A PRICE OF POLISHNESS
I decided to claim for the remembrance of my murdered compatriots. They were very badly hurt because they had been forgotten. I think that we should write our history on our own and not wait for Vladimir Putin, Jan Tomasz Gross or Erika Steinbach to write it. We do not have a reason to confess repentantly to anybody and we can write a white book of losses and the contribution of the Polish nation in the defeat of totalitarisms of the XX century ourselves.
Fertilizer of people
On the day of the outbreak of the Second World War I was five and a half. The events which I witnessed, got rooted deeply in my memory. I was born in Grudziądz and I had been living there till April 1945. My two uncles Bernard and Anton lived in Nowe Marzy. In early Autumn 1939 during my stay at my uncle’s Bernard I saw a convoy consisting of 2 motorbikes with trailers, on which there were machine guns and they were being followed by 2 or 3 coaches. The windows were painted or covered with plywood. There were vans going behind the coaches where men armed with guns were sitting under a canvas cover. The convoy turned into a dirt road to a deserted pit gravel in Mniszek and disappeared in a forest. In the early morning one could hear a rattle of machine guns and single gun shots. In Autumn 1944, for a few weeks, there was a pole of black smoke over the pit gravel, visible from a workaround of uncle Anton. Dead bodies lying on the pit gravel were burnt. Probably paper bags filled with the ash were sold to gardeners as a fertilizer. Roads leading to the forest were signed with signposts with a skull and crossed bones. The entrance to this area was forbidden under the threat of losing life.
Crimes in Danzig – Westpreussen
Many years later I found out that I had been a victim of the crime committed by the Germans on the Polish people in the administrative area Danzig – Westpreussen (Gdańsk-Western Prussia). The area comprised not only Gdańsk Pomerania, but also a part of the Western Pomerania, Wielkopolska and Mazovia. The whole area of Gdańsk-Western Prussia was joined to the Third Reich and belonged to the central authority in Berlin. In Miniszki (Mischke) about 10 thousand people lost their life. after Piaśnica near Wejherowo,where about 12 thousand people were killed, Mniszek was the second largest place of execution. In Szpęgawski forest about 8 thousand people were killed. The place of execution, whose trials had been opened in Germany, was in Danzig-Westpreussen 432. The extermination action called ‘Intelligenzaktion’ was prepared and carried out skillfully to much extent by the Polish citizens of German nationality, living in the area of the Gdańsk Pomerania before the outbreak of the war. Throughout whole years they were building secret party groups (NSDAP – national-social German Workers’ Party), SA and SS militias. After Wehmacht had entered, military divisions were organized under the name of ‘Selnstschutz’ (Self-defence). These groups with the divisions transferred from Gdańsk had murdered 60-80 thousand people from September to December 1939, as the German information sources say. Due to the repressions lasting since April 1945, over 133.5 thousand people had been killed including the victims of the concentration camp Stutthof.
The judicial acts of Albert Forster – the main person responsible for crimes on the area of Westpreussen, do not mention the village Michke (Mniszek) or Gruppe (Grupa) and Jeschau (Jeżewo)which are known due to shooting at Poles there. The list of the victims done after the war included mass graves in which less than 20 victims had been buried. Many executions were committed in unknown places. These number do not include the victims of deportations to Siberia which had been carried out by NKWD with the help of Polish collaborators till the mid of 1946. Assuming, like some Germans today, expulsions are a crime of the genocide, the amount of 365 thousand people exiled from the area of the Western Prussia should be added to the number of the victims; for example, during a few weeks in the beginning of 1940, 40 thousand people were expelled from Gdynia, inhabited by 83.8 thousand people at that time.
A Pole – a dangerous factor
Any Polish element on the area of the so-called corridor was to disappear. The area of this ‘corridor’ was populated mainly by Polish people. The Germans were the majority only in Gdańsk, which was a Free City at that time. Another reason of removing Poles was the fact that not only did they oppose germanization, but also the Germans subjected to polinisation. The indigenous Polish population of the Pomerania was thought as a dangerous element by the Germans.
So, elites of clergy, culture and economy were murdered. Moreover, life lost the Germans who had opposed to murdering Poles. Especially the members of the Polish Western Association and the Marine and colonial League were hunted, because there were people from these communities whose efforts led to a decision in Versailles about giving Poland the Pomerania and the access to the sea. The victim of this terror was Blessed Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski. The significance of the sacrifice of the Catholic Church can be proved by the fact that on 24 May 2011 in Pelpin the beatification process of 122 candidates was solemnly finished which raised them to the glory of martyrdom.
A separate card of genocide were murders within the so-called euthanasia. Prostitutes who had been infected by venereal diseases were murdered as well as those who were incurably or psychiatrically ill. In Mniszek a director of the Psychiatric Centre in Świecie – dr. Józef Władysław Bednarz agreed voluntarily on his own death, also the wife of mayor Henryk Sucharski – a commander of the defence of Westerplatte in September 1939, was shot at.
