This report is about the trip by Will Yancey and his mother, Marianne Yancey, in May 1997 to southern England and Wroclaw, Poland. The primary theme of this trip was to visit people and places that Marianne had seen in 1930-1940 and to see how they had changed. We hope you find these comments interesting and helpful in planning your own trip.
Maintained by ACLR. Please e-mail any
comments or suggestions to email@example.com
A colleague at my university who does a lot of international traveling recommended that I purchase an electric plug adapter kit with adapters for the plug designs in various different countries. I was able to purchase the kit for $25.00 at a large office supply store. This kit was very handy since the plugs in the United States, England, and Poland are significantly different. I took my notebook computer and was able to type this trip report as we traveled.
Another item that I should have taken, but did not was the list of international telephone access numbers from my US long distance phone carrier. These numbers allow one in a foreign country to dial a toll-free number in that country and then make a long-distance call to the United States.
Not do but should have - checked long distance telephone carrier for
toll-free access numbers to US from foreign countries. Buy travel insurance.
Book flight on single ticket - since separate problem if delays by one
airline or the other.
During the next four days in England we were constantly surprise by the rapidly changing weather. In five minutes the weather could change from sunny to cloudy, rain to hail, warm to cold, and back again. It rained at least six different times during the day. Although we entertained our hosts with tales of severe storms in America, we were amazed by the rapidly changing British weather.
We enjoyed meeting Paul and Lynne and seeing their lovely home. Paul is an electronic design engineer for Crowcon Detection Instruments Ltd. Lynne is a senior editor of scientific journals for Elsevier Science. They share their home with three cats, [insert names here].
After we had a short rest, some more relatives came over to the Honigmann's house to visit us. First a few words of explanation about how we are related. Marianne Yancey and Ernest Honigmann are both great-great-grandchildren of David Immerwahr and Lina Silberstein who lived in Breslau, Germany. Therefore, Marianne and Ernest are third cousins. Will Yancey and Paul Honigmann, the sons of Marianne and Ernest, respectively, are fourth cousins. For more family history information contact Will Yancey, Paul Honigmann, or Irene Newhouse.
The visitors on Saturday included Paul Honigmann (brother of Ernest Honigmann, and uncle of our host, Paul Honigmann), Valerie Honigmann (Paul's new wife), Richard Hopper (son of Ernest, and brother of Paul), and Ben Hopper (son of Richard). (Richard changed his name from Honigmann to Hopper because Honigmann was difficult for others to understand. We had pleasant conversation and a lovely tea prepared by Lynne and Paul.
After the guests left, Paul and Lynne took us on a driving tour of the surrounding villages. The fields looked very green and full of flowers to Marianne who had just left New Mexico, but Paul and Lynne said the country was suffering from a drought. We drove past the mothballed American-built airfield at Heyford, the old Hopcrofts Holt Hotel, the entrance to Blenheim Castle at Woodstock, old canals parallel to the Cherwell River which are still used for recreational boating, and Rowsham House. One of the many unusual structures is a hundred-year-old pile of rocks built to look like a old ruin. In fact it is a folly, built by the owner of Rowsham House so that he and his lady friend who lived in Middle Aston could look out at the folly in the evening and know they were looking at the same structure. There are reasons why the British are know as eccentrics!
Saturday night Will, Paul, and Lynne stayed up late sharing family history
information and looking at Web sites. Paul and Lynne spend lots of time
on the Internet and have created a fabulous Web site for their diverse
interests at http://www.furfur.demon.co.uk/hhistory.htm.
Their Web pages have many clever features including a flashing graphic
that appears to be a warning message but is in fact just a flashing graphic.
Users, such as myself, who connect to their Web site go mad thinking we
are supposed to respond to the warning message.
After the guests left, Paul, Marianne, and Will took a walking tour of Steeple Aston. We walked by the old Village School, founded by Dr. Samuel Radcliffe in 1640, who also served as Rector of the church at Steeple Aston, Principal of Brasenose College at Oxford University, and founder of Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
We visited the St. Peter's and St. Paul's church in the village which was built on top of a Roman settlement and has a recorded church history back to about 1180. One of the church's treasures is the Steeple Aston Cope, a beautiful 14th century embroidered cope. (A cope is a medieval vestment for a senior priest). The cope is now preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In the yard of the church is a huge sycamore tree that is 66 feet high and has a trunk over 23 feet in diameter.
