My Polish grandparents died during World War Two, and my father and his two younger sisters narrowly avoided the same fate. My Scottish grandfather, a miner, died when my mother was eight. His widow brought up eleven children through the Depression and WW2. This blog celebrates all their lives. I recount here what I know of them to pass this legacy to my children Iain and Katie to whom this blog is dedicated.
Monday, 19 July 2010
The Family Home, Haczow, South-East Poland July 2010
Family story has it that Stepeks lived on the land pictured here since 14th century and in this house since it was built at least a hundred years ago, may twice as long ago. It looks like it could easily last another thousand years. Here my grandfather Wladyslaw returned, first in 1917 after being a prisoner of war by the Czarist Russians for agitating against their occupation of Poland, second in Septermber 1939 when he was being hunted by Stalin's NKVD as a potential resistance leader near Lwow. Even as a place of hiding he had to hide all day in the corn fields in 1941 or 1942 when the Nazis took revenge for a resistance action by taking out one male from every home in Haczow and executing them. Finally he left this home in 1943, fatally ill with cancer, to seek possibly healing in the beautiful mountains of Zakopane where he died before his body was returned here to be buried. What a tale these old beams of wood could tell us, what a tale of suffering, of loss, but also of resilience, love of country, love of family and love of the soil.