Life Changes 1939-1940

I was there.

Janina was thirteen, when, in September 1939 the WWII started.  Her father as a reserve officer was conscripted into the Polish Army. He was interned by the Soviet Army along with other Polish officers, detained in Kozielsk camp, and then killed in Katyń with his brother.

Janina Bauman (1926-2009), Poland

Janina Bauman (1926-2009), Poland

Consider here how life changed for Janina and her family when the war broke out

Onset of War

Janina returns to Warsaw from holidays spent with her parents in Truskavets. On the way to Warsaw she sees the panic caused by bombings.

1) Listen to Janina, as she talks about the outbreak of World War II in Poland. Answer the questions.

  • 1a. Think about a few situations when people panic?

  • 1b. Describe one situation when you felt threatened? What did you feel?

  • 1c. Watch the clip about coming back home from summer holidays. Using your own knowledge and experience as well as the source text try to explain Janina’s words about the young soldiers she saw on her war from Truskawiec to Warsaw.

Warsaw in Ruin

Janina, together with her family and neighbours, organizes help for refugees who found themselves in Warsaw in September 1939.

2) Listen to Janina, as she talks about the first months of the war. Answer the questions.

  • 2a. How inhabitants of Warsaw helped the refugees coming to the city?

  • 2b. What images of the siege of Warsaw does Janina? What was the most salient one of them?

  • 2c. How the house at Graniczna Street was saved? Was it really a miracle?

  • 2d. Describe nurse Franciszka. Use five adjectives.

  • 2e. Watch carefully the fragment about grocery shopping in „Knur fur Deutsche store”. Why, given the attitude of nurse Franciszka towards German soldiers she disappeared from the life of the family after grandmother’s death?

Clandestine Teaching

Janina and  her friends start clandestine education.

3) Listen to Janina, as she describes behaviors of her Polish colleagues. Answer the questions.

  • 3a. "Situation has changed fundamentally,” said Janina talking about her school colleagues. How do you understand that statement?

Watch the fragment about the clandestine teaching (tajne komplety), illegal school classes , that were organized from the very beginning of the war – since the year 1939.

  • 3b. Try to describe the attitude of non-Jewish friends of Janina when she had to wear the armband. How would you name that attitude?