We continued our walk past many more lovely houses in the village. There
are small farms in and around the village producing vegetables, hogs, sheep,
wheat, hay, rapeseed, and other products. We finished our walk at a wonderful
old-fashioned pub, the Red Lion Inn,
where we spoke with the pubmaster, Colin Mead. Colin was proud of having
been selected Landlord of the Year, by the Good Pub Guide, 1996-1997
Edition. Colin also makes it his business to know all the residents
in the village.
Paul got us to the Oxford train station and we had a pleasant ride on an Intercity train to London-Paddington Station. We then took the Underground to Victoria Station. From there we had a half mile walk to the Stanley House Hotel at 19-21 Belgrave Road. (The hotel is inexpensive and pleasant, but Belgrave Road has traffic at all hours.) We walked around the area and stopped for tea at The Seafresh Fish Restaurant at 80-81 Wilton Road.
An explanation of how Marianne is connected to the Urquhart sisters whom we visited: In March 14, 1939, the day the Nazis marched into Czechoslavakia, Marianne left Breslau, Germany as a 10-year-old girl and spent a year as a guest of the Urquhart family in England. Marianne came in one of several kindertransport ships that evacuated thousands of children from continental Europe to England. Robert Urquhart was a diplomat in the British Foreign Office. Robert and his wife, Brenda, had four daughters, Unity, Jenny, Elizabeth, and Christine. The Urquharts volunteered to sponsor a school girl from Germany after they heard of some of the Nazi atrocities in 1938. Marianne attended Kinnard Park School, a day school for girls in Bromley in Kent, with the three older Urquhart girls. In May 1939 the rest of the Graetzer family passed through Bromley on their way to the United States. However, Marianne could not leave England because her and the passports of about 500 other children on the kindertransport were stolen by someone trying to get more children out of Germany.
In August 1939, just before the Nazi invasion of Poland, Marianne and the Urquharts spent five months living at the Lizard in Cornwall, the southernmost point of England. They were required to maintain a complete black-out at night because any light could have been seen by the Nazi submarines off the coast. Later they learned that Robert Urquhart had been collecting vital infrastructure records of Cornwall in steel boxes and was prepared to become the civilian administrator of Cornwall if the Nazis invaded England. Just before Christmas 1939 they returned to Bromley after Mr. Urquhart had completed building an air raid shelter in the backyard.
Subsequently, Robert Urquhart served as a consular official in China, Iran, Washington, DC, New Orleans, ambassador to Venezuela, and was knighted by the Queen. We visited three of the Urquhart sisters at their homes in England in May 1997. The fourth sister, Elizabeth Rapley née Urquhart, lives in Ottawa, Canada, and has published several books.
Monday evening we went to dinner at the home of Jenny Lambert neé Urquhart. We rode the Underground west to the Putney Green station and walked to their lovely flat overlooking the Thames River. Jenny's husband, John Lambeth, served as a British diplomat in Vienna, Berlin, Tunis, and Washington, and was knighted by the Queen. Also attending the dinner was Jenny's daughter, Victoria, and her husband, James Cross. Victoria and James are very active in choral singing groups. Jenny served a wonderful dinner with chile con carne, asparagas with hollandaise sauce, and a summer pudding with many fresh fruits for desert.
In the afternoon Pat and Will drove a few miles north to the Bancroft School to pick up 11-year-old David Kingsmill, Unity's grandson. Unity has been raising David, her grandson, since her daughter, Jenny, died when David was five months old. The Bancroft School is one of thousands of "public schools", in the United Kingdom where any young student can go who can pay the tuition and meet the entrance qualifications. While waiting for David, Pat instructed Will in the finer points of cricket, a game Pat had played as a young man. The cricket pitches are intensively groomed sections of natural grass. The pitch is covered by a translucent screen until match day to prevent its becoming soft from the rain. After David came home he showed Will some of his fine collection of computer games and painted miniature science fiction characters.
We had a fine salmon dinner prepared by the Kingsmills and enjoyed viewing
many photos. The Kingsmills decided Will looks like John Major, the Conservative
Prime Minister, who recently lost the general election to the Labour Party
under Tony Blair. Pat drove us to the Underground and we rode back to Victoria
We began by walking toward Buckingham Palace. We saw the royal carriages come out from the Royal Mews, the area where the Queen's household horses and carriages are tended. We stood near the Victoria Memorial Monument in front of Buckingham Palace to watch the Queen's procession go by. We saw various units of the Coldstream guide in their tall fur hats, the Horse Guard in their shiny helmets, and the carriages with the Queen. We saw ceremonial cannon being fired north of Buckingham Palace accompanied by a company of calvarymen. We heard the Queen would be returning in about one to two hours so we moved to a fine viewing position on the barrier at the east side of the Victoria Memorial and waited. From a close position we saw the Coldstream Guard line the street as sentries and move back and forth in formal drill. There are also many different teams of policeman on foot, horseback, motorcycle, and on top of buildings. I expect they were concerned about possible violence from the Irish Republican Army or other protesters. Finally, the procession returned from Parliment just in front of where we were standing. In various coaches and vehicles we saw the Queen, Prince Philip, the Royal Crown, Royal Mace, and Princess Margaret.
