Józef Oleksiewicz

  • Józef Oleksiewicz was born in 1929 in a town Grybów in  the south Poland.

    When the war started he was 10 years old and couldn’t go to school as Germas closed all Polish schools. He saw how Germans treated Jews and Polish people.

    He wanted to fight against  Germans and he wanted  to join the army as his brother did, but Mr. Józef was to young. He helped the soldiers in the forest (the partisans) and carried the messages what was very dangerous.

    When he was 14 he became a soldier, he was wounded twice, he was caught by Germans but he managed to escape. Mr Józef told us how difficult life was during the German occupation. Polish people had to give the Germans a lot of food and then they were starving. One winter Mr Józef’s family ate only potatoes three times a day as they didn’t have any flour to make the bread.

    Mr. Józef told us that Jews in Grybów in WW2 had to move out from the town centre, they only could live in the suburbs and couldn’t even visit the town centre. All Jews had to wear an armband with the star of David. Germans stole all precious things from them and eventually sent them to the concentration camps where most of them were killed.

    When the war finished, a new occupation started in Poland and in Grybów too. The communists arrested most of Home Army soldiers. Mr. Józef and many of his friends didn’t want to be arrested and that’s why he spent another two years in the forest. Unfortunately in May 1947 he was caught and arrested. First he was in prison in Kraków,  then in a concentration camp in Jawor, where Home Army soldiers were treated like traitors and nasis.

    Mr Józef told us that people in Jawor were sure they were traitors who had helped Germans during the war. He left prison in June 1950 when he was 21. Then he moved to Lower Silesia.

    This way war took the best years of Mr Józef’s life, but he says he was lucky, because he survived and wasn’t killed, wasn’t sent to Sybiria like many of his friends.
    Now he is 88 and he is the president of World Union of Home Army Veterans in Strzelin and he often visits schools and talks about war and Home Army. He says we have to know our country history to avoid another disasters like war.