The insurgent accounts of witness

My war 1939-1945

Janusz Walkuski
born 3.01.1934 in Ciechanów

Such was the beginning...

         We went out in summer with the grandmother near Opinogora. For me, an almost sixteen-year-old townie, it was an amazing world! For the first time I smelled the scent of plants, I saw where the milk came from, I was waiting in the henhouse for eggs being laid. I liked riding in a cart most and whipping the horse up that was in the treadmill.
Leon whittled a sword for me from wood, and that way I could skirmish (not always successfully) with a flock of combative geese.
Almost every day gifted me with a new experience, sometimes painful; I wanted to see the accommodation of bees and I looked into the beehive - up to now I have been keeping myself away from beehives, I got into the hole with bagasse of sugar beets and almost drowned in that smelly soft sticky substance. All that I experienced, in spite of those unpleasant events stayed in my memory as a picture of happiness! A happy childhood - soon it'll appear that it was its sad ending...

Going for a walk at Chlodna Street in 1938

         With a regret I parted with Czernice. Leon took us by cart to Ciechanow. For some days we stayed at aunt Mary preparing ourselves for the journey.
With uncle Gienek I went out on the river, to the castle, that fascinated me with its size; I liked very much looking down from Farska Mountain onto Lydynia, onto stretching moors from which peat was dug out.
Two rainy days I stayed at home looking out of the window on the road. In the direction of barracks there was a unit marching from time to time, carts were driving, horses were drawing not too little cannons. Passers-by were standing in the rain looking at the soldiers.
After two days the sun came out and it became more cheerful. The cart took us on the station and after not a very long journey we got home at Mlynarska Street.

In the morning I was woken up by howling sirens. I didn't exactly know what was happening. Mom said that it was an emergency drill.
Alarm... Alarm?
New events were running fast - hardly did I manage to understand them.
Grandfather became the Chief of OPL (Anti-Aircraft Defence) and wore a band on the sleeve. The house at Mlynarska 34 was preparing for the war! Small cellar windows were covered with sandbags. Windows with paper strips. All ventilation grating was taped. Anti-gas tampons were made. In front of the gate there was guard - they didn't let in any strangers.

The building at Mlynarska 34 from the courtyard. Two windows on the left side, on the first floor it was Grandparents' flat.
Arrows show places where the bombs hit in September 1938. On the right side a poplar planted in 1938.

         Grandfather brought his building equipment: ladders, crowbars, pickaxes, shovels, large metal barrels .It was accumulated there where the danger could exist.
I followed grandfather as if glued to him. To get rid of me - as he had a list of work to do - he ordered me to carry water in the bucket to the barrels while that bucket was used by me for making sandcastles not so long ago...
Thanked to grandfather's efforts the house was rescued from destruction, though it had been hit by bombs two times and the attic had been on fire for two times. It was the time when Mr. Borgenhagen was harmed - knocking the firebombs from the roof his body caught fire and he burnt himself seriously.
Grandfather showed a great deal of inventiveness - when the water was lacking and people were stealing it from the barrels - he ordered to throw horse poohs into them and that way we had water in the time of great need.

I went to sleep late - neighbours gathered in our house, listened to the radio and talked endlessly. I heard there wouldn't be any war as Germans would get scared with the French and the English...

I woke up in my Mother's hands and she ran down together with me to the shelter. The explosions could be heard, "zenith" planes shot, the whirr of planes. I was afraid! I cuddled up to Mother and the interrupted sleep got back.
When I opened my eyes, there was just grandmother at home. I ate something and went out onto the courtyard. I looked out onto the street - everything looked normal.
In front of the shop just near the very gate there was standing some neighbours - I heard the bombs falling. Apparently. the block of flats at Kolo was smashed up and somewhere else...

We went with boys on "Budlak"(a square on the other street side - a place of our plays) and dug "shelters."
In front of the house a lorry stopped. "Szofer" in a military uniform, got out of it (Mr. Biskupski- took the colonial goods from Gdynia to Warsaw). "Shelters" could wait- we got onto the boxes waiting as usually for a ride. "Szofer" went out really quickly and this time drove us out from the car and went away.

After dinner I visited Irka Maliszewski. We were playing with each other in silence, as her father was listening to the crystal radio. Then we sat on a window - sill looking out onto the street. After some time we heard shots - there appeared small clouds of explosions on the sky - the planes were arriving!
Sirens started howling. Near our window Officer stopped and looked through binoculars. - Run away! Take shelter! It is an air-raid! - he was screaming.
Irena's mother pulled us out from the window and for the second time during the day I got to the cellar.

It was the first of September of the year 1939...

Janusz Wałkuski

      Janusz Wałkuski
in our times

drawn up by: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz

translation: Małgorzata Szyszkowska

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