by Liliana Stansberry
War is a criminal, it has taken the lives of her parents and her childhood. The only thing she could do is fight this evil with the little power she had. She was a part of the AK, the home army, for whom she carried important documents through the Nazi guarded streets. One time, as she was walking through the streets transporting documents, she was stopped by German officers. Her heart began racing as she knew this was the end for her. She was placed in a line to get loaded into the truck shipping her to her death. She tried to act calm and assure herself that she would be alright, but nothing could distract her from the painful knowledge that she was 13 and going to die. Suddenly, a German officer yanked her by the arm and dragged her to a set of nearby stairs. Confusion filled her mind, as she couldn’t figure out what was happening. Finally understanding the situation, she sprinted down the stairs, clutching the documents, feeling the soft grip of death slip away. She doesn’t know why he saved her–maybe she looked like his daughter or his sister–but he did.
That was just one of the stories of the Armia Krajowa ladies, Mrs. Krystyna Sierpinska and Jadwiga Włodarska-Teterwak. Sitting there in that room with the two women, glancing at each other, sharing memories, giggling to each other, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was looking into a time machine, peering into the future. I sat there next to my friend mirroring the actions of the woman, just like they had 80 years ago. Except they hadn’t lived in such peace as we do.
The told us how war confuses people. She didn’t know whether to hate that man for being a Nazi or love him for saving her life. She didn’t know whether to be ungrateful that war had beaten her life up or grateful that she had made it through. That confusion filled all the war stories of the two women. For them, it taught them to love people, because no one in the world can cause them more pain than that which they endured during the war. It has taught them to see the beauty in the smallest things and find joy wherever they go.
They talked about the excitement they got when they would get to eat a meal, and the taste of food after going days without eating. Even if it was just a little slice of bread, they savored and enjoyed it.
After listening to all their stories, I realized that it’s your choice to make the most of the situation. They could have been mad that they didn’t get to eat every meal but they chose to be happy that they got a slice of bread. Although we do not live in times of tragedy like they did, the lessons they have learned can teach us too: To not be hateful to the horrid parts of life, but to be thankful to the beautiful ones.