english version

02-04-2013

03-10-2009

wersja polska

Opening of the Exhibit “Portraits of the Prisoners of War”


70th anniversary of the outbreak of WW-II

On the 1st of September 2009, Poland was commemorating the 70th anniversary of the German invasion and of the official out-brake of the World War II. On the 17th of September was observed the anniversary of the unexpected and traitorous entry from the east, without declaring the war, of the Red Army of the Soviet Union. A large portion of the Polish Army was regrouping at that time in that area, called “Kresy” or Eastern borderlands, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kresy) to continue further fighting against the Germans. The military situation was unclear – were these visitors friends or foes? The definitive orders were missing – should the “liberators” be cooperated with or defensive action should be taken? Ultimately, about 650,000 of polish soldiers were taken prisoners and a quarter of a million of them became Soviet prisoners. As it is well known, over twenty five thousands of officers and state functionaries were killed on Stalin orders a few months later in Katyñ and in other location (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre). 

One of the prisoners in the east of Poland was Zbigniew Wajszczuk from Siedlce. He served in September of 1939 in a tabor (supply) unit. He was captured in Tarnopol and later was placed in a prisoner-of-war camp of the Równe complex, which was run by the NKVD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_prisoners_of_war_in_the_Soviet_Union_(after_1939). The POW’s were put to work on the construction of a road and subsequently in a stone quarry. After German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, following the Sikorski-Majski agreement, he was released and traveled to the site of formation by Gen. Anders of the Polish Army on the Soviet territory and with this Army crossed later to Persia (Iran) and then Iraq (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_Armed_Forces_in_the_East). He then underwent a special commando training in Italy as a “cichociemny” (The Dark and Silent - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cichociemni), took part in the Italian campaign and, after graduating from the Artillery School, received a rank of a second lieutenant. After the end of the war he was transferred to England, got married and not wanting to return to Poland, again under the Soviet rule, emigrated in 1951with his family to Argentina.

We were contacted at the beginning of June of this year by the employees of the Central Museum of the Prisoners of War in £ambinowice-Opole. They requested our permission to use the previously published information regarding Zbigniew (http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/drzewo/tekst/0062zbigniew.htm) and asked for copies of the documents and photographs to be used in the planned temporary exhibit entitled “Portraits of the Prisoners of War” to be opened at the museum on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion on September 17. The requested materials were gathered with the help of  Zbigniew’s family in Argentyna and cousins in Poland – Teresa Jaroszynska in Lublin (0097) and Alina Filipkowska in Warsaw (0072) as well as of Pawel Stefaniuk, the webmaster of our Family Tree (www.wajszczuk.v.pl),

Zbigniew’s son Adan (0063) and his eldest daughter Ana (0064) arrived from Argentina for the opening of the exhibit accompanied by his niece, Alina Filipkowska and her husband from Warsaw (http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/drzewo/059piotr.htm#0062). Pawel Stefaniuk came from the far away Drelów to document on photographs and tape this important event.

We wish to express our thanks to the administration and to all employees of the Museum, and in particular to our contact persons – Przemys³aw Jagie³a, M.S. and Renata Kobylarz, Ph.D. for their hard work and commitment to the preparing of this Exhibit and to the cause of preserving memories of the persons, who are dear to us as well as for the hospitality extended to the members of our family, who participated in this ceremony.


Central Museum of the Prisoners of War in £ambinowice-Opole
Temporary exhibit: “Portraits of the Prisoners”

 http://www.cmjw.pl/www/index_gb.php?id=wstep

(held at the Museum of the Opolian Silesia, Sept.17. – Oct. 13, 2009)
http://www.muzeum.opole.pl/index.php?setlng=en&PHPSESSID=2ee49d564a6080394866dc7ac40b00f2

 

 

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See also


Ana Wajszczuk from Buenos Aires has submitted the text below on 01/25/2010:

espanol

Nadie viene solo al mundo: nos rodea la familia que, tengamos o no al lado, nos rodea con su historia como el vientre en el que estuvimos nueve meses. Padres, abuelos, bisabuelos, tatarabuelos: sus historias, su vida, su origen nos hace ser quien somos, está en nosotros como está la misma sangre: su retrato es también nuestro retrato. El sendero que recorren desemboca en lo que somos. Sus historias son también la Historia.

