I will be leaving the US soon (my home will be occupied) to visit Europe. From Bochnia Poland, I'll begin the journey my father travelled, first with his family at the outbreak of World War II. On September 3, 1939, their party of twelve fled the Nazi invasion on a horse drawn carriage, only to enter a region (now the Ukraine) ten days later that proved to be just as dangerous. Early on a Sunday morning, my father (Ian) ventured out into the countryside where he was surprised to see a mounted Russian soldier. The two made eye contact before the scout galloped west, preceding a tremor that revealed a line of Russian tanks rising beyond the eastern horizon. Russia's unlikely collaboration with Germany surrounded Poland with enemies from both east and west. The family lived in constant peril for seven months, torn between the danger of living as refugees under Soviet occupation or going back to their home under German occupation.
Amidst this turmoil, they managed to travel back west as far as the Polish town of Przemysl. The San River cuts directly through Przemysl, and was the agreed upon demarcation point between Russian and German occupation. The family could go no further, and settled in a monastery next to a church on the Russian side of the river. From December through April, they crammed in with hundreds of fellow refugees in the tight corridors and narrow stairwells of the monastery.
I'll be in Przemysl July 2 - 3, staying in a hotel right down the street from the monastery. My father and I viewed the street on google maps and he sketched a layout of the monastery for me, so if the monks allow us in I'll feel like I've already been there. My next blog will include photos of Przemysl, and hopefully some from inside the monastery.
From Przemysl, I'll travel through the Slovakian mountains and Hungary to reach Romania... all part of the trek my father made, mostly on foot, in his quest to join the Polish Army. But that's another story, and for another blog post.
Author - Andrew Bajda
I've been working on writing the story of my father for two years, his adventures during WW2. I will retrace his steps and use this blog to share stories and images of the places that make up his fascinating story.