Excerpt from the fourth chapter, ‘Deep Poland’


“I had memories of other pictures. They showed roads in winter, in an empty white landscape. There were hundreds of people on those roads. They had left their houses and most of their possessions. They were walking or seated on a cart that was pulled by a horse or a dog. Women walked behind a push cart. The suitcases, then for real, are now relics that you can find in a thrift store, maybe on someone’s attic, until the someone dies. The people arrived in the west with those suitcases. Maybe they carried important documents, or pictures, or the very private things from a woman’s wardrobe, family jewels, a crucifix. There were hundreds of smaller and bigger places in the eastern part of the German Reich. Masses, dark masses left their homes because the Red Army was advancing. We know the stories, but not all the stories. The Soviet Army didn’t come to liberate, it came to conquer. They destroyed for a big part the world that the Germans had left. When it was time for history to pick up the pieces, Polish people moved into the empty cities. Probably they were not given a handful of money, that would help them to restore their lives. Probably the new inhabitants were left to fate and imagination. Probably they couldn’t care too much for the things they found in the houses. Probably they didn’t see the value of an old desk, a roof or a wooden statue. You needed to heat the stove to get hot water. Winters were cold.”


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