Olga Szerauc

* 1908

  • "They loaded us into the vermineux cattle-truck. The train used to bring the army do Poland and the same train was taking us back there. It was terrible. They filled the carriages with people so much that it was impossible to lay down. All the way sitting or crouching. But I was not too bad…somebody was looking after me. Personally, I didn’t experience any distress. The worst were Jews. They were coming to keep an eye on us and behaved just horridly. Those who watched over me were the Russian soldiers so I was fine. Our neighbours were transported as well but young soldiers came to our house. Soldiers took nails out of the wall and said “ There is hardly anything in Kazakhstan”. And I really owe those soldiers a lot. I took many things from home. Anything they noticed they packed it up for me to take everything. They even packed my husband watch quickly, the gold one, for me to take it. If commander had came, he would probably have taken it. Afterwards, they put me on the sledge. We must have been going about 40 kilometer through the forest then they loaded us to the trains. Transported us over the month. Before that happened soldiers had brought all the hens from our farm and butchered them and took all the food we had at home and packed it for me. This time we had products for eating but they also were giving us some food. They kept us for over the month in those carriages".

  • "Poles were allowed to come back to Poland after four years. A Kirghiz man came to me at night and said – “ Get up right now and in two hours I don’t want to see you here anymore”. He meant I had to escape. I was 75 km away from the station, temperature was minus 50 degrees Celsius. The sun warmed me up. I escaped. Kirghiz told me I was one of the first. The Kirghiz man who lived there with me escorted me to the station and said goodbye. He was shedding tears and said - “ Miss, you are a like blood-sister to me”, because I looked after him there. I escaped. Until I crossed the border I couldn’t be sure that they wouldn’t catch me and take back to Kazakhstan. It happened to the Germans. Germans reached the border and they were returned. Finally Russians let us go. After all, we came and when I got off in Warsaw, I knew I was in Poland".

  • "When I walked down the street, mud splashed under my skirt. The streets were made of stones. I remember a chap – Kuźmierz was his name – telling to another guy, “Where are you driving Piotruk?”. He was driving having one wheel in the drains. We had no sewage system in the city yet and everything flowed in drains. Kuźmierz added, “Your one wheel is in a dump!”. T guy answered, “Am I guilty of this that there are such wide potholes in Vilnius?”. He drove with one wheel in the drain. Vilnius looked horrible after the war. Mostly Poles lived there, some Lithuanians as well but very few. Jews were in their numbers…. Really lots of them. We grew into habit and every year we oppressed the Jews. I remember one day, after school we went to beat some Jews. We were nearly creamed by them! There was a student dorm in the one of the oldest district, rest of the buildings there were totally destroyed. Students had to pull us through the windows inside the building. Somehow we managed to escape from the Jews. Yes, we used to go to beat up the Jews, every single year and we gave them a good hiding. Youngsters were getting the most."

  • Full recordings
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    Warszawa, 13.06.2011

    duration: 05:09:23
    media recorded in project Oral History Archive - Budapest
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They loaded us into the vermineux cattle-truck

Olga Szerauc
Olga Szerauc
photo: Post Bellum

She was born on 1April, 1908 in Kuźmicze (Belarus, Minsk district). She had a brother and a sister (born in 1910+1913 respectively). Her mother’s family came from Kaukaz. Her father’s family was from the north-east of Poland. Olga Szerauc’s parents met in Tyflis where her father completed school. They settled in an estate on Kresy. In 1915 her father was called up to serve in The White Guards so Olga Szerauc, along with her siblings was evacuated to the place called Wieliż in Russia. After a year her mother got a job as a secretary in the headquarters. The forces were moving around the whole of Russia by train. Thus Olga Szerauc with her mum, brother and sisters, were traveling together with them. In 1918 they reached Persia ( the town Szachtachty). Olga Szerauc’s father was found there. His forces were deployed in Novosibirsk. Afterwards, Olga Szeracu, her mother and other military families were evacuated again, this time by the English. After one month’s journey, they reached Constantinople and were put into an Italian refugee camp. Then they were moved to Tuzli and then to the English camp that was situated on the island of the Sea of Marmara. After the camps evacuation, Olga Szerauc and her mother were supposed to travel to Alexandria but her mother decided to came back to Poland to find the father of the family, who was in Poland already. While Olga Szerauc and her mother were kept in the English camp the English citoizenship  was given to them. Because of the English citizenship, they weren’t allowed to come back to Poland. To get polish citizenship back, Olga Szerauc and her mother went to Galati in Romania. They managed to return to Poland after two years. In the meantime Olga Szerauc’s father was taking part in the the Polish-Soviets War (1919 -1921) under Józef Pilsudski’s command. In 1921, after passing Lviv, Olga Szerauc and her mother reached Vilnius. Olga Szeraus attended for sewing courses in Vilnius at first, then in 1924 she began proper education in a primary school led by nuns. Afterwards she changed the school for one that was run by Countess Mohlówna. She completed school with an artistic weaver’s craft specialisation.  She got married to Leon Szerauc at the age of 26 and they settled on Polesie. Her husband worked in the forest inspectorate. She gave birth to her two children. In 1939, Olga Szerauc’s husband was arrested. She hid with the kids in Vilnius until August 1939. Then she decided to come back home on Polesie and after three weeks she was arrested and deported to Kazakhstan. She was sentenced for five years of deportation. After a month’s journey, she was put to the gulag and was forced to work in the gold mine called Stalino in Akmolno place. She escaped after two years to Makinka (100 kilometers away from the gold mine). She stayed four years there working in the boiler House. When the first transport to Poland was supposed to leave, Olga Szerauc escaped one more time.  She managed to get into the train and finally reached Szczecin. She was given an post-German property so she settled down. Because she wasn’t able to find a job, she searched for her cousin in Cracow where she finally decided to move. Olga Szerauc got a job in the embroidery factory, and shortly after she became a member of the group that organized the Folk Art Cooperative Society. She worked there over thirty years. She retired after sixty years of work. Olga Szerauc runs dentellier courses. She keeps on embroidering and stays in touch with the Folk Art Society. She still lives in Cracow.