Category Archives: Stories

Stories from the Książyk Families accross the World

Gdyby kózka

My French great-mother only spoke 4 words in Polish and had no opportunity to learn more since my great father Leon Książyk had no Polish fellows where he was living. Until the end of her life, she reminded this Polish proverb and liked to tell it po polsku: “Przyszła koza do woza”. Of course, she never translated but explained that it was about “une chèvre qui retourne faire des bétises au même endroit” (“a goat who returns to make mistakes in the same place”). Obviously, this was a clear warning to my intention.

In fact, my great-mother was right with the words but wrong with the meaning. “Przyszła koza do woza” means literally: „the goat came to the cart”. This expression pictures someone who earlier refused to accept your help or advice and now asks for it. Well, if we can get the idea, the picture of a goat in a car is rather obscure, prawda?

goatSeveral Polish proverbs are about goats. Here are the most usual:

Gdyby kózka nie skakała, to by nóżki nie złamała

If the goat didn’t jump, she wouldn’t have broken her leg

– Gdyby kózka nie skakała, to by smutne życie miała

If the goat didn’t jump, she’d have a miserable life

Now, we get even more confused because these two proverbs are obviously conflicting over the intentions and the results. The first explains that the goat was in trouble because she jumped. The second explains that the goat avoided troubles because she jumped. The expression “Gdyby kózka” has been widely used to coin funny colloquial expressions. “Gdyby kózka” is also a vehicle for the proliferation of memes on social media. I did my best to understand what they are about but Polish logic and humour are far beyond me.

Marie-Jeanne, Paris

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Histoire de moto Norton

Bonjour à tous,

Une petite histoire qui se passe pendant le deuxieme guerre mondiale en France, dans le Pas de Calais, plus précisément. Cette aventure m’a été racontée par mon père Edouard Ksiazyk, fils de Felix Ksiazyk (né en Allemagne à Reklinglkausen) et petit-fils de Ignace Ksiazyk,  né a Wolnica en Pologne.

Pendant la guerre,  les alliés parachutaient dans cette région de France des tonnes de matériels, tels que des munitions, armes et autre équipements. Ils parachutaient parfois du matériel lourd, entre autre des motos de type Norton. Comme tous les Polonais du coin, mon grand père Felix Ksiazyk  avait récupéré une moto Norton avec ses copains                                             et ils l’utilisaient les jours de repos.container

Les Allemands ont vite repéré le bruit de cette moto (très différent de leurs engins au niveau sonore). Pendant des jours, ils ont fouillé les maisons, une par une,  pour trouver les complices des résistants. Chaque maison a été fouillée, mais à chaque fois la moto changeait de place, passant de famille polonaise en famille polonaise, même en plein jour. Mon grand père Felix Ksiazyk qui parlait allemand fut le moins embarrassé. Ayant conservé son passeport de l’époque où il vivait à Reklinglkausen, il n’hésitait pas à s’en servir pour duper l’ennemi … et tout est passé comme une lettre à la poste.

La moto a survécu à la guerre et elle été utilisée pendant des années. Mais déjà grand père avait des autres vues, en particulier sur les voitures. Mais cela fera l’objet d’une autre histoire …

Dominique Ksiazyk

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The Grandfather of my Grandfather had Mennonite Friends in the 1830’s

Błażej Książyk, the Great-Father of my Great Father had Mennonites families in the neighbourhoods of his house in Grochale Górne. Most members of this Community were living some 4 km away, in “Kazun Niemiecki”, the old name of Kazun Nowy. Many Mennonites People came there after 1765 from Dutch settlements of the Lower Vistula and Gdansk area. They spoke plautdietsch, a low German language. Their hamlet was named Kazun Niemecki because this word means “Germans” in Polish. Hence, the sobriquet of “Niemcy” given to them by the locals.

The Mennonites established farms along the Vistula River. They did not get the best lands but they were skilled farmers and made the most of the tramps and sandy soils.  Błażej wasn’t born when the flood of 1813 happened but he saw the destructions of the 1844 flood. Mennonites farms were the first to be washed away. Later, with the construction of tailing dikes, the “Niemcy” contributed to protect the area.

Old Mennonite house near Kazun Nowy

When Błażej was a little boy in the late 1830’s, Mennonites were close neighbours and their community of some 325 people was expanding. Children did not attend the same school. Błażej had to walk 6 km to Leoncin while most of his Mennonite friends enjoyed home schooling. Mennonites were more liberal than the Amish. They had no strict dress code and were allowed to visit Catholic  houses.  Children mingled together. The  “sand sea”  (Grochalskie Piachy) and the “beaches” along the Vistula River were their common playground.  Mennonite kids were invited to the blessing of Easter baskets (Święconka) in Błażej’s home. Błażej was always welcomed with a glass of milk in his friends’ houses.

