Cold War Polish childhood near Wroclaw

Tom lived in the town of Jawor in western Poland in an area that had been part of Germany until the end of World War 2. He describes how his grandmother settled in this area and the strangeness of taking over formerly German houses and apartments.

Tom’s grandfather on his mother’s side was a Communist activist who worked for the Polish security services which created some tension as Tom’s father dodged the draft into the Polish Army.

Tom describes his childhood in some detail, highlighting the contrasts of life in Cold War Poland versus some of the Warsaw Pact countries such as how the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church managed to co-exist with the Communist government.

He is 11 years old when the free trade union Solidarity is made illegal and martial law is declared by the Polish Communist authorities. Tom describes how life changes under martial law and the suppression of Solidarity demonstrations.

We end with the poignant story of his Grandmother’s experiences as a forced labourer in Germany during World War 2. 

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