Born in Maczkow

Poland in the Emsland

 

Haren, a small town in the Emsland in Germany, was inhabited and administered by survivors of the Warsaw uprise from 1945-1948 and was called Maczkow.

The documentary describes the visit of five former inhabitants of Maczkow to Haren. German and Polish people meet 50 years after WW II. Full of bitterness the elderly inhabitants of Haren look back on those three years of their compulsory transfer. They still believe themselves to be victims of the war, while the Polish visitors are sueing for understanding.

On May 19th in 1945, the British occupying army forces all of the thousand inhabitants of the community Haren to clear the place. The Haren inhabitants are lodged makeshiftly in 30 neighboring communities. 3.500 Polish people, so-called "displaced persons" , who have witnessed the end of the war in concentration camps in Northern Germany, move into the German town. Most of the Poles have been members of the AK (the underground army), which has been organising the uprising in Warsaw.

Haren's name is changed into Maczkow after General Stanislaw Maczek, the enforcer of the 1st Polish Division having fought against the Nazis. During the next months, Maczkow develops into a totally Polish place with a Polish mayor, a Polish school, a Polish fire brigade and a Polish rectory. The latter registered 289 weddings, 101 funerals and a Polish baby boom in the post-war Emsland exclusively in the year 1947.

Cultural life in Maczkow is flourishing. Newspapers are being published, drama groups are performing. The culmination is a concert given by Benjamin Britten and Lord Yehudi Menuhin in Maczkow in the summer of 1947.

Lord Menuhin still remembers this concert in the documentary.

479 Poles today still have the registration "birthplace Maczkow" in their passports - a place that is not to be found on a map anymore.

 

Produced by Polis Film GmbH, Berlin/Germany

Length: 45 min., can be edited to 52 min.