Paweł Sabiniarz

* 1930  

  • "My German origin was a problem. Once it even had bearing on a very important issue as I was to go to Hamburg. Polszyb was in Hamburg. It was a kind of subsidiary of Centromor. Centromor was dealing with ship industry. And I was supposed to work for this subsidiary for 4 years as there was a Polish one of the ship industry. I was many times there, in Hamburg. So then the director of the Association offered me this job. Everything was almost ready. But it turned out that it has to be accepted by SB. So they found my origin. As many delegations came from the West Germany, I had to collaborate with SB. I talked to the major of SB during every arrival of him as he was very interested what the Germans did. I always had to supply them a program of their activities, I am pretty sure that everything was spied. So I was supposed to go to this subsidiary when the major called me and said: We were checking your past carefully, I know you well, I can trust you but your origin..We cannot qualify you for a place in Germany. You can go to Moscow, to The German Democratic Republic (GDR), to the other countries. But they also told me frankly that they just have such regulations that ban some people who might act to the detriment of Poland. They said that. And in spite of me spending many years abroad they couldn’t trust me as I could be disloyal with them".

  • "In January, in the end of January we ran away. As if we were the fugitives. The majority of Germans escaped that land. From the end of January to the end of April we were travelling in two horse carriages through all Western Pomerania. We travelled the highway near Szczecin and passing Hanover we reached Minden where one of the sisters of my mom, they have the Wastphalian ones..she has it till today. There the whole family of her lives. There we were just after the war".

  • "When the German army entered, the Poles from this village ran away but we stayed as the German landlords. It was clear for us as my father was already working for the railway before the war and the forge belonged to my grandfather too. When he started working for this railway when we were youths, together with mother who was a German, got one of those good apartments in the school, an apartments of the teachers. Life was much easier then. It was like that – the Germans were treated differently than the Poles. It is clear that majority of this village was deported in a very brutal way. It was like that – there was the SS car which arrived during the night and people were given 20 minutes to pack everything. Then they were entrained in those cattle wagons and the whole families were transported to the West. Then the families were split and the men had to serve as the workmen on the German’s farm as the German men were on a front. So this help was necessary. Many families were settled in this way".

  • "I represented Poland during many European meetings regarding shipbuilding industry. Many times I was in Yugoslavia, The German Democratic Republic (GDR) and West Germany as we had economic cooperation even with the West. With the Germans. We had the bilateral agreement regarding shipbuilding industry with West Germany. Independently, we had it with GDR but with West Germany as well. So we were going there while Gierek lent lots of money from them. So we were welcomed customers there as we did the shopping for shipbuilding industry for 30milions of Deutsche Marks in Siemens. We spent it of course for building ships for Russia because it wasn’t worth to build them for us or we just weren’t able to build it then. They consisted of 5-10% of western components. So it all was transported on these Russian ships and it was big loss of money for Poland. It was like that. We did it because they said they were giving us security (laughing). And because we were giving so much to them, we ran up the debt. It was one of the reason of it because we sent those ships to Russia. K.M-M. I guess it was mainly.. P.S. No..! About 90% of the all ships from Gdansk Shipyard were sent to Russia, I am pretty sure that it was transported to Russia. P.F. And how did they pay for that? Just money? P.S. Well..even from the Association’s top level we’d..It was so top secret, it was political decision and it wasn’t reasonable for sure".

