Nowa Sól, 3 April 1989

Editorial Office of the “Zorza” weekly
Mokotowska Street 43
00-551 Warsaw
“List of persons reported missing”

By sheer chance I came across a copy of the appeal, published in “Ilustrowany Kurier Polski”, concerning supplementation of the so-called Katyn List. My father found himself in the camp in Ostashkov towards the end of 1939, and we received his only postcard from this camp just before Christmas Eve 1939.

1. My father’s personal details are as follows: Franciszek Staśkowiak, son of Józef and Maria. Born on 14 January 1886 in Powidz, district of Strzelno, present-day Voivodeship of Bydgoszcz. Last resident in Leszno Wielkopolskie at Święciechowska Street.
2. Data concerning education and employment: education – an eight-year school in Wójcin. He was a professional NCO and served in the 55. Infantry Regiment in Leszno. In 1922 he transferred to the Polish State Police in Leszno, and remained in its employ as a Platoon Sergeant until the breakout of the War in 1939.
3. On 3 September 1939, policemen from Leszno were escorting a very large transport that included prisoners from the penitentiary in Bojanowo, as well as inmates from the maximum security prison in Rawicz. Additionally, the convoy carried the Polish postal service, bank assets, archives, and military and police families. The transport was headed for Warsaw.

At my father’s request, my mother, brother and I disembarked from the transport in Mogilno, where the train stood for a few days to avoid German bombing, and traveled to my father’s parents in Wójcin, district of Mogilno. Father left with the transport for Warsaw. He asked us that, should we get lost or separated in the turmoil of war, we should always send correspondence to [the address of] his parents in Wójcin, or otherwise wait [there] for each other. That is where I last saw my father, at the railway station in Mogilno.

In December 1939, two or three days before Christmas Eve, we [in Wójcin] received a postcard sent from the Soviet Union, from the camp in Ostashkov, which read as follows: “I am alive and well. Always stick together, may God be with you”. The card had Russian postmarks. Mother kept it with her throughout the War.

Mother and I did not return to Leszno, for friends warned us that the Germans were looking for my father and his family. But the Gestapo deported my brother to the camp in Stutthof. In 1945 I, my brother and mother returned to Leszno. Our flat had been seized by some official, and mother was given a tiny room with no conveniences. We were regularly pestered by agents from the Office of Public Security, who kept on inquiring about father; we told them that he had not returned from the War and that we had no information about him.

I moved out to Nowa Sól, while my brother left for the Western Lands, but mother stayed in Leszno, being continuously troubled by the Office of Public Security. Initially, she had no pension, for she was unable to document father’s death – she was afraid to tell anyone where father had perished. After she died in 1970, I searched through our family photographs and documents to find the postcard which father had sent. I know that it had been there in 1950, for we had hid it deep down in the wardrobe. I suspect that mother simply destroyed it, out of fear, sometime around 1950. And so I possess no evidence. I never learned what happened with my father, I only heard that the Russians, with great bestiality, drowned Polish policemen in the lakes near the camp in Ostashkov.

Today I am 65 years old and have a serious heart condition. My only dream, one which I have carried in my heart for years, is for my father and all those other people who perished there like martyrs to have their deaths at least mentioned. Thank you for making this possible.

Halina Hejnowicz née Staśkowiak,

daughter of Franciszek Staśkowiak,
reported missing in the Soviet Union