"ONE TWO THREE FOUR and a SUITCASE"

JUREK’S BACKGROUND STORY

"A few hours decided the destiny of the Sikorski family"

Families de Berg and Sikorski knew each other and were friends since nearly 100 years.

I married Alina Sikorska in 1950. Our mothers Maria and Walentyna were friends since before the 2nd World War and our grandmothers, Zofia de Berg and Nadziezda Wolkow were friends since about 1922.

Both the families originated in Russia and knew only too well what communism means. When in 1944 Soviet Army was marching west through Poland they decided that if their hometown Poznan was threatened by Russia, they would escape west trying to reach the Americans and English.

Thus in the autumn of 1944 after much deliberation, they contacted General Lampe who was the leader of the White Russian emigrants in Germany. He suggested a place in Germany called Altenburg, where a Russian princess had a castle. Postal contact was established and as it was in eastern Germany and too close to the Russians further meeting points were arranged in Berlin and Munich.

In January 1945 the Russian army reached Western Poland and came close to Poznan so a joint decision was taken to move west. We left Poznan in the evening of 20th January and Wala Sikorska with four children on the 22nd.

We reached Berlin and Gen. Lampe but Wala went directly to Altenburg. I did not relish seeing the end of the war in a capital city for the second time- the first time was in Warsaw 1939- so we went towards Munich and beyond landing up eventually in Garmish Parten Kirchen close to Polish prisoners of war camps in Murnau. We lost trace of the Sikorski family.

The war soon ended and I joined the 2nd Polish Corps in Italy but my father stayed in Murnau. Meanwhile the Sikorski family went south as agreed and reached the Polish Displaced Persons camp in Wetzlar.

The Polish authorities in Italy tried to establish a network of contacts in all the Polish camps in southern Germany and one of the officers from Murnau went to Wetzlar where he discovered, to his great surprise, the Sikorski family. By coincidence he knew them from before the war in Poznan and was asked by Wala to find out on his return to Murnau whether there was anybody there called de Berg. He did and he found my father who notified me immediately about this. It must be pointed out that during this time communications were very difficult. The Headquarters in Ancona, Italy, was sending convoys with food to Murnau once weekly only.

Being a P.R.O. (Public Relations Officer) in the H.Q. of the Polish Army I had various good contacts and straight away I obtained for Wala and the children so called "Rozkaz Wyjazdu" – Transportation Orders- to travel to Italy as my family. As I mentioned, during this time movement and contacts between camps in Germany and Italy were extremely difficult and without documents of this kind travel was practically impossible.

Meanwhile Wala still did not know where I was and she befriended a Polish teacher from Krakow and decided to return to Poland. Eventually one day they packed all their belongings and put them on a train that was going next day in the morning to Krakow.

Meanwhile my documents reached Murnau by Military Post and my father handed them to the same officer who knew Wala and he immediately went to Wetzlar. He reached the camp in the evening before the intended departure for Poland and when Wala got the letter and documents she nearly fainted. She changed her mind immediately, took the luggage from the train and within a short time was in Murnau whence she travelled with the children via Austria to join me in Ancona. But that is another story.

It is a very abbreviated story but what is important, even dramatic, is the fact that had the officer with the travel order documents arrived in Wetzlar a few hours later than he did the Sikorski family would have gone back to Poland.

Thus I would not have married Alina, Roman Czesia, Andrzej Basia, Marek Llynne; our children would have never been born and the future of the family would have been totally different.

Few hours decided the destiny of the Sikorski family.

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