  • "It is known that they were Germans. My whole family was German, with German nationality, but they had also Polish citizenship. As those who stayed had to accepted that. So there were sons of the elder sisters of my mother. Two, three of them were serving in Polish army in 1939. They went to the Polish schools but they had to serve even though they had German nationality. So they had to join the Polish army. They were in Polish army. P.F. And then they were in Wehrmacht? P.S. You’re right. Just after entry of Germans they were conscripted into the German army and sent on a front. Hitler used for that mainly people from the eastern lands, so- called Volksdeutsch. They were rajchsdojcze, folksdojcze i ajngedojcze. They were Volksdeutsch. So he pushed them on the East. My cousin who is 92 for 4 years was on the eastern front and he got wounded seriously 4 times. All the time he was on the eastern front. He knew Poland quite well as he was in Polish army in 1939. One of my Polish cousin told me that he served in antiaircraft artillery but also he had a German cousin who was a pilot. And the Polish one was the aiming soldier. So he was sorry to shoot the planes as there could be his cousin inside them. But he felt German. It is sad but the situation was like that. That they had to serve in Polish army".

  • "You know..because of my past I wasn’t very willing to this kind of political system. But..let’s say..I did the same as the majority did – I pretended that I am for them. And I was for many years. In the committee, as there was a company committee, there were 3 people who were the party secretaries. And for many years me, as I was an engineer and had some contacts with the West, was conducting some party trainings, as a non-party member yet. I did it for some party organizations. I joined the party because of that and in 1972 I was sailing on Brazilian ship as “guarantee engineer” as we were constructing 10 ships for Brazil. And, you know, that ship is given a guarantee so the one engineer from the shipyard goes and supervises this guarantee. He assesses the possible damages or the failures, he assess if it’s quality reason or a human error. So then you’re sailing with a ship crew, writing the protocols in English, making agreements with the captain, with the ship owner. It depends..they have this guarantee for a half of year or for a year. I was , for example, in Hamburg, where I supervised the warranty and renovation works as I was still employed by ship owner. P.F. So if you wanted to go abroad so far away you had to.. P.S. Yes, you had to have the agreement of the company committee. I joined the party half of the year before that".

  • "So we were talking differently, in German too. But I think that according to The Treaty of Versailles, Polish government accepted German language and the Polish officers in Swiecie or Bydgoszcz had to speak in German too. When my mom was going to the county of Swiecie or to Bydgoszcz she was spoke there German. They even had the documents in German, the documents of my mother-in-law. Or the documents were bilingual. I guess it wasn’t very strict. All the landlords in this village were speaking German. It was natural that all those Poles were talking in German. And the Germans, especially those younger were talking in Polish with no problems. It was always bilingual place. K.M.M. Did you have some Polish neighbours with whom you were closer than with the others? Rather not? P.S. It’s difficult to say as I was a boy then. As I said, probably I had lots of contact with Polish children and we were playing together before the war. But as I said we were speaking German, maybe a word in Polish too. A man just didn’t pay much attention to that".

  • Full recordings
  • 8

    Gdańsk, 11.09.2012

    (audio)
    duration: 01:40:57
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

My German origin was a problem

He was born in 1930 in the village called Łowin near Pruszcz Pomorski as a son of a German woman and Polish man of German descent. At home the family was speaking in German. Before the war and during it he belonged to the scouting. During the war his brother was fighting in the Eastern Front as a Wehrmacht soldier. His father also served in Wehrmacht as a German railway worker. In the winter 1945, Paweł Sabiniarz and his mother escaped to Westphalia. After 2 years they came back to Poland where the father and a brother of him were as well. They started to live in Kwidzyn. Paweł Sabiniarz graduated a private high school there and then went to Gdansk to continue his studying in Technical Departments. After finishing this school he started to work in Gdańsk Shipyard and began evening classes at Gdańsk University of Technology. He worked as a manager of production department in Gdańsk Shipyard. He was dealing with international affairs in Federation of Shipbuilding. In the early 70’s he joined The Polish United Workers’ Party (PUWP) in order to sail on international ships. In 1982 he quitted the PUWP. From 1980 to 1986 he worked on German ships as an electrician. He retired when he was 60. In 1999 he got involved in the activity of German Minority. Now he is a chair of county department of German Minority in Gdańsk and a board member of The Association of German Minority in Poland. He has a wife and a daughter. He lives in Gdańsk.