Our thanks to Gracie Huber (nee Grazyna Klisz) for supplying the following information and photos.
Klisz Family – the Road from Poland to Marsworth
Marcin Klisz (born 1891) and Anna (nee Malec, born 1892) were farmers living in Krolin in the south eastern part of Poland, now Ukraine.
Marcin had been married to his first wife, who had sadly died not long after giving birth to their daughter Rozalia in 1922. He then married Anna Malec and together they had Aniela (b.1925), Franciska (b.1928) and Jozef (b.1935). Just before Jozef was born they purchased their own farm and moved from Krolin to a small village, Twierdza, near Lwow.
On 10th February 1940 they were taken from their home by six Russians and two Ukrainians at gunpoint. Marcin was ill and in bed; he was told to get dressed or he would be shot. The whole family were taken to the nearest railway station where they saw hundreds of people awaiting the same fate … being deported.
They were put into a wagon and travelled for about two weeks. Each wagon had approximately 50 people. Conditions were awful – it was winter. In the middle of the wagon was a stove; they were given a few buckets of coal, some water and a few loaves of bread.
Marcin Klisz did not survive the journey; he died of T.B. His body was taken away and the family do not know what happened to the body.
The rest of the family arrived in Molotow, USSR and were taken to a place called Kluczanka. Here the family (apart from Jozef) had to work in the forest. Conditions were appalling – sub-zero temperatures, little food and heavy work.
In 1943 they found themselves in Teheran, Isfahan where schools were set up for the children.
Arrival in England
In February 1948 they arrived at Liverpool. From there the family was sent to Marsworth camp (Site 8). Jozef, aged 13, was sent to Lilford Hall School, a boarding school.
Franciszka, aged 20, went to work in a factory which made lipstick cases. She recalls life in Marsworth as being very happy, after her traumatic journey from Poland.
She met Kazimierz Tomkowski (born in Wilno 1921) at a dance in Marsworth. He lived in Podington Camp in Bedfordshire, another Polish resettlement camp. They married in May 1954 and Franciszka moved to Podington.
I (Grazyna, known as Gracie) was born in1955, followed by Krzysztof (known as Chris) in1959. In 1959 Kazimierz and Franciszka bought a house in Dunstable. Irena was born in 1966. Chris died in 2009 and Kazimierz in 2017.
Franciszka, now 91, is happy living at a care home at Laxton Hall. She went there on 10th February 2019, exactly 79 years to the day when they had to leave Poland.
Written by daughter Gracie Huber, July/August 2019