Maria Anielski - Kołpa

* 1930  

  • "I have to say this - some family from Vilnius was eventually accommodated in our house. Those displaced from Vilnius were very friendly for us Warmians. They were as poor as we were. Actually, they had also been expelled from their homes. They didn’t insult us, they didn’t steal from us, they shared everything they had. However, the worst were ... I'm sorry, you gentlemen are from Warsaw, but the worst people were these who came from the south. Indeed, they were ... they were robbers, and cheats, they took what they could, it was horrible. It’s not just my opinion, many people may confirm. However, a few of them from Vilnius lived below us. They brought two goats with them and those animals were the biggest treasure ever. So they kept them - I do not know how long, one and a half, two years - in the bathroom, on the first floor. The grandmother used to take them and grazed where the "Hotel Warmiński" was built later on. There was a time when meadow was there. So if the goats lived in the bathroom, people didn’t really need the bathroom. I am not sure if they knew what it was for… They used to threw fertilizer out the window in the evening. We lived in ground floor so just outside the house we had the backyard full of used straw and manure".

  • "After three years of the primary school I attended a Charlottenschule – it was the female high school, here in Olsztyn, near Williamplatz. I had lessons until January 19th, 1945 – that was two days before the Russians entered here, the Soviet Army entered on January, 21st … I still remember the very last day of the school, when all of the students were gathered in the square in front of the school. The school building is still there, until now, still situated near the Wysoka Brama. This day – 21st of January, the headmaster said: My dear children, you have two weeks of vacation due to lack of fuel. He definitely knew that was not the real reason of the break. Probably he was forced by the Nazi to say this. His last words were: Stay safe with God. Two days later the Russians were here. I can honestly say that for me the Second World War began when the Russians invaded. Before it happened we couldn’t really felt anything. Yes, my two brothers died on the Eastern Front, one of them not far from Pustoszki (in front of Moscow and Werner), the oldest one in Schliesenburg am Ladogasee, near Leningrad (St. Petersburg today)".

  • "We completed basics Polish course and after that we were assigned a job. We didn’t have to work but we were glad that someone was looking after us. There was the Agricultural Bank and large number of graduates worked there. I was referred to Mazury Library and then to Dr. Gębika. It was a very positive change for me. We say “every cloud's got a silver lining”. It wasn’t just me who attended evening classes. Dr. Gębik was glad that we learned. He was interested in our results. Naturally, I was very happy when I passed a high school diploma. It was a real achievement for me, even more than graduation because I had to foreign language. I had to put much more effort into school. Afterwards I wanted to do German studies, but then I was told: you take the path of least resistance, you know the language. But the German language was not a reason, I've always been fascinated with German literature, even as a child. One day doctor Gębik called me into his office and said: My dear, what do you think you do after completion that study? Just think about it - books are not translated into German, German language is not taught in schools and people are not allowed to speak it. We were called "Krauts" or "fascists". He added Find a job that will be useful in any political system. That's why I chose pharmacy. But being honest, this time I had no idea what pharmacy really was".

  • "The father wasn’t at home and we were not allowed to escape without him… He worked night shift at the post office at that day. When he finished in the morning no trains run. It was January 19th. All of our neighbors were evacuated… [What I mean… what was the evacuation?] They all went no further than 20 kilometers outside the city, there was no point in taking horses. The roads were clogged with people desperate to escape. For the very first time we met Russians in the forest when we decided to go back home. I will never forget this scene. We stopped in the host in the village named Giedajty (in the direction of Morag). There, sitting at the window, I saw wounded soldiers evacuated from the hospital, from Olsztyn. Scary scenes - amputated limbs, blood everywhere, they all in the deep snow. Roads were clogged, it is hard to imagine. No way to go, neither forwards nor backwards. Then we went back through the forest, [looking at the map, it's quite straight line from north to south], as it was in the direction of Morag. We met the first Russians in the forest near the lodge. It was Monday, January 22nd probably…. They were not dangerous, they were in a hurry. The worst of them all were those called Nachschub – they were just a part of the army, the part that firmly settled there, or set up another unit. A terrible times began. I don’t want to talk about it, it was all too much... I was just 14 and an adult life I found was awful, I saw the most dark side of it… The worst months of my life. We lived near the road leading from Szonbruka to Gietrzwald, it was so difficult to survive there. Every single day 30 - 40 people gathered on the farm ready to defend… But it was not a real defense, we did not have guns. Finally we left our house and escaped. Nothing else I can say… It was terrible time. I will never forget".

  • "If it was a different language, but it was German... The war just ended. Although we were not Nazis we carried the blame. But I graduated. The first year of the study was the hardest. Adjustment, integration, consultation, disregard – Well, it was so difficult. After the first year I was one of the best and I got a scholarship for the second year. People opened their eyes – the girl who comes from the province can also be good and achieve something. After this first year my study was just a pleasure, really. During oral examination candidates were called individually, in alphabetical order, Angel was always at the front. Sometimes others were afraid to pass together with me. They used to say: You are prepared too good! This is us who will be thrown out the door. Sometimes they were but I didn’t inspire terror. I had no private lessons but I felt really good and I completed my studies. Then I came back Olsztyn".

  • "Two gentlemen came. They introduced themselves as delegates of the Polish government in Warsaw and announced that they came to rebuild the Polish administration in Olsztyn. They also said: You can rest easy now, you do not have to worry about anything. We are Poles, we are Catholics, we have God in our heart. Though they came in through the back door and robbed us of all we had. They were dressed in comparison to us. In any case, we took them seriously, we really believed them. After all we went through for the past few months, it felt like finally the salvation came for us. What else they took…? They took my last doll. I was 12 - 13 years old, but this doll could call "Mum" and she was closing her eyes. That was the biggest loss for me".

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    Olsztyn, 08.08.2012

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They took my last doll I was 12 - 13 years old, but this doll could call Mum and she was closing her eyes That was the biggest loss for me

Maria Anielski Kołpa
Maria Anielski Kołpa
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

She was born in 1930 in Unieszewie (Schönfeld) near Olsztyn (Allenstein), where she spent her childhood as well. Her father worked at the post office, her mother was a housewife. Maria Anielski attended the female high school in Olsztyn. Her two older brothers served in the Wehrmacht, and both died on the Eastern Front. The family decided to escape from Unieszewie before the entrance of the Red Army but unfortunately the streets were filled with the refugees at that day so they were forced to return home. In the spring of 1945 Maria Anielski and her parents left their house (that originally belonged to the post office) and moved to the apartment in Olsztyn. Maria Angelic worked as a maid for a polish family. She learned polish in 1947 at the Ludowy University near Morąg (Mohrungen), where she completed her repolonization course. After that she took up a physical job. With the help of Wladyslaw Gębika, the teacher writer, and long-term prisoner of the Mauthausen-Gusen camp, she finished her evening classes and passed the high school diploma. Afterwards she graduated from Pharmacy in Poznań. In 1957 she returned to Olsztyn where she worked as a pharmacist. She retired when she was 70. She got married in 1960 to a Pole and gave birth to a son. Most of Maria’s family stayed and lived in Warmia. Maria Anielska works voluntary in the Catholic community of German minority and sells the German church newspaper “Ermländer Briefe” (Warmia Letters). She still lives in Olsztyn.