We walked on through St. James Park toward Parliament. We walked past the Cabinet War Rooms where Winston Churchill and his Cabinet directed the British effort in World War II. We ate an inexpensive lunch in the cafe under the Methodist Great Hall opposite Westminster Abbey. We walked through parts of Westminster Abbey, where twenty-eight kings and queens of England have been crowned. Then we walked across the street to the Parliament Building. Marianne was tired so she took the Underground back, and Will walked on to look through the fence at 10 Downing Street. Then Will walked along the Thames over the Parliament Bridge and down to the Lambeth Bridge. Along the way he saw three different television crews recording news reporters giving analyses on the new government in English, French, and Japanese, using the official buildings as backgrounds. When Will and Marianne got back to their hotel, the BBC was carrying live coverage of the House of Common debate on the Queen's Speech. It had been an interesting day observing history at first hand. We were pleasantly surprised at how close together these historic places are.
Wednesday evening we visited the home of Christine Yandle neé
Urquhart. We took the Underground west to the Hammersmith station and then
rode a bus south over the Thames through Castlenau to Fulham. We enjoyed
visiting Christine, her husband Colin, and daughter, Jane. Christine prepared
a wonderful dinner of chicken and fruit over rice using a recipe from her
mother. Jane served Will some delightful dry cider. Colin told us about
his hobby chasing after foxhounds in traditional fox hunts. Although most
people ride horses or walk after the horsemen, Colin runs on foot. In his
younger days he used to making running vaults over barbed wire fences.
We were impressed at Christine's fine cooking and energy after working
all day at her job at Card Tech Limited.
Finally we arrived in Wroclaw around 6:30 pm local time, and had a quick cab ride into the city (about 30 zlotys = US $10). Hans Schottlaender, a third cousin of Marianne's living in Munich, had arranged with Maciej Lagiewski, the director of the Wroclaw Historical Museum, for us to stay at the Arsenal (German = Zeughaus). The Arsenal contains parts of 15th-century fortifications and is one of several historical buildings maintained by the Historical Museum in the city. One wing has six sleeping rooms with a shared bath to be used by researchers and guests of the city. No meals or food service is provided in the Arsenal. The room rate is 48.15 zlotys (US $ ) per person per night. Permission to stay at the Arsenal must be obtained in advance from the director of historical museum. After regular open hours, one rings the bell at the gate and a guard comes to let in qualified visitors.
We walked from the Arsenal along the banks of the Odra River (German = Oder). Then we walked along the narrow streets of the Old Town to the Rynek (German = Ring, English = Town Square). The Rynek covers the equivalent of three narrow blocks, surrounded by buildings five to ten stories tall. Formerly vehicles and streetcars used to enter the Rynek, but now the area has become a pedestrian mall. In one corner is the Ratusz (German = Rathaus; English = City Hall). The most spectacular portion is the ornate southwestern corner with a massive clock tower. Many buildings are still undergoing restoration and painting in preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress on May 25-June 2. Pope John Paul II will be attending this Congress and will be holding several large outdoor masses. The city expects 800,000 to 1,000,000 visitors during the Congress.
We bought some breakfast and snack food at a grocery store near the
Ratusz. We ate a wonderful dinner at the Restauranjca Zak, in the northeaster
corner of the Rynek. Will was glad that Marianne knew a few words of Polish
and had the Polish phrase book he had bought her.
Visits to Cienin by Michael Graetzer (grandson of Gunther) in 1994, and three of the Falks (cousins of Klare Graetzer née Milch) in 1996 had been unsuccessful in locating the site of the main house. We knew the main house had been destroyed and that most of the area had become a Polish military base.
