Once upon a time, everyone was from here, now, everyone is from somewhere else.
A land with a past and people without roots.
Masurians were not Germans. They were not Poles. They were Masurians. For Poles, almost German. For Germans, almost Poles. Thrown into the whirlwind of history and war, forced to flee and leave their land. They fled in panic from the advancing Red Army. Terrified in the middle of winter, leaving their belongings and cellars full of supplies. Few are left. And empty land with empty houses. Become Refugees.
The Red Army soldiers had no mercy. The German was a German. Masurians paid with their lives for their origin, just like the Poles recognized by the Soviets as Masurians. Sometimes it was a bullet in the head, and sometimes a being ran over by a tank. Sometimes the entire village was killed like Małga, of which only the foundations, the church tower and a vague memory of the inhabitants remained. Some say two hundred, others that many more were killed. Those who remained did not lean out. They didn't say who they were. They succeeded in survive because they spoke Polish better than German. They were anonymous on their land. Anonymous among thousands of new neighbors. People displaced from other parts of old Poland, thrown by the whirlwind of history into a new unknown place . Just like Masurians deprived of their homes. Migrants. People with a past without attachment to a new land, patrimony. Living in fear of bandits fleeing to areas where no one knows them. In fear of the allegedly poisoned food left by the Masurians. In fear of hunger.
In fear that the Germans would come back and take their homes back. Take their land back. In fear so strong that it determined the lives of the next two generations. Living day by day. Rarely caring and developing the farms. Living without the continuity of generations and places. Not telling where they are from. Living next to beautiful nature, lakes, forests, and spectacular nature. Next to the large number of tourists, people who came just for the moment.
It is only thirty years after the fall of communism in Poland that the stories of those times begin to come to light. They were hidden from neighbors and strangers. For fear of the Soviets, for fear of the Germans. People are starting to tell the true story of one of the most beautiful parts of Poland.
This is an ongoing project. I need to interview and portrait the last living Masurians in Poland and in Germany, among others still living the previous owner of the house I live in who left Poland in the 70s.