Otton Tuszyński

* 1933  

  • "After the war no one was getting named “Otto”. In my time, when I was born and until 1945 in Germany, that name has different parts, including the one not liked by the Poles, Otto von Bismarck. Then there were various kings, so this name is popular in Germany until now. Not so much here. My surname was better, since it’s Tuszyński – „ski”. In Silesia I met another Oto, spelled with a single „t”. In that time, in 1945, when the people were getting registered, not only the ones remaining in the adjoined ones, but also the ones coming in. They had to know, what they have, so a census was made. If you didn’t say that it’s two “t”s, you were getting one. That was in August 1945 in Olsztyn. I was with my mother, there were announcements hanging everywhere, telling to come to a place at a so-and-so time. The street names were given, were the places were, the same way that they do now with elections. I went with my mother, I was 12 then. The mother was sitting, I was standing next to her. A clerk, I don’t know what his education was, but I know it wasn’t good. So he’s writing down, the mother is giving her name, Jadwiga. We had no Józek, Janek, or Franek. My sister, a year older, Edyta, me – Otto, a brother – Rudolf. He stopped. “You know ma’am, we can change this”. There was Helga, Gerda, Krystyna. That’s what they were doing, changing everything automatically. All that was lawless, since in order to change things, one needs to go to the Voivod’s Office and the Registry Office. Here it was all done automatically. The clerks were encountering various names, like our name which is spelled differently in Polish and in German. Poles write the way they say it".

  • "I happen to come from Olsztyn. The town was almost completely burnt, no wars, no resistance, since the Germans were retreating towards Królewiec, and the town was empty. Russians would have burned it all, who knows why, since these were beautiful, stylish buildings. The shops beneath the apartment too. As for the Old Town in Olsztyn, all the shops, one next to another, two rows of burned houses. At Grunwaldzka street in Olsztyn, one side had 36 houses, today 4 remain. I don’t know what was the cause of all that. I reckon that they could have found a picture of Hitler in a given apartment, or a picture of some family member in a Wehrmacht uniform, but generally I do not know what was the cause of all this burning. They were still setting things on fire in April, while the war for people here was over on the night of January 20th to January 21st, when the Russians came".

  • "The end of the war, may, and we still don’t know anything. As I was saying, no knowledge of Polish language, no radio, no press. We thought that it can’t go on like that, that this has to change, but we were rather thinking about some kind of upheaval, that it will not remain under Polish administration, that the Germans would come back, that it would be like that. That’s how the time was passing. In 1947, accidentally in Olsztyn cathedral, there was a parson, priest Hanowski, who was with the nuns, they were also supported by Caritas, that’s why since the end of the war they had been making soup for the remaining German people. That’s where one was going for dinner, and even bringing more of this soup home. As kids all of us were going there to eat. In 1947 my father wrote to us, but to the address where we had lived, so he must had been getting the mail returned, but in the end he wrote to the cathedral, to priest Hanowski. That letter reached us, but it was already 1947, the post office was working, everything was functioning differently. He could not reach us under the old address, we had moved to another apartment. Independently, along the way, in March 1945, we had to leave the apartment. All the Germans had to leave their homes and go to the other side of Łyna. There’s the river Łyna flowing through Olsztyn. There were soviet troops coming from the headquarters and the said that we have to leave everything and go beyond Łyna. My aunt lived in Kolonia Mazurska, my mother’s sister, so we went with hand luggage to her. We came back from there in July, maybe early August. The father found us and came back. He didn’t have it easy, he didn’t know Polish. Before he got a hang of it, only then he could get a job. He was sick, so he wasn’t in the army, he had been wounded and they wouldn’t take him. He worked as a civilian in an ammo factory, he was making good money by the way. He got out to Denmark, got detained in Lubeka. He regretted a bit coming back, since it was hard for him. Older person, and the language… We were already talking, the mother said:”Listen, mathematics is the same in Polish as it is in German, latin alphabet is the same. You have to go to school, things are not changing here. You have to get educated”. Especially since I had studied in gothic alphabet, the latin one appeared only in 1939".

  • "It so happened that when I was very young, being 13 years of age, I had to work. I was attending the evening classes. There were lots of older… I would say, youths, since they were 28-30 years old, and the youth with them, all together. The ones who came from the east, they had an issue with writing, with studying in general. The first thing that happened in Poland, there were two serious things happening. One was the fight against tuberculosis. It was very deeply rooted, the Swedes were paying for that I think. And fight with illiteracy. People from the east were making signatures with crosses, for real. In order to get out of that, they were going to schools, even if they were older. They were like 30 years old, just trying to get at least some primary. As for their productivity, well they were studying in order to work some were going further, since that was easier then. In those times the professors were turning a blind eye. It was known that the educated workers were lacking in that time. I was working, helping my mother, then the father got a job too. I was passing my final exams a bit later, in 1966, also in the evening school".

  • "Sports was my biggest joy. When I was doing sports as a young man, playing soccer, and then boxing. Friends were pulling me into the sports hall, so I went into boxing. Because of this boxing there were some interesting situations. There’s a lot of barracks in Olsztyn, it is a kind of military town. There was an Army Garrison Sports Club, were they had soccer, hockey, and boxing. When I joined the army, when I was 20, which was the age for that then, I ended up in AGSC in Olsztyn. This was very good. Generally I was boxing for five years and when I left the army, I stopped training that. In 1955 I left the army, in 1956 I got married and my wife said no more boxing. Boxing was cast aside. Two-three years I worked. Then an accident. There’s the Olsztyn Regional Boxing Association. They were organizing a course for boxing arbiters. They were looking for candidates, and it’s easiest to find them among the people who had stopped training. I finished that course and I was involved with the Boxing Union. Afterwards there was a message from the Training Division of the Polish Boxing Association that they were organizing a workshop for boxing trainers in Cetniewo. The team was then led by a famous Polish trainer Feliks Sztam, who was actually famous all around the world, not only in Poland, since he had achievements at the olympic games, the world cup, and the European one. They said:”Listen, we don’t have anyone to send, you go”. So I finished this course and after a break in boxing one got drawn back into it again. There were sports schools in Olsztyn too, I did that trainer’s course, and they hired me – because then it wasn’t then like that that the trainings were in the morning, only in the evening, it was all amateurs anyway. In the rich clubs they were professional, and I’m not talking about „Legia”, it was the central club, but also “Gwardia” from Warsaw and other like that, or the Silesian teams, they were led normally like workers of a given trade and they trained in the morning. So that’s how I started training youth in Olsztyn, in the Sports Club of Construction Workers".

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    Olsztyn, 09.08.2012

    duration: 02:43:30
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Mother said: Listen, mathematics is the same in Polish as it is in German

Tuszynski_Otto_006_p.jpg (historic)
Otton Tuszyński

He was born in 1933 in Olsztyn (then Allenstein) in a German family as one of six children. His father was a construction worker, who was drafted to an auxiliary corps during the war. His mother decided to stay in Allenstein after a failed attempt at escape before the entry of the Russians. Immediately after the War he had to start working in order to help his mother, while studying Polish language during the evening classes. He graduated from a technical school for construction workers. During the army service he trained boxing in an Army Sports Club of his unit. In 1956 he married a Pole who originated from Wołyń. He finished a course for boxing trainers, and since then he worked as a boxing trainer in sport clubs of various companies, and also in the Polish national boxing team. For many years he worked as a trainer in a miners’ club in Zabrze. In 1980 he came back to Olsztyn, left the sports, and became a manager of carpentry shop in a Theater of Jaracz. He has a daughter, who has left for Germany and resides there.