Maria Krokowska

* 1928  

  • "When I was a child, until 1939 my life was very simple: school, home, school, home, etc. All clear. That’s how it was. I was eight or nine years old. When I was ten, the war started and then life under the shade and on the lead was really over. I had to admit it. My father wasn’t at home so my mum bent over backwards to get some food. I had a free hand, I was at easy. The first Russian words I ever said was ( - I feel embarrassed to tell you.. - ) was – “tawarisz daj diengi” – give me some money – That what I said to a Russian soldier. They used to give us kopeck willingly! Kids are kids, no shame. In general, it was a really good time for me as I had lots of freedom. At the same time, mum struggled to make a living. All of a sudden, she was forced to be a mother and father in one and had to do everything at home. The Soviets were really nice people and the soldiers were nice. They often let us keep a gun for a while or even shoot it. I was shooting so many times! – We were allowed to do whatever we wanted, it didn’t matter if we were able, or not. That’s how it really was. We also discovered the town in this time. Serot river divides the town into two parts – Czortków Górny and Czortków Dolny. I attended school on my side. My friend, a boy in my age, attended on the other side. There were two primary schools so kids didn’t have a walk long way to get to school. In 39 and 40 we visited the other side of the town many times and we were walking through the mountain, more and more… Besides that, school children from both sides started to be mixed in schools so there was no more classification. Life really changed. Perhaps more tragidy because we started to experience the war. But it was a kid point of view so it must have been a bit different than grown-ups. I would probably see it much differently now. Nevertheless, Dear God – in was unlike in those times. Afterwards, the Russian soldiers were accommodated in our house. Our home was quite big so they stayed with us. Dear God – no later than the Russian soldiers came, so did their families join us well. They had their job… It was unavoidable, the war caused that things..."

  • "When my mum was released from the NKVD she was told to come and see the policeman every month to report on things she saw or heard in the town. Thus we had some unofficial procedure at home that we carried out at the end of every month when the NKVD were supposed to come. Either I locked mum at home while I was walking around the town being elusive, or she left home and was walking around as long as I let her know it was fine, that they left. A man from NKVD was coming ( he was called – public prosecutor – but it wasn’t the function as we know it now) and asked about her. Whatever happened she never said a word. That would be ridiculous. It lasted a month, the second one and third… Then my mum said – “ My child I can’t bear it any more, I just can’t stand it. We must do something about it”. It turned out that some colonel had an eye on our house. He said – “ I can arrange some accommodation for you but in exchange, I take your house”. He moved to our house but found something where we could stay. Indeed, he arranged a kind of coach and we and other family left the town. In Tarnopol we were attached to another transport. Mum was a nervous wreck. It was just unbearable – to hide every single month and pretend she wasn’t there. No, it couldn’t last too long…"

  • " We saw how the Czortków prison looked like when the Soviets left and the Germans came. Firstly, they had difficulty in opening it because the gate was propped up with beams. They had to jump over the wall and it wasn’t so easy. Finally the Germans opened the prison and said to us – “Go ahead people, come in!”. When the Soviets took the prison over from the Poles, according to their custom, they put the speakers on the four corners of the prison wall and played music 24 hours a day. Thus whatever happened inside we never knew. Even if somebody shouted through the window, we weren’t able to hear anything. What turned out to be that – there was nobody inside. There was no living soul here! No man. „Where are the prisoners?” – we were asking. However we knew there were hundreds of people! From then on they went down to the basement. They found a dead guard and started to excavate. They went upstairs and it turned out there were rooms top to bottom full of parcels. Parcels that people sent for prisoners. Everything was stored there and the prisoners got nothing. Thus Germans started to dig up more and more. The courtyard and basements were full of bodies in various conditions. The German employed Jews, ( -Forgive me God but they deserved it, there were the firsts that appeared in the NKVD!- ), so the Jews were digging and searching. After that, the burials were arranged. It was summer –heat! July and August – extremely heat. They had no coffins so the bodies were put in some kind of boxes made from wood, covered with lime ( in emergency of plaque). And all of this was buried behind the cemetery. The Jews kept on digging and searching".

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    Wałbrzych, 13.06.2011

    (audio)
    duration: 04:45:33
    media recorded in project Oral History Archive - Budapest
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They had no coffins so the bodies were put in some kind of boxes made from wood, covered with lime

Maria Krokowska
Maria Krokowska
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

She was born on 28 July, 1928 in Czortków ( south-east Ukraine, Podolia region, Tharnopol district). Her mother Józefina Krokowska (1897 or 1898 - 1951) came from Lviv, from the Łyczaków quarter. Her father Józef (born in 1896 or 1897), and came from Prague, he was Czech. He came to Lviv before the war and set up his own meat delivery company. He met his future wife Józefina there. They got married in 1921 and had three children. Maria Krokowska’s grandmother died before World War II. Her father was a lawyer (as his father Stanisław Krokowski (died in February 1929) and his brother Bolesław Krokowski). Józef Krokowski took part in the Battle of Lviv in 1918. During the second world war he serviced in the army and after defeat with Germany he went to Hungary, then France and Great Britain at the end. He came back to Poland in 1946 and got job as a lawyer in “Mieszko” coal mine in Wałbrzych then he fetched his family here. Bolesław Krokowski was shot dead in Pawiak prison. Maria Krokowska spent the whole war in Czortów. Her mother - Józefina Krokowska was a member of the AK ( Armia Krajowa - the Home Army) and involved her daughter in a conspiracy ( cleaning weapons brought from Hungary). They both left Czorków in 1945 because Józefina Krokowska had to hide from the NKVD. Their home was took over by a soviet colonel who he arranged transport to Poland. They landed in Koźle where Maria Krokowska’s mother worked in the PUR.  Her husband - Józef Krokowski came back to Poland and his wife and daughter joined him in Wałbrzych. Maria Krokowska was sent to a business school in Legnica where in 1951 she passed an Abitur. She started to work in the Geodetic Department, in “Mieszko” coal mine. In 1980 she joined “Solidarnosć”. She retired in 1984. She was a member of the “Solidarność Walcząca” (“Fighting Solidarity”) and took part in publishing the underground magazine, “Węgielki Wałbrzyskie”. After the Martial law in Poland she was an active member of the Wałbrzych Work Priesthood. She worked voluntarily helping the teachers. Afterwards, she served three terms as an assessor in Wałbrzych Court. She has a son - Peter. Maria Krokowska still lives in Wałbrzych.