Chapter 24


The chief of the police post in Pardubice treated us as well as his duties permitted. We were still kept under lock and key and guarded when outside the police cells, but we were given some work in the chief's household and fed decently from his own kitchen. There, in that  mid-size town far from the political  hassle of the capital, in the eyes of the local authorities we were not seen as criminals, but as some of the thousands of people returning home  from whatever forced them to be in Germany at the end of the war. And many of that town's inhabitants were perhaps waiting for their loved ones to some day come home. Of course the authorities wanted to keep the human stream within the territory of the international rail routes and not spread all over the countryside.  After keeping us under arrest for a few days - possibly checking if we had any criminal record - they took us, still under guard, to the railroad station,  put us on the train going in the direction of the Polish border and told us to go home. There was no police escort on the train this time and frankly it was not needed; we were in no shape to escape again. Not that we had abandoned the project but we needed to restore  our health and resources before trying again. We were traveling alone and the Czech authorities had not forwarded  any dossier on us.  Since we had our false, war time, personal identifications we decided to try to pass for people returning home from forced labor in Germany.

Near Cieszyn we crossed the Polish border. Our ruse worked without a hitch. We were processed through the repatriation centre on the border, received a meal, a packet of cigarettes each and what was most important identification certificates as repatriates which also entitled us to free train transportation to wherever our homes may be.
 We were traveling to our home territory by a roundabout route via Lodz, Warsaw, Siedlce, Sokolow. It took nearly a week because the trains worked in a very sporadic manner and sometimes would stop in the middle of nowhere, at a stand still until the Russian personnel in charge were paid a ransom, usually a few bottles of vodka. We ate whenever we could get something, mostly from the Red Cross. At night every available bit of space on the dirty concrete floors of railroad stations was filled by tired, miserable people in search of lost homes and family.

The nearest town to home that we could reach by train was Sokolow - only seventeen kilometers distant. There was no public transportation to our town, and even if there had been we could not ride into town like a couple of slave laborers returning home. There was some unfinished business with Internal Security people. So we chose to make the last stretch on foot. It was one of those miserable, rainy and windy October days. About half way, near the village of Grochow, a peasant's horse-drawn wagon passed us driving in the opposite direction. There, among a few others sat A. Chmielewski, once our High School Principal, teacher in the Underground and comrade in arms. He looked in our direction and I could see that he recognized us. For a moment it seemed  that he would greet us, but he thought better of it, watching us in  silence. Somehow I knew that it was the last time I would ever see  him and I felt very sad, as if standing over an open grave. He was the greatest educator I have ever met and a friend.

It was already dark when we reached Klimowizna Hospital. The next day,  having had for the first time in many months, a bath, clean underwear, a shave, a hot meal and a good sleep in a clean bed we had a short conference with Sr. Teobalda who had already managed to contact our mother and some other people. In the evening of the same day two friends from the former Underground came to see me. They were Jozek Ornoch and Zyzio Klem and they briefed me about the situation on the "internal front".  Recently the Internal Security Department, finding it impossible to deal with still existing small and large partisan bands and underground networks, had come to the conclusion that it was time to try and defuse the explosive situation. They persuaded Col. "Radoslaw" *, one of the commanders of the "Warsaw Uprising" who was being held in their prison, that the deal would be beneficial for both sides.

A full amnesty was declared for all former and present Underground members on the one condition that they report to the so called Liquidating Commission. The name did not sound very encouraging but Col. "Radoslaw" *who was nominated head of the Commission knew that our side needed at least a few weeks break to enable thousands of people to find some niche where they could legalize themselves and resume normal life where noone knew them. Noone had any illusions; the totalitarian regimes never forgive and forget, they may only postpone.  Ornoch and Klem were appointed members of the Commission for our region. A third member was badly needed and they asked me to join. The next morning, having been given all  possible assurances of safety including some undercover  armed men provided by J. Ornoch in case UB  tried to arrest me before I reached the office of the Commission, I, for the first time in over a year walked the streets of my town openly in the daylight. I reported to the office of the commission at the former rectory where German gendarmes had once held their post,  now occupied  by their successor, the Bezpieka. My two friends were there and so was the man in charge of the local internal security forces Lt. Klosinski. He was very polite and officially invited me to become a member of the Commission.  It was October 11th, 1945.

* Real name Mazurkiwicz, but passed to history as Radoslaw.