of Sokal, risked her life to save 15 Jews during the Holocaust, among them my father and grandparents. She hid two Jewish families in her pigsty and one Jewish family in a hole under her kitchen floor. For 20 months, she supplied them with pots of food and carried out their buckets of waste. How exactly my family came to know Francisca Halamajowa is still a mystery. What I do know is that in November 1942, after more than 4,000 Jews had been rounded up in the Sokal ghetto and herded off by train to the gas chambers of Belzec, my grandfather snuck out of the ghetto at night and made his way to her home. When he asked if she'd agree to hide the surviving members of the family, her response, almost preposterous in its matter-of-factness, was: "Why not?"
During the long months of hiding under frightening and indescribable conditions, the hidden Jews had to make difficult decisions. One such decision involved the child Chaske’s(Fran) incessant screaming which threatened the lives not only of the all the Jews in hiding but the Halamajowa family as well. Anyone found harboring or helping Jews also faced the death sentence. It was decided to poison the child but the child miraculously survived. As did the rest of the family hidden in the attic of the pigsty and another Jewish family under the floor of her kitchen. Of the 6,000 Jews that lived in Sokal, only 30 survived, half of them saved by Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter.
On March 29, 1984, Yad Vashem recognized Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter, Helena Liniewska-Halamajowa, as Righteous Among the Nations.
In 1949, child survivor Chaske(Fran)moved with her family to the United States. In 2007, she returned to Sokal with her cousin, filmmaker Judy Maltz, to film a documentary titled “No. 4 Street of Our Lady,” to give recognition to Franciszka Hamalajowa and the rescue of the family. The jotting down of the address by Moshe Maltz in his diary enabled his granddaughter to begin the story. “No.4 Street of Our Lady” which was the address of Franciszka’s home.
The film draws on excerpts from the diary kept by Moshe Maltz, Judy Maltz’s grandfather who was also Fran’s uncle, and incorporates testimonies from Fran, other rescued Jews, and Franciszka’s two granddaughters as they reconnect on a journey back to Sokal.
Watch the video titled “No.4 Street of Our Lady” which tells the remarkable, yet little-known, story of Francisca Halamajowa, a Polish-Catholic woman who rescued 16 of her Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust.
Spring, oh it's you!
In Polish tradition Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek) was the first day of the last week of carnival time, signaling that there was only one week left before meat and fats of all kinds disappeared from Polish tables with the beginning of Lent.
Photo:Narodowy Archiwum Cyfrowe. Selling doughnuts in Kercelak Square (Plac Kercelego) in Warsaw's Wola district, 1927, now non-existent
Everyone tried to take advantage of this opportunity to stuff themselves with what would soon be forbidden - pork, venison, and all different kinds of fried doughs.
The custom of eating doughnuts (pączki) as part Fat Thursday was established in Poland in the 17th century in cities and manor houses and appeared in country villages in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The first Polish fried doughnuts were not sweet at all. They were form of a bread dough stuffed with bacon or onions or both and fried in lard which was served with a fatty meat and, during this feasting, washed down with vodka.
Doughnuts became sweet and took on a round shape at the turn of the 17th and 18th century when yeast began to be used in baking which also made the dough softer, spongier. The filling changed over time as well. Nineteenth century ethnographer Oskar Kolberg wrote: “During zapusty(carnival time) universal are doughnuts with plum filling or konfitury.” Besides a plum filling, the other traditional filling, marmalade or “konfitury”(jam) was and still remains, rose petal jam.
Photos from left: Rosa rugosa(Wikipedia); petals of rosa Rugosa (author photo); prepared rose petal jam(smaker.pl)
In his herbal of 1892, Zielnik czyli Atlas Roślin Leczniczych (Herbal or Atlas of Healing Plants), Father Sebastian Kneipp, indicated that there are seven varieties of wild roses in Poland and suggested making a marmalade of the fruit but it was the petals of wild roses that became the main ingredient for filling doughnuts. It was chiefly the petals of rosa rugosa (róża pomarszczona) that was crushed with sugar and a bit of lemon juice and stored in a cold place until needed.
In previous centuries, housewives made their own rose petal jam in anticipation of Fat Thursday, but nowadays jars of it are readily available on store shelves in anticipation of fulfilling the old Polish proverb:
Powiedział Bartek, że dziś Tłusty Czwartek, a Bartkowa uwierzyła, dobrych pączków nasmażyła.
