Updated: Sep 7, 2019
(interview conducted in Polish, translated by the author)
Aniela Słanina-Czarniecka was my paternal grandmother. Babcia Aniela for me. She was the daughter of a restaurant owner from Wodzisław Śląski. He was a Silesian insurgent and a great Polish patriot. He participated in the September Campaign, which was a defense war Poland lead in 1939 against the Nazi Germany and Soviet Union, and was captured, becoming a prisoner of war. He spent most of World War 2 in Dachau. However, he survived and came home. His patriotic deeds shaped the family and became an important part of its identity.
Babcia Aniela had two brothers and a sister. Before the war, the family was rather well-to-do and young Aniela, who was a free spirit, lead an adventurous life. She drove a car, rode a motorbike, and even flew a plane! All this was rather unusual for a woman at that date and age. She married a land surveyor from Lvov and went to live with him in eastern Poland. My grandfather loved her very much and always called her by a sweet pet name, Mańcia.
Babcia Aniela had the most carefree and cheerful disposition. For example, after the war, when Lvov fell in the hands of the Soviets, the family resettled in Silesia. It was an enormous effort and enterprise, but my grandfather took care of each and every aspect of this operation.
The only thing Aniela was responsible for was carrying and protecting a small trunk containing her jewelry. Needless to say, this was the most important and valuable of the family’s possessions. Somehow, Babcia Aniela managed to lose it. According to the family story, she took the loss very lightly. She never gave it a second thought. This may be because her husband never got angry or resented her for it.
In general, she never worried and remained an optimist her whole life which was by no means an easy one. She had two sons: my father and his brother. When my uncle was still a teenager he was diagnosed with a severe case of Bipolar Disorder and spent a significant amount of time in institutionalized treatment. Unlike many other people of her generation, Babcia Aniela never despaired when, as a result of numerous economic crises and devaluations, she lost almost everything.
She had a saying: When the time comes, it will bring a solution and she lived according to this rule, always hoping for the best.