Convoys from Germany


[Dr Christine Cieslak – Graef is a doctor. She graduated from the Medical University of Lodz. While on scholarship in the United States, she met a doctor from Germany, which moved to Frankfurt / Main. There has opened its own office pediatric. Already in the six weeks since the outbreak of martial law in Poland, has entered into our country with great transport humanitarian aid. She was the first one who did it. She brought many tons of drugs, hygiene and milk powder of top class. Then almost every month she came from Germany convoys composed of many lorries. In some cases, the number reached to 30-! At the border crossing warning badges hung for customs officers, with her photograph in the company of Lech Walesa. In Germany, it was announced the woman of the year, Poland has gained some gratitude in the form of the title of honorary citizen of the city of Lodz. For several years, traveling with a medical missions to countries of the “third world.”]


This conversation takes place 20 years later, in the town near Warsaw, Hanna Kassyanowicz home – Pavlovich, who led the martial law helpdesk at the Charity Commission of the Polish Episcopate, which also reached the TIR-y Dr. Christine Cieslak – Graef .. Thanks be familiar with and to this day are often visiting friends. Actually, not so much a conversation as recalling experiences, events, images that most were made in memory of Mrs. Krystyna. Therefore, the issues of the journalist, as irrelevant, will be omitted. I’ll just add that sometimes I had to encourage my interlocutor to continue the story, because it does not belong to the people who like to talk a lot about myself, let alone to those who wish to see themselves in the role of a hero. Willing to assist it considers to be for the normal, natural, even though she is in this extraordinary.


From milk to Lodz

It all started in the summer of 1981, that is before martial law, the Children’s Hospital in Lodz. Working there as a pediatrician friend from college, she wrote in a letter to her, to Frankfurt, where they do not have children to feed, because the hospital does not have an ounce of milk powder.


Do not give me this letter to sleep for a few nights – says Krystyna – finally I told myself that if I do not do that, it’s probably no one else will do. I remember it was in May, when he was an attempt on the Pope and approaching my birthday. Not invited to a whole bunch of people, and in their question, I will gift or flowers or something else, I answered, that will leave the proverbial hat, because I need the money, because I have to buy milk powder for children in Poland. So I saved on his first birthday a thousand dollars. I went to your pharmacist to find out how and where you can buy this milk in larger quantities. He told me that is not the case, but first he will have me another thousand, and I have to report to the company Milupy where you say, how to arrange the purchase. Milupy I called, I told what was going on, and this Milupa immediately gave me an incredible discount, so that I have for these two thousand US dollars bought the first ton of milk powder.


How does it send to the boat? I went to the company Elt, which Circulating car. I asked if I could rent a truck and how much it costs. They like that, of course I rent directly, but if for three days, then pay absolutely nothing. So suddenly everything became easy, it was the car for free, pharmacist gave money, with the birth of my guests away … And it was somehow very encouraging to do it. So I went with the first delivery to the Polish. Along the way I learned from the radio that Cardinal Wyszynski died, so it was probably in June. Of course, there was driving alone, I had to help two people and when we arrived with the drowning of milk to the children’s hospital. Korczak in Lodz, then only, when confronted with the real situation at this point, I really realized how much you need this help. What I saw, it gave me so much verve that after his return to Germany, I started on, on a larger scale to collect the money. So that the next shuttle that I had four weeks, it was already three trucks with powdered milk and washing powder.


If you want to Poland to help, do not be silent!

Of course, I had to figure out how it will be seen in the German systems of formal, official, even if I work for example. In accordance with the financial office, because I have not been to any company, organization. I was afraid that even accuse me of doing some business, for enrichment. So I began to look for someone to lead me to book-keeping, and then joined the Society for Human Rights, which, without the problems I decided to firmować and lead all the financial matters of which I had no idea yet. This Society even if they wanted me to swallow, but I constantly emphasized the’m not with him that I only cooperate with him. This respected German press that writing about all this she added that I was doing this in collaboration with the Society for Human Rights.


I stated this independence because that somehow remain open to different currents or political views. But this Society, as well as the press, made me in this case such an amazing advertising, as soon as I had on these transports almost millions totals. I received for free addresses of all doctors, pharmacists and lawyers from Germany, interviews done with me in the press, television and radio. They began to invite me there some different events, political meetings. It was for example. In this type of forum Bon, on Poland, I remember much of it, but one sentence in this forum that said, it was later quoted in the headlines in all the newspapers: “If you want to Poland to help, do not be silent!”.


Transports were going so the Polish almost every four weeks, first in June and one in July, the third in September … In the beginning I went to the boat, but when it spread abroad, various other groups and towns in Germany gave me a whole truck load or with their own people to join the convoy. Not once an organization wanted to transport or one truck arrived to a particular city, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Lublin and Gdansk, sometimes because of a political issue.


