top of page

Alojzy BACH

Translation of parts of an

interview by Prof. Patalas

I was born in Pomerania in 1925. I come from a large family. I had eleven brothers and five sisters. My father became a widower in the 1st world war and re-married a widow who lost her husband in the war. So, our large family was combined from two marriages.


My eldest brother was born in 1901. In 1939, three of my brothers were serving in Polish army. I was 14 years old then.


In December 1939, I was taken to Germany for forced labor. They took me to the vicinity of Szczecin, the town of Kolesino. I worked on a farm. Pomerania and Silesia were directly incorporated into the Reich and therefore occupied and the Nazi authorities put a lot of pressure on the local population to enter herself on the German lists. This pressure was particularly great for families with German-sounding surnames.


In 1942, my mother sent me a letter asking if I agreed to sign one letters. It was known that when my mother signed, so did all the children under 18 have to do the same. My mother realized I would be the first one to be conscripted in the army and that's why she turned to me with this query. I replied to my mother: "do as you see fit,if you think that this way it will be easier for you to survive and you can in this protect my sisters from being deported to Germany to work, then I "agree".


In the spring of 1943, I was summoned to a military commission. I was assigned to the infantry. I was trained at the Swiss border in Konstanz. In my unit there were many Poles from Pomerania and Alaska. Many of them did not kmow German and that was very difficult.


In May 1944, I was transferred to the Netherlands. I had an accident there. I was exercising, I injured my knee and they treated me in the hospital for a month. This is probably why I was not sent to the Russian front, and after returning to the unit, I was assigned to the front in France. This was after the allied invasion.


On December 8, 1944, I was taken prisoner in the sector staffed by Americans. My unit worked on night attacks on villages. I was sent on patrol. We were subjected to very strong artillery fire. We were lying on a stony field. I placed a stone in front of me to protect my head from the fragments.


After two hours of fire, we reached a stable. There were four people in it, as well as

horses and about 20 cows. There was with me a German sergeant, so I suggested that we exchange addresses in case of an accident, so that our families would be notified.

In the morning the sergeant decided not to be taken captive and hid in the stable. I came out of the stable and raised my hands up. They took me to the office and interviewed me. They held me at the meeting point for about two weeks.


German soldiers realized that getting captured by the American was the safest way to survive the war. Despite my German-sounding surname, I didn't have one hesitation and I volunteered as a Pole, together with other Polish colleagues.


The Americans knew well that we were conscripted Poles who forcibly joined the German army. They separated us from the Germans.They also separated prisoners from General Vasev's units. Individual interrogations were carried out for some time.The Poles were taken to Marseille, from there to a ship and to Italy, to Taranto. There, assignments to individual units of the Polish 2nd Corps were determined. Our group of 25 former Wehrmacht soldiers was assigned to the 3rd Carpathian Rifles Brigade. We had our records prepared and I was assigned to a communications course.

The training in communications lasted 6 weeks before we were assigned to areas on the so-called Goths Line. I was assigned to the heavy armored units, as a radio operator in the 1st squadron. Our commanding officers were Captain Mentel and Lieutenant Mieczkowski, and in my platoon, second lieutenant Tomaszewski.


I remember an episode during my service. We once took 20 German prisoners of war. My colleague Morawiec asked the lieutenant to let him get out of the pack and take away the weapons from the prisoners. The Lieutenant was undecided. Morawiec barely poked his head out of the turret, a shot was fired from the group of prisoners and hit him in the head. Outraged colleagues wanted to shoot the German who fired the  shot. Lieutenant Tomaszewski, however, strongly protested. And so, only a month before the end of the war my good friend died so tragically.


The war is over. We were stationed in Italy for some time. To keep us occupied, a great emphasis was placed on sports activities. I took part in divisional sports competitions. I took part in the May 3 race and won 3rd place. My name was read from the loudspeakers in the stadium.


It happened that my uncle heard my name, and when he returned to Poland and gave the family the news that I was alive. In 1945, I made contact with the family through the Red Cross. In this way I found my brother, but only in 1946, after he had left for England. He was in Edinburgh and soon visited me in Grimsby.


In England, I was at Camp Hensley in Liverpool for some time. Commissions were held here, assigning people to emigrate to various British Commonwealth countries. I volunteered to go to Canada.


The committees examined our knowledge of agriculture and whether we recognized wheat from oats, and whether we are physically fit to work on the farm. We arrived at Halifax in a group of 550 "non-citizens". We knew we were assigned to Manitoba. We didn't really know where it was. We were dropped off in Winnipeg. Trams were waiting and took us to the barracks. We were all in uniform.


On June 1, we took part as a unit in the march past on the Canadian "Decoration Day". We were divided into two companies. We were led by 2nd Lt. Baranowski and friend Michal Panek. Sokól No. 1 gave us a banner and we paraded in front of the tribune.


I remember the greetings we got. Not all of the locals were delighted with our arrival. It's raining, among others. questions: "Why are you here? Why did you come?" Most of them, however, welcomed us warmly. A lot of the families took care of us and took us to the  Holy Ghost parish and took us home for lunch or dinner. I remember that Mr. and Mrs. Rakowski in Transcona accepted me very warmly.

After two weeks in the barracks, we were divided into three groups: to Emerson, to Lettelier, and to Roland. I was assigned to Lettelier. Work on the beets had begun. We were paid per cut - a row of beets one mile long.


After finishing this work, we were assigned to individual hosts. My host was in Lasalle, of French origin, and was very good to me. After the harvest we returned again to pick beets on contract and we worked until frost. In November, we were taken to Winnipeg to the railway station and told to look for work through the Employment Office. We were still subject to it a contract for two years of work on farms. Some colleagues were looking for farmers who would formally sign a certificate for their work, and in fact they went to work cutting down forests, where you could earn better.


I am a legalist by nature, and I like to follow the regulations. They assigned me to a farm in Brandon. I arrived in the evening, they served food and at 5 a.m. the next day I woke up to work. At six there was breakfast and then departure for farming. The work was hard and I eventually turned to the Employment Office in Brandon for a change of assignment.


After a week I got a new assignment to a farmer in Woodnorth. Because it was winter, we woke up only at 8 a.m. I worked there for over a year in good conditions. I was treated on this farm as one of the family members.


I eventually moved to Winnipeg and worked for the CPR. In 1953 I married an orphan whose parents were murdered at Auschwitz. We had no children of our own, but we adopted my colleague Michal’s son.


I have bee involved with the SPK since my time in England.

Copyright: Bach family

bottom of page