Ok... Back to dad and Artur in Romania ... After passing all exams and receiving high school diplomas in Craiova, dad and Artur now had an opportunity to become officers in the Polish Army. The trick was to get to Italy where they could join Anders victorious troops. In August 1945 they stopped back in Bochnia to briefly reunite with families and again bid their farewells. The mood back home was somber with little hope despite the German surrender. So family and friends felt pride upon learning the mission that dad and Artur were undertaking, and eagerly awaiting their return as liberators.
The two departed by train this time going west, making sure to avoid Russian zones before arriving in Pilsen, an American zone. There they signed papers to enlist in the Polish Army, the next morning sent to Munich by an American military truck, where yet more Polish recruits were arriving.
From Munich, where dad was briefly reunited with a Jewish childhood friend who survived the concentration camp of Auschwitz, a large volume of Polish troops were transported by open bed trucks through the Swiss Alps and into a Polish camp near Ancona italy.
I took a differen route to reach Ancona due to time constraints and travel logistics. Although Budapest and Venice are not part of my fathers story, their history and beauty are simply to powerful to ignore in this blog:
While traveling with Artur and other Polish troops through the Alps, my father held a premonition that his brother Stefan was alive and somewhere near.. The family had not seen or heard from him since December 1939. He was 17 and frustrated, tired of living as a refugee. He fled Russian occupied Poland without legal papers, committed to trek across Europe and find a way to join the Polish Army, which was at that time fighting in France.
Author - Andrew Bajda
Since publication of my book in December of 2016, so many amazing things have happened on both a personal and professional level. As the journey continues to evolve, I'll update my travel adventures on this blog, and invite you to join me along the way.