Summer tour of 2007 - The Film
It was devoted entirely to individual meetings and to collecting material for a short documentary film about the Wajszczuk Family and their Genealogical Tree, which has been in existance in the Internet since the year 2000. The participants were: Marian Kubera - who wrote the story and directed the film, Krzysztof Iglikowski - the camera operator, Wlodzimierz Dembicki - sound and lighting specialist, Pawel Stefaniuk - webmaster of the Tree and our official photographer and Waldemar Wajszczuk (0087) - the producer and sponsor of the film.
Gdańsk, we were able to film here a visit by Waldemar, his wife Carmen and their younger son, Michael. (The older son, Waldemar Jr was in Poland last summer together with his then fiance Eden). From Gdansk, the itinerary led via Warsaw to the Podlasie region, to the vicinity of Siedlce and Lukow, which is the nest of the Podlasie branch of the Family. Along the way, we visited Siedlce, the hometown of Waldemar and his immediate family, Mordy - uncle Tadeusz (0060) was there a railroad station master for many years. In the old forest near Mordy, we searched for the footprints of the ancient local settlers - the Yotvingians (1), Lithuanians, Belarussians, Ukrainians, Masurians - some of them could have been the ancestors of the Wajszczuks. But, seriously, we were filming there the background scenery for the segment of the film, where we are dicussing the different potential ancestors of the Family. Afterwards, the trail led via Lukow to Trzebieszów, which is considered to be the main cradle of the Family or of its Podlasie branch. Next, we visited Horodek, Lózki, Radzyń Podlaski and Drelów - which are connected with the life and activities of another uncle, Fr. Karol (0074). In Lublin we visited the daughter of the youngest uncle - Zenobiusz (0096) and searched local Archives for documents describing the martyrdom of several Wajszczuks in local places of detention during World War II and under the Soviet regime. In the past Lublin was the central point, where the fates of members of both major branches of the Family criss-crossed and overlapped - http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/drzewo/tekst/zamek.htm. (1) http://www.economicexpert.com/a/Yotvingians.htm
From Lublin, we travelled to the Zamość area, which is the nest of the second major branch of the Family. We met its members and talked to them in Sitaniec, Wysokie and Sułów. The majority of their families were expelled by the Germans during the war (http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/drzewo/tekst/wysiedleni.htm) and were sent to the concentration camps - some died there, or to the forced labour camps - some never returned and emigrated to the USA or Canada or were resettled on their return by the Communists to the new "Regained Territories" in the west of post-war Poland. Only few were lucky to avoid deportations, remained in the area and returned home after the war. On the way back to Warsaw, we had a chance to visit Krasnystaw, where uncle Edmund (0075) and his family lived before and during WW-II. After a short stop in Kazimierz on the Vistula, we arrived in the evening at Warsaw, where we met with Prof. Zbigniew Religa and his wife, Waldemar's sister. Next day - our friend and supplier of historical materials from the National Archives for the film, allowed us to use his apartment for final photography and planning of the production.
Cities and villages, people and visited places of remembrance
Warszawa (Warsaw)... Muzeum Wojska Polskiego (Museum of the Polish Military) - searching for the historical background materials; Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego 1944 (Museum of the the Warsaw Uprising 1944) - here, on the Memory Wall, are engraved names of Antoni Wajszczuk, Barbara Wajszczuk and Wojciech Wajszczuk, three children of the uncle Dr Edmund Wajszczuk, who died as the Uprising participants; Cmentarz na Powązkach (Powązki Cemetery) - symbolic graves of the Insurgents.
Siedlce ... Cemetery - old graves of the Wajszczuk family, cousin Anna Swiderska remembers; Katedralna street - remnants of the house and property of the grandparents, Piotr and Maria Wajszczuk, the "initiators" of this line of the family in Siedlce; conversations in the city park - friends of the family: Anatoliusz Skwara, WW-II Polish pilot in England visiting from California remembers: "grandfather Piotr, who was a sacrystian at the St. Stanislaus Parish and Church allowed the altar boys to collect and consume the residual crumbs from making the Communion hosts"; Włodzimierz Bieguński – a chronicler of Siedlce and an amateur-historian, related to the family by the uncle Edmund's wife; Sławomir Kordaczuk - deputy director of the Regional Museum in Siedlce, historian of Siedlce and its vicinity; Waldemar remembers in front of his parents' house - ("why are these film people performing an Indian rain dance, it has been already raining recently?"); at the Swiderski cousins - the family of uncle Edmund; visiting Dr Władysław Stefanoff - a friend of the Dr Lucjusz's (0086) family.