Uncles: Bernard, Stefan, Alfons and Anton
In September 1939 parents were requisitioned a well-prospering fuel repository. We were thrown away from homes and locked up in a lodge where we spent the whole war. Besides the murders committed in a ‘controlled secret’, there was a demonstrative execution. On 20 November, 10 hostages were publically shoton the local rubbish dump. Poles gathered from the whole city were watching it. I was standing there with my parents in the first row. Dead bodies had been lying in puddles of blood for 4 days.
Population of Western Prussia was segregated into 4 national groups. The first group was reichsdeutsche – these were the Germans who had been living on the area of the Third Reich since 1 September 1939. The second group was volsdeutsche – the Germans living till the mentioned date outside the Reich. The third group was eingedeutsche - people who were written on the national list with an obligation of being Germanized. They received German citizenship and were obliged to the military service. The fourth group, about 2 thousand people, was polonized and inhabitants of the Pomerania of German origin, refusing to accept the second group. The rest of them were Poles, coming from the Congress kingdom and the Jews. Poles from the kingdom were expelled in 1939 to the General Governorate. The Jews were marked and later deported to the General Governorate as well.
It was proved that my family was of German origin, because of which it got into the fourth group. Despite the pressures and threats a number of willing people to convert into the German nationality was not too high. In February 1942 gauleiter Albert Forster gave an order in which he appealed to people of German origin for a definite decision about their national belonging and threatened with painful consequences. These were not words in vain. My three uncles: Bernard, Stefan and Alfons were arrested in July 1942 and placed in gestapo in Bydgoszcz. After two-week ‘persuasions’ and extra ‘gymnastic exercises’ Bernard and Stefan were sent to a concentration camp in Stutthof. The youngest Alfons died due to tortures. After the stay in the camp for over half a year the uncles were released for three months. They returned homes so exhausted that they found it difficult to go up three steps. They weighed less than 40 kilos. After some time which they had for thinking over, they were sent to the concentration camp in Gross-Rosen (Rogoźnica in the Lower Silesia), where they worked in a quarry. They got to the concentration camp in Flossenburg in the Upper Bavaria from there in a death march which only 10 per cent of prisoners survived.Stefan had worked in the quarry till the independence, whereas Bernard was sent to the camp in Hersburck. He was employed there in building an underground factory for BMW. They were freed by American soldiers in April 1945.
Uncle Anton got subjected to the pressures and signed the list and was placed in Wehrmacht. In the Italian front near Bolonia I managed to pass to the ally’s side and get to the corpus of gen. Anders.
In order to protect German blood Heinrich Himmler created an organization called Lebensbom (the source of life) which was supposed to gain children of useful racial features from resistant parents of German origin for developmental plans of the millenium German Reich. In the year 1943, when I was in the third year, a teacher reported me to this program. It meant me being separated from my parents and placing me in a boarding school in Germany, run by Lenesborn. Before being transported, I had spent a night in a villa of the teacher. Luckily, the cousin of my father got to Grudziądz on the way to the Eastern front and he visited parents. He managed to stop the matter and I returned home. In 1944 I was sent to a special school for disabled German children. In December Grudziądz was surrounded by the Red Army and schools as well as other institutions stopped functioning. Air raids began, then fire from howitzers, and finally, street fighting, where people fought for each house. We spent 6 weeks in a shelter without water, warm food, packed in tiny rooms. Grudziądz was conquered by the Red Army on 6 March 1945. Robberies, rapes and murders started. At night the Russians set our house on fire. We were sent to another district. We found out that our father was being looked for by NKWD. He was a participant of the Polish –Bolshevik war, a member of PPS-Leftist party and the bourgeois. We were homeless, then we set off to the Powiśle Kwidzyńskie, so in the post-war mess impossible to find. Not everybody from Grudziądz among the wanted by NKWD managed to avoid being sent to Siberia. Many of them lost their life there.
The silent will not be heard by anybody
I have lived quite long. I could have lost my life in many ways, but I live and I thank God in the evening prayer for every day of my life. Two wonderful children live at their own homes, whereas two adult grandchildren are starting their own life at present. I was trying to pass on the gifts. In the end of my life I would like to claim about inhabitants of my home place. They are silent and nobody will hear the silent. So maybe my voice will be heard by somebody?
* * *
Dionysius Simson was born in 1934 in Grudziadz. For 40 years he has lived in Switzerland. In Poland, he worked as a designer, yielding several patents. In the '60s last century, he left for abroad, including to Switzerland, with the construction machine called Sheet piler. Here he settled with his family, when it turned out that he was on the list of oppressed workers after riots in Gdansk in 1970 in Switzerland, he worked as a builder. Since 1983, the leading independent studio construction and development. He takes an active part in the life of the Polish Catholic Mission in Switzerland. He was in a body, which under the leadership of Father Joseph Maria Bochenski has developed the first statutes of the pastoral council, was elected vice-president of the first council. Later, he served as its president. Currently, he is also the president of the foundation, which is the formal owner of the property and the organic statute of Polish Catholic Mission in Switzerland. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of PMK - for his service to the Catholic Church - was awarded by Pope John Paul II with the title of Knight Commander of the Order of Pope St. Sylvester.