STATEMENT BY PROF. DR. ZDZISLAW P. WESOLOWSKI Captain, U.S. Air Force, Retired Colonel, South Carolina State Guard, Reserve
It is gratifying to see victims of Nazi German WWII atrocities starting to be compensated for their suffering after 54 years of the end of World War II. The compensation for suffering im-posed upon the Polish people by the Soviet Union has not even begun. However, not all persons are being compensated for their suffering and deprivation at the hands of Nazi Germany. Persons who do not fall in any current classified categories have been totally ignored. For example, Polish children of WWII who were killed, wounded, orphaned or suffered from depravation of food, shelter, medical attention and deprived of their childhood.
I was a child in Poland during the years 1939-1946. Before the war I was a member of a middle class Polish family. My father, Captain Stefan P. Wesolowski served as an official of the Gdynia Port Authority and was a non-commissioned officer in the Polish Naval Reserve.
My mother Antonina Wesolowska was a house wife. On September1, 1939 our tranquil life was changed into a harrowing experience. We were deprived of our home, personal possessions, proper nourishment, education and personal safety and a family life.
THE WAR YEARS,
1939-1945. Our life during these years was that of terror and wondering from place to place in order to find safety, food, shelter and work. With father serving with the Polish Navy in England, my mother Antonina was faced with the daily task of feeding me and my brother Jeremii who at that time in 1939 was 2 years old. We traveled from Gdynia to Lublin, Kozienice, Poznan, and Sandomierz mostly by walking to find shelter. We were in danger of arrest and execution. Mother was finally arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo about father’s location and activity in England. We were in danger of being executed during that time.
Mother was put into forced labor in a German military hospital cleaning and working in the kitchen. I remember her coming back late at night with some scraps of food for me and my brother and grand parents who took care of us while mother was away. Our life was that of constant fear and daily forage for food. I went begging for food constantly and became ill many times. I fainted from weakness, had epileptic seizures and after the war developed rheumatoid arthritis.
All schools were closed. The only education during those years was obtained from grandparents and mother. By 1946 I was only able to read and write and had no formal elementary education.
As a child I witnessed executions, beatings, mass roundups of people, death marches, crossing fields during battles, being shot at by both sides while escaping battlefields. I experienced enemy artillery and air bombardment raids. I remember the stench of dead bodies and horses after battles. I buried the dead with my bare hands. I witnessed the suffering of others, both Christians and Jews. In 1964 I visited Poland for the first time after 1946. I had flashbacks on many occasions, seeking German soldiers on streets.
Who will compensate me and millions of other Poles for our losses? Who will compensate my late mother for her suffering, fear, depravation as a result of her arrest and interrogation at the hands of the Gestapo? How much monetary value will be placed on such compensation? When I look back over those years, I am lucky to be alive and my survival was the will of God and the heroic efforts of my mother.
This statement is made also on behalf of my younger brother, Dr. Jeremii W. Wesolowski.