Operation Vistula - evacuation from Przemysl


Excerps from the family archives of Mr. James Konopelski refer to the Vistula Operation. They are from letters written to an American man by his relatives and a former neighbor in Poland.

June 12, 1947

...We are in good health, thank God. Now I report, beloved Uncle, that we have been deported to the German territories. They gathered all the people and transported them from Przemysl across the entire country to the Czech border. Nobody was allowed to stay, everybody was deported. Now I report, dear Uncle, that they forced the whole village out in one hour. Whoever had a horse, could take some grain with him, and those who did not have a horse, did not take anything, only as much as could be carry in hands. I still have not received your package, and don't know what is going to happen to it now, whether they will return it to America ...

Now, beloved Uncle, I report that we have traveled 2 weeks and arrived to this village of Czatam, but there is nothing in these houses... Now, Uncle, we left our homes on May 15, I had already finished my sowing, and was forced to give up everything and travel far away, and I don't know what happened there [to my property and fruits of my work]. Beloved Uncle, we have nothing to eat and we have no money. Everything I have earned by hard work has been left there, 50 [?] of potatoes, so much grain, and now I have nothing to eat and must die of starvation. Now, beloved Uncle, I ask you that you please send me a couple of dollars for a living. ...

January 15, 1948

...You asked about our life, so I report that our life is not such as at home, because you know yourself we had had two cows at home and one calf, and a horse, and here we have nothing, just one cow, and everything else those Germans ate up. May God save you from such grievances as we have suffered because of those wars. It's not our Motherland anymore. You know that my father had worked in America and returned home and bought that little bit of land, and now we have lost it all, because we had to leave it and travel to the West, and don't have anything now, because we had sown everything at home, and when we came here it was already too late to sow. So we have nothing, only have earned a little during this summer at others' farms, and that's what we are living on now...

May 8, 1948

...I want to describe you our life, since we are now at the same level as Moses was when he was wandering with his people from Egypt, only they, as our Bible tells us, had manna, and we have something different. As for our health, we are all healthy, thank God, all the family, and wish you the same. As for our life, you may know yourself how one lives when he has no property of his own....

My grandfather worked all his life to have his own home. And I have worked too, and not just anyhow, and thought I would have some rest at my old age, but now I don't even have a hovel, let alone a room. And what comes next, nobody knows...

I have been through many hardships in my life, the previous war (the First World War) was hard enough for me, I had served 5 years on the front, but it has never been so hard as it was the last year, when we were given one and a half hour to pack up and to say good-buy forever to our homes and village. You know, when one is going out to a party or to the town for a couple of hours, even then one often returns to one's home for something that he has forgotten. And when you are ordered to pack and leave forever in one hour and a half, you don't know what to take and what to do, and you don't take anything and don't do anything, and that is what our life is like. Here, everyone has whatever he earns for himself..


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