CZESLAWA (MONIAK) KRYGIEL
The Story of My Life
Translated by B. M. Charuba
My father, Stefan Moniak, son of Marcin and Ludwika Moniak (nee Antoniak) was born in 1898 in Klementowice. His mother died at the age of 32, leaving six children. Grandfather then married a second time. His marriage to Zofia Kozak produced five children.
My father joined the Legions of Pilsudski1 at the time they were being formed. He had a distinguished career in the Legions and was sent to America to study veterinary medicine. Holding the rank of sergeant major, he was wounded in the leg in the battle at Zamosc and was decorated for his heroism.
After the Polish-Bolshevik war, the Polish government of the time granted land to the soldiers who had distinguished themselves in battle. My father received 40 hectares of land, seven of which were meadows, in a beautiful area two kilometers from the Niemen River, and 7 kilometers from the city of Grodno. The settlement was called Rokitno.
The truth was that father did not really want to farm the land because he had no any idea how to do so. He preferred military service, but he had to choose one or the other. So, he chose farming. All the buildings on our farm were erected by the government. The buildings consisted of a large four-room house with two porches set in a lovely garden, along with a barn, a stable, etc. My father married a Miss Maria Pierelajko, nee Juszkiewicz. She was the daughter of a very wealthy farmer who lived in the village of Dworce where they had a prosperous farm. My mother had two sisters: Stefania and Melania, and two brothers, Jan and Jozef. Mother’s father died of influenza during an epidemic that took the lives of thousands of people in the area. My grandmother, whom I always remember as always being old, died during WWII.
My parents had four children: Halina (b. 1925), Czesia (b. 1928), Longin (b. 1930) and Ryszard (b. 1932). We lived for a short time in Rokitno, and then moved to Warsaw where father worked for the slaughter house on Solec Street, in the position of veterinarian monitoring the animals that were brought for slaughter and inspecting the meat. While we lived in Warsaw, my mother’s sister and brother rented the farm.
We returned to Rokitno at the end of 1937, and we children attended school in Grodno. The train which took us to school stopped almost in front of our house. Halina attended high school6 , I attended Krolowa Jadwiga School, and Longin attend “czworka” (the 4-grade school). Rysio was too young to go to school and stayed at home.
When my father returned from Warsaw to Rokitno for good, he got on with farming. In fact, he actually did not do much of the work himself as he had people to farm the land, as well as a shepherd. We also had domestic help.
Father had a thriving veterinary practice. As I remember, he would travel to the nearby villages, sometimes being away from home for a week at a time, as he traveled from one farm to another treating their livestock.
I remember well how one farmer or another would come to the house saying “Sir my last cow is dying!7” Later, these same people accompanied the Russians when they came to deport us. My father was well-liked by the local people because he was very good to them. He often rendered services without any compensation.
On February 10, 1940, in the midst of the raging war, the Bolsheviks came to our house (it was maybe 2:00 in the morning) and gave us 15 minutes to pack our things. They transported us like cattle to the train station and loaded us into unheated cattle cars, without water, and with the most primitive sanitary conditions. In this way, we traveled for many weeks to the place of our resettlement. Naturally, many people died on the way to the “Soviet Paradise”.
Since father was a veterinarian, he worked with horses in the new place. Mother and Lonek worked in the forest with Halina. Rysio and I went to school.
Then, my father became very ill, contracting Tuberculosis. The illness affected his throat, rendering him unable to swallow anything. When father became very ill, my mother went to beg a glass of goat’s milk from a neighbour named Mrs. Obuchowicz who refused her.
We had some other neighbours, the Piotrowskis, who lived next door. Mrs. Luba Piotrowska, who was Jewish, had an old mother and two sons, Henio and Abus (Abus often said “Daddy’s a Pole, Mama is a Pole, Henio is a Pole, I’m a Pole and Baba10 is a Jew”. When Mrs. Piotrowska found out that my mother was looking for a glass of goat’s milk (for which she would have given her own life) Mrs. Piotrowska brought the badly needed glass of goat’s milk which she got from the underground. That glass of milk did not save my father’s life, but that incident demonstrated human nature at its worst, and at its best. Father died in 1940, as I remember, on October 1.
After the ‘amnesty’ we were issued vehicles called ‘podwody’ (horse drawn wagons), one for every two families. By this means we reached the Kama River, where a ship waited to take us to Woloza. The winter was very hard and extremely cold, and our ship froze in the ice on the river. We were then transported from there by sleigh to Podsciopka which was 100 km from Kuybyshev. There was a Polish embassy in Kuybyshev so, anybody who was alive and able, tried to get there by any means.
