Partial Transcript: AF: February 19th,
the oral history project of Andrew S. Fiddler, and interviewing Mr. George Kielak. Mr. Kielak, I'd like to begin
with some background information.
Um, when is your birthdate?
Segment Synopsis: GK shares about his family background and his early schooling in Poland, during the occupation and before WWII broke out.
Keywords: Poland WW2; WW2; WWII; Warsaw; World War II; World War Two
Partial Transcript: AF: Uh, how did you view the coming of the war? Did the uh ... did the people that you knew, or did you yourself anticipate the coming of the war?
Segment Synopsis: GK shares his perspectives at the beginning of WWII, starting with the occupation of Poland.
Keywords: German Occupation of Poland; Poland; Poland WW2; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War II; World War Two
Partial Transcript: AF: Uh, then during the war, you spent most of your time
in school, in the underground?
GK: Yeah, most of the time.
Then later, after we came from the country ...I think it was maybe October or November ...of 1939 ... then I start ... attending the rest of my grade school in Warsaw.
Segment Synopsis: GK shares about his experiences of studying in an underground school during the German occupation of Poland and the onset of WWII.
Keywords: Education; Education World War 2; Poland; Poland WW2; Polish Education; Underground Education; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War II; World War Two
Partial Transcript: AF: You say you left Warsaw in 1944?
AF: And why did you leave then?
GK: Oh I was taken prisoner of war...
Segment Synopsis: GK shares about his involvement in Armia Krajowa (Polish for "Home Army"), Poland's most dominant resistance movement under Nazi occupation. He shares an anecdote about how, while in grade school, he was nearly caught by the Nazi forces while transporting grenades.
Partial Transcript: AF: And uh, what were your experiences during the uprising?
GK: During the uprising, I was eh ...
messenger. And then I was a helper with the machine gun, and we were fighting in the old market, the old, old, old part of the city...
Segment Synopsis: GK shares how he played a part during the uprising. He shares about the expectations for their Russian ally to provide aid in efforts against Germany, but lack thereof, during this time.
Keywords: Boy Scouts; Boy Scouts World War 2; Education WW2; German Occupation of Poland; Poland WW2; Polish Uprising; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War II; World War Two
Partial Transcript: AF: Did you find any problems in getting messages from London?
You mentioned the Army of Krajowa was going through the government in London.
GK: Ah, you know, our radio communication with London I think was pretty good. We were getting messages, to my knowledge ...
Segment Synopsis: GK shares Poland's need for assistance. He explains the lack of support and then late parachute drops that occurred. He discusses the medical staff and an incident where a German tank was set as a trap for Polish resistance troops.
Keywords: Allied Parachute Drops; Allied Support; Army Krajowa; Poland; Poland WW2; World War 2; World War II; World War Two
Partial Transcript: GK: But then at the end of uprising,
we surrender to Germans.
AF: Oh, I see.
GK: And we were taken out,
to prison camp in Germany.
And then I found myself in POW camp in Germany.
Segment Synopsis: GK shares about how the uprising was stopped. He describes his experiences as a prisoner of war in camps in Germany.
Keywords: German Prison Camps; Poland; Poland WW2; Prisoner of War; Prisoner of War Camps; World War 2; World War II; World War Two
Partial Transcript: AF: Um, how did you view the Allied victory? Did you ...
GK: Oh, we were eh ... knowing that this is through us. That eh ... time, with the Allied, we would win, and eh ... we never had any doubts, right from the beginning of the war, even, that the Allied would lose, or eh ...
Segment Synopsis: GK shares how the Allied Victory came about and how it affected his personal case. He also describes his experiences living in a Prisoner of War camp.
Partial Transcript: AF: What immediate results did you expect from uh ... did you expect to see Poland restored to freedom? Uh ... a free Poland?
Segment Synopsis: GK shares the details of what occurred at the end of WWII, regarding the switch from German to Soviet Russian occupation. He discusses the Katyn Massacre and and his views on any Polish who collaborated with Germany.
Keywords: Poland; Poland Liberation; Post WWII; Post WWII Poland; Soviet Occupation; Soviet Occupation Poland; Soviet Union; World War 2; World War II; World War Two
Partial Transcript: AF: Um, what happened then, right after the liberation of Poland? The uh ... you were liberated?
GK: Yeah, I was.
AF: Did you go back to Warsaw then?
GK: Nope, no, I did not go back to Warsaw. I did not go back to Poland because of Russians.
Segment Synopsis: GK shares about his life following WWII as he served in the British army and chose not to return to Poland, due to the Russian occupation. He then shares how he immigrated to the U.S. and his experiences as an individual of Polish descent.
Keywords: Poland; Polish Army; Soviet Occupation Poland; Soviet Union; U.S. Immigration; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War II; World War Two
Partial Transcript: GK: So eh ... you know, if you get kick
from an enemy, in your rear end, alright ...
AF: You expect it.
GK: You deserved it! But if you get a kick from you friend in your rear end,
it hurts very much.
Segment Synopsis: GK shares about current circumstances and his belief that Poland will regain its independence.
Keywords: Poland; Polish Independence; Polish Sovereignty; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War II; World War Two
Andrew S. Fidler (AF) George Kielak (GK)
AF: February 19th, the oral history project of Andrew S. Fiddler, andinterviewing Mr. George Kielak. Mr. Kielak, I'd like to begin with some background information. Um, when is your birthdate?
GK: September 13, 1929.
AF: In '29; and your place of birth?
GK: Warsaw, Poland.
AF: In Warsaw?
AF: Were you raised in that town?
AF: And, how long did you live in the town?
GK: I lived for 14 years.
For from my birth until 1944.
AF: Until '44?
AF: So, during the war, you were in Warsaw?
GK: Yes, during the war I was in Warsaw.
AF: I see. Uh, how did you find life in Poland during your youth?
GK: Oh at that time I was young, and boy, you know, I found it very, eh,interesting. I ... I ... I like a normal, uh ... child. I had my problems and eh 00:01:00... my joys, and my eh ... disappointments, but uh, I would say it would be normal upbringing, up to the time of the war.
AF: Before the war, the world pretty much was involved in a ... in a depressionwhere prices for everything were high, and little money. Uh, did you experience a depression?
GK: No, I did not even- well, I was born in 1929, and eh...
AF: Oh that's right.
GK: During that time, so, actually I remember good times during the time I livedin Warsaw, before the war. Uh, maybe my parents were ... of average means. My father had owned the store, and he operate business as ... grocery store, small store. And eh ... I see we did not have ... any exceptionally problems. Maybe normal human problems, everyday problems. Uh, we lived in apartment, and I was 00:02:00going to ... grade school. And eh ... Normal life, I would say.
AF: Did your mother work in the store with your father?
GK: Yes, (mumbling from both speakers) She help him along in the store.
AF: And you received all your educational background in Warsaw?
GK: In Warsaw, yes. I was going to grade school, later to high school. You know,high school I attended during ... during the occupation.
AF: You were in high school during the occupation?
GK: Yes, however, eh ... it was illegal ... to attend high school. So actuallythe high school I was attending, it was underground high school.
AF: Oh, I see.
GK: And during the occupation, eh ... German allowed eh ... Poles to attendhigher education in ... trade schools, like to be a mason, shoemaker, or some other trade. But to get a general good occupation, it was forbidden, and penalty 00:03:00for it was death. So in effect, eh ... we had classes ah ... daily, but it was every day in different place, and we would have maybe in three or four different places. Ah, classes of a religion in one ... house, mathematics in another, and history in another. So all day long, I was traveling on the street car from one place to another while I was attending high school.
