Authors note: On September 1, 1939 Adolph Hitler thrust the world into World War II by advancing his armies into Poland. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany. This is a fictional account of a woman from Kansas who was called to help the Jewish people’s residing in Poland. This is the second of many letters she wrote home. Music to Read by:”Sanvean” by Sarah Brightman
4 September 1939
My dearest Bartholomew,
We have been heading further into Poland as the Nazis are conquering every town, city and farm. Oh, my husband! Such a terrible evil that’s come upon the world, the gunfire I spoke of can be heard in the distance. It’s coming closer and closer everyday, but we are moving faster too. Planes are bursting in midair and falling to pieces. Children are screaming, young boys are gearing up to protect their homeland! As we move further east, the Polish military is moving west towards the battlefront. They look defeated Bartholomew and frightened. The past two days have been spent traveling underneath the protection of shadows. We don’t have automobiles or horses so we must trek with haste. It is a scary time! I want to come home to Kansas, to see your bearded face, to touch Thomas and scold him about homework. I want to hear our chickens and clean our home and cook you dinner. But I know I cannot leave this war-torn land of the Poles. Not when so much is at stake. These poor, destitute people are trying desperately to keep hope within their hearts, but my beloved, it seems the enemy is gaining more ground everyday and that the Lord has abandoned us to our fate. What a foolish thing war is. What a heart wrenching, agonizing, greedy atrocity. This man Hitler will burn the world down to gain what he’s after. My ignorant mind cannot fathom what he really wants, I am not good with politics, you know all this.
My Jewish friends are speaking less and less as the days move forward. Our group has almost twelve people, down from twenty, the ones who have abandoned us decided to move further south, away from the onslaught. My town of Poznan is probably destroyed, torched to the ground by wicked men in black uniforms and hatred in their hearts. How I miss those ancient buildings and beautiful rectories and delightful eateries! My translator, God bless her heart, is attempting to keep me within the loop of things going on. But she has her own family to look out for. I am afraid she will leave me Bartholomew! She talks only when necessary, with war raging in the west and her homeland being gutted by Germans, there is not much to talk about.
I am such a nervous wreck, I think I have grayed more in two days than in the past fifteen years. My mind is in a constant state of bewilderment, my heart, full of dread so thick I could keel over at anytime.
But I must remain strong Bartholomew. Remember the young girl I was telling you about with the brown dress and blue handkerchief? She has yet to leave my side. She holds onto my leg for dear life. I fear for her, yet her parents seem unconcerned with her welfare. Oh, I must sound terribly brash in my estimation of their love for her! Who am I to make such an accusation? Her father, Tosiek, is one of the elders and he is arguing with the other men. His wife, Olenka (my translator), was telling me late last night that the other elders want to head to the city of Lodz for safety. But she is afraid this could be Hitler’s main objective. They want to head further east towards Warsaw. But what do we know? An American from Kansas and a bunch of farmers?
Oh my angel Bartholomew! Please continue to pray for my group. I fear they are starting to lose all sense of the practicality I mentioned in my previous letter. Luckily, we’ve managed to stay out of main cities and in the softness of the beautiful hills and fields. Unfortunately, I feel little comfort at this fact. Last night we slept in an abandoned Church in God knows where. All I knew was shear exhausting from walking and running all day long. Our food supply should last another few days. Some of the people in our group have departed, but maybe it’s for the best. With the shortage of food and water, there will be more for us. Oh, is that terrible of me husband? Is it horribly selfish to think of myself while others are undergoing slaughter and violence on a massive scale? I wonder if those young men are dying for thirst. It breaks my hearts more and more each day if I dwell on it too long. I would bring them water if I could, I would bake them something!
The church we slept in last night resides on a rolling hill overlooking mountains and a small lake. There was a fishing boat floating around the water all by itself. Heaven knows what happened to its captain. The nuns had planted roses and yellow tulips around the wooden base of the church. There are stained glass windows depicting scenes from the bible (what else would you expect to see in a church?). The sanctuary was very small with only five pews on each side, yet it made for comfortable sleeping quarters. The altar was carpeted and the friars podium stood unmolested, unused and collecting dust. candelabra’s were empty, a stack of hymnals and bibles were covered in cobwebs near a corner. It looked as though no one had used it for years. Such a shame Bartholomew, if the men in charge of Germany would only fall on their knees and repent, the world could be saved from what is undoubtedly to come. I feel it in my bones, this war will demolish what’s left of humanity. I walked away from the group to see if there was a kitchen of sorts. I figured if I couldn’t speak their language, I sure could cook something to ease the pain we all felt. We have five delightful, beautiful children in our midst. The little one I spoke of is sitting near as I write you this. She is such a big help to my spirits! You would adore her!
There was a small kitchen with a few spare ingredients inside old wooden cupboards. I had one of the men start a fire in the hearth. I made a pot of broth and for dessert I made small cakes. There was not enough for everyone so we had to cut them into pieces so we could all share. But, there is one old man in our group who is rather ornery and did not take lightly to having to share his cake. Olenka tried to make him understand but he did not want to hear it. He screamed and cursed at me Bartholomew. I cried in front of the men. I didn’t want to, but I was so upset that I couldn’t feed him more, but I must choose wisely the battles I come across. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and tried to give him my portion, but he stormed out of the church, we have not seen him since. I admit that I am glad he is gone, he gave me an odd feeling whenever he was in my presence.
How I need you now more than ever! I must end this letter, our tribe is moving out again, I don’t want to be the one to hold everyone up. Pray like you’ve never prayed before. Pray for my safety, but I ask that you pray more for our Jewish friends because they are in the most distress. Bartholomew, I hope I can pen you another letter in the coming days. But I know not what is to come of me or where we will find ourselves next. I still believe the Hand of God is on our lives and He will direct our paths. Until next time my sweet, sweet husband. Have I told you I love you recently? Well, if you are in doubt, I do. Very much so. Tell my Thomas to be a good boy and finish all his homework. To the end of the earth, my love will never end.
Love forever, Gracie