When transports to Kuybyshev were being organized, my mother was asked to take care of an elderly couple on the way. Mother declined, saying that she had four children to care for and needed help herself. She was punished by being made to leave Podsciopka on the very last transport.
That winter was very hard and there was a lot of snow, so it was impossible to transport all the Poles in Podsciopka to Kuybyshev. Five families remained in Podsciopka, consigned to surviving by their own efforts and the grace of God. Mother was very ill and so could not help support us, and my sister Halina had gone to enlist in the Polish Army, so the children took on the job of getting food for the family.
We had nothing left to barter for bread from the Russians, so, at first Lonek and Rysio stole fish from a hole in the ice on the river made by Russian boys, and then when Lonek joined the Cadets, Rysio and I had to take on the job of getting food for our family.
Since we had nothing to trade for food, we had to beg. Rysio had a lovely singing voice, so he sang popular Russian melodies, and I carried the bag for the donations. That is how we survived that very hard winter.
When the snows melted in spring, mother set off to Kuybyshev, 100 km away, to reach the Polish Embassy there. The journey was long because she had to walk, but the journey back to Podsciopka was easier because the Embassy in Kuybyshev provided her with a train tickets for the return trip. After her return to Podsciopka, mother took Rysio and me, and we traveled by train to Kuybyshev with tickets provided by the embassy. Our life in Kuybyshev was easier under the care of the Polish Embassy. At least we were not hungry.
After a time, an orphanage was established in Kuybyshev to save the Polish children. It was decided to transport as many children as possible from the U.S.S.R. to India. Lists of the names of the children were compiled for this purpose, and Rysio and I were among those fortunate children who left that cursed Russian hell behind to go to the beautiful sunny land of Indis.
Unfortunately, mother did not go with us. After our departure, mother went with other mothers left behind without their children to work on a collective farm where there was neither much work nor much money. She lived on several collective farms for a little bread and sometime for none until 1945. I had very little contact with mother, Halina and Longin at this time. At the end of 1942, Rysio and I traveled through Afghanistan, Mashhad, and Quette to Jamnagar.
After a year, first I moved to Valivade, Kolhapur, and then Rysio joined me.
We went to school there and were well cared for. We first lived in the orphanage and then, after a while, we lived in the camp proper. We were both involved in the scouting movement, where I was a brownie leader and Rysio was a scout. In spite of the difficult conditions, we were like one big family in the camp. We had schools, care, freedom, and we really did not need anything else. Our teachers were surrogate parents and our friends were our brothers and sisters.
In February 1948, we traveled to England. Because Halina and her husband (Stanislaw Gawel) were in England at that time, Rysio and I were able to join them there. We were not together long, as Halina and her husband soon emigrated to Argentina. In England, Rysio went to school as he had only finished three years of high school14 in India. I finished one year of college in India, but instead of going back to school I went to work. I had many different kinds of jobs, and later got a position in the Civil Service.
I married my husband, Roman Krygiel, on March 19, 1950. Roman was from Warsaw and had been a soldier in the Home Army. After the fall of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, he spent time in a prisoner of war camp in Germany. After the surrender of the Germans, he got to Italy and enlisted in the 2nd Polish Corps and came to England with them. He studied in England and became an Electrical Engineer. At the time of this writing, he will soon be retiring. In October 1956, we immigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where our son Krzysztof was born in 1958. Roman worked for 29 years for the Canadian Standards Association. He had the opportunity see a lot of the world because he traveled a lot on the job. Over the years, I have also worked at various jobs.
Our son Krzysztof went to Michael Power Catholic High School and then to the University of Toronto. He got married on July 30, 1983. He now works for Beaver Lumber as the Director of Human Resources, traveling a lot on the job like his father, though mostly in Canada and the U.S. Krzysztof and his wife Peggy have a son Alexander John who was born on March 28, 1988.
My mother returned from Russia to Poland in 1945. She first lived in Warsaw with Aunt Wanda Malinowska (my father’s sister). After some time, she moved to Starachowice and lived with Aunt Eleonora Mazurkeiwicz. I visited my mother quite often from 1971 onwards.
