My personal knowledge of their time during the war is sometimes filled with sadness, but the overall story becomes one of two people growing up and falling in love behind a backdrop of war. Their experiences of the war are probably greater than what they've ever told anyone, or through the years the feelings have been tempered so that when repeated they aren't angry stories. I've only ever been offered snapshots of atrocities, but maybe that's all they've retained. My Babcia recalls paper raining down like confetti for hours after a neighbouring town was bombed. My Dzia Dzia once told me of a toddler being murdered in town and how helpless he felt at that moment. The most enduring story for me, though, is the one of my Babcia's first boyfriend.
He lived 7 kilometres away, the next town over. She met him through the family she was living with and he was a farmer's boy. Once a week, after church, they would each walk 3.5 kilometres to sit in a field and be teenagers. She remembers he smelled of fresh carrots. One day, instead of meeting him in the field, his friends appeared. They told Babcia that two boys had stolen a loaf of bread and started running once they saw that they had been caught. Babcia's boyfriend, seeing the boys running away from chasing police officers also started to run, out of fear. Unfortunately, he was shot. Her first love was dead and the war was responsible for that.
As sad as it was, the story was familiar. Crimes against citizens were common. Life had to move on or it wasn't worth living. And it did move on. Stories continued to be made, and those stories, luckily, have been passed down through the years.
I think I'm going to take some time to write these stories down. My grandparents were luckier than some. I loved hearing about how they met, fell in love, married and had a child, despite a war being fought in the background. I'm going to attempt to link their story with my own. My story being that I get to experience living in a country that tries to shed itself of what happened 70 years ago while still respecting the history and lives of those that lived through that time. I'll keep you posted.