The Soviet-German War
(Korostova, 1941). On the first day of the war I was going to Volochysk, to the district unit where I was learning. I was going to buy books for the tenth form. It was a ten-grade school and I was going to buy books for the tenth form. Our village was maybe some two kilometres away from the district unit where I was learning. And all of a sudden the aircraft came, they dropped bombs somewhere and turned back, and I was already at home near my mum and dad. Within a week the Germans came, the Germans came and everything was in German. They were taking products, searching and bombing.
Anna Hryciw
I was a sapper, because I was a Pole. When the war started, they distrusted us, because the Poles fought on the wrong side, so they could only be sappers. In the army you had to prove that you had no Jews in your family, and this is this document, and it is written down here. It was Romania, so it is in Romanian. It says: “father Józef Krzyżanowski — parish priest”. And it says that all they are of the Roman-Catholic faith. The priest wrote it down here. You had to prove that there were no Jews in the family.
Leopold Kałakajło
When the front was getting through, Zaleszczyki ten times were either in Bolsheviks’ or Germans’ hands. They were shooting down and shooting up. The town was changing hands. There was scramble. We were scared. Once I carried cabbage soup in a three-litre can. The cabbage soup was made on German spam. A German asked me what I was carrying. I said: — Milk for the kids. I though that if he looked at it, saw that it was not milk, he would shoot me to death, but he did not come. When there was gunfire, we were hiding in the dugout, there was such a dugout. Sometimes we though that if a bomb fell down it would bury us, but nothing happened to us, God protected us. Zaleszczyki was destroyed a bit, Tarnopol was totally destroyed, and the Germans had to rebuild the town as punishment.
Barbara Medyńska-Michajłow
In the evening still the Soviets, but in the morning they are gone. Without a sound, they were scramming without a sound like rats from a sinking ship. We did not even know that they had already disappeared. They had everything planned. How they arrived there – no one knows. Silence in the morning. No planes flying. Nobody knew what was going on. It turns out that the authority is gone, new troops are coming. Romanians, Hungarians are coming, coming, and coming … Under our windows, down here, they are everywhere, tired, sweating. It was June, July already. They were asking for water. And somebody shouted: – Do not drink water! It may be poisoned! We came to them with water, people were going out with buckets, with scoops, and they were tired. I look and see crosses on their chests. And Hungarians are already with us, somewhat human people, really non-aggressive, they are not shooting at us, they are not killing us. It’s so quiet, quiet, quiet … The authorities have already formed. People started working, living, tilling land, and orchards. And wedding parties and christening parties, and the orthodox priests appeared, a priest from Poland came, father Jeleń. Things seemed to have stabilized quietly, but the front is gone … Nobody knows what is going to happen.
Halina Wiśniewska
Those Soviets, they were near Brest maybe, that is dalshe (farther away). And from Witebsk (Belarusian: Vitebsk), where thousands of Germans were surrounded, they were going on foot through our estate, from one forest to the other. Across the river, through our estate, through our home. They took away all the food, till the last bit. And we were on the river, scything hay with my father, my mother with the small kids: one from 1941, Jurek, the other one from 1943, Józek — that one was in her arms. And she came to us through that rye to the river and said: — The Germans are at our house! It was a frenzy. I ran across the river to our neighbour up the hill, where I could see what they were doing in our courtyard. And there were maybe a thousand of them. They ate everything there was to eat. They put a bowl, a jug, and the basement was open, everything turned over. And they went to the forest. And then they were captured somewhere.
Anatol Żołnierkiewicz