"Bartek said, today is Fat Thursday, and Bartkowa (his wife) took his word and fried some good doughnuts." (It rhymes in Polish but loses something in translation)
Eating doughnuts on Fat Thursday was a requirement! So much so, that it was believed that the future looked dim for anyone who didn’t eat a single doughnut on Fat Thursday.
Photo credit: Narodowy Archiwum Cyfrowe. Warsaw bakery dated 1960-1970
Another proverb states:
Kto w Tłusty Czwartek nie zje pączków kopy, temu myszy zniszczą pole i będzie miał pustki w stodole.
“Whoever doesn’t eat 60 doughnuts on Fat Thursday, the mice will destroy their field and the barn will be empty.”
Wow! No counting calories here! But we can insure our future well-being with at least one on this traditional day before Lent.
Polish Herbs, Flowers and Folk Medicine. Hippocrene Books, Inc. 2020
Polish Customs, Traditions and Folklore. Hippocrene Books, Inc. 1996
Photo of rose petal jam https://smaker.pl/przepisy-przetwory/przepis-platki-roz-ucierane-z-cukrem,
It is said that every country has its own genius loci, its "spirit of place," meaning that particular characteristic that makes it distinctive. Holland has tulips and windmills, Egypt has the pyramids, and Italy its Roman architecture. For Poland, that spirit of place, that special individuality that marks it, must be the tens of thousands of roadside chapels, crosses, and shrines that dot both its cityscape and landscape.
Anyone who has traveled to Poland has to agree that it is impossible not to notice the innumerable crosses, religious statues, and little chapels that seem to be everywhere one looks. Enter a courtyard in Warsaw or Kraków and discover a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary mounted on a pedestal with fresh flowers at her feet. Walk down a city sidewalk and there's a figure of St. Florian or of the Holy Family. Driving through a small town, a niche under the eaves of a home contains a figure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Nailed to a tree is a little open wooden box with a small image of Our Lady of Częstochowa. Quite by accident you may spy a tall wooden cross hidden in the woods, just off the beaten path, or see one standing alone and majestic in an open meadow. They are simply everywhere. Some are of a size that denote power and substance. Some are so small as to evoke a sense of humility. Some are threadbare and worn, yet emit an aura of permanence and timelessness. All of them seem to blend in harmoniously with the environment and beautify it. What are these objects? What do they mean? How did they come to be here, in this particular place? Who set them here? Why are they important?
A thousand years of Christianity, and the Polish Catholic tradition in particular, have left their mark on the landscape of Poland. Spirit of Place: The Roadside Shrines of Poland is a unique look into the tens of thousands of roadside chapels, crosses and shrines that dot both its cities and countryside and tells of Poland’s faith, history and culture.
Here are some photos from Spirit of Place: The Roadside Shrines of Poland that help tell the unique story of Poland's landscape.
Spirit of Place: The Roadside shrines of Poland published by Hippocrene Books, Inc. 2023. Available on Amazon.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023: The murder of Polish and Russian forced laborers at Hadamar, Germany
Today, January 27, 2023 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day designated by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to honor those that died there and to recognize others who were victims of Nazism. Today let us remember the murder of Poland’s men, women and children who were murdered at the German hospital called Hadamar.
Beginning in 1940, thousands of mentally and physically ill German children and adults were being murdered in various facilities throughout Germany. The murders were part of a clandestine killing program named Aktion T4, named after the street address of the central organizing office located at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin. The criminally insane, patients with dementia, epilepsy and other chronic psychiatric and neurological disorders were removed from their home institutions and transported by bus or rail to special killing centers. Shortly after their arrival they were gassed and cremated. When the secret "euthanasia" program became public knowledge and led to numerous protests by the German public and German clergy, Adolf Hitler ordered a halt to it in August, 1941.
In spite of the stop order, in a short time the euthanasia program slowly and quietly resumed. Physicians in designated institutions within Germany were empowered to kill patients with chronic physical, psychiatric and neurological conditions who could no longer work or be of service to Germany.
Among the centers located throughout Germany was a small state sanitarium for the mentally ill called Hadamar. In addition to killing its own German citizens, Hadamar became the site of murdering Polish and Russian forced laborers.
