This photo was taken by my husband in Poland in December 2009 while we were visiting a museum in Stalowa Wola, only a few miles from where my grandparents, aunts and uncles were living during the German occupation of Poland during WWII. This is just a fragment, one episode among thousands, of what life (and death) was like under Nazi occupation.
Here is the English translation of the above poster and the story behind it.
On the evening of the 13th of October, 1943, there was a cowardly attack on the estate in Charzewice and shot by a band of murderers were the German [Reichsdeutche], couple FULDNER and their 6 year old CHILD.
The Polish people are hereby called upon to track down the criminals and their accomplices.
If within 24 hours, that is up to October 20, 1943 at 1400 hours, the murderers are not caught or reported to the Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) - Aussendienststelle Stalowa Wola with specific details leading to apprehension and capture of the murderers - the following prisoners affiliated with the Resistance Movement and being held by the German police - will be publicly shot.
1.Bednarz Tomasz. 2.Brzowe Zdzisław. 3.Chuchro Stefan 4.Dyduch Marian. 5.Gawel, Jan
6.Hillenbrandt Adam 7.Kalandyk Julian 8.Kalandyk Władysław. 9.Killian Paul 10.Kluz, Julian
11.Kochański Adam 12.Kongol Tadeusz 13.Kowalczyk Tadeusz 14. Krucha Józef 15.Mikola Tadeusz 16.Niedziocha, Mieczysław 17.Lubera Ignacy 18.Lubera, Jan 19.Ortyl, Jan 20. Popiołek Roman 21.Paczek Michał 22.Rusek, Stansisław 23. Latasiewicz, Jadwiga 24. Lataziewicz, Zuzanna 25. Lysak, Antonina
The SS and Police Fuhrer of the District of Krakow
October 19, 1943.
This is the story behind the announcement and the eventual murder of 25 of Poland's citizens:
Earlier that year, on the night of June 23/24, 1943, a branch of the German Waffen SS brutally murdered the Horodyński family in Zbydniowo near Stalowa Wola (Rzeszow region). The murder was ordered by Martin Fuldner from nearby Charzewice. At the time Fuldner held the role of Minister of Agriculture in the General Government and was in charge of the wealthy Lubomirski estate in Charzewice (today a part of the city of Stalowa Wola). A lover of antiquities, Fuldner coveted the Horodyński manor house with its beautiful antiques, paintings, and porcelain as well as the estate itself.
That night in June of 1943, the Waffen SS were in the region with the purpose of ridding the area around the River San of resistance fighters. Through his powerful connections, Fuldner took advantage of that fact to liquidate the family and take over their estate. Under cover of darkness and using the pretext that there were partisans in the house, the Waffen SS brutally shot down nineteen Poles including a 12 year old boy who had gathered together to celebrate the marriage of a Horodyński cousin. The victims were shot in their beds, or while trying to escape. Two brothers, Zbigniew and Andrzej Horodyński attending the party managed to hide in a secret compartment in the attic and heard the shots as their family members were cut down. They managed to escape and recount the story of the murder of their family.
In reprisal, the Resistance issued a death warrant and executed Martin Fuldner and his family .
No one came forth with any information as to who was responsible.
There were witnesses to the execution of the 25 Poles named in the Announcement. " I remember the execution," says Michalina Hara, " when the Germans took retribution for Fuldner and his family. Along with other workers in the barracks we could see this tragic act through the gaps in the wooden walls. The day before the Germans made the local men dig a huge hole 4 meters long, 3 meters wide and 2 meters deep. The next day they brought 22 men and 3 women. We were all crying watching innocent people go to their deaths. They were separated into groups of eight and made to stand near the hole, a gun pointed at each individual. The signal was given and each body in the hole was also stabbed...before the shots, one of the men shouted, "Long Live Poland."
The two brothers that survived the attack, Zbigniew and Andrzej Horodyński, later gave their lives in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
Four years later, in 1947, the bodies of those executed were exhumed. Fifteen were taken away by family members to be buried in family plots. The other 10, with no family to claim them, were buried in a group grave along with another 65 individuals murdered in Rozwadowa, (also near Stalowa Wola) by the Germans.
This year, this October, marks the 75th anniversary of the murders in Charzewic and Rozwadowa.
Cześć ich Pamięci. Honor their memory.
Unlike many countries where the names of the months are derived the ancient Roman calendar, the names of the months on the Polish calendar generally come from some aspect of nature or the yearly agricultural cycle. For instance, Kwiecien, the month of April comes from the word kwitnie (blossoming). The month of July, is named Lipiec, from lipa, the linden tree that blooms so profusely during this month and is the source of wood used for carving and much loved by the bees that produce honey. October is no exception. The Polish word for the month is Październik. The word comes from the word paździerz, the inner fiber of the all-important flax plant (Linium usitatissium).
The flax plant was grown primarily by families to provide themselves with what would eventually become a piece of cloth. In olden days, whether you lived in America or in Poland, this was no small feat. If you wanted to eat, you had to produce your own food. If you wanted clothes on your back, you had to produce your own clothes and if you didn't have access to sheep for wool, you grew your own flax.
The flax seeds were generally planted in April and grew throughout the summer season. When it was ready in October, the process of converting the flax plant into a usable fiber began and was generally regarded as the work of women.
Step 1. The plant was was pulled out of the earth, tied into bundles and taken to the barns where it was dried very well. Then the flower heads were either combed or beaten to obtain the valuable flax seeds. Some of the seeds were saved and put aside for the next years planting. Some was crushed to obtain the all important flaxseed oil which was used specifically for frying and cooking purposes during the strict fasts of Advent and Lent when all meat and most meat products were eliminated from the diet. The leftover mash from the crushed seeds was fed to the cattle.
Step 2. The stems were then subject to a long-term treatment of exposure to water to help break down the plant structure to separate the fibers of the plant. This was done by spreading the stems out on grass when it was wet with dew, called dew retting. The stems were turned regularly to make sure all sides rotted equally. Dew retting would eventually yield a final thread that was gray in color and a hallmark of many older Polish linen tablecloths, shirts and blouses. Stems soaked directly in water would produce thread that was a light blond color
Step 3. The stalks were dried again. Mind you, all this is taking two to three weeks to get to the next step.
Step 4. Braking. The fiber that our ancestors were looking for was located on the outer skin of the flax stem. This was obtained when the prepared flax stems were now forced to bend into the shape of a W, using a tool called a brake (in Polish, międlica). It broke the inner layer (the paździerz), which would drop off, leaving the long outer layers, the flax fiber.
Step 5. Not quite the last step was the combing of the flax fibers into something smooth that could be spun called combing with the use of a hatchel. (photo)
Step 6. The Polish housewife now had a product that she could actually work with and spun it into a thread using a drop spindle or a spinning wheel. She spent the winter months spinning and then weaving the linen thread into cloth. The cloth became a sheet for a bed, a pillowcase, a hand towel or, more importantly, a blouse or a shirt. Something to think about when we visit the museums in Poland displaying folk costumes of the past.
Photo:Woman spinning courtesy of Polish Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw
Photo Collage: Google images
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.