Michał Klemens

* 1926

  • "We came to Poznan – it was dark, silent, the front, the war was still on, artillery was banging incredibly. At the Poznań management we waited for a bridge on the Noteć River for four days. When there was a bridge on the Noteć, the first train from Poznań to Wronki – and from Wronki to the border here, because it was the old border – there was only one track. There was no bridge, they made a bridge, and we came to Krzyż by that first train. We came to Krzyż at midnight and the Russkis received us and up to the station and we lied down there on the straw and we were lying there. In the morning, they walked us to the roundhouse at gunpoint and brought us back also at gunpoint. They did not let us into the town. They first looted the town, burnt it, and only when there was nothing left, they let us go to the town. As a bachelor, I said to myself: it can’t’ be helped, we need to rebuild our homeland. And I stayed here; I was working as an electrician, I worked, they needed such a man here. I was starting a hydroelectric power plant in Kamienna, 23 kilometres away from this place. And the power plant was operated by railwaymen until 1947. Then, the federation said: “Railwaymen, get out of here, because there is no railway station or tracks, there is nothing waiting for you.” And, in 1947, a large wagon came from Poznań, we packed our things and left for Krzyż."

  • "The railway started to rule here right away. The railwaymen were looking around to start something, and first of all the most important thing was to have electricity, because without electricity – no way, you can’t do anything. First, we had such a small power station at the sawmill, and, at the same time, some went to Kamienna to the hydroelectric power plant, to start it. The Russkis would have taken it away if they could, but they couldn’t, they couldn’t because it is 5.5 metres below. They couldn’t take it away from that place. Besides, it was flooded by the Germans. We had to drain the water and so on and so forth, and everything was taken to pieces again to start it again. And the power plant is working until the present day. But, back in 1947, railwaymen had to throw in the towel and go to Krzyż. Because the federation said: “Railwaymen, you have nothing here to look for, because there are no railway tracks, there is no railway station, you have nothing here to look for.”

  • "When I came here to Krzyż, I went out from Krótka Street – because I live in Krótka Street, near the station, the chemist’s was right next door, but already disarmed – and a Russki went out from that chemist’s and said: “Mister, have you got any moonshine?” I said: “Yes, I have.” “And I have gold.” ”You have gold?” “Yes, I have gold.” And I lived in Krótka Street and I still live there, and I had a pot without handle at home. Because the handle was painted like gold. He battered those handles and had them tied in his hand, a lot of handles. “Gold!” I say: “You, fool, it’s not gold!” He said: “You fool, you stupid fool, it’s gold!” He was going on a bike in Krzyż on wheel rims only, without tubes, without tyres, on the pavement on those rims! What a noise it was!"

  • "The town was empty, the town was burnt down, looted, there were no people. No one. When they let us go into the town later on, the town was empty, no one, not a soul was there. A few old Germans stayed, I don’t know, three or four of them. The largest German stayed, that Sagert, the one of the Sagert family that is still here today. That old Sagert came back from Germany here and stayed here and later on they gave this land, the forest, to the state, so that he could only stay here. He handed it all over."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Krzyż, 19.05.2007

    duration: 02:47:15
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The town was empty, the town was burnt down, looted, there were no people

Michał Klemens
Michał Klemens
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

  Born in Lvov on 24 October 1926. Before World War II he completed five forms of a Polish primary school, then, for a year he went to a Russian school. After the Germans’ entry, in 1942, he started working on the railway as an apprentice. When the Germans were running away from Lvov, Michał Klemen’s family went to Krakow in fear of the Soviets’ entry and transportation to Siberia. After the occupation of Krakow by the Red Army Michał Klemens worked on the railway; in March 1945, he went to the “Regained Territories” with the entire transport of railwaymen from Lvov, first to Poznań, and then to Krzyż. In Krzyż, he was sent to work at starting the operation of a hydroelectric power station in Kamienna, 23 km away from Krzyż. From 1947 he worked on the railway in Krzyż; he retired in 1988. He is Vice President of the “Drawa” Angling Union in Krzyż. He lives in Krzyż.