Ewa Synowiec

* 1934  

  • "My father many times felt sorry about them. Many times he said that no matter how much they earned he didn’t envy them. Because they work really hard. They are mistreated. Father’s friend was a foreman. Then the foreman had to have studies, he was someone. After the war many experienced miners came from Belgium, from France. They took some courses and became the foremen. It would be impossible under German rule. A foreman was a..My father said that many times a foreman said bad things about the miners and father many times reprimanded him. He said: “How can you say such things. You even don’t know them, you don’t know how people they are, you can’t talk to them like that”. That was the talk. Father said that many times miners had the smoked straps on a bread at work. There is one neighbor here, her father was a miner and she had 3 siblings. He says that many times they were so hungry that he was scrounging. That’s why they praised Hitler when he gave them the apartments, the houses then. This man had lots of kids but he wanted them and took care about them. Me, as a daughter of a scientist had smaller rations of food. There was a woman with 8 children downstairs, another woman with 6 children upstairs, a neighbor next door had 5 of them so in a half of the house were 21 children with me. Can you imagine noise there? It was lots of fun. I always felt better where other children were".

  • "He said that some French guys came from France. They were engineers of forced labour and went to the office. Then he asked us, which one of you can speak some other languages as many of us graduated from universities. Or at least we had to study other languages. Which one of you knows French language to take care of them? So it was my father. He helped as much as he could. Many times he said to my mom „Give some more sandwiches as they’re going to die of hunger”. They had very poor food rations then. Then he organized a canteen in steelwork so they could get the lunch. They got some packages but the thing that was inside was a chocolate, it didn’t help them much. In Autumn, when it got dark fast, those French guys came here for supper but had to be careful as one neighbour, real Nazist was living next door. If he noticed them my father would be in a big trouble. I remember one pretty girl, she was a conductor and she met with the French in a restaurant. Such a shame, she was a German. She was already a bit drunk and said to them “You’ll see. There won’t be lampposts enough to hang you there”. Then she disappeared. My parents got to know that she got sick and died. And about these camps..we didn’t know much about them, it was a secret. When that woman disappeared my father said that they must have a way of finishing of these people off. Because in “Karol” Steel Works some Russian slaves were also working and one of them was from Belarus. He taught German language there so was treated a bit better. As the Russians were mistreated the worst. And my father, as he always had to learn something, used that situation and told that the Russians were going to come. If the Germans won the war it would be the biggest disaster. He said it as a German. It’s better to know their language, to communicate with them. He had language classes with this guy from Belarus secretly. My father and the assistant of the director. That assistant was writing some letters for one Russian, a foreman found it and she disappeared soon and a Russian was killed immediately. Just after the war when the Russians were here, and here there still were no Polish, or maybe..I don’t know..No, no..the Poles must have come here in August, so the Russian were here since May. In front of the house a car stopped and some officers and a woman with a cake ran out of the car. The assistant of this director wanted to see my father. She was in Oswiecim".

  • "I was a skinny child; I was 11 years old and wasn’t being hurt at all. Here, downstairs was an army canteen and every day I brought a lunch for everybody. My mom just couldn’t go out too much but me...There were also women in Russian army wearing upper parts of clothes the same as the men and lower parts were the navy blue skirts, not trousers. There was a beautiful Russian woman in this canteen. I don’t know if I was similar to someone from the family, I don’t know. I was very swarthy. She always embraced me, patted my head and invited to this kitchen. She told me to bring some kind of dish. So I was bringing it every day for my mom. For an army you cook one dish but you put more meat and everything else inside. So my mom was cooking a dinner for everybody and I got a nice small silver ring with a blue gem from my mother-in-law. I wanted to give it for her, I remember taking it off. She took my hand and put it on again saying that her palms are too fat for that. It was also the same as when a big car arrived, they put out a big white cloth and they started eating and we were standing around. So they gave us first".

  • "Environment means people. It doesn’t just come from children, but it means that they learned it at home. I realized it when my son came and asked “Mom, how many Hitlers were?” So I asked “What are you talking about?”. ”Because they call me like that”. I said to my husband “Listen. Do something with that. They are you compatriots. They can call me „Szwabka”, I don’t care about that.” My son was well-built so my husband told him „Listen. Never begin a fight. But if someone calls your name, just punch him”. It was enough to say it him once. Then I was afraid of other mothers when I was coming back from job. Then children started to call him like that at school so I decided to go there. I was talking to the teacher and said:” I was going to this school during the 40’s and no one miscalled me. And my son feels Polish.” She was very surprised and said „I have never heard that. Maybe they’re the neighbours who called his name?” And I said „Yes. My mom, who didn’t speak Polish called him always in German”. So the teacher called these parents to talk. Later, one of the mothers came and asked me: “Why didn’t you come to me but to the school?” “Because I am sure that your child learned it at home”. How a child could know it? So maybe that’s why my son didn’t want to speak German. Or the things that I received for him in the packages. When the teacher told him “What a nice cap you have”, he came back home and said “I will never wear it again, mom".

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    Wałbrzych, 11.09.2012

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Here, downstairs was an army canteen and every day I brought a lunch for everybody

Ewa Synowiec
Ewa Synowiec
photo: Archiv - Pamět národa

She was born on 1st of August 1934 in Wałbrzych in a family of Walter Okon (05.01.1904-Febr 1951) and Freda Okon, family name Sedenschnuhe (15.06.1906-appr. 1996). Freda Okon came from Halle in Saxony and worked as a shop assistant. She met Walter Okon when he worked in one of the “Karol” Steel Works investments in that area.In 1933 the parents of Ewa Synowiec moved to Wałbrzych - family town of Walter Okon. A grandfather of Ewa Synowiec - Josef Wilhelm Okon, was a model carpenter and while looking for a job he went to Swidnica where he met his wife - Berta Hampel. Then he moved to Walbrzych and worked in “Karol” Steel Works. His sons were born in Walbrzych, inter alia Walter Okon, a constructor and an employee of project office in “Karol” Steel Works. Ewa Synowiec has started her education in 1940. Until 1945 she attempted classes in German primary school. In 1948, her father made the school manager enroll Ewa Synowiec to the Polish school. Earlier, between 1945 and 1948 she attempted private lessons with a German teacher what was illegal then. In 1951 she started a job in a laboratory. She got married with Edmund Synowiec - an employee of Termet in Swiebodzice. In 1958 she gave a birth to her son, Andrzej. Ewa Synowiec never forswore her German nationality and never accepted the Polish one. Connected to that, after the death of her husband and 30 years of work as the laboratory analytic, she lost a right to retire and she just got pension. Because of that she feels like a person who has never worked. Ewa Synowiec lives in Walbrzych.