After a time, Lonek, Rysio, and I bought mother a nice home in Starachowice and furnished it comfortably and well by Polish standards. Mother lived in that place until her death. Since Lonek, Rysio, and I did not live in Poland, we hired someone to help mother with her daily needs. Mother was born in Dworce 10 or 20 km from Grodno in 1896. She died in Starachowice on September 13, 1986.
Halina, her husband Stanislaw, and their children and grandchildren live in Argentina, in Buenos Aires. They have two sons: Andrzej and Ryszard. Andrzej is the father of twins, and Ryszard has two daughters. I visited Halina and her family in Argentina in 1994.
Lonek, who lives in London, England, has three children: Renata, Grzegorz and Ania. He has his own construction company which is prospering, and he also owns a lovely large house in a nice district. Ryszard finished high school after he came to England, and graduated from university with a civil engineering degree. He has two children: Mela and Piotr. He worked in Saudi Arabia for five years, after which he returned to London and worked for various firms. At the time of this writing he is in Libya, having signed a contract for several years.
Speech of Fr. Franciszek Pluta
At the Banquet on July 18, 1981 of the Reunion of the former Children of the Polish Orphanage
in Jamnagar India
(Note: the speech gives the history of how the children ended up in India)
My sister Ela, beloved Franio and my beloved children! For the benefit of those who do not speak Polish, Ladies and Gentlemen! And because I live in Canada where we have two official languages, Mesdames, Mesdmoiselles et Messieurs!
I have a little conundrum that I do not know how to solve. One of the previous speakers said during the dinner that Fr. Pluta was our father and that Mrs. Ptak was our mother. Jozio Ptak gave me such a look! What am I to tell him? How am I to explain? I suppose that this is one of reasons why I feel the need to speak on the subject of how Jamnagar came to be and how the evacuation of the Polish children to India was accomplished.
Before I get to that, the words of the “Polish Wanderer” keep buzzing in my head:
How the wind has blown us, like dry leaves, all over the world,
And we must wander through distant, foreign lands.
As the wind blows in the eyes of the poor man, so it blows in our eyes.
The icy north wind smacked our cheeks, and the Hamsin burned our faces.
But night or day, among the thousands of different kinds of wind, there is one that you surely know.
It is the breeze from my village that followed me on my long journey humming this song:
Came back, Jasio, from this journey, come back because someone dear waits for you there, someone who has missed you for so many years.
And when the long journey is ended,
The two will return, both Jasio and the wind.
Ladies and gentlemen, Poland regained her independence in 1918. In the succeeding years, she was the most peaceful of nations in the world, as she attempted to reverse the century and a half of neglect thrust upon her by the occupants.
Then, suddenly, the Nazi and Stalinist powers fell upon her like lightening from the heavens. You as children, innocent children, completely unaware of what was happening, became the most tragic victims of these events.
As I mentioned during our prayers earlier, and as I always want you to remember my beloved children, over the years 1939-1942, more than one quarter million Polish children died of hunger, cold and disease in the inhuman land - Russia. Then came the ‘Amnesty’. In accordance with the Polish-Soviet agreement, a Polish army was formed in the U.S.S.R. I was appointed the chaplain of one the division that were forming, and given the rank of major. Seventy-five percent of the candidates died of Typhoid and Dysentery or simply of exhaustion forced on us by the Soviets. Nearly two million people were deported to the U.S.S.R. and only some 180 thousand
I want you to realize how extraordinary the providence of God was toward me and each one of you, that the Lord chose us to survive and live in the free world. Although we are not in our homeland which we longed to return to, we are in the free world, free men and women. And, as Sister Alfonsa said in her speech, “This is for me, and I suppose for all of you the greatest gift of God in this whole
unhappy situation that befell our homeland.” How were you saved and gotten out of Russia, my beloved children? The premise came from none other than the Polish Government in Exile in London. Our government, taking advantage of close relations with India, one of the countries positively inclined toward us, created a Polish Red Cross in Bombay. Through this institution, the government began to act in the territory of ‘Free India’ ruled by the Maharajas. At that time, the leader of the chamber of Princes of India was General Jam Saheb [Digvijaysinhji] of the state Navanagar, of which the capital was Jamnagar.
There are few coincidences in this life, and so it happened that this same Jam Saheb, as a boy and the heir to the throne of Navanagar traveled all over the world with his adopted father [the Maharaja of that day]. They owned property in Switzerland, where one of the neighbouring properties happened to be the chicken farm of Mrs. Paderewski.
