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Translation of parts of an

interview by Prof. Paralas

Kazimierz was born in 1914 in Warsaw, soon after World War I had broken out. He arrived when Germans were shelling the Kierbedz Bridge, or so he was told.

Twenty-three years later, in 1937, he graduated from the Central School of Commerce in Warsaw and was called up for military service at the newly established Officer Cadet Artillery College in Zambrow.

Kazinierz graduated in the rank of cadet platoon leader and received a lucky assignment to the 32nd Light Artillery Regiment in Rembertów, near Warsaw, which allowed him—at least for a time—to live at home and commute to his regiment.

On August 25, he was already on the front line along the border with East Prussia as a reconnaissance officer, initially of a battery and then of a company of the 18th Artillery Division under General Młot-Fijałkowski. shelters. They remained dug in until September 3, when they received an order to withdraw eastwards. When his own unit was decimated, he ended up joining what was left of the 1st Artillery Regiment from Wilno.

After Warsaw fell to the Germans, they heard General Sikorski’s appeal, broadcast from Paris, calling on all Polish soldiers to make their way across the borders of Romania and Hungary to join the Polish units in France. This attempt failed and he was captured by the Germans.  The Germans took them to Komańcza, and from there to Sanok, where the death sentence was read: all armed vagabonds were to be shot. For two days and a night they waited for the execution. Then at sunrise, they were finally loaded onto a truck, all of them convinced that this was their last ride before a shot in the head. But the ride took them past a couple of graveyards to Mościce, where—much to their delight—they were offered coffee and attached to a large transport of prisoners of war.

Kazimierz was sent to Stalag 6D, but first the guards drove them to the “Sportpalast,” surrounded with barbed wire and flooded with white light during daytime and red at night. In a gallery, all around them, machine guns watched their every move. They were herded into small enclosures, almost like cattle pens, with a hundred per enclosure; they got some food, which tasted like cattle feed.

Another penal transfer took him to Oberlangen, barrack number 10. They worked building dikes, setting up targets, collecting duds, but all the time thinking of ways to escape.

The POWs even had a special committee organizing and coordinating those escapes. He tried three times. Twice he was recaptured; after the first time, he was given twelve days of solitary confinement; after the second, twenty-eight. Like other recaptured escapees, he was forced to wear a blue uniform that remembered World War I, with target circles painted on the back. “Just try that one more time, and we’ll know where to aim,” the guards laughed.

He managed to escape for the third, and lucky, time. The war was entering its final phase. The battle of Ardennes had been won, and the Allied forces were on the offensive. Kazimierz eventually came across some American troops in Frankfurt. He was debriefed, given new clothes, fed, and rested for a few days. Then once again he put on the blue prisoner uniform and went back to where he had come from. The Americans had received intelligence that the Germans intended to move all POWS eastwards. His task was to delay those transfers. His comrades in the camp were soon freed by the Americans.

Through Captain Zieliński, who was working in General Eisenhower’s headquarters, Kazimierz suggested to the Allied commanders that they organize a Polish unit and send it to General Anders. His proposal was accepted. Soon afterwards, 1300 Polish soldiers, plus 1200 Poles from Silesia who had deserted (or were freed from) the German army, boarded ships in Marseille. Once in Italy Kazimierz was appointed as an education officer and a liaison to the British Mission.

The war was over. Until 1946, his duties revolved around editing The Bulletin of the Press and Culture Department of the 2nd Corps and a Polish newspaper in Bari. In July of that year, the Corps was transferred to England.

Kazimierz was sent to Canada, together with Father Malak and Jan Ostrowski. Winnipeg was a friendly city and a home to many Poles who had opened their hearts and homes to Polish veterans. Here he met others concerned about the plight of our ex-servicemen, who had just been released from farm contracts and were working as bricklayers and painters. As the beetroot harvest of 1947 ended, almost all the members of what was to become the board of Chapter #13— found themselves in the vicinity of Winnipeg, working throughout the winter as lumberjacks in Indian Bay on the 94th mile.

He came back to Winnipeg in mid-winter of 1948 for the first National Convention of the Polish Combatants Association [PCA], which was held between January 21 and February 2 and which he had helped organize.

He later moved to Ottawa and his personal life became greatly enriched. In 1949 he met a Canadian woman, a secretary of Deputy Minister Heighthorn, and in December of that year they were married. They decided to move to Port Arthur [now Thunder Bay], Then in 1984, they moved to Victoria, BC.

Copyright: Klimaszewski family

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