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April 17, 2024
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“Gift” from Tusk for the 80th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising

Bogusława Radziwoń

I am posting a photo of destroyed Warsaw as a background and from now on it will be my permanent photo on Facebook. I am also changing my profile photo to a photo of my beloved Grandma Frani.

This is in protest to the decision to waive reparations for WWII losses. I treat the following words of Radosław Sikorski as an insult to me and my family: “If Berlin wants to make a transfer, I will be happy to do so. We will even give you a discount if the money is received by the end of the year.”

My grandparents did not receive any compensation or even a word of apology for the martyrdom of their older son in the Mauthausen concentration camp and the forced emigration of the younger one – Warsaw insurgent and Home Army soldier.

I am reposting my Facebook post from August 1, 2020:

Grandma Frania, Mother of the Insurgents

Mothers of insurgents, saying goodbye to their children and watching them leave to fight for freedom. Mothers’ hearts are full of fear, eyes are full of tears, but they are proud of their sons and daughters. Only this anxiety, will they see them again?

I often remember Grandma Franciszka, my beloved Grandma Frania. That’s probably how she said goodbye to her two sons. Only the youngest daughter, Jadzia, my mother (born March 24, 1931), remained at home. They lived then in Targówek, at ul. Prince Ziemowit. The boys went to fight on the left side of the Vistula. The brothers separated. The older one, Tadeusz, nicknamed “Rymsza”, was assigned to the Old Town, while the younger one, Zygmunt, nicknamed “Wierzba” and “Zdzisław”, was assigned to Śródmieście.

Marksman Tadeusz Bobrowski (born June 21, 1921)

In the underground since 1939, in 1944 in the Home Army – “Północ” Group – “Sienkiewicz” group, then “Kuba”-“Sosna” section – “Gozdawa” battalion – 4th company – 1st platoon.

Battle trail: Old Town.

Senior gunner cadet Zygmunt Bobrowski (born May 2, 1924)

In the underground since 1939; in 1944 in the National Armed Forces (NSZ) – NSZ regiment named after Dąbrowski, then the Home Army group “Bartkiewicz” – 4th company – 2nd platoon.

Battle route: Śródmieście Północ, Warsaw Home Army Corps (from September 20, 1944): 28th Home Army Infantry Division named after Stefan Okrzei – 36th Infantry Regiment of the Academic Legion – 2nd Battalion.

Grandma never saw the older son again. She reunited with the younger one only 34 years later. Unfortunately, Grandpa did not live to see this moment.

After the war, Grandma and Grandpa were looking for both of them. The younger one, Zygmunt, was found in the former prisoners of war camp in Bad Harzburg. After the fall of the Uprising, he was deported to Stalag XI B Fallingbostel, and after liberation by the Americans, he stayed in Bad Harzburg. He was afraid to return to his homeland enslaved by communists. In the camp, he met Irma, his future wife from Silesia from a German-Polish family. Irma did not know Polish. They decided to go to Australia. They started a family.

The only thing my grandparents knew about the older son, Tadeusz, was that after the Warsaw Uprising he was deported to a camp in Germany. His cousin, Bogumił, was with him on the train. He encouraged him to escape. Unfortunately, Tadeusz was sick and had no strength. Bogumił managed to escape, but Tadeusz stayed on the death train.

Did Grandma Frania still hope to see her son? Did the mother’s heart feel that her child was dead? She never talked about it and I didn’t have the courage to ask.

At the beginning of June 1946, a letter from the Polish Red Cross arrived: “In connection with the reported search, we regret to inform you that, according to the report in our office, Bobrowski Tadeusz, born on September 21, 1921, was in the Mauthausen concentration camp and died there on November 8, 1944. We send our deepest condolences.” A symbolic plaque is on the family grave at the Bródno Cemetery.

The younger son Zygmunt came to Poland only in 1978. By then, his father was already dead. I remember how my grandmother was happy with the arrival of her son and daughter-in-law. Is it a coincidence or a gift from God that they came in May, for my wedding? So it was a double celebration for the whole family. They came alone, Grandma didn’t recognize her “Australian” two granddaughters and grandson. But there was still great joy. After 34 years, she saw her son. Modest, hard-working, warm, and helpful, my beloved heroine, died in 1984.

Even though he had been abroad for so many years with almost no contact with the Polish language (English was spoken at home), Zygmunt spoke his native language beautifully, without any influences. Even after twenty years, in 2001, when he came to Poland for the second time, this time alone, he spoke flawless Polish. He walked the streets of his city, reminiscing about his childhood, youth, and the Uprising. And I think he was saying goodbye to him. This time it happened that he came for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was a double celebration again.

Zygmunt Bobrowski died in Australia on July 26, 2009. The funeral took place in Shortland on August 1, on the 65th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. He always missed Poland and wanted to return, this was his place on earth – this is what his daughters and granddaughters who visit the homeland of their father and grandfather say. They and their families always take their first steps to the Warsaw Uprising Museum. It is a priceless history lesson for them, and the W Hour, which they witnessed at the so-called Frying pan will remain in their memory forever. The shouts of “Honor and Glory to the Heroes” are also a thank you to their father and his brother.

 

 

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