AF: Did the Germans um ... attempt to enforce this very much? Did they reallylook out for the underground schools? Were they really concerned? Many times they'll say, "This is illegal, "punishment is death," but they won't um, enforce it, they won't look for these underground schools.
GK: Ah, no, if we, ah, we would be caught ... ah, it would be deportation toconcentration camps, and possibility of death. 00:04:00
AF: Do you know very instances where people were caught?
GK: Ah, I don't recall right now, but eh ... particularly instances, but therehad been situation where they were, classes had been uncovered. Uh, and eh ... they had, people had been deported. And the same type of education was conducted also on higher level- on university level also ... during the occupation.
AF: Who did they have to teach these classes?
AF: Regular professors?
GK: Regular professors teach us.
AF: And all underground?
AF: Uh, how did you view the coming of the war? Did the uh ... did the peoplethat you knew, or did you yourself anticipate the coming of the war?
GK: I did not, I was at that time, at the beginning of the war, ten years old. Idid know, as a matter of fact, I ... right before the war, I was ehm ... 00:05:00attending a ehm ... a Boy Scout camp outside of Warsaw, and I was there for a month. Just before the beginning of eh ... the school year, I came back to Warsaw, and eh ... I was planning to eh ... attend my grade school ... and eh, suddenly ... I don't re... We, which my parents, departed from Warsaw, out on the outskirts of Warsaw, approximately ten miles, and then they said the time when war- second World War broked out ... in September of first.
AF: And uh ... So did uh ... being a ten year old boy, you just wondered what is happening?
GK: Oh I wondered, but, you know, I enjoyed it because my vacation wereextended, and I didn't attend the school. And eh, we stayed out about 50 miles 00:06:00outside of Warsaw when the second World War broke out. And then after ... um ... the occupation of Warsaw by Germany, we came back to our apartment in Warsaw.
AF: After the German occupation?
AF: Was your father taken by the Germans, or your mother?
GK: No, no. Ah, they were all- my father was together with me. And the reasonwhy may be because staying outside of Warsaw, we were in the country and eh ... My father eh ... stayed ... all the time with us.
AF: So he was never required to go out and fight or taken to a concentrationcamp or anything like that?
GK: Not at that time, no.
AF: I see. Um, do you recall ... I realize it's difficult, you being ten yearsold, and many of the things you don't pay close attention to, perhaps as we would now, but do you recall the reactions of the people, or uh, to the German takeover? 00:07:00
GK: Ohf, eh, at first we eh, you know, we'd eh ... think we did not believe it.I remember when we were living in the country, and eh, one day we heard ... lots of shots all around us ... and ehm... We start digging a trench ... ah ... for safety. And eh, it was exciting for me because I was doing something. And we have ... dig this long ... di- uh ... long ditch. A deep one, and then we were hiding in it when we heard shots. Also at one day, I remember eh ... a German soldier got to us from his unit, and he somehow came to the particular ... eh 00:08:00... village where I was living, and eh ... He wanted to get some directions, but we did not understand him. My uncle was there, he didn't understand him. And eh, he want to get some water, so we give him some water and then let him ... send him out on his own. But after he left, my uncle was a little upset that he didn't cut his head off. Ah ... during the war, because he said, "I should get rid of him."
AF: Ah, just, that fact that he's a German, he's invading Poland.
AF: And uh, we're Poles.
AF: Uh, then during the war, you spent most of your time in school, in the underground?
GK: Yeah, most of the time. Then later, after we came from the country ... Ithink it was maybe October or November ... of 1939 ... then I start ... 00:09:00attending the rest of my grade school in Warsaw.
AF: Before the war, all your schooling was regular classroom-type?
AF: And how ... did you find, uh ... the underground school? I realize it'sdifferent, or incredibly different, but um, could you compare it a little bit to your ...
-GK: Oh I didn't like it from when the classes were conducted ... in mine ... eh... house. I didn't like it because then the teacher would come in, and if I didn't prepare my lesson, (both speakers chuckle softly) even in front of my parents, and then we had eh, oh, I think two or three subject in my class, so I made a point that I always were prepared on the classes
AF: Oh yes!
GK: which were conducted in our house. And there was a group of ten or elevenstudents in the high school which we ... eh ... which I attended.
AF: Were they all about your age?00:10:00
GK:- Yeah, all about my age.
AF: How about uh, for books? What did you use for books?
GK: We used an old books which ... (mumbles) ... which the teacher would have.There was also black market on this type of books, which we would buy it from maybe students from previous years, or somebody would eh ... would have this types of books. Some books maybe were available ... ahm ... in the book stores, so we would buy the book store's used one.
AF: With the uh, German control on it though- could, could the students walkdown the streets carrying books, or would that arouse suspicion?
GK: This would arouse suspicions, if they would be ah ... searched, or if theywould be interrogated, it could create a problems for the student, and for the teacher, and for the people who had conducted this, or allowed conduct this classes in their homes. 00:11:00
AF: And were the teachers bringing the books, pretty much for the classes? Youwere uh- they would say, "Well we will meet at "this person's house for uh, lessons in mathematics." And would the teacher carry all the books? Or would the student be ...
GK: No, each student would have his own books.
AF: But you would--
GK: One particular book which he will be carry which he--
AF: But he would have to conceal that book?
GK: He would have to conceal that book.
AF: I see. And you uh ... this is pretty much what you did throughout the war,until 1944?
GK: Yeah, part of the war, because I was still finishing grade school. One ofthe requirements when I was attending the grade school in '39, '40 ... it was to learn German language. And eh ... I ... always played hookie when I had German language was taught. I played it, I said, "Look, they are in my country, "and if they are occupying it, let them learn Polish. "I don't have to learn German." It 00:12:00was not too much enforced to attend this classes by the teachers, and eh ... so we always wanted ... play hookie when it was German, instructions of German. Later maybe I was sorry, because I found myself in Germany, and eh ... I had a limited knowledge of any of the German, and maybe it was foolish on my part not to learn it, but yet it was a hate, and hate at the time was so great, that ... I didn't thunk about ... thought about it at the time.
AF: Were there two types of lessons in one formal education type where you wouldbe required to learn German language, German instruction, and then another underground?
GK: No, the grade school was allowed.
AF: Oh I see.
GK: So, this was ... At first when I was going to grade school, you could attendthe grade school. But after you finish grade school, and when you were attending higher educations, a high school ... or, in Polish we called "gibnazyoo", was 00:13:00not allowed. The trade school, after grade school, was allowed. But general education of the level of high school was not allowed, and it was conducted by the teachers and professors on underground basis.
AF: Did anyone ever say, uh, express their feelings on why they thought theGermans wouldn't allow education or higher education?
GK: Oh yes, the feeling was that the German did not want Polish people toacquire ah ... German knowledge about history, or to be more ... educated or be more ... intelligent, or maybe more eh ... ahm ... intellectual, and they wanted the people to be just robots more, maybe, and perform for the benefit of the Reich.
AF: I see, just another method of keeping their thumb on the--00:14:00
GK: On the populations.
AF The populations. Just another method of control. Okay uh ... You say you leftWarsaw in 1944?
AF: And why did you leave then?
GK: Oh I was taken prisoner of war, because eh ... in 1944 ... in eh ... August... when the Russian ... army ... was approaching Warsaw, we started uprising against Germans. And at that time, Russians stopped, and we had fought for over two months, and I was involved in underground, and in a uprising, and not having any hopes, and not having any food and ammunition, we surrendered to Germans. And we were taken prisoners of war to Germany. So I was a prisoner of war at that time.
