Helena Kapuścińska

* 1924

  • "The Russians came and entered Wieleń. And as they entered across the Noteć River, it was already German land. They started burning all those buildings. Because they said that the Germans burnt theirs, too, and they were already on German land. They left Wieleń Południowy in peace, did not touch anything. And started to destroy everything there, because the Germans were also destroying everything back home. And they started burning. Why? That castle that is standing in Wieleń, they started to destroy everything. “Because the Germans destroyed everything that was theirs, so they would do the same.” They are right and you don’t tell them anything. And, in fact, it was all burning. Every Russian officer had a map with the former borders marked on it, the 1939-borders with the Polish land, and the German land which they could do anything with, destroy everything. "

  • "Here, where the locomotive is standing now, there were such large barracks. And the Germans were bringing everything in the station here and wanted to load the train. Agricultural machines, typewriters, bicycles, everything. They wanted to load it and take deep into Germany. And they left it here, and the Russians came. Some transports – nobody noticed it and they did not pay attention what it was. And the Poles saw it, what it was, and surrounded it with what you would call railway guards today, to guard it, because there was some wealth. And some transport arrived, and some Mongol came, a cap…, what is it? He said that there was nothing. And they did not want to let him in. So he took and … He was from Szamotuły, someone called Feliks Świątek, he is buried here. And off to the war commandant and after that transport, but nobody could recognize him, who was who, because they were all so equal. And the man was killed and what? People rebelled, why, how come? Apparently allied, supposed to be and he said he was a liberator, “we have liberated you” and then he kills?"

  • “My dad already as a railwayman was given an order that, since the fighting was over in Piła, because there was fighting here in Piła in February, so when the fighting was over, all the railwaymen from the Poznań voivodship were to go here to these lands. Because they urgently needed the Bydgoszcz-East Prussia railway line here. Because there was front here, there was fighting, that Pomeranian Wall was here, those bunkers. And since the railway line was necessary for the troops, there had to be a track for Russian troops, they gave an order and … My father said: You will go with me, you will not stay here with your aunt, you will go with me. And we went, we came through Rogoźno, Wieleń Południowy, then by the river here, because you could not get there across the Piła River by any means of transport, because nothing was working yet. And workers were slowly gathering here, people were coming, making some living quarters or something. First we all lived in Wieleń Północny. And I even worked with my dad there a bit, my dad had his people there, they were going and repairing those tracks. The first trains started to go with Russian troops and back, and they guarded everything, everything was under the supervision of soldiers, they did not trust the Poles somehow. And finally my father said: In Krzyż they are organizing railway units, you will be commuting to Krzyż, because I cannot go with you. Because my father was as if a kind of superior, and I could not, as a daughter, work with the superior. And, thus, in May or June 1945, I started working at the station here in Krzyż, it was called so, at the communications section. I was a telephonist, telegrapher. And we were taking over first, because Russian women were there, Russian women were sitting at the switchboard, then the Polish women were taking over, and the Russian ones went further following the front, them Russian women.”

  • "I remember them coming. They had their office at Kościuszki. I remember them coming from Lviv, from all those area. This I remember, as they came and told them to choose flats and there were jobs for them. I even admitted those workers to work, Mr. Ber, Mr. Tłuczek, Mr. Bułygo. I remember they used to work on the railway in the east, and they came here to take the same job, to be taken in. I remember I was taking in, Klemens was also taken in as electrician in the engine house, and quite many of them. These transports were coming, they were allowed to go where they wanted to, to those villages around, to the lake there, to those buildings. It depended on where you wanted to go. You could choose the flat and be quartered there."

  • "It was burnt here, where the Lubuska restaurant is, there were also such blocks of flats standing there, like on the other side, and those blocks were burnt. The Russians… Krzyż was very exposed to such different things. The church, how many times it was attacked. Because those military transports were travelling, when it stopped, there was a lavatory on those tracks and everything. They would get off and relieve themselves, and dashed around the town. Until the war commandant wrote that there were mines, unchecked, when they read it they moved back, did not go out. But the threat was all the time. They defended that church here so much, saved from those; these transports were standing here, so many of them. And there was always some disaster, you could expect some disaster like arson or something. And whenever the Soviet soldiers were drunk they fired their guns. "

  • "There were two churches here. This small church was an evangelical church. And that church was a Roman-Catholic church. And that church – old men from an order came, in habits, brown ones, I do not know whether they were Franciscans, or others … Because the boys from the work were getting married. I am going home to Poznań area because I have a wedding. They were getting married. They were bringing photographs for their cards and everything. When will you bring your wife with you? When will you make a home here? They [the wives] said they would not come as long as the church was not open here. And somehow those old Franciscans were found and came and opened that Roman-Catholic church. It was around 1945. And this one was not opened for a long time. It was a church … The railwaymen were defending it, and it was called a “railway church”, because it was close to this place, and there lived a man here who was a sacristan and there was a railway church. But that church did not have any special, there was a church service twice a week perhaps. They converted it a little bit, those galleries, because the evangelicals had such galleries, they were sitting on those galleries. There was a mass said twice a week. And we always went there. Starting from 1945..."

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    Krzyż, 11.02.2009

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“I remember them coming from Lviv, from all those areas. They told them to choose flats and there were jobs for them.”

Helena Kapuścińska
Helena Kapuścińska
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

Born in Kazimierz near Szamotuły on 13 July 1924. Her father was a railwayman. In 1926, he was transferred to work to Chodzież and moved there together with his whole family. Helena Kapuścińska completed primary school in Chodzież, she was to start learning at the local secondary school in September 1939. In August 1939, Helena Kapuścińska’s father was called up and she was evacuated together with her mother and younger siblings near Lviv. After the entry of Soviet troops the family managed to come back to Chodzież in early October. In June 1940, Helena Kapuścińska was directed to work at a German estate in Stróżewice near Chodzież. In August 1944, she was deported to a labour camp near Płock to dig anti-aircraft trenches. After the Soviet front had moved she came back to Chodzież which she left with his father in March 1945 to work at starting a railway line in Wieleń Północny. In May 1945, she started working at the railway station in Krzyż. In 1948, she married and moved to Krzyż. She worked at the communications section on the railway until her retirement. She now lives in Krzyż.