At 9:00 in the morning our guide and interpreter, Artur Szpineta, came to the Arsenal to meet us. We contacted Artur through and acquaintance of Anna Kupiec. Anna had been a guide for Michael Graetzer when he visited Poland in 1994. Artur teaches English at a secondary school in Bystrzyca, a village south of Wroclaw and also operates a small travel agency in Wroclaw. Like most people now living in Silesia, his family came from the Ukraine after World War II when the Russians pushed the Polish people out of land it wanted for the Soviet Union. Very few people remaining in Silesia speak German as their primary language. Although the great majority of the current population is Polish, English and German are popular second languages. (Home address: Artur Szpineta, u. Lesna 25, 55-205 Bystrzyca, Poland. Travel agency: Wratislavia Tour, ul. Drukarska 50, 53-311 Wroclaw, Poland).
Artur drove us about 10 miles north of Wroclaw to the village of Cienin. Cienin is east of the E261 highway that runs from Wroclaw to Trzebnica. From the E261 highway we turned off on a road that took us through Psary (formerly Hünern) and Krzyzanowice and then 5 more kilometers to Cienin. Will Yancey has detailed maps to help you find the site if you are interested.
On the southern side of the road is a large army training area with buildings built since the war. At the western end of the training area is a brick castle tower built after the war that we understand was used a movie set. East of the castle tower is a recreational horse riding club for an officer training unit in Wroclaw. This club has stables, barbecue area, bunk room, wooded park, and horse jumps which were actively being used. East of the riding club and set back from the main road are the remains of the old German airstrip. From the south side of the riding club we could look southwest across open fields to the towers of the cathedrals and sports stadium in Wroclaw. The riding club appears to be built on the site that was the village of Klein Raake. Gunther had rented the farmland at Klein Raake.
Further east are additional Polish military training facilities including administration buildings, tent encampment area, parachute training area, and helicopter pads. These facilities stand on land that Gunther Graetzer owned and farmed. The brick factory operated by Gunther was approximately where the administration building now stands.
On the north side of the road opposite the horse stables is a pig farm and some overgrown woods. Although we found some old brick gate posts and some piles of bricks in the woods, Marianne did not recall what estate had been at that site.
We continued another half kilometer along the main road until we found the only pre-war building still standing on the south side of the road. Marianne recognized the building as the school she had attended from 1933 to 1936. This was an exciting moment to know she had definitely found a place she had last seen almost 60 years earlier. The school building is currently occupied by three families. Water must be drawn from an outside well, just as it had been when she was a young girl. A woman at the schoolhouse who had come to the schoolhouse after the war told us that about 1955 the Polish army had decided to remove all civilians from around the military training base. They destroyed all of the remaining buildings that had not been previously destroyed by the Nazi or Soviet armies. Prior to the war, Marianne remembered there had been a village of houses near the school that housed approximately 80 German-speaking Polish families that worked for the Graetzers. East of the school had been another large brick house, owned by the butcher, that served as a butcher shop, restaurant, and bus stop.
Another few meters east of the school on the north side of the main road we found the bases of the fence posts that marked the old road to the Graetzer residence. The area is heavily grown over with underbrush. Marianne recognized a large sycamore tree that she and her brothers had played under as children. Near the sycamore was a deep well that was probably once covered and used as water source for the main house. We planned to return to this area a few days later.
Next we traveled further east through the woods to a large open field. On the north side of the field is a low area with a stream and old algae-filled pond. We found the remains of the old sluice gates at the east and west ends of this pond that Gunther Graetzer had designed to manage the flow of water in and out of the pond. Marianne recalled enjoying ice skating on this pond when she was a child. The barns and pens for the horses, chickens, and pigs had stood in this field close to the main road.
South of the main road (west of the old school) we found the base of the square silos built by Gunther Graetzer. The concrete base was designed with four large square areas and had held fermenting sugar beet waste as animal feed. The remaining concrete base is about five feet tall and filled with rainwater. Atop the corners of the silos are some recent brick and mortars. Arthur had learned from the people in the area that someone had tried unsuccessfully to build a house on top of these old silos.
Between the silos and the old school was the large vegetable and fruit garden area that had been managed by Gunther's mother, Margarete Graetzer née Schottlaender. Marianne remembered the locations where blackberries, pears, asparagus, potatoes, flowers, and other intensively-cultivated plants had been grown. She and her brothers had their own small garden plots inside their grandmother's large garden area.
After about four hours of walking around the Cienin area, Artur drove us north to the next village, Pasikurowice (formerly Paschkerwitz). In 1936 through 1938 Marianne had ridden a passenger train from Paschkerwitz into Breslau to attend school. After a refreshing drink, we drove back to the Arsenal in Wroclaw.
