- Brief Narrative
- Small yellow cloth patch with a purple P worn by Eugeniusz Wojtas, while a forced laborer in Germany from October 18, 1940 - April 4, 1945. Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, and three weeks later, the Soviet Union invaded from the east. Eugeniusz, a Polish Catholic, was serving in the 43 Pulk Piechoty [Infantry Division) in Dubno and was captured by the Soviets on September 20. He was transferred to German custody on November 14, and interned in Stalag XIIIC in Hammelburg, Germany. From October 18, 1940, until his liberation by US troops on April 4, 1945, Eugeniusz was assigned to several labor battalions near Gemunden am Main in Bavaria. Post-liberation, he worked for the US military for nearly two years. He then moved to a displaced persons camp. On February 20, 1948, he married Irena Wojcik, also a Catholic, originally from Goluchiwice, Poland, in Wildflecken DP camp. Irena had been deported to Germany in April 1943 and assigned as forced laborer on a farm in Karlburg. The couple lived in Wildflecken and Heilbronn DP camps, where they had a daughter in 1948 and a son in 1950. In May 1951, the family emigrated to America.
after 1940 October 18-before 1945 April 04
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Eugene and Irene Wojtas family
Subject: Eugene Wojtas
Irena Wójcik (later Irene Wojtas) was born on October 25, 1919, in Goluchowice, Poland, to Jan and Franciszka Nowak Wojcik. She was the middle child in a large Catholic family. In the late 1930s, she was living with her eldest sister Wlada Szymczuk in Czestochowa and worked in her sister's tailor shop. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland from the west and, three weeks later, the Soviet Union invaded from the east. Poland was partitioned between the two powers, per the terms of the August 1939 German-Soviet Pact. Germany annexed much of western Poland. The area acquired under the Pact was placed under German administration as the General Government. Irena’s home village was near the border between the General Government and a newly formed German province called Warthegau. On one visit home, she was arrested, with her younger brother, Stanisław, for suspicion of black market activities. She was interrogated and later released. Stanislaw was severely tortured and sent to prison. Irene returned to Czestochowa, although her official address was Goluchowice and she was expected to live there. Around April 1943, there was a round-up in Goluchowice by the Germans, selecting Poles for forced labor. Irena was not there, and the authorities arrested her father, because she was not present to be taken. The family sent word to Czestochowa and Irena returned and reported to the police so that her father could be released.
In April 1943, Irena was deported, via Kielce, to Karlstadt am Main, Germany. She was assigned to work on the farm of George Gold, a German farmer in Karlburg. Living conditions were harsh and she was treated brutally. George Gold’s son was a member of the German military. He would occasionally take Irena and the other Polish girls working there to the river to photograph them for his soldier friends.
After the war ended in May 1945, Irena lived in a series of displaced persons camps: Wurzburg, Aschaffenburg, Wildflecken, Heilbronn, Ludwigsburg, Waiblingen and Bremen-Grohn. She met Eugeniusz Wojtas in Aschaffenburg or Wildflecken and they married on February 8, 1948. Eugeniusz, also Catholic, had been captured while serving in the Polish military at the beginning of the war. He had been a forced laborer in Germany from October 1940 – April 1945. Their first child, a daughter, was born in Wildflecken on September 24, 1948. They were later sent to Heilbronn, where a son was born on May 10, 1950.
In May 1951, the family left Ludwigsburg DP camp for Bremerhaven where they boarded the USS General Harry Taylor. They arrived in New York City on June 1, 1951. From there, they travelled to South Bend, IN. The Parakowski and Kowalski families, whom they had met in the DP camps, had arranged the paperwork for their move to South Bend. The trip was sponsored and paid for by the ACRPDP: the American Committee to Resettle Polish Displaced Persons. Eugene, 67, died in February 1977.
Eugeniusz Wojtas (later Eugene) was born on May 7, 1910, in Medynia Głogowska, Poland, to Catholic parents, Błazej and Zofia Stopa Wojtas. When he was a child, his family moved to Kolonia Józefin, in the Lublin area. He served in the 5 P.S.P. [Pułk Strzelcow Podhalanskich--Podhale Rifles Infantry Regiment], and was stationed in Przemysł. In 1934, Eugeniusz was released from military service and returned home to Kolonia Józefin. During the late 1930s, Nazi Germany remilitarized and annexed Austria, the Czech Sudetenland, and in March 1939, dismembered the remainder of Czechoslovakia. On August 5, 1939, Eugeniusz was recalled to the military as Poland prepared to mobilize its Armed Forces. He was assigned to the 43 P.P. [Pułk Piechoty--Infantry Division] stationed at Dubno.
