When the Prussians Came to Poland - L. DeGozdawa

We Arrive in Russia

I remember when we were nearing Brest Litovsk, the great fortress, how secure we felt—and how we spoke of the word she would speak to the enemy.

The city lay in the bright afternoon sunshine, as we passed through, quiet and sure of herself, not knowing even then that traitors were planning to blow up her great magazines of supplies, thus robbing thousands upon thousands of men of ammunition and sending them defenseless to meet the enemy!

In the morning, September 26th, we arrived in Vitebsk. It was very frosty, almost like winter. My husband liked the town very much, and had friends there, many owning estates in the neighborhood. He had done his army service in Vitebsk, and was telling me tales of his experiences as a junior officer. We began to smile once more and the burden lightened. Even when we discovered all the hotels to be crowded with refugees, we did not lose courage.

In one hotel we found a big room with one tiny bed. All beds had been taken for the new hospitals, but, as the proprietors remarked, there was lots of room on the floor! Afterwards he gave us a tiny room for my husband, and then we were quite delighted. The mattress made a bed for the children on the floor. I lay upon the spring, Panna Jadwiga dropped down beside the children, and the two servants curled up anywhere; and all were glad to be there.

The next day, we searched for some sort of a dwelling, and found a wretched place, unsanitary as possible, under a hill beside a barracks, but we knew by that time that it was lucky to find even the worst of places. We agreed to take it, but there was still a two days' wait even then before it was ours.

That same night my husband was notified that Suwalki had been cleared of the Germans, and that he was to return. Again I must stay with the children, and could not go with my husband. On Tuesday afternoon, he—with a lot of officials—left on what proved an eventful journey. How I wanted to go, too.

It was a whole ten days before my husband returned, as from the dead, bringing us much news—and two trunks full of clothes! My clothes were fairly untouched. Also some silver had been recovered.

He had found our place in an awful state, it having been used as officers' quarters. However, they had left in too much of a hurry to carry off much. Our people had lived through terrible things, but only a few of them lost their lives. All the linen, the instruments, and everything removable had been taken from our hospital. After the battles near Suwalki, as the foe was driven back to East Prussia, there were said to be seven or eight thousand wounded!

[Illustration] from Prussians Came to Poland by L. DeGozdawa


My husband had been given a post in Lemberg [Lviv, Ukraine] as chief or inspector of the Sanitary Engineers, and had just two days to spare with his little family. How hard it was to let him go, but no children were allowed in occupied territory.