As we stepped out of Artur's car, David Graetzer arrived right on schedule. (David is the son of Hans, Marianne's brother). David had spent the previous 16 hours flying from Minneapolis to Frankfurt and then on to Wroclaw. In another half hour, Hans, Sabine, and Sara Schottlaender arrived after driving their camping van 850 kilometers from Munich. Hans Schottlaender and Marianne Yancey are third cousins. Sara Schottlaender is fourth cousin to Will and David. Their common ancestors are Löbel Schottlaender (May 16, 1809 - March 4, 1880) and his wife, Jettel "Henriette" Grossman (January 27, 1817 - January 1, 1894).
While Marianne rested, David, Will, and the Schottlaenders went for a walk around the Old Town. Will and David changed US dollars to Polish zlotys at a bank to get the best exchange rate (3.124 zlotys for one US dollar on this day). Travelers checks cannot be changed at the kantor, only banks can. Passport needed to exchange currency in a bank.
The Schottlaenders, Will, and David walked around the Old Town for a while. They walked to Universitat, home of the historic University of Wroclaw. This historic building was built in 1728 through 1732 in the ornate Baroque style, destroyed during the fighting in 1945, and completely rebuilt by the Poles after the war. The Aula Leopolina (Leopolina Hall) is a large presentation auditorium with spectacular painted frescoes and carvings of religious scenes, classic philosophers, and important people in Silesian history. Although the Aula Leopolina is usually closed at this time, the Schottlaenders, Will, and David went in to the hall and found a small group preparing for a concert. They needed help moving the piano from one platform to another on the main stage. Hans, Will, and David helped out and were offered free tickets to the performance that evening.
The Schottlaenders left to drive their self-contained camping vehicle
to a campground east of the downtown area. Later that evening, Will, Marianne,
and David attended a performance The concert, sponsored by the Alliance
Francaise of Wroclaw University, and featured operatic-style singing by
Catherine Dagois accompanied on the piano by Edgar Teufel. Later we walked
around the downtown area which was filled with many young people, tourists,
and others. Workmen continued to work late into the night in preparation
for the International Eucharistic Congress beginning nine days later that
will bring the Pope and one million visitors to Wroclaw.
While we were walking in the cemetery Maciej Lagiewski (pronounced "Ma-check Wa-yev-ski") met up with us. Maciej was a Polish national decathlon champion and law student. He joined Solidnarsc (the Solidarity movement) and was imprisoned by the Communists at least once. Although he is not Jewish, he became interested in restoring the Jewish cemetery. He began by personally piecing together old gravestones and writing a description of the cemetery and the notable people buried in it. After the Solidarity movement came to power in the 1980s he became director of the architectural and historical museums for Wroclaw. He has written several books about the history of the Wroclaw Jewish community and Wroclaw in general. In the spring of 1997 he was presented a medal of honor by the German government for his outstanding contributions to German-Polish relations. Maciej is fluent in German and Polish, but not English. He is always busy with many projects but he can be reached at his main office in the Rathaus on the Rynek. Address mail to Dr. Maciej Lagewski, Direktor, Muzeum Historycznego we Wroclawiul, Rynek Sukiennice 14/15, 50-107 Wroclaw, Poland, phone 011-48-44-44 5730, fax 011-48-71-44 4785.
As Maciej and Hans walked with us in the cemetery they pointed out many graves of our relatives. Löbel Milch (1794-1864) is a great-great-great-grandfather of Will Yancey and David Graetzer. Löbel was the first trustee of the Fraenkel Foundation (Kurator der Fraenkelschen Stiftung) is buried under a wall on the southeast corner of the cemetery. Near Löbel's grave is the grave of Ferdinand Lasalle, the founder of the German social democratic party and a major influence on Karl Marx.
The Schottlaender plots are near the center of the cemetery. The founder of the Schottlaender family fortune was Löbel Schottlaender (1809-1880), who had nine children. His eldest son, Julius Schottlaender (1835-1911), became a large landowner and donated Südpark (now Park Poludniowy) to the city. Our guide, Hans Schottlaender, is a great-grandson of Julius. David Graetzer and I are great-great-grandsons of Bruno Schottlaender, a younger brother of Julius. Across the path from the grave of Bruno Schottlaender is the grave of Heinrich Graetz (1817-1891) a professor at the Jewish seminary (Jüdisch-Theologischen Seminar) in Breslau who wrote an influential 12-volume history of the Jewish people, Geschichte der Juden. Near the grave of Löbel Schottlaender are the graves of the Honigmanns, ancestors of Paul Honigmann whom we visited in England. Also nearby is the grave of Klara Immerwahr, the first German woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry and the first wife of Fritz Haber, the Nobel prize winner. This Klara Immerwahr is the niece of Klare Immerwahr, the great-grandmother of Marianne Yancey.
