During German occupation
During the second year of my study, I found employment as an organist at the Jesuit Church in Świętojańska St. in Warsaw. There, I worked and studied until 1939 when I enrolled in the army. Initially, I was in service in Toruń, and then in Wesoła near Warsaw . After the German attack, my unit was sent eastwards. The well known events happened so fast that I had not shot one bullet when the Germans took control over these areas. Most of my colleagues were imprisoned. I avoided this fate because I had put on civilian attire earlier than others . At that moment, I set off to walk towards Warsaw, anxious about my fiancee Zofia Wiaczkis and her family. Luckily, I found her at a different address where she stayed with her family. Their apartment had been partly destroyed by bombs. I started to seek ways to support us. In Warsaw, I had no chance of succeeding in this, so I decided to visit my father, who was staying with my brother Józef in our family town of Sierpc.
On the way from Warsaw to Sierpc my train stopped in Nasielsk. It was announced that the stop would take several hours. I took this opportunity to visit Professor Jan Bieniek, my acquaintance who had always been very friendly towards me, and who worked as an organist in Nasielsk . He welcomed me very kindly and even offered me a job as an assistant organist at the then huge Nasielsk parish. Very glad, I went on to Sierpc to my father. I found my family town changed. On many houses, swastika flags were waving. The town was full of Germans in Wehrmacht and SS uniforms. Walking the distance of several kilometres from the train station to the town, I was asked many times to show my ID to the Volksdeutschers. Sierpc and the Sierpc district had always been a home for many German colonists. Now, these people became denunciators bound to destroy the Polish population.
Finally, I reached my father’s home and found father very depressed by what had happened. He was glad to see me back home. After a short stay with my father I took my salvaged clothes and books and went back to Nasielsk. I stayed there for nearly a year, helping Mr Bieniek and giving private piano classes to the local girls. During my stay in Nasielsk, I would cross the green border and go to the General Gubern (Poland under German occupation) several times (Nasielsk belonged to the German Reich under the new administrative division). Perhaps I would have stayed longer in Nasielsk, but it became increasingly difficult to cross the border. Those who were caught were beaten or placed in labour camps.
After I had handled all the formalities in Ciechanów (Bezierk Ziechenau), I left the hospitable home of Mr and Mrs Bieniek in Nasielsk and returned to my former place in 14 Freta St. in Warsaw. I remained unemployed for several months, which made my situation extremely difficult, but then, absolutely by chance, I found a job as an organist at the St Martin’s Church in 10 Piwna St. That was a really happy moment in my life. In addition to a small salary, I got a two room apartment with a kitchen, and me and my beloved Zosia Wiaczkis could finally marry, which we did in 1941.
At that time I started a life that was normal, by the standards of the German occupation times. The St. Martin’s was not a parish. It was administered by a kind elderly man, priest Dr. Marcin Szkopowski. In order to support myself somehow, I had to take various jobs, e.g. I taught singing at several schools, including the secret Queen Jadwiga High School (of which Mrs. Zanowa was the headmistress), the Industrial School in Konopczyńskiego St. (where Mr Lipczyński was the headmaster), and the comprehensive schools in 10 Freta St. and in Górczewska St. (both were schools of the Res Sacra Miser Warsaw Philanthropic Society). I also gave private piano classes and managed amateur choirs. All this put me in great danger, because of the incessant street round-ups and the threat of being taken as a slave labourer to the Reich or even worse, to a labour camp.
The jobs that I had did not overshadow the main purpose of my life, which was to continue my musical education. I established contact with my professors: Kazimierz Sikorski, Bronisław Rutkowski, Artur Taub and Jerzy Lefeld. At that time, all of them were already working at the restored Conservatory, which the Germans had renamed as Staatliche Musikschule in Warschau. According to the invaders’ intent, this was supposed to be a high school, but the professors were secretly teaching the Conservatory’s curriculum. I was anxious to keep expanding my artistic knowledge, which gave me the strength to work and to survive the terrible time of the occupation. In 1943, I graduated from the organ group and got my diploma . Then, I started composition studies under the direction of Prof. Kazimierz Sikorski. I got my diploma in musical composition only in 1951, as I graduated from the State Higher Music School in Lódz.
/Written by the composer in Warsaw, Poland, on November 20, 1995/