It turned out that there is no policy of humanitarian aid, that is, which way the man to ask, it’s automatically assumed a political attitude. So that the whole mass of journalists began to ride in these convoys, as truck drivers, just to get to the Polish and find here any contacts with politicians or other journalists, and to be able to describe and filmed what they saw. Of course, his publications in the world press signed pseudonyms, so that it was not known which of these drivers is a journalist, which is the source from which it came. These journalists were a whole bunch of articles and various reports frequently appeared in the Western media.


With the last transport before martial law was driving unless December 9, starting at the border we saw on the road some armored and we talked to people somewhere during refueling stations, it przebąkiwali something. We stayed in Wroclaw, at the Fighting Solidarity, then in Lodz and then to Warsaw. There I discussed with Solidarity, signing a piece of paper at the same time, I think at the headquarters on the street. Mazowieckiej, I do not remember exactly, the case of drug delivery to the Polish. Money already it was, and Solidarity had done such a postal box – medical, which would flow needed prescription medicines, thrown by normal people from the streets across the country. She was already an agreement with Lufthansa, which has undertaken to carry 8o kg of these drugs every day. These recipes were to be przefaksowywane to a journalist in Bonn, then to me it was hit. I have pledged that regardless of the transport vehicle, and it’ll finance fix. I have a memory of this situation, as a young man with whom I spoke then, constantly leaving, he had still some phones, returning and leaving again. I ask, what is actually going on here, and he says that it was reported at the time that there are some movements of troops. It was on 11 December. I was like, and what you will be doing here now? He responds: sitting on a powder keg as.


We wanted to have a go for dinner, but we told the Poles, as soon as we drove towards the border. We returned via Poznan, on the way already become armored, but still I had no idea what was happening. As we got to the border, it was around midnight, and the tone was immediately customs officers else already crossed the border harassment. It was the night of the 12th to the 13th of December. When later, on Dedeerowa, turned on the radio, then we heard the martial law in Poland.


I had to undress

These shipments were indeed huge, there have up to 30 trucks in a convoy. Woziliśmy a whole bunch of different things, in addition to medication and milk powder were personal hygiene, diapers, cans, paper, etc .. There were always new, original stuff, man it’s all bought and drove. Interestingly, before martial law, when Poland was the thaw, it’s us terribly controlled East Germany, both at the entrance to the area and exit to Polish. Each truck had to unload and move with his own hands the 7 – 8 tons of things to a special room where they x-ray x-ray camera, and then back it all loaded. A one truck handle only two people on the more we are not allowed on the Polish side, so that there was no one to ask for help because they each had their seven and a half tons to unload and load. Customs officers do not care. Dedeerowo (GDR) treat us like the plague, we were not allowed to deviate from the highway, controlled travel time. At the border crossing suspended plakaciki with my name and photo in the company of Lech Walesa, like wanted posters. Very unpleasant was that every time I did a review of personal, I had to undress, also studied every little thing, a compact, lipstick. You can even bear it all, but if it happened at night, and this winter, when it is very cold, they really were terrible conditions. They did it methodically in order to discourage human. Even my daughter, who then studied in Krakow, harassment met on the way to Frankfurt pulled her out of the train or car and searched, he wore the same name.


But even so, did not leave us a sense of humor, we were a close-knit society, they often rode with me the same people. At stations played football or did picnic under a truck. And going for a long time, eg. From Frankfurt to Lodz normally goes on 11 hours, and we were going to three times as long. Harassment on the Polish side were similar, especially in the period of martial law, when dedeerowcy little popuścili, because they knew that the Poles have sharply control.


What it was really not an easy job, I wrote about this in the “Culture”. I think it was in 1983, just Giedroyc came to Frankfurt Book Fair, and when I met him, he asked me to do something about it wrote. And there’s the hot, a little emotionally I described what a man thinks and what feels that virtually no one we do not understand that unless they do not understand the Poles, who probably imagine that there, that is, in Germany, there is some great institution in a beautiful, modern high-rise, with shops, which are all fixed. And the truth is that it was a completely spontaneous and relatively makeshift history, although, yes, she held up together.


The Polish press has been written about it, apart from Lodz, where a local newspaper reported that I had been, provided. In contrast, in a state of war has once appeared libel unless the Courier Pomeranian, and may Szczecin, where it was reported that a Mr. Dr. Graef – so it is written, giving my address in Frankfurt – sends to people in Pomerania packages with faeces, with dirty diapers and stones, which then reprinted all small redakcyjki, some Zielona and others. I suddenly started getting anonymous letters from Polish, with texts, which is terrible and I’m rewanżystką yourself these stones she busted her head.


