Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Day

Last year, I posted the following. I wanted to thank all my generations and generations of Polish ancestors who simply kept going despite all the misery and grief they faced.

My people were all poor people, the ones who survived to look in my eyes and touch my fingers and those who didn’t, dying instead of fever, hunger, or even a bullet in the face, dying maybe thinking of how their deaths were balanced by my birth or one of the other stories the poor tell themselves to give themselves the strength to crawl out of their own graves.

Not all of them had this strength but enough of them did, so that I’m here and you’re here reading this blog about them.

What kept them going?
I think about that a lot.

Maybe there's something in the DNA of people who start with nothing and end with nothing, and in between live from one handful of nothing to the next handful of nothing.

They keep going.

Through the misery in the rain and the terror in the snow, they keep going--even when there aren’t any rungs on the ladder, even when there aren’t any ladders.

(The photos are of my uncle Jan Hanczarek. He was taken to Siberia by the Russians in 1941. The Russians enslaved millions of Poles. In the first photo, he is standing with his wife and two children. I don't know their names. In the second photo, he and his wife are standing at the grave of my grandmother and my aunt and my aunt's baby who were all killed by the Nazis.)


John Guzlowski said...

I received the following note from Valentina Blonsky Hardin:

I cannot believe that I've had the extraordinary luck of finding this blog! Like many of you, I have suffered in silence the destiny of a DP. I was in a DP camp in Bensheim, Germany, as a child but just recently found out about it (I am 62 yrs old). In fact, there are so many things about my identity that I have just recently found out, that I have been desperate to connect to someone that would "understand" and/or help me make sense of my complicated past. My mother is still alive, and I have been interviewing her for a few years now; however, some of the answers sadden me so much and render me so impotent that sometimes it takes me years to go back to asking her a question about what she went through during WWII. We are not Jewish; she is from Belorus, and spent time in a German factory, as forced labor. Some areas of her past are very fuzzy and I sense that she cannot talk about them. But I thank God that I have had the presence of mind not to leave this subject untouched. She's 83 yrs old and I feel an urgency, now more than ever, to find out about what happened in our lives during and after that war. The story of our past has always eaten at my insides. Her family suffered much during the Stalin regime (her father was sent to the Gulag and their lands expropriated when she was young) even before she was taken away by the Nazis. After the war we ended up as DP's in Venezuela and the story of how this came about is very traumatic too. In Venezuela my father seems to have gone crazy (abused alcohol and was extremely violent). He tried to kill Mom, me and my brother, and himself. He was finally sent to El Dorado, a prison in the jungle, close to the Brazilian Amazon and forever left our lives (thank God). I am so grateful that I have found some place where I can discuss these horrible things...and realize that others have suffered similar experiences. Frankly, we don't know anybody here in Houston, Texas, where we live now, who is interested in listening to us, including my half-sister and my brother's kids, who are in their twenty's. My Mom and I feel so lonely and disconnected. I've spent hours now looking through this website, compulsively, trying to load up on as much information as I can...I have found some information which has helped me fill in some gaps of the puzzle....and it has provided me with much psychological relief. Many thanks for this wonderful site and the opportunity to connect myself with this support group.


To Mr. John Guzlowski

I am happy reading your article after a long time.

I have posted some new short stories and paintings. I think you would like to see the same.

Naval Langa