As neighbours, the Maharaja and his family got to know the Paderewskis. Since the young heir to the throne of Navanagar had beautiful hands and long fingers, Paderewski predicted that he had a great future as a pianist, and encouraged him to learn to play the piano. Unfortunately, “an elephant must have stepped on his ear” for he had a very bad ear. In addition, the young man reasoned, “Why should I be a pianist when in the future I will be Maharaja,”
In any event, a personal friendship grew and developed between the step-father of the future maharaja and the Paderewskis. Years later, when he learned of the proposal to bring the Polish children to India, Jam Saheb remembered this friendship and, as the leader of the Chamber of Princes in the government of British India, he influenced the other princes to sign an agreement that each of them would pay for 5, 10, 20 30, etc. Polish orphans who were transported from Russia. They agreed to pay these monies to a newly formed special committee that was to support the children for their stay in India.
And that, my children, is the providence of God. The Lord did not announce his revelation to anyone …
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my plans are not your plans.” All of this happened through Paderewski, whom none of us knew and through Jam Saheb, Maharaja of Navanagar. A special committee composed of the archbishop of Deli, the capital of India, the Polish Consul Dr. Eugeniusz Banasinski, various members of the chamber of Princes, and representatives of the British government was established. The English considered it important to be involved. They said “You will pay, and we will control how the money is spent.”
The decision was taken to bring 1,000 Polish orphans from Russia. These children were to stay in India until the war was over.
Mrs. Kira Banasinski was appointed the President of the Polish Red Cross by her husband the consul, in which capacity she organized an expedition from India to Russia. The leader of the expedition was Tadeusz Lisiecki. The group included Henryk Hadala (a high school teacher from Katowice), Stanislaw Konarski (Medical doctor), and Jan Dyjak.
They traveled to Russia in what the English call Lorries, bringing with them clothes and medicine. Everything was arranged by the British government, and according to the agreement between the Polish Embassy and the Russian government, they were to transport 1,000 children from Russia to India.
They considered various locations in India to settle these children. In the end, Jam Saheb offered to build a settlement in his territories for this purpose. Barracks were built in the desert and so the Polish Children’s Camp in Jamnagar was established. Let me emphasize that it was solely due to the efforts of the Polish government that we left Russia, and to the credit of Jam Saheb that he welcomed us to his land. The Polish government remembered about the Polish children and did everything it could to rescue us from Russia.
One day when I was still in Russia, the head chaplain, Fr. W. Cienski, came to me and said, “My dear Father, you will be going to India.” I replied, “Why? Am I supposed to sit under a bamboo tree? I am not interested?”
Fr. Cienski responded, “But you will go Father, because it is very important and you are needed there.”
“Why me? Do you wish to get rid of me? (People have always said that I have a sharp tongue and that I speak the unvarnished truth. When I gave a homily in the headquarters, at your request, I put everyone off.)
He responded: “You will go to India, because an expedition has arrived and they need a priest and director. They have asked me for a priest, and I have suggested your name.”
I then responded, “Father, you know that I can’t stand being ordered around and that I do not like regimentation. I am a cat who likes to go his own way. In a time of war when the Polish Army has been formed and the Polish soldiers will be fighting on the front, it is my responsibility to be with those soldiers who have suffered so much. But if that is not the will of the Good Lord, and it is true that he speaks through you Father, then even if I have doubts and a different opinion, that’s the way it must be.”
I was appointed the commandant and as you all remember, we left Russia with the first group of 180 people (140 children + teachers) in April 1942. At this time, we smuggled onto the convoy Hanka Ordonowna and fa ew other people whose names were not on the list.
Great credit must be given to Consul Lisiecki and Mr. Hadala for their efforts, and we must remember them in our prayers. They are both deceased. Mr. Lisiecki died a year and half ago in England. Mr. Hadala also passed away in England, of a heart attack while at church. When Mr. Lisiecki contracted typhoid in Persia, Mr. Hadala took responsibility over everything. We were penniless, and we had to stay in quarantine in Mashhad for two weeks to make sure that we did not bring typhoid or any other disease into India. When the children of the first transport started to die of hunger, Mr. Hadala realized he had to do something. He was an excellent business man. I have never met a more prudent person with such a head for business in my life. He immediately rented out the Lorries from our expedition to the locals. Through this action, he made a great deal of money that not only maintained us for two weeks in Mashhad, but got us all the way to India.