Todas estas cosas pensé un mediodía de otoño polaco en el Museo de la Ciudad de  Opole,  mientras con mi papá y su prima Alina recorríamos una y otra vez la exhibición de fotos que estaba a punto de inaugurarse. No era simplemente la incredulidad y la alegría de volver a visitar  Polonia, volver a caminar los lugares donde mi familia dejó sus pisadas, conocer a los parientes lejanos que en un punto –esa historia, ese origen- se vuelven cercanos con una cercanía inexplicable. Era que esa huella se volvía nítida: mi abuelo, Zbigniew Ireneusz Wajszczuk, y la vida que lo llevó de Varsovia a Quilmes, eran protagonistas, junto a otras cinco historias, de la muestra Retratos de Prisioneros de Guerra que inauguró ese mediodía en el moderno museo de piedra caliza y ventanales de vidrio.

Invitados por los curadores a la muestra, mi papá y yo emprendimos  durante una semana un viaje juntos por Polonia que vamos a recordar toda nuestra vida. Primero, una soleada Varsovia, ciudad que me parece mía cuando apenas la visité dos veces: será, otra vez, ese origen inexplicable de donde venimos y los sitios que forman parte de un pasado que no conocimos pero que de alguna manera misteriosa  sigue latiendo en algún lugar recóndito dentro de uno. Luego Siedlce, el pueblo donde están enterrados mis tatarabuelos, y sus hijos, y los hijos de sus hijos, y el recuerdo de las flores rojas y las velas blancas que les ofrecimos como homenaje a quienes hicieron con sus huellas el camino que hoy piso.

Y el destino del viaje –además de un viaje al centro de la propia historia- nos llevó a Opole, donde el Museo de la Ciudad organizó junto al Museo Central de Prisioneros de Guerra en Lambinowice- Opole la muestra de fotos que rescató la historia de mi abuelo de muchos años de silencios heredados y aprendidos.

La historia de mi abuelo Ireneo, como le decíamos sus nietos, había sido seleccionada como ejemplo de las miles de historias de los anónimos protagonistas polacos de la II Guerra. Como una manera de contar la Historia desde las mínimas historias personales, encarnadas en las fotos que sobrevivieron a esas mismas historias para sesenta años después estar en el Museo de la Ciudad de Opole, cada una la pieza irreemplazable sin la cual el rompecabezas de la Historia, parecían decirnos a los que las mirábamos, no puede armarse. Allí estaba historia de mi abuelo: sus fotos de juventud, los ojos azules de su hermana que nunca conocí, los bigotes imponentes de mi bisabuelo, las fotos de su casamiento y de mi padre bebé, el dibujo de la larga marcha a Siberia, la pipa que talló mientras estaba prisionero y los documentos que lo reconocían  segundo teniente, las fotografías con el uniforme que lo llevó del desierto de Egipto a las prácticas militares en Italia, de su pueblito de Siedlce a Quilmes, del exilio en Inglaterra a la Argentina, de su alias “Mís 2”  al castellanizado “abuelo Ireneo”.

Vida entre las cientos de miles de vidas sin grandes condecoraciones ni homenajes,  vidas como las cientos de miles de vidas anónimas que pelearon y sufrieron y también murieron por Polonia,  apenas el retrato de seis vidas entre los seiscientos cincuenta mil que fueron prisioneros polacos de guerra en esos años.

Mirando las fotos de mi abuelo, y también las de Zofia y Jósef, Henryk, Stanislaw y otro Josef, como si todas se vieran a través de una lupa de aumento, y de repente cobraran vida por sí mismas – cada foto queriendo contar una y mil historias que mi abuelo nunca contó en vida- , entendí que las fotos que quedaron ERAN, todas ellas,  la Historia con mayúsculas. Y mientras a mi alrededor hablaban en ese idioma tan extraño como cercano, sentí  que era absolutamente imposible contar la historia de esa época y la historia de Polonia  sin la historia de mi abuelo Zbigniew Ireneusz Wajszczuk.

