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Oral history interview with Ewa T. Budek-Bielski

Oral History | Accession Number: 2013.352.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0740

Ewa Budek-Bielski, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 18, 1932, discusses her father’s work as a diplomat; her two older brothers, her parents’ prominent families, and her father’s past in the military; her family’s return to Poland after the start of the war and living near Gdynia; moving into the city of Gdynia and hiding in the basement during bombardments; seeing Hitler in his motorcade after the Germans arrived; being evacuated by train and her grandfather arranging for the family to be smuggled out at Krakow; living in a former servant’s apartment and being forced to share it with a German couple; being constantly hungry and the general air of fear and suspicion; her father’s time in prisoner of war camps; her mother’s nervous breakdown and death in Auschwitz in June 1942; her time spent skipping school to walk around the city and observe what was happening; seeing people deported and how disappearances were common; going back to her convent-run school and not liking it; visiting Hans Frank with her grandmother in attempts to get information on her mother; knowing about Auschwitz but not about the atrocities; the Polish resistance; her uncle’s death at the Katyn Forest Massacre and her grandparents’ reactions to losing both of their children; leaving Krakow when the Soviets neared and moving to a town near Moravská Trebová, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic); the Soviets’ arrival at their house; moving to Katowice, Poland; learning the war had ended and reuniting with her brothers; deciding to leave Soviet-occupied Poland and being smuggled into the British sector of Germany; reuniting with her father; her brothers’ efforts to join them; hearing that the Soviets shot their own soldiers and her distress at most Americans not knowing this; living in Germany from 1945 to 1950 until immigrating to the United States; her feelings about her father’s remarriage to a German woman; moving around the US until getting married and settling in Detroit, MI; trying to educate her children about the war; and her thoughts that people should pray for peace because they have no idea what war is truly like.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Ewa T. Budek-Bielski
Ina Navazelskis
interview:  2013 August 29
1 digital file : MPEG-4.