I do not have to remind you of the more unpleasant memories of the trip. Why? I remember there was a handicapped child whom I carried throughout the journey. We traveled through the Easter holidays and I had to celebrate mass in the desert, with the back of a truck serving as the altar. We drove through Baluchistan where there were bandits, and then Afghanistan. Then, we arrived at the first railway station at the border of India and, thereafter, traveled through Deli to Bombay.
If you remember, the first group stopped in Bandra, as we waited for the settlement and barracks in Jamnager to be finished. After a few months, they transported us to the desert to the newly built settlement and left us there. It was the month of October.
There we found empty barracks which had been chewed by termites. Our budget was one rupee (30$ US) per person from which we had to feed, clothe and educate the children. The most important thing was education. How to do this? With what?
The first thing to do was to organize our lives in our new place. We had children ranging from two to seventeen years old. And what am I to say to a two year old baby? How do I talk to a 17 year old boy who has been in a Bolshevik orphanage where he was abused by Jews who hated the Poles? We had two Polish Jews with us that one of the boys wanted to drown. When I asked why, he replied that the Bolsheviks did not exert much control over the Jews who ran the orphanage that he was in, and they harassed the children terribly. As a result, all kinds of complexes began to appear among the children.
The most important thing was something else altogether. The first conference concerning the orphans, held after our arrival in India, was attended by Captain Webb, the representative of the Minister of Internal affairs of British India, Consul General Banasinski, Mrs. Banasinski in her capacity as president of the Polish Red Cross and me (Mr. Lisiecki was told that he had no place at this meeting). Captain Webb and Mrs. Banasinski were of the view that the children should be adopted by British and Parsi families, and by well-to-do Hindu families.
I immediately realized that that would be the end of our Polish identity, because a child or even an older boy or girl who has gone through the terrible experience of Russia that these children went through would instinctively cling to anything and everything that would make his life easier and ensure a safe future.
I then said: “Though I have no money at this moment, I will go and beg for funds. I will send a message to the President of the Polish Republic in London to tell him what you have done with these children!” Captain Webb, who did not know me yet, immediately started to shout and upbraid me. Fortunately, I did not understand any English yet. In any case, in the end, the children remained as a group and were not sent anywhere or given to foreigners.
(a piece of the tape is messing here …)
In addition to other problems, we were plagued by various illnesses, mainly Malaria and ulcers. You may remember that Stasio Dobosz, so small and with big blue eyes, died from Malaria which he brought from Russia. That Malaria destroyed his liver. Stasio Jarosz - who among you remembers him? He had such dreamy blue eyes. Oddly enough, he did not seem to have friends, and he could sit leaning on the barrack wall and look into the distance for hours. He went for a swim one evening to a place that was forbidden and he drowned. These were our two tragedies.
There were squabbles about food and accommodations. All the staff (teachers and caregivers) at the camp was made up of women. The one and only man, such as there was, was me. Now try and deal with those women!
I remember I also resorted to corporal punishment from time to time. Norbert Kraszewski once said to me,
“I got a spanking from you Father”.
“And you were probably innocent”.
“Of course I was innocent”.
“What did you get the licking for?”
“Oh, we went to play football at 2:00 am.”
We also tried another method of dispensing justice. We created a court of peers where the children judged each other. We had to stop that though. The children judgments were so severe that if we were to carry out the sentences as handed down, we would have ended up hanging everybody!
As for education, at the beginning we had no teaching plan and no aids or equipment of any kind. We had to organize and work it all out ourselves. With time, we even created high school classes.
But the worst thing was when that infernal monsoon season came (pardon the expression). When the mosquitoes began to multiply, 75% of the children got sick with Malaria. And we had no medical personnel or medicine to treat the sick. We were desperate. What should we do? I called Mrs. Banasinski and said, “Please send us a doctor, quinine and atebrine.” She answered, “We do not have any and do not foresee having any in the near future.” I got angry and wrote a nasty letter. “If you do not know how to arrange these things, then do not take such a responsibility on. Give it to someone else!” A big fuss ensued that, thank God, ended in the doctor and medicines being sent to us.
A tragic situation that seemed to have no solution came upon us when the matter of our eventual return to Poland arose. I accidentally got a copy of a letter sent by Captain Webb to the British government. He wrote: “The Polish children must not return to communist Poland by any means.” From this, it was clear that we had very strong support from Captain Webb that the children should not be forced to go back the communist state. What now?
