Eugenia Duda
Class 6
Wisznice, Włodawa district, Lublin voivodeship
21 June 1946

Memories of the German occupation

The war, as we know, is our great enemy, but the Germans are even greater enemies. Our Homeland keeps falling because of the Germans – they always find a way to contribute to the fall of Poland.

Even recently, in 1939, the Germans declared war on our country. Russia came to their aid, and Poland soon found itself in the hawks’ claws – in German hands. The Germans laid our Homeland to waste, and a lot of innocent blood was spilled during the German occupation. Many innocent victims perished. It pains my heart when I recall how they tormented us during the occupation. Poles should be grateful to our allies for defeating those robbers and murderers. If the Germans had stayed in Poland any longer, I am sure that not even one in a hundred Poles would survive. Many Poles were burned in those huge ovens in Lublin. The [Germans] treated the Poles horribly.

They thought that their dragon-like mouths would swallow the world entire, but they failed. The time of reckoning has come. In 1944, our enemy was defeated. Everyone hoped for this horrible situation to end – and their hopes were not dashed.

The front drew closer on 22 July 1944. It was a Sunday. In the afternoon we heard a loud bang of a Russian cannon, which pierced the hustle and bustle of the Germans and people fleeing to the forests and trenches. The Germans ran around, preparing for a battle, [or rather] not so much for a battle as for a retreat.

Our whole family was hiding in a trench when a certain German came to us and said through his clenched teeth, in Polish: “If we have to retreat from this area, we won’t leave a single building behind, all will be burned down.” My mum was so scared that she fainted. When she regained consciousness, the German was gone. It was a terrible night. It was dark, but the darkness was illuminated with cannon shells and burning settlements. The Germans were firing all night long, but in the morning, when we left the shelter, we didn’t see their hideous faces anywhere; there were only the Russian troops who were looking for mines set up by the Germans. When we went to church the next Sunday after the front [had passed], the priest started singing God Thou Hast Poland.