For more information on the graves of prominent people in the cemetery, see Maciej Lagiewski's guide to the cemetery, Der alte jüdische Friedhof in Wroclaw/Breslau. At the cemetery office Will bought many books and pictures about Wroclaw to keep for his family history research projects. Hans Schottlander recommended we buy books at the cemetery since the guard at the cemetery gets a small commission from selling the books.
At the cemetery gate we met Juliet Golden and Tadeusz "Tadek" Wlodarczak. Juliet is an American who came to Poland in 1991 and has been working on a variety of building restoration projects for foreign investors. Tadek is a stone carving who restored many of the graves in the Jewish cemetery and managed other stone carving projects in Silesia.
After we left the cemetery, the Schottlaenders drove us to the north side of Park Poludniowy (formerly Südpark). In 1938-1939 the Graetzer family lived at the home of Klare Graetzer's parents, Fritz and Elisabeth Milch. The house stood at Friedrich-Hebelstrasse 4, now ulna Kutnowska. The house survived the war, but was later torn down and replaced by a high-rise apartment building. As we walked through the park we saw many beautiful old trees that Marianne and her brothers had seen as children. This park is still a popular place for children to play and people to walk. In the center of the park is a small pond and restaurant where we ate lunch. We rode the number 7 street car back to the downtown area just as Marianne had done sixty years earlier.
After a rest in our rooms at the Arsenal, we went for another walk.
In honor of Marianne's birthday, we bought her favorite flower, lilies
of the valley. We walked down ulna Swidnicka (Scnedwisrasse) to the large
square at Plac Tadeusz Kosciuszko (formerly Tautienplatz). At the northeast
corner of this square is the Centrum (formerly Wertheim), the largest department
store in Wroclaw. The Rost family (cousins of Marianne through her mother's
side) once lived in an apartment overlooking this square. Several of the
Schottlaenders had their business offices on the Tautienplatz.
We drove south on the E67 road to Park Klecinski, a park with beautiful chestnut trees that was the site of Julius Schottlaender's magnificent Hartlieb estate. At the northern edge of Park Klecinski stands a McDonald's fast food restaurant, including a statue of Ronald McDonald, a modern icon of American marketing. One of the many businesses of this branch of the Schottlaender family was raising horses. East of Park Klecinski is the horse race track, Tor Wyscigow Konnych, built on land that was the Partynice estate of the Schottlaenders. Continuing east we stopped at Wojszyce, formerly the Weissig estate of Paul Schottlaender (1870-1938), the grandfather of Hans Schottlaender. Hans showed us a beautiful lion statute that once stood at the main entrance of Paul Schottlaender's house.
Then we continued to Suchy Dwor, formerly the Althofdürr estate owned by Alfred Schottlaender, the father of Hans Schottlaender. Alfred was skilled in breeding and managing race horses. The Nazis forced all the Schottlaenders to sell their properties at low prices, and then allowed them to emigrate. Alfred emigrated to Kenya during the war and eventually died in Switzerland. One of the few remnants of the Althofdürr estate in Suchy Dwor is part of the gate to the horse stables. While we were standing by the gate we met a Polish man whose mother had worked for Alfred Schottlaender family before the war. The Polish people there were very interested in seeing Hans Schottlaender's photos of the farm and horses in the 1930's.
After more driving through the suburbs of Wroclaw, we returned to the city and enjoyed a nice lunch. We ate at the outdoor Cafe Mimoka on the Oder river just north of the Universitat. The restaurant manager was eager to tell us which selections were fresh and which were frozen - unlike some American restaurants who would not have been so eager to reveal the quality of the food.
After we rested, Juliet Golden came to pick up Marianne, Will, and David at the Arsenal. Juliet took us to her home she owns with Tadek in the village of Gniechowice. Along the way we passed by several new processing plants for Cargill, Coca-Cola, and other prominent international firms. We saw the prominent solitary mountain, Sleza, rising about 500 meters from the surrounding plains. Sleza has been a popular hiking place and park for several centuries. The small town of Sobotka, at the foot of Sleza is a popular place for excursions.