Mordy ... The abandoned railroad station - uncle Tadeusz served here for many years as a station master; (Incidentally, no ancient ancestors were found in the nearby forest, but the Nature was beautiful!). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordy
Trzebieszów ... The nest of the Wajszczuk Family in the Podlasie Province - here we visited a cousin, Barbara Miszta (0156), who is a local "custodian" of the history and tradition of the Family. After recording her reminiscences, we visited in her company the village, Parish, church and cemetery. The vicar of the local Parish, named after "The Ten Thousand of Warriors-Martyrs", Fr Kazimierz Zdunek allowed us to browse through the old Parish Record Books and then showed us the Parish Church, where most of the local Wajszczuks participated in and received the religious services during many preceding centures. From the church we went to the cemetery, where we visited only some of the graves, the rest we saw previously (http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/cmentarze/trzebieszow_e.htm
Horodek ... The hermitage, chapel and cult site of St. Onufry, near Drelow - uncle Fr Karol was instrumental in its reactivation after WW-I. Four young oak trees were planted there recently, to honor: the Polish Pope - John Paul II, the Primate of the Millenium - Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the Uniates-Martyrs from Podlasie and the local parish priest for many years, well remembered and respected - Fr Karol Wajszczuk (http://www.parafia-drelow-nmp.siedlce.opoka.org.pl/meczennicy/historia_e.htm; http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/wiadomosci/0074karol_17_05_2006.htm
Łózki ... Also near Drelow - the site of a school and of a monument commemorating the fallen members of the POW (WW-I time underground Polish Military Organization), victims of the concentration camps during WW-II, jailed and killed during the German occupation and then fighters in the anti-communist conspiracy, also killed and jailed by the Soviet and Polish communist apparatus - Father Karol's name is among them.
Drelów ... We were greeted in the Parish of the Immaculate Conception of the Holliest Virgin Mary by its new Parish-priest, Fr Wiesław Mańczyna. Fr Karol Wajszczuk was here a parish-priest during the years 1919-1940. Fr Mańczyna showed us the recently opened Remembrance Room memorizing the Uniate-Martyrs from Podlasie and in particular from Drelow, which also contains in a glass-enclosed cabinets, a collection of documents concerning Father Karol. Later on, we were guests of the well known and respected local family of the Stefaniuks. Mr F. Jerzy Stefaniuk is a Member of the Polish Parliament and a former Deputy Speaker of the House (Sejm). He reminisced, at first directly to the camera and later at the Polish-style dinner table, Fr Karol Wajszczuk and a recent visit to the place of Fr Karol's martyrdom and death in the Concentration Camp at Dachau. While there, he was greatly moved and deeply shaken by the sudden sound, at noontime, of a church bell ringing and calling the faithfull for the Angelus, ..."the bell had the sound and intonation like the bell in Drelow, which used to call for many years the local people for prayer together with Fr Karol"! While talking now about this, his eyes became moist!
Paweł Stefaniuk, his son has been now for many years the co-author and webmaster of our Genealogical Tree of the Wajszczuk Family - you can see him in the enclosed pictures at his working tool - the computer while explaining for the camera the secrets of collecting the material and building the pages of the Tree. He has been also an active member of our film-making team.
Lublin ... Here live members of both branches of the Family and here took place sad and sometime tragic episodes in the lives of some of them. In Lublin, we filmed Zamek Lubelski (the Lublin Castle) - a place of detention and suffering of several Wajszczuks, starting from the beginning of the XX century. Some were jailed here still under the Tzar's rule, most of them were, however, detained in the Castle and sent from here to the concentration camps during the German occupation (http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/drzewo/tekst/zamek.htm). Soviet and communist authorities used also freely this facility. Here was also detained the father of Teresa Jaroszynska (0097), the youngest uncle from Siedlce - Zenobiusz (0097), after his return from service in the Polish Armed Forces in the West (the General Anders' Army) after World War II. We also visited the "Dom pod Zegarem" (House under the Clock) - (http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/drzewo/tekst/pod_zegarem.htm) - site of the Gestapo headquarter during the war and of the Soviet and Polish Communist Secret Police later. We visited Teresa later in the day and interviewed her on the camera - also looked at and copied some old family pictures and documents.
