SURVIVING THE HARD TIMES
“During the war, the Germans strictly enforced disciplines on the people. If the Partisans fought and soldiers died, civilian homes were raided and they took both the young and the old. Many were shot or hung. They came to our area, arrested people and took them away to clean up after the raids. We dug holes in the sides of a large drainage canal and covered them with grass. This was where many of us hid. At this time we were just boys about sixteen years.”
PETER CICOGNANI Born on 13 September, 1926 in Massa Forese, Forli, N E Italy
IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA
“We went to Devonport, Launceston, Hobart; we used to get around. Wayatinah, Bronte Park, Tarraleah – every Friday night we went to the dances. The girls tell me, Frank, you are a good dancer. But I couldn’t do the Barn Dance. You turn around and all that, I was out of step all the time. The worst, most difficult and hardest thing was the language. I used to get on with people though, and anyway the language didn’t matter when you’re with the girls.”
RAFFAELE FRANCO (Frank) CASTELLER
Born on 5 April, 1931 in Venegazzu,Treviso (near Venice), Italy.
In August 2003, the Polish Club celebrated the 55th Anniversary of the arrival in Hobart of the SS Strathnaver, a P & O Liner of 22,500 tons, which brought 900 Polish men to Australia. There were 360 who arrived in Hobart on 8 August 1948.
In 1951 Alex did his sums and said, “There were 1,200 single young Polish women in Northam, WA and here in the Hydro in Tasmania there were 2,000 single Polish men. Some of my friends had already returned with wives so I decided to go there and have a look.”
ALOJZY (ALEX) DZIENDZIEL Born in Zablocie, south west Poland, near (MBE, OAM, KK, PR, JP) Cracow
A FAMILY OF REFUGEES
“In the end, after years of camps and soldiers, we were sent to Italy. When my friend and I arrived we had two suitcases each but when we left we had only one suitcase between us and it was nearly empty. We had to sell everything, watch, coat and trousers to get by. Then we were arrested and put in jail for three days because we were selling to the black market. We were nearly sent back to Germany but they changed their minds and returned us to camp.”
MARTIN KAITINIS Born in Kretinga, Western Lithuania on 2 September 1930.
FOOTSTEPS FROM KASHUBIA
“Before the First World War it was illegal to speak any other language than German in schools, the post office or any public place. Kashubian was spoken at home and at work, but their daily prayers were said in Polish at home and in church. Their priests usually talked only in Polish.”
LEON KOLKA – Born in Sierakowice, Kashubia, on 16 August 1925.
(About 50 km from the Baltic Sea.)
TEN POUND POMS WHO CAME TO STAY
“The family of a school friend had migrated and lived near Fremantle. Their house was typical of others in the neighbourhood – timber built with a verandah all the way around. Our friend took us to the nearest milk bar, which was the general store. We saw cake shops, chocolates for sale and then had a delicious milk shake. You could buy as much as you liked; there was no rationing. We decided that Australia would suit us fine.”
SYLVIA AND DOROTHY LAMING Born 1 February 1934 in Peckham, England.
“When I was quite young I went to a market and a gypsy told my fate. She looked at my hand and said, ‘You won’t be very long here. You will be going far, far away, across the big ocean. You will get married there and have a son.’ My mother said it would be impossible for me to go that far away.”
ZOFIA SZYMANSKA (SZOSTAK) Born in Gora Kalwaria, near Warsaw, Poland, on 1 March 1919.
EUROPE TO TASMANIA – A LONG ROAD
“First there was the German invasion and then the Communist occupation. Being chosen as a miner by the Communists put a damper on our social status. Miners invited us to their homes but respectable girls wouldn’t want to be seen with us in public. I was very happy in the mines. If the Communists thought they punished me, they didn’t. In the end I had to choose between freedom and a politically controlled system. I began to hatch up escape plans.”
MILAN VYHNALEK born on 18 October, 1925 in Hnatnice, Czechoslovakia
FROM BERLIN TO BRONTE
“Trapped in an air raid, I dived into an underground tunnel and came to rest just underneath the ceiling. I was certain it was the end. When I got out, everything was on fire and I didn’t know which way was home. It was 1945 and I was fifteen years old.”
HERBERT WITT – Born on 13 December, 1930 in Berlin, Germany.
“At midnight in January 1940 the Russians came, arrested my mother and me and put us on a cattle train for Siberia. We had hard labour for two years. I eat grass so I can live. I had to put tar on the face to stop diseases. I got typhus anyway but lived through that. It was so cold but I had to survive so I could look for my brothers and sister.”
MARIAN ZAZULA Born in a small town, Hodzamy Rudki, Lvov, Poland on
22 October 1922.