AF: When did you become involved in the underground?00:15:00
GK: Um, well I had been involved for about two years before uprising. I was inthe Boy Scouts, and ehm, at first eh ... my ... ehm ... eh ... job was ... to carry messages from the one place ... to another, to carry ammunition, to make a report of the movement of German troops through the bridges in Warsaw and through the main roads of Warsaw. So this was my ... particular job as a Boy Scout. And then when um ... uprising eh ... developed, as I was involved in it, I had reported to my unit, and eh ... then later on was in actual "ah kah" or AK, Armia Krajowa.
AF: Oh you were in the Armia Krajowa?
AF: I see ... were these uh, did you find the underground organizations uh, orthe underground movements well organized? 00:16:00
GK: Yes, yes very eh ... well organized, and actually, even with uprising, wehad become even better organized. I mean, because you've got hundred percent support of the population, Polish populations in Warsaw.
AF: I understand there were a number of underground organizations. You mentionedthe Armia Krajowa.
GK: Mhmm, Yes.
AF: Uh, the Armia Ludowa.
GK: Mhmm, the Armia Ludowia, but they, they were minority. (mumbles) Eh ... theywere minority. Actually, the biggest portion of ah ... upr- of eh ... underground would be Armia Krajowa.
AF: Armia Krajowa. I see, and would that be the extent of the service uh ... Youdid not join the Polish army or anything? You were what, about 14, I believe?
GK: I was 14, but actually, I was eh ... At that time, we took an oath, and Iwas in Armia Krajowa, and it was considered Polish, part of ...
AF: It was considered part of the Polish army.00:17:00
GK: Part of Polish forces.
AF: Did you receive any type of military training for this?
GK: Um, when I was in Boy Scouts, eh ... we ... On weekends, we would go ... outfrom Warsaw, again for underground training. And eh ... basic ... ah ... Boy Scout training, we would receive in the woods. I would like to add that eh, this was also forbidden, all this was penalty if you were caught. Ahm, the penalty of it was death, so when we went to the woods and we were trained, ahm ... this was ehm ... taking big risk. And there was quite few many groups like mine which had been discovered, and ehm, they had been executed right on the spot.
AF: On the spot?00:18:00
GK: On the spot, definitely.
AF: Hmm ... what was the feeling of your parents on this? Did ... uh ... theyknew the penalties?
GK: They actually didn't know that I belonged it.
AF: They didn't?
GK: No, they told me I had to ... My father belonged to underground, but Ididn't know that he belonged it. So eh ... in many cases, um, this was for their protection, as well as for my protections. And in this groups which we had belonged ... Actually, nobody knew me by my real name. We all had eh ... nicknames, or pseudonym, or eh, some other name which we were using. So even if ... I would be caught, and say be tortured to disclose something- who belonged to this organization, even if I would be willing, or if I would be forced to, I could not tell who, because I did not know it.
AF: Because you didn't know it. You didn't know the other person's real name.
AF: I see. And uh, how did you decide to enter the underground?00:19:00
GK: In a way, I was eh ... 12, 13 years old, and eh ... I have some associationwith Boy Scouts before the war, and just continuation of this association kept me in with the Boy Scouts and excitement.
AF: Didn't pretty much the extent of your service with the underground wasdelivering messages, ammunition, and that?
GK: Ammunition, yes.
AF: Before the uprising, did you take part in any battle or any fighting, or?
GK: No, I did not take part in any battle, but I had at one time saw anotherclose encounter, so maybe I could mention to you one. Ah, German had a habits ... of ... checking ... ah ... the people ... ah ... from time to time, who were on the streets. At that time I was traveling on a, on the street car, and I have 00:20:00a briefcase full of grenades. I was transporting it from one place to another. I was picking up and transporting it, and Germans stopped that particular street car, and everybody else had to get out from the car against the wall with their hands up, and they were searching, and they were identifying individuals. So finally this German soldier came to me, and eh, he asked me for my identification cards, and in Europe, everybody had identification card. I pulled out my identification card, which I have shown that I am a student at the grade school, and eh, he looked at this, and he said, "Are you student?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Get out from here, out." And I got my briefcase, and I got out from there very quickly. And to maybe some other people would not be so lucky, because maybe he would look what was in the briefcase. For my luck, he did not 00:21:00look there, and he didn't see this 12 grenade full I was carrying it. So eh, this was my "this close" encounter. I was not scared at the time. Maybe now I would be more ... scared than I was at that time. Eh, so this was my close, close call which I had had.
AF: Why did he take you off of the street car? Any reasons for that?
GK: No reason, they didn't take me, they took everybody from the street car, everybody.
AF: Oh, they just ...
AF: took everybody off.
AF: I see.
GK: Uh, they were looking for people if eh ... their identification cards werein order, in other words, if they had employed ... Uh ... words they have related to ... what they were doing, in that particular situation, and if anything would be suspicious ... Ah, let's say, for example, if a person would not have records shown that he's employed by some ... ah ... particular company 00:22:00... or ehm ... he's not prisoner of war, they would take him away and would try to ... get some information why ... why he was there.
AF: I see. And what exactly he was doing in that particular part of town.
GK: Yes. (mumbles)
AF: And uh, what were your experiences during the uprising?
GK: During the uprising, I was eh ... messenger. And then I was a helper withthe machine gun, and we were fighting in the old market, the old, old, old part of the city. And after that part eh ... had to surrender, we moved by sewers to another part of the city, where we spent rest of my fightings, of our fightings. 00:23:00
AF: You were all forced to move, to evacuate through the sewer?
GK: Through the sewer, yes.
AF: Through the sewer system?
-GK: Yes. Now we have ... I have fought in eh ... old market area, StaregoMiasta, which is a uh ... which is completely destroyed. It was intersection where the Saint John Cathedral is located, and uh ... castle, Warsaw Castle, of the kings. And eh ... Luckily, nothing happened to me in that part of the city. But later when I moved to another part, I was wounded ... from the bomb shrapnel, and spent rest of the time in hospital.
AF: Um, during the uprising ... can you recall any of the feelings among the00:24:00people? Did they feel like, "This is our big chance, "we must do it now," or?
GK: Ah, alright, we wanted to liberate the city from Germans ... ah ...ourselves. Ah, we had seen opportunity ... ah, at that time, when the Russian army was approaching Warsaw. We thought, "This is end of the war." And eh, we took this opportunity. Actually maybe we had been more forced by German to take this actions ... ah, because when Warsaw was being approached by Russians' ... ah ... forces ... German issue an order ... to Polish population that Warsaw would not be given away to Russians, that it would be defended from the Bolshevikism and communism, and that they need so many thousands of Polish 00:25:00people to report to German units ... to dig the trenches around the Warsaw, so the German army would defend Warsaw. Now, naturally, we did not want Germans ... to make eh ... to defend the Warsaw because we wanted Warsaw to be liberated. And eh ... with this we ... started ... This was one of the reason why the uprising have started. Another reason, we also took an example of a French When the Americans and British forces were approaching du Prailles. French people did the same thing, and Paris was ... liberated ... very quickly, and without much damage ... with the help of French people and eh ... Allied forces. It didn't work this way for us, because the Russian army at that time had stopped, and eh 00:26:00... they left us to fight on our own.
AF: So you were expecting Russian support, Russian aid?
GK: We did, to extent, yes.
AF: And the Russian aid di- the Russians you had said stopped?
GK: Yes, they did.
AF: Before they reached Warsaw?