Ana Wajszczuk
Buenos Aires, diciembre de 2009.


espanol

Ana – letter, English (Dec., 2009)

Nobody comes alone into this world: we are surrounded by the family, whether or not we have them at our side, it surrounds us with their history, like a womb in which we were for nine months. Parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents: their histories, their lives, their origin make us what we are, it is in us - just as we have the same blood; their picture is also our picture. The path they travel flows into what we are. Their history is also The History.

I thought about all this at noon time of the polish autumn day at the Museum of the city of Opole, while with my dad and his cousin Alina visiting the exhibit of photos that was about to be opened. It was not simply the disbelief and the joy to be able to visit Poland once again, to visit again the places, where my family left their footprints, meet the distant relatives, but that also at one point – that history, that origin – became close with an inexplicable nearness. It was that these footprints became clear: my grandfather Zbigniew Ireneusz Wajszczuk, and the life which took him from Warsaw to Quilmes, together with five other representative histories, were the protagonists to the exhibit of the Portraits of the Prisoners of War that was inaugurated that mid-afternoon in a modern museum constructed of limestone with large glass windows.

Invited by the curators of the exhibit, my father and I embarked on a one-week trip to Poland, which we will remember all our lives. At first, a sunny Warsaw, a city that feels like home although I visited it only twice: it will be again that inexplicable origin, from where we come and the places which form a part of our past that we do not know, but which for some mysterious way continuous beating in some deep location inside us. And then Siedlce, the town where were buried my great-great-grandparents, and their children, and children of their children, and the recollection of red flowers and of white candles that we offered in memory of the ones, who with their footsteps made possible the path, which I stay on today.

And the main destination of this trip – beside the trip to the “heart of history” – took us to Opole, where the City Museum organized together with the Central Museum of the Prisoners of War in £ambinowice-Opole an exhibit of photographs which recaptured the history of my grandfather from many years of silences, inherited and learned.

The history of my grandfather – Ireneo, as the grandchildren called him, was selected as an example of thousands of histories of anonymous Polish participants of the World War II. As a means of telling the History from the small personal histories embodied in the photos, which survived these histories, to be shown 60 years later in the Museum of Opole, each piece being irreplaceable, without which the puzzle of the History seems to tell us, who are looking, cannot be put together.

There was the history of my grandfather: pictures from his youth, the blue eyes of his sister whom I never knew, the mustache of my great-grandfather, the picture of his wedding and of my father as a baby, the drawing of the long march to Siberia, the pipe that he carried when he was a prisoner and the documents that recognized him as a second lieutenant, photo in the uniform, which took him from the Egyptian desert to the military action in Italy, from his small town of Siedlce to Quilmes, from the exile in England to Argentina, from his (secret military) pseudonym “Miœ-2” to the Spanish “abuelo Ireneo” – grandfather Ireneo.

Life among the thousands of lives without grand decorations or testimonials, lives like hundreds of anonymous lives who fought, suffered and died for Poland, just the portraits of six lives from among the 650,000, who were Polish prisoners of war in those years.

Looking at the photos of my grandfather and also of Zofia and Józef, Henryk, Stanis³aw and the other Józef, as if all were seen through a magnifying glass, and suddenly they become alive on their own – each photo wanting to tell one thousand and one stories that my grandfather never told all his life, I understood that the photos that remained WERE
all of them, THE HISTORY, written with capital letters. And when around me a language, so strange yet close, was spoken, I felt that it was absolutely impossible to tell the history of that time and the history of Poland without the story of my grandfather Zbigniew Ireneusz Wajszczuk.

Ana Wajszczuk
Buenos Aires, December 2009

 


Prepared by: Waldemar J Wajszczuk & Pawe³ Stefaniuk 2009
e-mail: wwajszczuk@comcast.net lub wajszczuk@onet.pl