You will remember that representatives of the Warsaw government set up by Stalin were trying to arrange a visit the camp (Mrs. Buraczkiewicz). They attempted to carry out a selection process among the orphans. We then proceeded to prepare two lists. On one were the names of those children who had a father or mother in England, Italy or France, or somewhere else in the world, or adult brothers or sisters. The second list was of those who had no parents or did not know what happened to their parents. The second list, as I remember, had 200 names on it. It was these children that the Warsaw Regime laid claim to because they were “the property of the government” and should return to Poland where the government would care for them. This created a great dilemma for us. What should we do? The camp seethed day and night.
Then, a conference took place at the palace of the Maharaja attended by the Maharaja Jam Saheb, Jeffrey Clark a British officer, and me. We came up with an idea of adopting the children. As the commandant of the camp and its chaplain, I would oversee the moral and spiritual care of the children, the Maharaja would take care of their material needs, while Jeffrey Clark would get the approval of the British government. A special lawyer came from Bombay to prepare the act of adoption certified by the State of Navanagar. In this document it was certified that Maharaja Jam Saheb, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Clark and Reverend Francis Pluta represent the parents of these children and are their legal guardians. Only then did I breathe a sigh of relief because I knew that the children would not be forced to return to Communist Poland. At the first opportunity, I traveled to visit my brother in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. We looked for sponsors, both groups and individual, for these children. One day my brother said to me, “Franek, we are going to have supper with a couple I know.” I asked, “Whi?” “They are very good friends of mine.” I replied, “I don’t have time.” “You’ll go and take a little break and we’ll talk with these people.” I met Sr. Zygmunta, a Bernardine sister from Reading Pennsylvania.
During our conversation she asked, "Could we get some girls?”
“Yes. How many do you want?”
I responded, “Twenty, thirty, forty…”
Then, Sr. Zygmunta returned to Reading to work on the matter. I traveled there to meet with the other sisters. I gave a speech in which there was more cheek than request. The abbess asked, “Will they become sisters?” I replied, “It is up to you how you deal with them. It depends on how you treat them. Please remember that these are not small children but adults. What they have been through, none of you can even imagine or ever will be able to. They had to grow up before their years, but their hearts were not broken though they might have come out of Russia with a host of bad habits.”
The result of my discussions with the Sisters was that they took fifty girls. A group of boys also traveled to Orchard Lake, and another group of boys went to the Franciscans on student visas.
On the way back to Jamnagar, on learning of the liquidation of our camp by the already independent Indian government, I stopped in Cairo in Egypt to gather news about the war refugees from UNRRA to seek help from them in the matter of our camp. I found out there that the interim director of UNRRA, a Russian named Sobolev, had sent out letters by courier ordering my arrest. I was accused by him of being an “International kidnapper” because I had foiled the effort of the Warsaw government to force the repatriation of our orphans to communist Poland as “property of the government”. The Director of UNRRA at that time was a man named Norris. Lt. Col. Clark confirmed the existence of such a letter by courier, and that a copy was sent to Captain Webb in New Delhi. So, ladies and gentlemen, why am mentioning this now? Of course, we did not tell you about it then, for, why should you know and worry about what was to happen next? We explored different avenues of action. We did everything we could to secure your future. But it seems to me that it is time to look at the situation as adults and reflect.
When we were driving here to Reading, Franio told me that he is the director of a summer camp for cub scouts. He said, “Now I am beginning to understand how much responsibility it involves. Only the providence of God can protect those children because what those kids don’t get into!” If Franio has 70 children for two weeks and is so stressed, remember that in our camp at its height had 850 children. Over 1,000 children came through our orphanage. Some of them traveled to Kolhapur for further studies. One could say many more things about our orphanage, but I will just relate to you one more incident.
One day a few years ago, I was awakened by the telephone in the middle of the night.
“This is Bronek Stryjewski”
“It’s good to hear from you Bronek. What’s new with you?”
“Father, I remembered something that you told me once.”
“What did I tell you?”
“Once when I was really causing a lot of trouble, you got very upset with me and said that you would either murder me or make a man out of me. I want to thank you for making a man out of me.”
My beloved children, I dreamed of, thought of, and desired only one thing; that you would not grow up to be not ugly ducklings, but eaglets for the sake of Poland.
This text was transcribed from a tape provided by Zula Frackiewicz-Korzeniowska. It was transcribed on an old typewriter by Franek Herzog, one of the grateful former inhabitants of the Polish Childrens’ Camo in Jamnagar.
Pre-war photo of Stefan Moniak family
Children climbing a tree in India
Putting on a show
Moniak - Krygiel wedding
H and S Gawel wedding