Juliet and Tadek's home in Gniechowice consists of a house with large attached garage and a separate large barn. The barn has suffered through fire and storms and looks like an old "ruin" now. They had some cute young kittens in the loft of one barn. Juliet and Tadek have been working to salvage and adapt the buildings for a residence and workshop. When foreigners attempt to buy property in Poland, they endure a long and bureaucratic process, which is made somewhat easier with a Polish partner. Juliet grew up in New Mexico and came to Poland in 1991 and has been a project manager on a series of building restoration projects. (Home address: Juliet D. Golden, ul. Katecka 107, 55-042 Gniechowice, Poland)
Next Juliet drove us on to dinner at a lovely estate, the Hotel Zamek Kraskow. This estate is in the village of Kraskow, about 33 kilometers southwest of Wroclaw, and three kilometers north of the main road between Wroclaw and Swidnica. The original construction dates from 1746 and has been superbly restored. The large three-story main house has a large reflecting pool in front and an ornate carved stone entryway. The ground floor is a restaurant, and the upper floors have elegant guest rooms. We enjoyed a superb dinner with wiener schnitzel and other tasty dishes.
On the drive back to Wroclaw, Juliet and Marianne discussed a great
range of topics, including a comparison of Polish and Russian grammar,
Spanish literature, and survival stories of German refugees. Will and David
sat in the back seat and contemplated how little they knew about these
After showing David around the horse riding club, we drove to the pine forest at the southern end of what had been Gunther Graetzer's farm. There are many tank pits, sentry posts, and other military training structures in the fields and pine forest. The pine forests are planted and managed stands of a species similar to the red or Scotch pines of the American southeastern states. The area where they were planted is on a sandy area with low rises from the surrounding plains.
Marianne remembered playing in the sand pits at the edge of the forest as a child. Of course, the trees are now a lot taller than what Marianne remembered them. She and her brothers would ride in horse drawn wagons from the main house to the sand pits and sand pits while her father rode his horse. Gunther taught his children to follow trails through these pine woods in preparation for longer hikes they would later do in the mountains. In a strange way, the forest still serves a similar purpose for the army conscripts who have training exercises in this area. We saw lots of fresh tracks of motorized vehicles. Later in the day, we saw an armored personnel carrier heading in to the forest.
We stopped by old village school building to show it to David. His father, Hans, had attended this school from 1935 to 1938. Since it was starting to rain, we drove on the next village of Pasikurowice (German = Paschkerwitz). In the old train station, we visited a Polish man and his wife who moved there after World War II. The woman had sold tickets at the rail station until passenger service at Pasikurowice was suspended. They told Arthur stories in Polish about the Russian occupation and brutal treatment of Polish people. Local buses travel the roads between Pasikurowice and Wroclaw on a regular schedule with a stop in Cienin. We waited for the rain to stop and drove back to Cienin.
We drove in some of the fields north of the Cienin village. This area is fairly low and swampy. Marianne remembered cross country skiing in this area once. We also heard some loud explosions from the military training exercises being conducted ahead of us, and decided to turn back.
Marianne showed David where the silo, truck garden, barns, and ponds had been on the farm site. We walked into the wooded area where the main house had been and scrambled through the brush and mosquitoes. This wooded area is northeast of the school and now consists of an irregular mix of hardwood trees and shrubs. Marianne recalled that in her childhood the area had been a well-tended park.
Near the center of the wooded area, northeast of the large old sycamore tree we found some remains of the stone carvings of the big house. These remains are broken and partially buried in the soil and roots. David and Will were thrilled to find this physical evidence of the house that they had heard so much about as children. We used our hands and sticks to dig through the rubble to find a few pieces we could take as souvenirs. We suggested that Mary Alice Graetzer, wife of Reinhard and a trained archaeologist, should help us organize an archaeological dig to find more remains.
Arthur drove us back to Wroclaw and walked with us in the downtown area. Arthur helped us figure out how to use the Polish phones and charge a call to our American long-distance telephone companies. David explored his options for taking the train to Berlin to meet his sister, Martha, and her husband, Gregor. We had lunch with Arthur in the Centrum department store (formerly Wertheim) on the north side of the Plac Tadeusz Kosciuszko (formerly Tautienplatz).
After we paid Arthur, we continued walking in the town. One of the more interesting commercial displays was a large outdoor display of Lego structures and dioramas in the Plac Solny (English = Salt Market Square). We had a light snack of iced coffee and pastries at an outdoor cafe on the Rynek.
After we returned to the Arsenal, Marianne went to sleep. David and
Will stayed and talked for several hours about their immediate and extended
families. The extended families have a great emphasis on learning and education.