Photo: U.S Army soldier guarding entrance to Hadamar Hospital where inquiries were being made into the murders of Polish and Russian forced laborers.
On March 26, 1945, U.S. military forces captured the town of Hadamar and found that 476 Polish and Russian laborers had been killed at the facility. On the basis of violation of international law, the U.S. brought charges against seven individuals who ran the institution. The case was tried in Wiesbaden, Germany on October 8-15, 1945. The court was a Military Commission appointed by the Commanding General of the United States Army, Western Military District of Germany. Known as the Hadamar Trial, the accused staff members of the institution— Alfons Klein, Adolf Wahlmann, Heinrich Ruoff, Karl Willig, Adolf Merkle, Imgard Huber and Philip Blum—were charged with the murder of more than 476 Polish and Russian nationals by injections of narcotics and ingestion of sedative drugs.
Partial list of Polish and Rusian individuals murdered at Hadamar obtained during research at National Archives, College Park Maryland.
All of the Polish and Russian men, women and children who died at Hadamar were in Germany as forced laborers and came from several different work camps and hospitals. The main patient register shows the first patients to arrive were two Polish men in 1943 followed by five Russian men and women in the earlier months of 1944. What followed after that were larger numbers of admissions from June, 1944 to the time of liberation in March, 1945. The workers were admitted to Hadamar because they were ill with tuberculosis. Instead of caring for their illness, all the workers received essentially the same treatment, with none living more than a few hours after their arrival. They were told by the staff that they were receiving medication to prevent the spread of communicable diseases but in reality all were killed either by hypodermic injections of morphine or scopolamine or by oral doses of veronal or chloral.
According to the testimony at the trial, the women and children died within twenty minutes to an hour and a half of receiving the injections. The prosecuting attorney at the trial asked:
"There was not a single Russian or Polish man, woman or child who entered that institution who left alive, was there?"
"Not one," was the reply of Heinrich Ruoff, the nurse administering the injections.
As part of the proceedings, six bodies, identified as Polish or Russian were exhumed and examined by Major Herman Bolker, a qualified American pathologist.
Mass grave of forced laborers and bodies exhumed for examination during the Hadamar Trial.
His findings indicated:
A: "Four bodies had tuberculosis. One had pneumonia which I judged to be non-tubercular. In one I found no pathology."
Q: "As to those that showed of tuberculosis, was the extent of lesion to such extent as to produce immediate death?
A: In my opinion, it was definitely not."
The dead were carried to the cellar. Death certificates were completed by the German staff. The cause of death and date of death were both fictitious and picked at random. Defendant Philip Blum stated "with the help of some insane patients I used to carry the bodies to the cemetery and bury them there. I would bury eight to twenty in one grave and I would enter into the burial book where they were buried."
The Judge Advocate of the trial wrote: "To kill these nationals of the occupied territory when illness had made the cost of caring for them greater than their value to the German Reich as laborers was a clear violation of the laws of war. "
The perpetrators of the crimes: Alfons Klein, hospital administrator and nurses Heinrich Ruoff and Karl Willig were sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead at Bruchsal Prison, Bruchsal Germany. Physician Adolf Wahlmann was sentenced to hard labor for the rest of his life; Adolf Merkle confined to hard labor for 35 years; Philip Blum 30 years and, Imgard Huber, 25 years with the designated place of confinement to be Bruchsal Prison in Bruchsal Germany.
Let us light a candle in remembrance and honor of the Polish and Russian men, women and children who were killed at Hadamar, Germany during World War II as victims of Nazism.
Photographs: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Research Project.
Friedlander, Henry. The Origins of Nazi Genocide; From Euthanasia to the Final Solution. University of North Carolina Press. 1995
United States of America v. Alfons Klein et al. Case Files 12-449 and 000-12-31 M1078 Roll#2 National Archives, College Park, Maryland.
Wearing the Letter P: Polish Women as Forced Laborers in Nazi Germany 1939-1945. Hippocrene Books, Inc.
Christmas in the Kresy, the eastern borders of Poland. Part II: Memoirs from Podole
Photo from Semanticscholar.org. Map of the Podole region in yellow from which these excerpts are taken.
