Helena Bernatowicz
Class 6a
Primary school in Pokrzywnica
District of Iłża
15 November 1946

Memories of the German crimes

After the bloody struggle of September 1939 against the barbaric western invaders, we had to surrender. Many brave defenders of our homeland were taken prisoner; many were sentenced to hopeless wandering… The rest were forced to lead hard lives in the occupied territories. Heavy leaden clouds hung over Poland. Terror was growing every day. The Nazi thugs were rampant. Through mass roundups, arrests [and deportations] for agricultural labor, public hangings and executions, they wanted to break the spirit of the Polish nation. It was forbidden to speak about Poland in schools. Polish books were withdrawn from circulation, which forced many [to] supplement their lack of knowledge with secret teaching. In the villages, requisitions of cattle and property became more frequent. Whole villages and towns were evicted. Everyone was terrorized to such an extent that many huddled their heads in their arms and waited to see from which direction the storm would break. Fearing for their lives, many of the braver Poles went into the forest… The life of the underground began to pulse more and more strongly. Woe betide the village in which a skirmish between partisans and the oppressor ensued. Usually [the village] went up in smoke then. The villages of Gębice and Zuchowiec, not far from us, may serve as an example. There was not a trace left of these villages except for a handful of ashes. And how many other similar incidents were there? Tomes could be written about it. But the blood of our brothers was not spilled in vain. Those hard days of misery are over. Some are still haunted only by nightmarish dreams. The criminals have received their deserved punishment. From blood and tears a new Poland is being brought to life.