GK: Right, all on the other side of the river, actually. Warsaw is divided bythe river. And ehm ... we could hear ... their ... ah ... PA systems. We could hear their tanks. And from time to time, their planes- Russian planes- would fly over the Warsaw during the fighting. And eh, at that time we had peace from Germans, because the German um ... bombardment would stopped when the Russian planes would fly, but this was on few occasions. Otherwise ... we did not get any help, which I have seen and eh ... we could feel it, we have get help from 00:27:00Americans at the time, by the means of parachute drops ... Um, as a matter of fact, I remember vividly one day in September ... when a ... oh ... about ... hundred or more planes suddenly had come in ... and give us the drops. But it was merely too late, because some 80 percent of it went to the German hands ... because most of the city was in the German hands. But at least it was an effort, while we did not get this help or support from Russians. At that time, Americans had a little problem with Russians themselves, because one of the problems Americans had, they could not land their planes on the terrain which were under control of Russians. The Russians' government did not allowed American planes to land there, and it was problems because this planes would have to come from 00:28:00Italy or some other point in the west, would have to flied over Germany, and go back. Some of the planes didn't make it. Coming to us, or even going back.
AF: Why would the Russians not allow that?
GK: Thought this was a political situation at that time, and eh, I feel maybe atthat time ... for Russia, it was more convenient ... ah ... that let us and Germany kill each other.
AF: And then Russia--
GK: Then they would come in and take it over.
AF: So it ... possibly a ploy by the Russians to get more power, more control?
GK: More control, and let maybe the elements which were eh ... not favorable ...eh ... to the communism be eliminated. And actually, Armia Ludowa, like you asked me before, was under ... uh ... directions, or control more of the 00:29:00communist ... eh, party, or the Russians, while Armia Krawoja AK was under control and directions of the Polish government, which was at that time, located in London. So eh, there were some ... factions ... during the underground ... Ah ... Movement, between the stoop forces of eh, communistic forces and democratic forces ... However, during actual fighting, maybe there was not so much ... as was before actual fighting started.
AF: During the uprisings, did the Armia Krajowa and the other underground forcespretty much work together, or?
GK: Before uprising?
AF: Or during the uprising.
GK: During uprising.
AF: Or before, either--
GK: Uh, before, they would not work closely together. It would be factions, they00:30:00would be having different goals and different opinions, it was factions. There was some faction even during the fighting. I know eh, when I had moved, we tried to avoid ... their areas of defense, or their area of responsibility because they always would give us a hard time ... of the moving through that area, through their area of control. You had to have special pass, you had to know the password and eh ... if you did not, you would get into big troubles with them. So we tried to avoid that particular area of activities.
AF: Do you feel that was one of the reasons the uprising did not succeed?
GK: No, no I don't think so. Because eh ... it was minor. I will say this wasminor ... eh ... actions. I think that because part was not outside helped, um 00:31:00... not loss of ammunition ... Ahm ... No ammunition, no food. This was just eh ... the reason why we did not succeed.
AF: And the parachute drops, were they too little, too late?
GK: Too little, and too late, correct.
AF: Did you find any problems in getting messages from London? You mentioned theArmy of Krajowa was going through the government in London.
GK: Ah, you know, our radio communication with London I think was pretty good.We were getting messages, to my knowledge ... And eh ... We wanted helped. As a matter of fact, when the parachute was dropping, I remember that day, Germans had first didn't know what happening, we didn't know. We thought it was airborn troops ... assault. The sky become beautiful in color, all different types of 00:32:00color from the parachutes, and which designated the-- (static interference)
AF: And we were discussing the Allied parachute drops on uh--
GK: German at that time, eh, thought that this was a airborn attacked. Andanything what they had, they start putting it into the air. And I'm referring to eh ... pistol shots, eh, karabicha, machine guns ... Everything they were putting into the parachutes, and ehm, the night was terrible from firing by Germans. Now some of the shoots I know were dropped into the middle of the street. And it just happened on our section of the fence which we had. The eh ... dropped was right in the middle of the street between us and German. Oh we got it at night, we dig a hole underneath the street, and eh, this is the way we got this dropped. When we get the chutes, eh ... When we get the dropped, eh ... 00:33:00sometimes we get problems. We didn't know how to open the containers. (both speakers chuckle) But we took care of it, eh ... it was not no problem. But eh, it was at first ... little problems. It eh ... came handy, came handy.
AF: These are basically supplies and that, that were dropped.
GK: Yeah, it was supplies. It was supplies for empty tanks, weapons, medicalsupplies, ammunition, and eh ... ah ... food.
AF: Did you have doctors and that eh, working for your side? I imagine you haduh ...
GK: Yes, we had doctor, Polish doctors who, who were ah ... taking care of the wounded.
AF: Did the Germans use uh ... They had the big tanks, then did they use thoseuh ... very much during the uprising? 00:34:00
GK: Oh yes, oh yes.
AF: [George] Very much eh ... tiggress, tiger. Yes, they were using them verymuch. Ah, as a matter of fact, when we had eh ... When I was in one position, eh ... One of these tanks, we were with machine gun on the upper floor of the building, and we must have given German a little hard time, because eh ... suddenly we hear this eh ... a tank coming to us, and we seen him raising his eh, turret, in our directions. Well we grabbed more machine gun, and we took off from that particular window downstairs. We came to the bottom of the stairs, and there was a direct hit in the window where we were fighting. But the machine gun couldn't eh ... do anything to the tank, so ... Our best defense against tanks were ... and the German were killed from it ... Molotov cocktails. A bottle with 00:35:00gasoline, and a little rake. just before he would throw it, he would light it and throw it at the tank, and they were the most effective weapons which we used against tank.
AF: How would this uh, stop the tank?
GK: Eh ...
AF: Just by fire?
GK: Fire, fire.
AF: By the fire.
GK: Yes, and eh ... we had destroyed quite a few enemy tanks. Um, one particularcapture which we had ehm ... We should maybe, eh, be smarter. German came with a tank, and who start fire and killed, approaching our position, and suddenly the Germans left the tank, and eh ... abandon it, and eh ... we naturally, our troops, went in and got this tank, and eh, we drove it our lines ... And about a couple of hours later, the tanks exploded. It was a time bomb, inside of it. We 00:36:00had at that time about 200 casualties. Ahm ... you know, lots of people were so excited of seeing captured German tank, and had come to see it when this thing came into our lines and eh ... but yet, the tank was eh ... set out.
AF: It was set up by the Germans.
GK: Yes, it was set up by the Germans. So next time when we were capturingsomething, we were more careful.
AF: I mean did you just destroy the things, uh?
GK: Destroyed the tank, but they killed around 200 people who were around it.
AF: I mean, the next time you uh ...
GK: Oh we checked it,
AF: Checked it more thoroughly?
GK: We checked it more
GK: thoroughly, if we captured it.
AF: And what did you do after the uprising uh ... did not receive the Alliedsupport that you had hoped, and the people were forced to escape by way of the sewer system?
GK: Alright, eh, this was a movement during the uprising, from one section to another.00:37:00
AF: Oh, I see.
GK: But then at the end of uprising, we surrender to Germans.
AF: Oh, I see.
GK: And we were taken out, to prison camp in Germany. And then I found myself inPOW camp in Germany.
AF: Did the Germans try to find out who the leaders of this uprising were? Ordid they just--
GK: Ah, no, they knew it, because our whole unit have surrender, and our eh ...leader, who was Bór-Komorowski, he had signed capitulations and surrender with Germans, so they knew it and we all were taken out. We surrender as eh ... our members of armed forces, under Genova Convention, and we were treated as prisoner of war ... so eh ... this is one of the ... Condition of surrender, was ... However, during ... up to that time, we were not consider as members ... of 00:38:00eh ... the armed forces by Germans, and if some of us would get caught by Germans, they would be shot ... by Germans.
AF: I see ... um ...