Most recently, we have learned some new details about the clandestine anti-russian and pro-independance activities of one of the Family members from Sitaniec n/Zamosc at the beginning of the XXth century, which lead to his jailing in the Lublin Castle and then exile to Siberia, where he perished. http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/drzewo/tekst/1591antoni.htm
Sitaniec ... This is one of the nests of the Zamosc branch of the Wajszczuk Family. Here we met with Jacek Wajszczuk (0303) who was born in Sitaniec and came now from Warsaw especially for this meeting. He showed us the local church and parish, where most of the Wajszczuk from this area were baptized and received other religious ministrations, then the old houses - former and current seats of the Wajszczuk Family members - all were located close to the church (http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/gniazda/domy_sitaniec.htm; http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/mapy/domy_sitaniec_wysokie.htm) and guided us around the old local cemetery - http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/cmentarze/sitaniec_e.htm
Wysokie ... Here live still some of the descendants of the other limb of the Zamosc Branch, Adolf (0278) and Henryka Wajszczuk and their son Adam (0282) with his family. Live recordings of their reminiscences enriched our knowledge about them and about their family branch. They recalled the expulsions during the war and their life under German occupation. Jacek came here with us from Sitaniec - this was an opportunity for him to meet the distant and unknown cousins.
Sułów ... We drove to and arrived at this nearby locality after a violent storm with a severe downpour. http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/mapy/domy_sulow.htm; http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/mapy/zamojszczyzna.htm. The ancestor of the Wajszczuks, who now live here arrived here probably early in the XiXth century from Sitaniec. We visited with and talked to Marian (0944), his wife and son Ryszard (0948) and his family. Ryszard told us about the expulsions, German cruelty during the occupation and about his, at that time 9 year-old father and 12 year-old uncle, who transported on a horse-drawn cart under the straw, a supply of weapons for the local partisans hiding in the forest near Szczebrzeszyn.
Zamość ... During the two-day "stop-over" in this picturesque and historical town, we had an opportunity to admire again its architecture and charm. Waldemar had an opportunity to visit the old Zamojski Academy, where his mother attended the high school, before her family moved to Siedlce. Here we also visited and filmed the Zamosc Rotunda, former fortress and later a place of detention and extensive executions, which has been converted after the war into a Museum of Martyrology of the Zamosc Region. Here were also detained, in a temporary Transit Camp, numerous members of the Wajszczuk Family before being sent by the Germans to their individual destinations - forced labour in Germany or concentration camps.
One evening, in the hotel, we had an opportinuity to watch on TV an interview with Prof. Dr Zbigniew Religa, a famous member of our Family, who was then running his election campaign for the Polish Parlament (Sejm)
Krasnystaw ... In this town lived and worked, since 1938 until his death in 1943, another uncle, dr Edmund Wajszczuk. Earlier in 1943, he sent his wife and children to Warsaw, to stay with his wife's family - in an attempt to protect them from being deported to Germany for forced labour. He died suddenly (in unknown circumstances - he was known to have been involved in underground resistance activities) and three out of his four children died fighting in the Warsaw Uproising of 1944. In the film and on the photographs are shown - the house where they lived and where he had his private office and the Hospital, where he worked.
Kazimierz on the Vistula ... As far as we know, no members of the Wajszczuk family lived here, but many have been visiting this picturesque Renaissance place. We made a short stop here for lunch, before returning to Warsaw.
Warszawa ... at the Religa's home, (or at Waldemar's sister and bother-in-law) - reminiscing, remembering and commenting...
at Wlodzimierz Sobecki - a welcoming host, good beer and snacks - and most importantly, a good friend, collaborator and priceless Archive search specialist. Without his collaboration, the film would not have come out as good as it did!! Of course, we do not want to forget here the talents, contributions and involvement of the film Director, of the Webmaster and of the other Collaborators.
Most sincere thanks and deepest gratitude to all participants in this enterprise - at both ends of the camera!
(click on the picture to open the page)