Dinner in Pomerania was between 12.00 noon and 12.30 PM. The blacksmith put his hammer down and took the big heavy leather apron off, the cobbler pushed his stool aside, the farmers came home from the fields and took care of the horses first before they entered the kitchens where their women had prepared a hearty meal. Sitting around the table the men had discussed the possibility of war for the last few days.
I was just over five years old and a real ‘father’s girl’, hanging on every one of his words with big eyes and an admiring, curious mind. He employed several men in the smithy, a couple of them young apprentices. They would sit around the large table in our country kitchen where all our meals were taken and talked. And talking they did! There was no chance for it in the work room when the fires were blazing and crackling, the hammers hitting the red-hot iron on the anvils. When shaped into parts for machinery or horse shoes with sparks flying and dipped into cold water, the hissing sound added to the cacophony of noise.
On September 1st, 1939 their talk was subdued and serious with the palpable underlying fear of being conscripted into the army. War was imminent, the German army had entered Poland and it was a matter of hours until the radio announced war had been declared. It was a very sad day in our village. People stood together in groups and I, holding my father’s hand, had the feeling as if someone had died and they had all just come from a funeral.
The rest is history. The rest was death and tears. Today, September 1st 2014 is the 75th anniversary of that sad day long ago in my young life that I remember so well. Today the Polish leader, Donald Tusk, laid a wreath at the memorial of the fallen young soldiers in Gdansk and warned:
“This is no time for beautiful speeches or naïve optimism looking at the conflict between the Ukrainian troops and the pro-Russian forces.”