GK: Now when we were capture by Germans, and we were waiting for our departures... to prison camps, actually, we didn't know where we were going. But Germans tried to influence us with their propaganda, telling us, "You brave soldiers of Warsaw uprising, "you have been deceived by your lies. "American, British, and Russia have sold you "down the river," is what the German was telling us. "Now we want you to ... "get ... eh ... revenge, for this sold out by your lies. "We give you opportunity to join German armed forces, and fight the Bolshevikism, 00:39:00and liberate your country." Now we were just laughing at it, because they want us to join German army, and eh ... nobody.
AF: Nobody joined?
GK: Nobody joined, no. But it was just their attempt to get us.
AF: To get people on their side?
GK: To get on their side, or further their advantage. To go to further theiradvantage, like they did with eh ... let's say, some Russians ... eh ... soldiers ... where they convert them to ... eh ... to their cause, and eh ... some Russian soldiers, or Ukrainian troops, had been fighting us in Warsaw ... eh ... Who had been originally Russians, and eh ... later were converted to German army, and they were fighting against us.
AF: What happened to the leaders of the uprising?00:40:00
GK: They spent time in prison camp.
AF: They didn't go ... didn't have a trial, or uh?
GK: No. No they had no trial, they went as a prisoner of war to German prisoncamps in Germany.
AF: There are many stories ... Um, how that the Germans went ... They didcapture, uh, some type of a leader, or a unit leader ... a Polish officer, perhaps, that they would execute these people.
GK: Yes, this were happening during ahm ... occupation of Poland, and eh ...during early stages of uprising. If they would catch anybody who was a ahm ... had some doing ... with uprising, he would be shot. As a matter of fact, when I was ehm ... wounded ... it was a German attacked, and I couldn't moved ... and I 00:41:00had my ... uniform ... eh ... on me, and I remember ... the people were taking my uniform off me, and eh ... Because they were fearing for my life, as well as for their life, if the German would come in and find me there. They would be shot, and I would be shot. Uh, however, luckily, I ... I found ... some people who were willing to carry me out from that particular area, and before the German advance had eh ... I stayed 'til the end of the uprising.
AF: And did you uh, experience, or did you hear of very many of the Germanatrocities, the German uh ...
GK: Oh yes. Like say, for example, they would attacked our position with tanks,00:42:00but before or in front of the tanks, or in front of the infantry, they would have the civilian population march, so we could not fire ... at the German who were behind the populations. And eh ... our only solution at that time, was to ... go back to eh ... let the German occupy that parts. We didn't want to go kill our own woman and children.
AF: I ... have interviewed a number of people, and uh, some of them havementioned um ... various things, especially in concentration camps, of the uh ... brutality of the Germans towards the people that ... The mistreatment, the uh ...
GK: You know, being uh ... prisoner of war, it was a difference as a concentr-00:43:00uh, prisoner, in concentration camp. We did not have eh ... oh, as bad treatment as the people who were in concentration camp and were under supervision of International Red Cross.
AF: Oh, I see.
GK: And eh, we had inspection at one time. I remember, we had inspections, eh,by International Red Cross, and eh ... So there was some people who were interested with us, while the people in concentration camp didn't have this ... ah, protection. So we had little better, and eh ... the reason why of the condition of our surrender was that we would be consider as a prisoner of war.
AF: I see.
GK: Ah ... what we had when we were traveling on the train, I remember we werefor three days on the train. Eh ... we were not allowed to get out from eh ... 00:44:00from the train. But you know, everyday needs, human needs ... We ... have to ... cut ... a hole in the wooden floor of the eh ... cattle car, which we were in, and we were using it for everyday needs. We were getting some bread by Germans, but not much food. Actually, for two days we didn't get much food on the train. We have our own supplies, which we carry from eh ... from Warsaw. But on the third ... er, second day, we received a piece of bread, and a salt herring, and nothing to drink. But we were hungry, (breathy chuckle) so we thought salt herring, but my gut ... Later we were thirsty.
AF: Oh, yes.
GK: How thirsty we were!
AF: Was uh, your father captured too?00:45:00
GK: No, my father was in uprising also, but he was not captured. As a matter offact, he stayed. He ah ... did not went to prison camp, but he mix with civilian population, and eh ... he stayed in Warsaw, and eh ... But we were separated, I didn't know where they are, they didn't know where I am, and uh ... actually, you know my whole family, nobody know, nobody knew where ... where we had been. I found out a year later, after the war, about them, and they also found out about me at that time, that I was alive.
AF: During the--
AF: During the uprising, and ... This you didn't know that you were ... Didn'tknow at all that your father was also in the ...
GK: I did not know. I know that my father at that time was not in home, and eh... When uprising started, and I didn't see him and my mother didn't tell me, and eh ... I don't know if she knew it or not, or ... Know that he was in an 00:46:00underground also.
AF: I see. When the Allies came in ... Now, you spent the rest of ... Let's see,you were captured in '44?
GK: In '44 in eh ... October.
AF: Okay, October of '44, and then you stayed the rest of the time, the rest ofthe war period, in the ...
GK: In Germany, in prison camp.
AF: In Germany in the prison camp. Um, how did you view the Allied victory? Didyou ...
GK: Oh, we were eh ... knowing that this is through us. That eh ... time, withthe Allied, we would win, and eh ... we never had any doubts, right from the beginning of the war, even, that the Allied would lose, or eh ... Was just question of when. And eh ... then when we were in ... ah ... prison camp, we were just waiting from day to day. And every day, we could see and we could 00:47:00hear, and we could feel the tremendous amount of air power, which was flying over us, and we could see the ... worry ... of the faces of the guard who was watching us, which kept us in high spirits. So we seen that they have some problems too, that maybe our problems are not as bad as their problems. And ehm ... the ... air bombing of Germany help us very much spiritually, as well as morally. And eh ... Then suddenly one day, we could hear ... the artillery bombardment. It was sound like not far away, but then the Germans started 00:48:00evacuating us, and we were evacuated. We were on the road for about a month before we were liberated. In other words, if ... When the Allied troops were advancing toward Germany, we were being evacuated towards middle of Germany. I was in the western part of Germany, near Haan. And eh, you know, we travel about 300 miles from walking. Eh ... going deeper into Germany, part of Germany. And eh ... finally, we were liberated. I was liberated by British forces.
AF: So the ... the people in the camp, they knew the Allies would win, they werejust-- (both speakers mumble)
GK: Yes, yes, no, no. We had not many doubts,
AF: No doubts at all?
GK: No doubts, yes.
AF: What did they make you do in the concentration camps? Were they a labor type00:49:00camp, or?
GK: Alright, no, this was a prisoner of war camp. Alright, some of the peoplewere going to work. I did not work much, because I was wounded. But eh ... I went couple times, and the reason why we went, because you get better food when you went to work. And eh ... in the camp, the food was ... not too good. We had very good help and support, by American Red Cross packages ... We were getting their packages. Ah, a very good help for us at that time, was jars of Nescafe, cigarettes ... Camel, Chesterfield ... because we could trade ... eh, with this, which German guards for a bread, eggs, or some other goodies. They loved American cigarettes, and they loved American coffee, and for, say, two ounce 00:50:00Nescafe, we would get ten loaves of bread. And eh ...
AF: Good trade.
GK: If this was good trade, and eh ... Not maybe on today's prices. (laughterfrom both speakers) At that time, this was a good trade, and eh ... So we had quite a big deal going on this eh ... from the packages which we received from American Red Cross. Ahm ... but also, ah ... trading with other prisoners, like let's say Russian prisoners of war who were in the same camp ... And they were not getting Red Cross packages, but yet they were working at the farms, and they would bring potatoes, so eh ... the potatoes would they bring, they would buy from them for cigarettes. Or maybe Italians, who were also at that camp as prisoner of war ... they would not get Red Cross packages, but yet they were 00:51:00getting better packages from home in the form of macaroni. So we would give them cigarettes and eh ... So there was a big market going in, in the camp, for survival.