My great grandfather Walenty Książyk and my grandfather Leon Książyk did not experience a similar closeness with Memonnite families. Walenty was sent very early to a boarding school and Leon grew up in Mokotów (Warsaw). However, childhood stories about Mennonite friends were passed on. I would like to find the names of our Mennonites neighbours from five generations ago and I hope their descendants will read this post.

I did not find any document on the impact of the construction of the Kazun Fort (Przedmoście Kazuńskie) on the Mennonite community. Their cemetery was just outside the Western wall of this huge construction built between 1832 and 1841. For all the farmers of the areas, the massive arrival of Russian soldiers was an opportunity for business. For the children of Grochale, Catholic and Mennonite alike, the presence of soldiers was first an interesting event. Then it turned into a growing concern with the permanent presence of military patrols in the Kampinos Forest and along the main road between Warsaw and Modlin.

Of course, living near the left bank of the Modlin fortress made the Mennonite Community vulnerable. They suffered heavy losses and destructions during WWI and bombing during the invasion of September 1939. Sadly they were considered Germans foreigners. Polish soldiers killed 8 of them and the men aged 17 to 60 were briefly imprisoned near Brest-Litovsk. Then, considered as “Volksdeutsche” by the German occupant, they were liberated. After the recapture of Poland by the Russian army, the congregation had to flee or to face systematic expulsions.

The Mennonites have left behind them a unique heritage that should be better preserved. Many old wooden houses have been torn down. Gravestones in cemeteries are left abandoned. Windmills have all been destroyed. This post is a tribute to the memory of these friendly and hardworking people.

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kazun menno

This map was drawn by a descendant of Kornelius Plenert (1815-1900) who has lived in “Deutsch Kazun” before his establishment in Kansas. Mennonites settlements are mentioned in green. Some members of the Plenert family were born in Makowczyzna, a place that seems to be one of the 3 Grochale hamlets, possibly Grochale Gorne.

Marie-Jeanne, Brussels

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Jak to było w Boryczówce? Wieś na Kresach

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W 1995 roku, Władzik Rogowski przypomniał się:

Wyobraźcie sobie Boryczówkę: prawie tysiąc mieszkańców przed wojną, kościół, szkoła otoczona jesionami, młyn, figura Matki Boskiej z piaskowca. Błotnista droga, na której jesienią można było zgubić buty. Rzeka Porzeczka, most. Latem młodzi siadali na moście i śpiewali, aż niosło się pod las. Wieś dzieliła się na części jak na dzielnice – na Szwabówkę, Zastawie, Poddębinę, Glinniki, Za Wodą, Tamten Koniec. Ludzie żyli jak w dużej rodzinie. Połączeni więzami krwi. W co drugiej chałupie ciocia albo wujek. Jak nie Kitajczyk, to Mularczyk, jak nie Książyk, to Paluch, jak nie Rogowski, to Sierociński albo Janiszewski, Łukasiewicz, Popiel, Pietruszka, Tracz, Szczygielski, Woźniewicz i tak dalej. Żeby się jakoś odróżnić, wymyślali przydomki: Bajki, Barany, Kaczany, Kapusta, Potućka, nawet ksiądz miał przydomek – Burek….”

Czytaj więcej: Fifak z Wrocka

(Photo Stanisław Mularczyk)

Helena B.K. , Calgary   

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When Mokotów was a village

My Great Great Father Walenty Książyk (born in 1863) left Grochale Gorne (Mazowieckie) in the early 1900’s to live in Mokotów. He came there with his wife Jozefa Krzyna and their daughter Małgorzata, their only surviving child. Their sons Leon and Cecyl were born there. MOK3

At this time, Mokotów was a village in the South of Warsaw. Beautiful neoclassical mansions were aligned along the Belwederska road. Farmers were selling fresh milk and white eggs to Sunday strollers. The forts built by the Russians were still guarding the city against irreducible future insurgents.

My Great Father Leon Książyk fondly remembered his childhood in Mokotów: playing in the Ujazdów Park, walking in the Wilanów “woods”, splashing in Morskie Oko, serving the Holy Mass at the Church (possibly Saint Michael / św. Michała Archanioła). Before WWI, going to Warsaw with the tramway was an adventurous journey. However, shopping with Mom ulica Marszałkowska certainly was not his favorite activity.

Marie-Jeanne, Brussels

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