'My mother was arrested by the Gestapo' - Bexley pensioner shares her amazing tale (From News Shopper)
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'My mother was arrested by the Gestapo' - Bexley pensioner shares her amazing tale
A Bexleyheath grandmother, who was smuggled over the German border from Poland aged 10, has opened up about her childhood diary - documenting life in Poland under Nazi rule and her mother's vicious arrest by the Gestapo.
Krystyna Lee, aged 79, of Love Lane, who now has four children and three grandchildren, was born in Katowice, Poland in 1935 - when Germany invaded in 1939 she was sent to Krakov with her younger sister Hania and mother, Ludmila to live with 'the grannies' - her grandmother and great aunt, Zosia - who encouraged her to keep a diary of her experiences during the war.
The diary is annotated with her great aunt's notes on 'adult life' during the period.
Mrs Lee said: "My entries were very, very simple - I had a birthday, or if I had a cold or if my sister had been naughty - the sort of things that interest children.
"The notes are particularly valuable from the point of view of a document, they refer to things that were happening in the country and in the world at that time."
The memoir documents Mrs Lee's mother's arrest by the Gestapo on January 10 1945 for money laundering to help the resistance whilst working in a top Polish bank - she was sent to Belsen Concentration Camp for three months and released following the British Liberation.
It also describes the eight days it took Mrs Lee and her sister to be smuggled across the German border with nothing but a change of spare underwear sewn into the inside of their coats.
She added: "It's not a misery memoir - we were all reunited at the end of the war. Father, who had been posted in Scotland throughout the war years, managed to get to the British Occupation Zone in Germany where he was reunited with my mother.
"They decided to pay a woman who trafficked people to make a living - they gave her a sum of money and a letter to give to the grannies and tell them to hand us over.
"It must have been a terrible decision for my grannies to hand us over to a stranger."
The family then travelled to England to make a new life for themselves - Mrs Lee left home, aged 19, to study politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University where she met her late husband, Ernest, who sadly died in February this year.
Mrs Lee said: "My husband was behind me in getting the diary translated - to me I just had this diary and that was it.
"He had it bound for me as a present one birthday, the translation is in the Imperial War Museum - they wanted the original because they said they could look after it better but I am going to keep it at home for the interim and they will have it eventually."
Mrs Lee will give a talk about her diary at Bexley Library on July 5 from 5pm. For tickets call the library on 01322 836303
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