“A few days before the (Christmas Eve) supper, preparations began. First, we cleaned and then decorated a Christmas tree brought from the forest. Grandma cooked wheat berries for kutia, it had to be pounded so that the husk fell off. The kutia was cooked for about six hours, stirring from time to time so that it didn’t burn through. There was dough for pampushki (also spelled pampuszki), which mama helped her with, and we helped with setting the table. Grating poppy seeds was the privilege of our grandfather Stanisław. Grandmother Weronika allotted this very serious matter only to him. The poppy seeds had to be crushed gently so as not to break the makutra(also spelled makitra, makotra) which had been bought before the war. The makogon (wooden pestle) was made by Grandma's elder son, Władysław, when he just started working in a machine tool factory in the mid-1950's."
A makutra was a specially made clay bowl with interior horizontal grooves that helped crush the poppy seeds. Photo #1 from Muzeum Etnogaficzne Kraków. Photo #2 from Wikipedia
"We helped grandfather by holding the makutra with our hands and sprinkling in more poppy seeds and sugar. I remember how you wanted to just stop the moment and use your tongue to lick a little bit of this poppy from the makogon. The process of grating poppy seeds and cooking wheat grains took a long time. One of us jumped out to the street from time to time to look for the first star…”
Polish artists #1 Jan Wasilewski #2 T. Popiel #3 H. Ciechowicz depict looking for the first star on Christmas Eve.
“The most interesting aspect was preparing the Christmas Eve table. My older sister and father were making a diduch(also spelled didukh, and in Poland, called dziad) out of different types of ears of grain. You had to weave them together very hard so that the family was always strong not only on Christmas, but also throughout the year.(See note at end) We brought hay from a neighbor and sprinkled it under the tablecloth, part of the hay was placed in the manger. Mama would take out her most beautiful embroidered tablecloth and cover the table with it. Grandma would bring a lighted candle and the opłatek, saying: “Opłatek on the table - light on the table.” The candle was left lit until we all left for the midnight mass so that darkness would not surround our families and for everyone to clearly see their way through life.
"The next dish that went to the table was kutia richly seasoned with honey, nuts, poppy seeds. Wheat grain guaranteed the presence of bread all year round, nuts - strength and health, poppy seeds drove away even the smallest worries and honey was a reward for the most hardworking bees in the family. Apples, garlic and a coin were also placed on the table. Apples - for every child to be ruddy and healthy, garlic was to protect against diseases and various impure forces, and the coin symbolized abundance in the next year. Then, other food went to the table, fish, herring, vinaigrette, followed by cabbage stuffed with buckwheat and also mushroom soup. Mama’s favorite was pampuchy (yeast raised bun, sometimes a pancake) fried in oil, a fragrant miracle she was able to conjure up from flour, yeast, water, a bit of salt and sugar. Two kinds of drinks were allowed on the Christmas Eve table: pure spring water, so that the ideas of everyone in the family would always be pure towards others, and uzwar (compote of dried plums, apples, pears and a few viburnum berries) so that the power of the fruit strengthened the blood and soul."
"At the beginning of the supper, Father took the wafer ( in his hands and everyone, standing, said "Our Father" and "Hail Mary", and thanking God for the past year [and] holidays, asked God for blessing for the next holidays and year. Then everyone started eating, starting with the kutia. "
"For the New Year at midnight we always went to church for the thanksgiving service and the Holy Mass to welcome the new year. January 6 - Epiphany, in Podolia – was a second holy evening. After returning from the church, where the priest blessed water, chalk and gold, grandfather would write an inscription on the door with holy chalk, for example, 19 = K + M + B = 86. On that day, there was always kutia for supper. In this way, we sympathized with our Orthodox brothers who were experiencing the Christmas Eve supper."
Excerpts from: Boze Narodzenie na Podolu (Polish Christmas in Podolia) by Nela Szpyczko who interviewed inhabitants of Grodek Podolski. 2004) Tworczow Ludowy Kwartalnik.Nr. 1-4 2005.
Diduch - click on the word and the link which will take you to see traditional and current examples of a diduch.
Sending sincerest wishes to everyone for a blessed Christmas and New Year. May these special days instill hope and bring you joy, love and peace.
Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia!
Веселих Різдвяних свят!
One of the biggest moments in my life was being able to sign for my very own library card. When I'm not reading, researching and writing I'm riding my bike, sewing or gardening. I love flea markets, folk art, and traveling to Poland.