We have a much higher rate of graduate degrees from universities than most
American families. At one wedding David recalled he was asked, "So what
field are you getting your Ph. D. in?" David observed some members of the
family assume everyone will try for a Ph. D. at some point. Our families
over several generations have had a strong concentration of professionals
in quantitative fields such as physics, chemistry, medicine, accounting,
and finance. We recognize some less-degreed members of the family feel
stress when their own unique achievements are compared to the highly-degreed
We paid our bill for lodging at the Arsenal at the cashier's office (Polish=Kasa) in the Rathaus. The charge was 48.15 zlotys (US $15.50) per person per night. If you are interested in staying at the Arsenal, you must obtain permission from the historical museum.
While shopping at the museum bookstore on the northwest side of the Rathaus, we met Janusz Czerwinski, who has written travel guides for Wroclaw in Polish, German, and English. Janusz speaks English fluently and was very helpful in answering some of our questions.
We walked a few blocks east to see a major tourist site, the Raclawice Panorama. The panorama is a painting on canvas 15 meters high and 114 meters long that is hung in a specially-built rotunda. The painting is hung in a complete circle and is viewed from a circular balcony in the center of the rotunda. Visitors are admitted in groups of about 40 people each half hour. Non-Polish visitors receive headphones to listen to the audio tour in their own language. The painting shows highlights from a battle between Russian troops and Polish insurrectionists that was fought on April 7, 1794 near the village of Raclawice. The painting depicts the Poles' glorious victory in this battle. Exhibition of this painting was suppressed by the Russians for forty years after World War II. Although we had read there can be a long wait to see the panorama, we had to wait for only 40 minutes.
After the panorama, we continued seeing some more tourist attractions. We walked through the Market Hall. Marianne bought some food in a roll that she thought was baked roll, and was surprise to found out it was smoked cheese. We walked across the Most Piaskowy (Sand Bridge) to the Wyspa Piaskowa (Sand Island), and then across a picturesque steel bridge, the Most Tumski, to Ostrow Tumski (St. John's Island), the oldest part of the city. This area is dominated by Catholic churches and offices of the archbishop's administration. We toured the massive Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The basilica is 100 meters long and filled with ornate carvings and paintings. We rode the elevator to the top of one of the spires for a great view of the city.
Next we walked over to a folk art store, the Galeria Sztuki Naiwnej, at ul. Kielbasnicza 31, a block west of the Rynek. The store had wonderful painted and carved objects in the folk style. Most of them were brightly painted.
For dinner, we walked to a pizza cafe we had seen near the Universitat. The pizzas are custom made with many different ingredients. Tomato sauce is provided in s small pitcher for diners to pour on their own pizzas after they are baked.
That evening David attended a performance of the opera "Rigoletto" at
the Opera House. He got a ticket in the center of the third row for six
zloty (US $1.90) - an astoundingly low price by US standards. There were
approximately 30-35 stage performers, 45-50 musicians, and spectacular
LOT hired taxis to take some of the inconvenienced passengers on a four-hour drive to Warsaw. Our taxi had a driver and four passengers: a member of the Polish Parliment, a Polish physicist working in England, Marianne, and Will. We made two rest stops along the way. At least we got to see more of the countryside. The country is very flat. We saw a few horse-drawn wagons making deliveries.
In Warsaw, LOT put us on a later flight to London's Heathrow Airport. Unfortunately, this flight arrived so late that Will would not be able to make his connection on a direct flight from Heathrow to the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. LOT's station manager in Warsaw said that LOT was not obligated to provide any accommodation for Will's missed connection in London, because our tickets had been issued as two separate round trips: one roundtrip between Dallas and London, and another round trip between London and Wroclaw. To reduce the cost of this problem, one should either purchase a continuous roundtrip as a single ticket, or buy travel insurance to compensate for interruptions.
When Marianne and Will got to London - Heathrow Airport, they separated.
Will got a flight on American Airlines to Boston, paid for a night at a
hotel in Boston, and then an early morning flight on to Dallas/Fort Worth
the next morning. Marianne spent Wednesday night in a small dormitory hotel
near Heathrow Airport.
Marianne continued her excursion in England. She rode a bus for six
hours to Helston, Cornwall, in the southwestern corner of England. She
wanted to see the area where she and the Urquharts had lived from August
until December 1939. In Helston she stayed at the newly-named Lizard Hotel.
The peninsula at Helston is known as the Lizard because of its irregular
shape. Marianne enjoyed walks along the cliffs and beaches at Helston for
several days. She returned to the Stanley House Hotel in London on Monday,
May 27, and flew back to New Mexico on Tuesday, May 28.