AF: I see. You say some of the people were forced to work, or asked to work?
GK: Oh, they have no choice if they ...
AF: The Germans were short on man power at the time?
GK: The man power, that they would have to go in and work, alright maybe, cleanthe streets after the bombardments. Or dig the trenches ... or some other farm work in the local farmers. Lots of people had to, you know ...
AF: Did they ... um, really work? I mean ... they were assigned to do some type00:52:00of a task, I imagine they took their time about it, and uh ...
GK: Oh when they worked, they made eh ... Our work was, or our slogan was, eh... not to contribute to the welfare of the German Republic. So ah ... if they would clean the street, one guy'd, one fellow would put her up over one side, and another guy would take that from that side and put on his side, and ... (soft chuckling) They would be doing this all day long, to keep busy. So eh ... if they could get away, this was not a, "Let's do it clean, and eh, let's show the German "that we can do it." No, it was reversed. Let's hurt it. I mean, if we could break something, or eh ... hurt them a little more, we will do this. But yet we were watched, so you have to also be ... Careful, what you do. 00:53:00
AF: Yes. Uh ... attempted sabotage? Did they try to hurt uh ...
GK: Oh, this was our goal, to hurt the ... to do the sabotage, if there wasopportunity. And ehm ... I don't know any particular example, except ... when we were traveling through Germany on our train from the Warsaw to prison camps. We were going through Berlin. It was early in the morning ... and eh, this was elevated tracks of the railroad. What could we do? We were in the locked cars. Well some of us had to go to toilet. So what they did ... they made a big stink bombs in the paper, and we threw it on the streets on all the regular cars, as 00:54:00the people, German people who were standing in ... This maybe to certain extent, get even, if we could.
AF: Anything at all... to try to twist it.
GK: To twist it, to make it little more difficult, because at that time, eh ...it was great. We were being hurt ... and we hate it, we hate Germans. I know they hate us when we were walking to the prison camp in Germany ... eh ... the German youth would throw stones at us, spit on us, but what can we do? We had just to bow our heads, and march further. We were under guard, and eh, the guard wouldn't do anything, and eh ... This was the facts of life.
AF: I imagine from the German point of view, it was the propaganda they hadthroughout their schooling, that they are the superior ... people ... 00:55:00
GK: Oh yes, this was ...
AF: And everyone else was--
GK: Oh this was their upbringing, and eh ... they would look at you at you arenobody. But they are master race.
AF: What ... immediate results did you expect after the Allies won? Did thePoles, or the Polish people, yourself ... whoever expected to get even with the Germans then, did you think, "Now we're free, we're on top, "and ... we'll show you,"?
GK: We know during eh, right after liberation ... ah, for about a month ... aweek or so ... It was a period of time where there was no authority, and the fellow who had weapon ... he was ... the authority. And at that time, many revenges had been taken care of. German at that time was more scared. They were 00:56:00afraid of ... Allied. They didn't know what was happening, so they were scared. And eh ... we were, on other hand, full of hope ... full of ... hate. And eh ... there was some situations where the revenge was taken out at that time.
AF: What immediate results did you expect from uh ... did you expect to seePoland restored to freedom? Uh ... a free Poland?
GK: We knew that Poland is under Russian domination at that time ... and eh ...our thoughts were that there would be a some conflict develops between Allies and eh ... Russia. Ahm ... and that Poland would be liberated. We ah ... thought 00:57:00this was the only way to liberate the Poland. And eh ... we were willing to sacrifice our lives for that cause. However, other agreements had been made, which maybe at that time we had not been aware of.
AF: Did uh ... the people view the possibilities of a third war? The Allies andthe Russians?
GK: Oh this was very strong feeling, at that time. And you know, just throughexperiences which we had with Russians, ah ... we had particularly had been hurt, and eh ... ahm ... in 1939, when they had invaded Poland, and divided between themselves and Germany. And in 1944, when eh ... they did not give us 00:58:00help. So we have a bad feeling ... towards Russians' communistic government in Russia.
AF: Did they view the Russian control, or the communist control, as the lesserof two evils? It's better than German control, but ... Or did they hate the Russians' control as much?
GK: As much, maybe even not as ... maybe not even more. Ahm ... you know, ifRussian did some- if German did something, and there was always legal, or they have explanation. And if they took somebody to concentration camp, or they will shot somebody, the Germans would always justify it, because eh, "You did this, we did this." And this was official, this was on the paper. When the Russian did 00:59:00something, nobody knew what happened. Just person disappeared ... and it was more secret, more ... eh ... unknown. Nobody know what happened. I think the other one is worst, I mean, the Russians' type of eh ... of the dealing.
AF: For example, if the Germans were to take your next door neighbor and executehim, they would tell you, "Well he's a member of the underground, "he got caught, therefore--"
GK: He was caught, if he was or not, but at least they would say--
AF: They would say that?
GK: They would say it. By Russians, you would try to find out something, and eh... nobody would know, nobody would know anything. And if you start asking too many questions ... (George chuckling)
AF: You would find out what happened to him, because you would go.
AF: Ah, I see. Are you familiar at all with the Katyn force massacre?
AF: Uh, do you have any thoughts on that?01:00:00
GK: Yes, I feel German- eh, Russians did it.
AF: You think the Russians did? There has been--
GK: No questions about it.
AF: There has been uh ... a big debate on who did it. I believe the people thatwere executed, uh, were executed by German bullets, however they were tied with Russian ropes.
GK: You know, Germans say, have done big propaganda in Poland, at that time.Through the funnels, through the papers, through ah ... through ahm ... advertisement in Warsaw. And eh, we were very much interested, but eh, that ... We were not buying the German versions. But all indications are that Russians had done it. To me, I don't believe that anybody else did it, but Russians.
AF: You mentioned all the indications point to the Russians.
GK: To the Russians.
AF: What types of indications would specific things--01:01:00
GK: Okay, these peoples had been ah ... taking prisoners, by Russians. Nobodyknow where they went. And suddenly they had been discovered, that they are dead. Russians claimed, like you mentioned, that it was German bullets, but eh ... This is very easy acquired, and eh ... The type of death ... you know ... this people ... had died ... It's indicate to a Russian's type of eh ... liquidations, than to the German types of liquidations.
AF: Do you have any ideas or any thoughts on why uh ... the massacre? Why wouldthe Russians went and execute so many Polish officers?
GK: Ah, okay, ah, to eliminate ... the eh ... element, who could create a01:02:00problems to Russians. And eh, this people were the people of responsibility, and this people eh ... were the leaders in their respective areas. And the best way is to liquidate it, and eh ... if we will go through the history, this is how they got to power. By liquidations of the people who are in the way. And by looking in their present history, this is how they are getting to power in some other country, including our closest neighbor, Cuba. Liquidate the people who are in the way, regardless.
AF: So the Russians felt they were going to control, and in order to keep their01:03:00control, they would eliminate anyone who would stand in their way?
GK: Who stand in the way, and this group of people would be ... ah ... would beproblems to them, they felt. And it was not really before the war. There was no brotherly love between Poland and Russia. There were some segments ... of eh ... communistic influence in Warsaw. I remember this vividly, because before the war, I remember on the first of May, my mother would not let me go out on the street, because there would be some demonstration. I'm talking about before 1939. There would be some demonstration, and this is at that time, some small 01:04:00groups of communist party's members who would demonstrate-- (static interference)
AF: I think you were talking about the uh ... feelings of the Poles towards theRussians. If uh, I might go back just a little bit during the war period, do you know of any people who collaborated with the Germans? And if so, what would happen to the people who did collaborate? Did very many people actually help the Germans?
