Postcard 4: Franciszka Stankowska

»We weren’t permitted to have anything. The only entertainment we had was what we provided on our own. The photo was taken in the barrack. The bottles were empty, we just pretended they were full.«

Source: NS-Dokumentationszentrum Köln

Franciszka Stankowska (3rd from left) before 1944, Polish forced laborers in Cologne

On the reverse of the postcard, Franciszka wrote: “In memory of Cologne.”

In 1940, Franciszka Stankowska was deported along with her parents and sister from a village near Poznań to work for the German Reich Railway near Cologne. Franciszka was only 14 years old at the time. She worked cleaning the exterior of passenger and freight trains. Franciszka was sent to live in the Deutzersfeld camp. As she described her daily life in the camp, “We had to get up between 5 and 6 in the morning, and stand in a long line with our bowls in order to get some coffee, soup or bread. The bread was terrible; sometimes it contained sawdust that stuck in our throat. But we were so hungry that we had to eat it.”

Franciszka Stankowska is the third from the left on the photograph. Seated to her right is her best friend Stasia, who was killed in a bombing raid in 1944. The photograph is emblematic of the dreams and desires of the young forced laborers: to gather together, carefree, with enough to eat and drink.