“July 1943, Hamburg-Billstedt – At work.”

Source: Foundation “Polish-German Reconciliation,” Warsaw

“May 1944, Hamburg-Glinde – The best soccer players on my team.”

Source: Foundation “Polish-German Reconciliation,” Warsaw

“May 1941, Hamburg-Billstedt – Our group of Poles in front of the barracks.”

Source: Foundation “Polish-German Reconciliation,” Warsaw

Postcard 8: Tadeusz Brzeski

»They forbade us – the Poles – from leaving the place where we lived unless we had the letter “P” sewn onto the outside of our clothing. We dealt with that by fixing the linen with the lettering on it onto a piece of tin that had a pin on the back. In the areas patrolled by German police, we wore the tin badge with the letter on it. Outside those areas, we took off the tin badge and could make our way freely through Hamburg, at some risk.«

Source: Foundation “Polish-German Reconciliation,” Warsaw

Tadeusz Brzeski (center) ca. 1941, Polish forced laborer in Hamburg

Tadeusz Brzeski was 19 years old when he was sent to work for the “Vereinigte Jute-Spinnereien und Webereien AG” company in Hamburg-Billstedt in 1940. He remembers that the Poles were not permitted to leave the camp. They each received several “P” badges that they were supposed to sew onto their clothing. With considerable skill, they managed to devise a temporary fastening for the badges, which made it possible to remove them and move freely through the city at times. On these excursions, they visited the Hagenbecks zoo, the Sankt Pauli district, and swam in the Elbe river. Once, after they had been given some potatoes by a German woman, they were stopped by a German police officer on their way back to the camp. “We pretended we were Silesians, and thanks to my good German, he let us continue,” as Tadeusz Brzeski today recalls the dangerous encounter.

In Hamburg, he met a friend from Zgierz, with whom he had played in the “Sokol” soccer club. The two men organized a soccer team: “I can no longer remember where we found the ball, the sports shoes, the gym shorts and our jerseys (with the letter “P”). The important thing is we had some meetings, some games with the Dutch and the Frenchmen, who lived near another camp. We were very happy, very excited.”

A friend of Tadeusz Brzeski named Zbyszek had brought a forbidden camera and film with him from Poland. In Hamburg, they met a photographer who was active in the resistance, who allowed them to use his studio to develop their photographs and listen to forbidden radio programs.