AF: It was pretty much--
GK: There would be very eh ... very few. There would be some. Ah ... Not knownto me, that somebody would be collaborating with the Germans. It would be unthinkable for a Pole to collaborate. Now maybe somebody for ... money, or some 01:05:00other favors, or maybe some big lout would do this, but generally ... not of an open field like other country, like say France or Italy. France, particularly France, for they were more collaborations.
AF: I understand when the Germans, yeah, when the Germans first invaded uh ...Poland, that there were a number of people in Polish, high Polish government offices who were either working with Germans, or were German.
GK: Well let's see, let me get this, my question. When Poland was in ...
AF: The first invasion,
AF: The invasion in '39, that uh, one of the reasons it was a quick invasion ...01:06:00or attack, and relatively quick victory. And one of the reasons given for this quick victory, was that the Germans had connections in Polish government offices, had people in high offices, or people working for them in high offices.
GK: Ahm ... you know, there was quite a large German population in Poland ...and that groups of people who were German were getting helped, or maybe support. Now maybe some people who had been in government had been a spy, or spies, or traitors that they would give some information. I don't think this would be on the large scale, however a Germans had a good ... ah ... spy network in Poland, just because of this big count of the Germans who lived in Poland. And they had 01:07:00... (George mumbles) They wanted to help Germany, but it would be not Poles.
AF: Just the Germans.
GK: The Germans.
AF: Um, what happened then, right after the liberation of Poland? The uh ... youwere liberated?
GK: Yeah, I was.
AF: Did you go back to Warsaw then?
GK: Nope, no, I did not go back to Warsaw. I did not go back to Poland becauseof Russians.
AF: Because of the--
GK: Occupations, yes. Ahm, I was eh ... I traveled abroad abroad recently, youknow, several times. And eh ... I found one of the first letters which I have sent to my family after liberation. And this was in ... ah ... December of 1945. I didn't know yet, what happened to my family at that time. But my aunt lived outside of Warsaw, and I sent letter to her, to her address, and eh ... on this 01:08:00letter, I recalled I put it down, "Dear aunt, how are you?" And eh, "What's new over there? "Is everybody alive?" And eh, "How is everybody?" And eh, I said, "I'm fine, and I'm alive, "and I lived here, and "I cannot return to Poland, "because in Poland right now, it's winter, "and I don't have warm clothing." And later down in the line, in the letter, I wrote and said eh, "But dear aunt, "don't send me anything, because I got everything." So all I wanted to know, I wanted to let them know in nice way that I don't want to return, if they would read in between the lines. But don't send me ... I had clothes, but I want to travel in the winter instead, and I don't have warm clothes, is why I don't 01:09:00returning to Poland. So because I didn't want to expose them to some difficulties, maybe.
AF: What did you do then, right after the war?
GK: What did I do?
AF: Yes, did you--
GK: I was eh ... in Polish army in Germany. We were liberated, and we continuedto be members of Polish army under the control of Polish government in London. And we were like this until 1947. But, Polish government in Poland, which was communist government, had been recognized by the British, Americans, as a legal government. And eh, that Polish government from Poland put a request, or an order, to British or Allied Americans also, that, "Look, we have army that is a 01:10:00Polish army outside "the borders of Poland, and we don't want "to continue that army. "You should send all these people back to Poland." So, actually ... the British had recognized that our government, and they have to honor this request. So if they ah ... had to ... eh ... comply with this order. Not had to comply, but they wanted to comply with this order, but they did not want to send us back if we didn't want to go, and majority of us did not want to go. So they said, "Look, we will discontinue you "as the members of the Polish army, "and we will discharge you." And eh, at that time we were discharged. And we had three tables at that time we were in that building, I remember. One table was a discharge from the Polish army in Germany. The other tables was a representative of Polish government from Warsaw, from the communist government, to signed up for 01:11:00repatriation to Poland. And there was a third table, enlistment ... in, under the control of British army, and to stay in Germany. So we got discharged from the Polish army we bypassed the other table of repatriation to Poland, and we were enrolled as member of British army in Germany.
AF: Oh, I see.
GK: So we stayed there as eh ... members of the British army in Germany.
AF: Polish division?
GK: Ahm, yes. Polish divisions, ah, yeah. There were Polish divisions, but thenthere were British office. And then the British said, "Look, we don't have Polish army, (George laughs) "or there are people who are of Polish descent, but they are no longer in Polish army."
GK: There were some who have returned back to Poland, for one reason or another,but very small minority of people. 01:12:00
AF: How long did you stay there under the British army, then?
GK: Ah, we have to enlisted under the condition that when our immigration abroadwould be completed, we would be able to depart. I stayed there until 1949, for two years. And I was in transport unit of tanks, eh ... Transport unit of tanks, in the British army. And I was there for two years.
AF: And then in '49 you uh--
AF: To the United States?
GK: To United States, yes.
AF: Did you come directly to Omaha, or did you--
GK: No, I came to Rochester, New York. My grandfather lived in Rochester, and hehave sponsor me, and I came to Rochester in '49.
AF: Sponsorship was necessary to get to the States?
GK: To the States, yes. At that time ... as well as now. (both speakers laugh)
AF: Right! Uh, how long did you live in Rochester?01:13:00
GK: I have lived in Rochester for ten years, then I moved to Cincinnati, and Istayed in Cincinnati, Ohio for five years. Then I went back to Rochester, and I was for seven years, and then I came to Omaha.
AF: Were you married in the States here? Or where were you married?
GK: Yes, I was married in the States, in Rochester.
AF: Ah, did you find what you expected in the United States? There were manystories that the United States is the land of plenty, the streets were lined with gold, and uh ...
GK: Ah, you know, I knew a little English, and I read lots of magazines. While Iwas in British army, I was learning, and eh ... So I expected ... eh ... exactly what I have found. I knew that eh ... you have to work here to get ahead, and I 01:14:00was willing to do this. And eh ... I was young, so it was very easy for me to adapt. I had no problems with this. I ... actually found more opportunity than I even expected.
AF: That's great. Um, were you harassed because of your European background?
GK: No, I don't think
AF: Were you harassed at all?
GK: I think it helped me. I would not say I was being harassed ... for Europeanbackground, I think it helped me.
AF: How did it help you? What helped? More opportunity?
GK: Ah, you know, sometimes people would feel more understanding, moreinteresting. I wouldn't say that this would be hardship for me.
AF: Was it difficult to find employment once you got to the United States?
GK: No, I have no problems. I start working as a grocery clerk in grocery store.01:15:00And eh ... was not problems.
AF: Do you feel there are very many uh ... or any pro-Polish, or any anti-Polishattitudes in the United States now, especially even in Omaha now?
GK: Ah, you know, there are lots of pro-Polish. There are some anti-Polish, butI think majority of it, it's indifferent. I feel most of the people ah ... have their own problems. It would be maybe individuals who would have these particular attitudes. Like in any society, or in any group of people ... Actually I would say that everybody makes their own reputation, and their own success or failure. I particularly don't find this-- 01:16:00
AF: Basically, now we're all Americans now, and uh, some happen to be of Polishdescent, some might uh--
GK: I am proud of being of Polish descent, and eh ... I did not find this ahardship to me, of being of Polish descent, and I'm not hiding it. Sometimes they may have some jokes about Pollacks, so I have some jokes about Americans, or Italian, or -- (Andrew mumbles)
GK: And they smile, and I smile, and everybody's happy.
