Köslin 1945 - Koszalin 2009

Canadian Tourist solves COLD CASE” of two skeletons for Polish Police

 A true story as told and written by : Peter von Pazatka Lipinsky

The continuing saga of Peter’s adventures in Kashubia while searching for his family roots.

First published in the Fall of 2009 

 It was time again to visit Kashubia, the land of my forefathers one more time while my health is still in reasonably good shape.  My flight took me from Edmonton - Toronto - Warsaw to Gdansk and it was a bit tiring after being on the go for nearly 30 hours.  Cabin service from Toronto to Warsaw on LOT ( Polish) airlines was superb.  Arriving Sunday evening in Gdansk, it was time to get some much needed rest and continue the next morning to explore the City of Gdansk.  The old City of Gdansk is a very interesting city to visit and one cannot spend enough time, to see and visit all the old historical buildings, such as cathedrals, archives, museums, etc.  A visit to the local State Archive proved to be very interesting and informative.  I found several folders,  files and books with important family research material.  There was too much research material to look at in a very short time , so notes were made to follow up at a later date.  The next day was taken up with a visit to the Archiwum Diecezjalne (Diocesan Archive) in Pelplin, about 50 km. from Gdansk.  Here, I found enough research material on my family to keep me going for some time to come. The director of the archive,  Prof. ks. Anastazy Nadolny was very helpful and without his help, my visit to the archive would not have been that successful. The next day, my cousin Reinhard and his wife Ulla came by car to pick me up from Gdansk, to take me back to the village of Piaszno, my temporary home away from home.

A couple of days later, my visit to Kashubia continued.  Cousin Reinhard had made arrangements for us to drive to the City of Koszalin, some 110 km away.  Why Koszalin?  When I was about 8 years old, my family lived in this city.  So, it was only natural, that I wanted to see the place, where I had played and attended school as a young boy.  Cousin Reinhard has a long time friend living in Koszalin with his wife, a retired teacher, who volunteered to show us the places of interest to me.  We found my old school and the park where I used to play.  Now it was time to find Marien Strasse Nr. 6 (Marien Street # 6), the old apartment building where my family had lived in Köslin.  Our friend asked a tour guide who was in the park with a group of tourist, if she could tell us what the new name for the old Marien Strasse was now. The guide told us that the name now was  ul. Marianska”, about twenty minutes later, we were at the  ul. Marianska”. It was 64 years ago, that I played here on the old cobble stones in the Marien Strasse and it brought back a lot of memories, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. The street was now paved.  Yes, this was the place my parents called their home a long time ago.  I remembered the large doorway leading to the back yard where we had played as small children. It was very emotional for me to see all this, after more than over half a century.

While I was taking pictures and looking around, Cousin Reinhard and the retired teacher friend talked , in Polish, to a couple who had emerged from one of the doorways.  Cousin Reinhard explained what we were doing there in the backyard and after some more talk, the people told Reinhard, that about five years ago , workers had dug up the back yard to lay new water pipes and discovered two buried skeletons.  Police were called and people from the district attorney office came to investigate.  Forensic examination would most likely show at a later date, the age and gender of the skeletons as well as how long they had been there.

As far as anybody knew this case had not been solved since the discovery of the skeletons five years ago.  This is what Reinhard told me their conversation was all about.  I looked at Reinhard and told him, that I could solve this case right now.

 Press the button on the time machine and go back in time to the spring of 1945.

It was March 1945, the Red Army (Russian Army) was only a few kilometres from the city of Köslin (now Koszalin).  The civilian  population was very frightened facing the rapidly advancing Red Army, which would take and occupy the city of Köslin.  Many people had left the city by any means of transportation possibly, by bus, bicycle or simply by walking day and night, to reach the west and the area of Germany occupied by American and Canadian troops  fleeing the advancing Russian Army.. Stories were being told by refugees from East and West Prussia, traveling through the city, of the horrors and atrocities being committed to German women by some of the Russian soldiers in areas already taken by the Red Army.  We had left the city to escape being captured by the Russian Army and to make it to the west.  But, we were overrun by the Russian Army and ordered to return to our old residence. My mother, grandmother, brother and myself had to walk back to Köslin.  My dad was a city police constable and was away, helping to direct the traffic of all the refugees travelling by the thousands through our city.  So, now we where back at Marien Strasse # 6.

Not many people made it back, only a few. A couple of days after our return, we noted a grave in the back yard of our apartment. The caretaker, a Mister Selig, told us that shortly before the Russian Army took the city of Köslin, he was looking one day for two ladies, a mother and daughter, Mrs. Jakobi and Miss Jakobi, who lived one floor below us.  The caretaker had not seen the two ladies for some time and went looking for them.  He found them hanging from the corner stove. He said they had been deceased for several days.  It was custom that in each apartment there was a large corner stove to heat the apartment. The stove would reach nearly up to the ceiling and was made from glazed tile. On the side of the stove closer to the top were strong metal hooks to hang towels etc. for drying.  Mr. Selig told my mother, that it looked like the two ladies had committed suicide by hanging themselves with some rope on the metal hooks on the oven to avoid being violated by the Russian soldiers.  Mr. Selig had buried the two ladies in the back yard, since there was no time for official funerals in the cemetery and consequently, there were no burial records for the two Jacobi women.

Press the button on the time machine and go forward to today.  It brought back memories of the terrible war and how the civilian population suffered as they always do in any war, no matter where.

The Police in Koszalin have been notified of the above.  This case is, at the time of writing this story, still under investigation.  At least the two skeletons have now been identified and the family name Jakobi  Jacobi  added to the police file.  It was suggested to the police that they may notify the head office of the Red Cross in Switzerland, just in case somebody is searching for their Jakobi /Jacobi relatives, to fill in the missing link in their Pedigree chart or family tree .

Historical notes:

The Russian Government annexed a great portion of Eastern Poland in 1945 which became part of Russia.  The Polish people from that area were resettled in parts of the province of Pomerania.

Foot Note:

February 2010

The International Red Cross (Tracing Service)  in Switzerland  has thankfully acknowledged  the receipt of the information on the  two Jacobi/Jakobi  ladies.

 

Peter von P. Lipinsky on right side, brother George on left side. Taken about 1941. Please note the large door way on the left, leading to the backyard of the  apartment,  Marienstraße No. 6. Also note the large house at the end of the street.

 

Peter von P. Lipinsky and cousin Reinhard at the main  entrance to the apartment building, ul. Marianska No. 6.The large  door way leading to the back yard is to the right of the apartment entrance.

 

Peter von P. Lipinsky at the large door way leading to the back yard of the apartment, ul. Marianska  No. 6

 

Entrance to ul. Marianska No.6.  Also the large door way leading to the back yard is to the right of  No.6 Please note, the large door way on the left hand side and the large house at the end of the street.  Both are the same as in picture No.1, which was taken in 1941.

 

 

Back yard  of  ul. Marianska No. 6 . Here we used to play as small children. This is also where the two skeletons were found.