No, I did not think then that this is done by ubecję, how was I to know. Someone sent me the Polish this article and when I went to the Polish consulate was already one – because every time I had to apply for a visa to travel to Polish and transit through the GDR, and is often denied to me, not once had to go to Bonn in this on – it took him aside and showed the consul. He was a gentleman, of course, the line and the base, and when I asked him why he did not give me a visa, he finally replied that my collaboration with the Society for Human Rights, which is quite right-wing, puts my person in question. For this I started to cry and even showed him the anonymous file with Polish, saying no to you see, here you have this attitude to me, and still write me such anonymous. I left it to him, asking for their return, and though assured that they will return, they never regained. By contrast, appeared later in the “Tribune of the People” article Fri. “Dirty Work,” primitive and perversely, that is, in its own way, commenting on the matter.


But I and enjoyable moments when the West was announced to me – I think in 83 or 84 – a “woman of the year”, chosen by the International Women’s Club .. I got 5 thousand. dollar prize, for which I bought for the Lodz hospital operating electric knife and something else. And in Poland became an honorary citizen of the city of Lodz.


“You are well fed, and here the culture”

During martial law, it was already terribly. Interesting is the story of how we were able to get to Gdansk. I did not know that you need to be extra special visa or permission to enter the city. First, we were in Warsaw, then drove to Malbork, where I had to pass for księżulków altar wine and something else. It was at the beginning of February, after six weeks of martial law, every few kilometers permanent military outposts, I remember when one of these baskets, in which coke is burned. Stopped us, saying you are not allowed to go further, but we do not want to be so nasty as you want, you can go, but a friend, who will be 10 km away, and he was certainly has not spare. And so from a friend to a friend, passed through all the checkpoints and got to Malbork .. There, I asked the priest, who is a sacramental wine brought him to call the police or somewhere and gave them know that we’re going with the help of transport, and to me it is not persecuted so I had a couple of miles off the journey. I think the priest did, because further down the road to Gdansk bowed to me on these posts.


In a state of war had reached a political issue and smuggling, so that even those medicines and other things have actually notice boards, cover. We already had a different number of contacts, we knew the area better and if my journalists or myself had something to pass, know what and how. In Warsaw would arrive m. In. to Kuratowski on Banach, or to the point of help with the episcopate, which led Hank, then to a point on the priest Niedzielak. Smuggled paint, silkscreen prints, paper, radios and radio stations, including paper, correspondence. We were looking for different possibilities of smuggling, for example. We had a double bottom in Baku, the bottom was paint on top of the oil, and if someone was watching us closely, you would see that we stop every hundred kilometers, and fill the tanks, so he probably would have guessed. But we were even plans for a customs office and knew where to look and where they like what you hide. However, when we took out the seats of the cars and try to raise a variety of parts, from bland to fear man did.


Once we drove through Travemuende and Swinoujscie, where we held all day Poles and carefully controlled transport and ourselves, checked the names, where, who, and what, I of course was on the blacklist. Just got stuck a large batch of radio. One of the customs officers, you will see a more normal person, he joked, saying: do you have in that car so much sacramental wine, well, maybe we can grab something? I said – very willingly, and, I sat with the publicans and drank with them is sacramental wine. Only after several hours of approval came from a colonel or general, and they let us. We got to Warsaw, where they unloaded radiostacyjki, and, later called Radio Solidarity everywhere.


We regret was still returning to Germany empty-TIR-s, so once we came up with the idea of Hania Kassyanowicz to smuggle images. And it quickly developed into a huge action to help the opposition Polish artists, the exhibition did in Germany, combined with the sale of the work. We set up in Germany Association “Siren” to do all legally. But also “Siren” was not any organization with an office in the tower, it was just a loose, spontaneous association of great people from different, distant cities, from Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Marburg … there were priests, journalists, artists, even police, or a group of true friends who met through the convoys to Polish that every time for us were the trip to Alaska.


Within a few years, except for 1986, or 87 years, we transported across the border almost 600 paintings, done in various German cities 16 exhibitions. I wrote about this recently in a letter to the Karta Center in Warsaw. This action took nearly 70 Polish painters and graphic artists, mostly from Warsaw, but also from many other cities. I met some and I know that they often did not have anything to put into the pot. For these shows, I remember this beautiful moment that took place during the service in the Evangelical church in Hamburg. There was a little bit images, which are part of a larger Polish exhibition at the resort and during the sermon the pastor says to the people these words: you are well fed, and here is the culture! Saying this, he pointed to the images. He knew that the Germans most hits by culture. Oh and there was a lot of sold work, especially graphics.


All these people in Germany, with whom I worked, who rode with me in convoys and those who organized art exhibitions, make friends and meet so far, whether it’s to celebrate birthdays, birthdays or any wedding. For all of us it was such appreciation and I would like to say that when you want to do in life potluck, much can be achieved – when it comes to the Germans, that’s for sure – just through culture.


Hugh Bukowski