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland from the west and, three weeks later, the Soviet Union invaded from the east. On September 20, Eugeniusz was captured by the Soviets. On November 14, there was a German-Soviet prisoner exchange. Eugeniusz was transferred to German custody because his home town was in eastern Poland, which was designated German territory under the August 1939 German-Soviet Pact. He was then transported to Stalag XIIIC in Hammelburg, Bavaria, Germany. From October 18, 1940, Eugeniusz was registered for various labor battalions, including Arbeitskommando 371 and 1190. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 22, 1941, Eugeniusz was most likely used in civilian forced labor. For much of the war, he was stationed for work in the vicinity of Gemunden am Main, in Bavaria. Eugeniusz was liberated by American troops on April 4, 1945. Germany surrendered on May 7.
Eugeniusz worked for the US military for twenty-two months. He then went to Wildflecken displaced person camp. He met Irena Wojcik in Wildflecken or Aschaffenburg DP camp. Irena, also Catholic, was born in 1919 in Goluchowice, Poland. In April 1943, she had been selected for forced labor and deported to Karlstadt am Main, Germany, where she worked on a farm until liberation. The couple married on February 8, 1948, in Wildflecken. Their daughter, Elzbieta, was born there on September 24, 1948. They were later transferred to Heilbronn DP camp, where Eugene worked as a camp policeman. Their son, Jan, was born there on May 10, 1950.
In May 1951, the family left Ludwigbsurg DP camp for Bremerhaven where they boarded the USS General Harry Taylor in May 1951. They arrived in New York City on June 1, 1951. From there they travelled to South Bend, IN. The Parakowski and Kowalski families; whom they had met in the DP camps, had arranged the paperwork for their move to South Bend. The trip was sponsored and paid for by the ACRPDP: the American Committee to Resettle Polish Displaced Persons. Eugene, 67, died in February 1977.
- Object Type
Forced labor badges (ushmm)
- Physical Description
- Square white cotton cloth badge printed on the front with an upper case purple letter P within a yellow square that is outlined in purple. The badge would be worn in diamond orientation. The frayed, white edges are folded over and hand basted with white thread. The badge is worn, stained, and slightly faded.
- overall: Height: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm) | Width: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm)
- overall : cloth, dye
Rights & Restrictions
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Keywords & Subjects
- Topical Term
- Catholics--Nazi persecution--Poland--Biography. Forced labor--Germany--Biography. Polish people--Persecution--Germany--Biography. Prisoners of war--Poland--Biography. Soldiers--Poland--Biography. World War, 1939-1945--Conscript labor--Personal narratives, Polish. World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons, German.
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The badge was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013 by Irene Wojcik Wojtas, the wife of Eugene Wojtas.
- Funding Note
- The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
- Record last modified:
- 2023-09-15 10:20:07
- This page:
Also in Eugene and Irene Wojcik Wojtas family collection
The collection consists of a forced labor badge, documents, and photographs relating to the experiences of Eugeniusz Wojtas and Irena Wojcik Wojtas, Roman Catholics who were persecuted in German occupied Poland during World War II when both Eugeniusz, a prisoner of war, and Irena, were assigned to forced labor in Germany, and, after the war, when they met and married as displaced persons.
The Eugeniusz and Irena Wojtas papers includes biographical material and photographs relating to Eugeniusz Wojtas and Irena Wójcik (later Wojtas) and their family’s experiences pre-war in Poland and post-war in the Wildflecken and Heilbronn displaced persons camps in Germany. Eugeniusz and Irena, both Roman Catholics, were persecuted by the Nazis during WWII. Eugeniusz was captured and held as a prisoner of war at Stalag XIIIA and Irena was a forced laborer in Karlstadt, Germany. They met and married as displaced persons and lived in Wildflecken and Heilbronn, Germany, where their children Elizabeth and Jan were born before the family immigrated to the United States. Documents include mainly post-war identification cards, DP camp employment certificates, and birth, baptism, and wedding certificates for Eugeniusz and Irena including a Polish Armed Forces ID card, a vaccination booklet, notices that Eugeniusz was employed while in the DP camp, and copies of birth and marriage certificates for Eugeniusz as well as copies of birth and marriage certificates for Irena. Also included are birth and baptism certificates for Elzbieta Wojtas and naturalization certificates for Eugeniusz, Irena, and Elzbieta. Photographs include pre-war photographs of Irena in Poland as well as post-war photographs of Irena and Eugeniusz in DP camps with friends and family members including their children, Elizabeth and Jan, who were born in the DP camp. Family members depicted in the photographs include Eugeniusz Wojtas, Josef Wojtas, Blazej Wojtas, Zofia Stops Wojtas, Irena Wojcik, Albina Wojtas Dominiak, Jan Wojtas, and Wanda Wojtas.