AF: That basically your attitudes towards Americans has been good, and you've,your view of the American's attitude toward you being of Polish descent has also been good?
GK: Good, better than average.
AF: How about ... possibly a textbook question, but how about towards uh, German01:17:00people? You experienced a lot and uh ... quite a few bad things under them during the uprising.
GK: You know, I ...
Right now, the times of Germany what I remember, are the good times, and eh ...Everything eh ... what I remember, it's ... not eh ... particular hatreds, to Germans, you know? They had their own problems. If I would have a choice, of say, buy the German car or buy a French car, I would buy a French car. But I would not have a particular hatreds for German.
AF: Well many people have said that it was the German high commander who didthis, who committed these atrocities, and the German people aren't ... 01:18:00
GK: Ah, you know, ahm ... people are led sometimes, by their leaders, or byopinions. I know eh ... during the war, and I have contact with Germans, I did not see ... a German ... who hated Hitler during the war. I ... to me, they all love him. And then, me living in Germany after the war, I did not meet German who loved Hitler. They all hate him. Ah, you know, people are funny sometimes. They change with the situations ... ah ... and with the conditions. This, as I have seen it ... and eh ...
AF: Perhaps if they didn't love Hitler during the war, they ...
GK: Maybe they would find themself in concentration camp. It could be the01:19:00reason, yes. There were some Germans who had been in concentration camps also. It was minority, but eh...
AF: For various reasons?
GK: For various reasons, yes.
AF: How about toward the Russians?
GK: Well I feel that eh ... we had been sold out.
AF: By the Russians?
GK: The Russians. I feel that we had been sold out by the Russians. We knowGermany were our enemy, but the Russians ... (exasperated laughter) our Allied!
AF: You're right.
GK: So eh ... you know, if you get kick from an enemy, in your rear end, alright ...
AF: You expect it.
GK: You deserved it! But if you get a kick from you friend in your rear end, it01:20:00hurts very much.
AF: Yes, that's true. This is true. Do you feel Poland will ever escape fromthis Russian domination, or?
GK: Oh, I have faith in it, I know it ... ah ... that they will have that ...their independence. And eh ... They would be independent nation, but when?
AF: Just a matter of time?
GK: It's a matter of time. I don't know. You know, looking back in history, wehave been under domination for over hundred years, by different regimes. If this was not Germany, it was Russia. Or ehm ... Austria-Hungary, and ehm ... Or Swedes, or Tartars, or some other group of people, but yet somehow, we get ... We get our independence. 01:21:00
AF: Do you expect this to be through peaceful means? Just a matter of time,gradually the Russians will lose control, and uh ... Or do you expect another war?
GK: Alright, eh ... I don't see another war right now, unless something drasticwill happen. I see some loss of control, and right now, it's slowly ah ... You know, the time's changing, ah ... outlook's changing, and eh ... I see right now, that they are gaining little more freedom than they had 20 years ago in Poland. So they are gaining these small independence recognitions.
AF: You have been ... You mentioned you have been back in Poland.
AF: And you see ... have you been back just one time, or a number of times?
GK: No, I have been about eight, nine times.
AF: When was the first time you went back?
GK: In '64.
AF: And the most recent?01:22:00
GK: Last year.
AF: Last year?
GK: In '70 ... '70 ...
AF: And you said there has been a drastic change from even '64 to '77?
GK: Oh yes, yes.
AF: A good change?
GK: Yes, for good. I hear people still don't have maybe the needs for ... life,but I think it's not as a police state that it used to exist, that is. Or at least, it doesn't show that it is like it was. And ehm, they're even saying about this period of time in Poland, that this was a time of trial and error, and the period in 1950's and early 1960's. And this was the Stalin era, so ... is depending who is a head of the government there. 01:23:00
AF: Poles have pretty much freedom in Poland now, don't they? Religious freedom,and uh ...
GK: I would say that they have a religious freedom. They have as much freedom asany country, in religion. Polish Poland is very strong Catholic country. The government maybe realize that by making difficult for church to exist, the faith was getting stronger.
GK: So eh ... this maybe helped the church to be so strong like it is today,because of the operation.
AF: Do the Russians impose very much oppression now?
GK: In Poland?
GK: I don't ... I don't think that the Russians put lots of oppressions ... It01:24:00may be Polish authority on influence by Russians. Maybe they may have to make some decision, but I don't think this is so much open as ... or it is happening as we would like to think here in this country. I don't think that most of the decision what Poland makes today are their own decisions. Polish decisions. They may have some influence from Russia ... They certainly do, not may, they certainly do have influence from Russia, but maybe not as much as we would ... think here, in this country. I think the Polish ... government, I think Poles ... That some of the ... not some of ... the people who govern the country are ... have communistic ideas, and eh ... they're cooperating with the Russians, 01:25:00and maybe if they would not, maybe they would be removed one way or another. But eh ... Polish people right now, as I see it, are very proud of their accomplishment what they are doing in that country. I will say there is a freedom. Maybe not freedom as we know here. They don't understand that freedom, what we have here, as well as we don't understand the freedom what they have over there.
AF: I imagine there is some propaganda in this country as there is in everycountry. I think here we're taught to believe sometimes that the Russians control Poland, therefore the Russians are bad, and they dominate Poland. I 01:26:00think ...
GK: Oh, I will agree with this statement what you say, that they may have someinfluence. This is the same way, like say, for example ... Americans have to certain influence on West Germans, or maybe French or British. But we cannot say that England is dominated by United States. Or the same way like eh, Japan have some American influence. But yet I would not say that Japan is dominated by America. But they are our friends, and they maybe think the same way like we do. So I will say maybe the same relationship, to certain extent, exists ... over there, between Poland and Russia. Maybe a Poland ... and Russia ... would 01:27:00support each other in some international affairs more than say, Japan and United States. But eh ... a decision made by Polish government, I think is ... it's Polish. It's not Russians. And the leader who make these decision, they are Poles. They may have different outlook, political outlook than maybe I ... and general ... eh ... general population ... but yet eh ... in this country, Poland 01:28:00particularly, this authoritarian system exists more ... than ehm ... in our country, like in United States. We say in the family or with the children, "Do what they want, let them express themselves." And this is expected facts of life. In Poland, in the family, it's more what the father say. And eh ... he says, "This goes." So because of this relationship, this continue it towards the government, and the people maybe more ... upbringing toward authoritarian 01:29:00decision, and eh, nobody question it because the child does not question the father when he make decisions, while here, we do questions, and sometimes they say, "Well, father is wrong!" Over there, there is no thought in saying something. These things I remember.
AF: And I know ... I have a Polish family too, I come from a Polish family, andthe father makes the decisions.
GK: And this is it.
AF: This is true, this is true. Ah, if you had the opportunity, would you livein Poland again?
GK: Ah ... oh actually, I do have opportunity. I could go tomorrow. (Georgelaughs) But eh, I would like to go visit there, but eh ... I would like to have the opportunity of being able to move. And eh ... this is what's nice, that I am 01:30:00in United States. It give me this opportunity. So I have this freedom of choice of if I want to live there, I would live there, because I want to. Why if I would be living in Poland, and I would be put in this decision, I would not have this opportunity to go out and visit. So this is what I treasure very much, what I am here. But eh ...
AF: Now you're an American, and ... of Polish descent?
GK: Yeah, I am.
AF: This is your home.
GK: My home is here, my home is here.
AF: Okay, well is there anything else you would like to add, or?
GK: No, eh ... Nothing in particular.
AF: Alright, well I thank you very much.