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was always like this; times change and people must change with them. 

He also said that each one of the senior officers will be judged and some have already been judged. Let's hope so, let's hope that the unworthy ones never get to positions of power again, where they could create new tragedies for Poland. 

Beruit. 26 December



18:40 hours -after supper. The inactivity and monotony are boring. Endless waiting, assemblies, classifications, etc. Again, 95 people have left the ship to go into town - they'll stay here, the remaining 500 will set sail again. The English are looking after us; the air force is their domain, under their jurisdiction. You can see that these are civilised people -they are concerned about people's comforts. They're transporting only 500 in a ship which carried over 1200 of us before. They're taking the ship's supplies on board already -copious, we'll have plenty of everything.

It'll be comfortable this time. The hall where I've installed myself with my colleagues is quite large and will sleep some twenty of us. They're giving out new palliasses, maybe get rid of the present ones, which are apparently infested with lice. I hadn't noticed but it is a problem and disgusting to boot.


I can't write, lulek drank some wine and is singing at the top of his voice. His mates are pulling his leg about it. They can't quieten him down -why shouldn't he have a laugh - a bit of fun -

I've returned from roll-call. We sang "All our daily deeds"*, "In the still of the night"**, "Lord who has protected Poland"***. When we were singing "In the still of the

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night", I imagined I was the small boy of times long gone, singing carols with my friends by the Christmas crib. What sweet, beautiful memories!

We got some cigarettes. They're too rough for me. Obviously the French like their cigarettes strong, just coarse tobacco without any flavourings or additions.

It looks as if we'll be sailing shortly. The food and other ship's supplies are mostly loaded. Tomorrow "Patris" will probably be out at sea again. And there'll be all that rocking again.


Beriuth. 27 December

Strange, it's December and you can see people bathing. In the clear water, their partly submerged bodies look like grotesque creatures, due to the light refraction.

What a shame -we're wasting such beautiful, windless weather; we could already have been sailing blissfully for some days. Men have spread themselves out all over the decks in various positions like lazy oxen. Glistening in the sun, the snowy peaks remind us only of our Polish winter. They remind us also of the ski season in Zakopane. Zakopane - those times were so delightful -those gypsy bands and the merry "skipping" dances to their melodies.


* Wszystkie nasze dzienne sprawy" -popular Polish hymn sung in the evening in thanksgiving.

** "Wsrod nocney ciszy" - popular Polish carol.

*** "Bore cos Polske" -solemn Polish hymn, asking for God's protection for Poland.

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11:10 a moment ago, after tea. They didn't supply coffee today, because apparently we're supposed to be living off the ship's supplies already. The ship isn't sailing yet, apparently not enough cigarettes and oranges were loaded. The colonel has just asked for more. Apparently there are insufficient cooking cauldrons on board - from my point of view all these reasons put together don't look like real reasons.

A sudden surprising development -we're all disembarking here; they don't want to let us go on this ship. Am I dejected or pleased? Rather pleased, I'll visit these exotic surroundings, my dream.

I don't think it'll be bad here, eventually I'll make it to where I'm going. And anyway, things are alright as they are.

The Poles are a homeless nation, ill-treated by fate. I've already met two other Poles - soldiers from round here.

The Rumanian ship carrying our people has docked. I didn't see Wladzio on deck amongst the others. I think it's those who sailed through Constancia. They had all the comforts like the gentlemen on a first-class ship. There were considerably fewer of them.

We're packing our bags for disembarkation.

14:00 hours.

15:25 hours. We're leaving our "Patris". The mood's exactly the same. Changes leave everyone cold.

We marched to the cars in fours, led by French soldiers. I thought of history and of exiles and deportees. People were looking at us -I was ashamed, I don't know why,

After all, I'm not guilty of anything. Yes, I felt ashamed as a Pole, not as myself.

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Thursday, 28 December 1939

It was cold all night. I lay cold in a half-sleep; nightmarish dreams haunted me. I shrank into a ball, covered myself, tossed around -it didn't help. It was cold in the tent and what's more the wind blew through the tent flap which could not be fastened.

That's what our new living quarters were like. Tents pitched on clay soil giving an appearance of an encampment of Indians or some other wild men. There was just a lack of trees and grass.

I felt deeply depressed yesterday when they brought us here. They put us in ten to a tent. The tents were empty inside. We had expected some civilised arrangements, when we saw the tents we forgot about such possibilities; anyway, when an exile is thrown onto the mercy of strangers, he has to agree to everything. So, he doesn't have the right to want anything. Seeing the soft, clay earth in the tents, without any boards for sleeping on, or anything to sit on, people were overcome with apathy and inertia. All the more so as there were no officers, they didn't want to command in such living conditions; they preferred to take advantage of the quarters assigned to them in town as soon as possible. They forgot about us. That's what our officers were like. They were first-class socialites in Poland, frequenting only cabaret bars, with their drinks and their women. Every one with some high-minded idea about himself, with no concept of the calling. Making a pompous hero of himself, but disintegrating at the slightest puff of wind. The military -the colonels' - regime gave them huge scope for showing off. But what could they show off with, only with wantonness and contempt for those beneath them. And where are there notions of toughening up the spirit, of honourable impulses of patriotism and true heroism. After all does one imagine an officer without these last characteristics? Who would disagree?

Later they gave us wooden pallets, made from boards which had been nailed together,

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which we put on the ground on the two sides of the tent; and when the tent began to look different, we began to believe something could be done. Later still they gave us pa1liasses. It has to be said, they didn't give them to us straight away and this caused some unpleasant incidents. As soon as the cars arrived, people threw themselves at them, like hungry wolves at sheep. They started tugging those palliasses, even grabbing them from one another- every one was out for himself. No-one wanted to consider that the French are civilised people and wouldn't let anyone sleep like a pig; this isn't Rumania where, when we were arrested, we had to sleep on damp earth. This image didn't say much for us. A French captain leapt onto the car and had to tear the palliasses from people, having been unable to calm the angry crowd. Then in a temper he expressed his surprise. "I didn't expect," he said, "the Poles to be capable of something like this, and soldiers to boot.

Yes, often when abroad the Poles allow themselves such discourteous behaviour which surprise even me - a Pole. I write the following words with shame and by sheer force: the Poles in large part are a non-descript riff-raff.

When we obtained the mats and palliasses, and two blankets each and made our beds, the mood changed. We sat down around our bedding, and by the dim light of a paraffin lamp we started our usual conversations - I even felt good, it was quite cosy and pleasant.

We busied ourselves until late evening. When I glanced later at the tents shrouded in darkness, I was reminded of the historic sieges of towns by wild peoples that one read about in novels. The light of the lamp shone through the fabric of the tent. The shadows of those moving around inside appeared on the canvas, like on a screen. One could hear the chords of mouth organs drawing out their melancholic tones, and then somewhere else someone with a better voice sang some entrancing tango to the strumming of a guitar

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accompaniment. Again, like romantic gypsy encampment. How one longed for love, when one heard singing, music with such a beautiful backdrop. I remember sitting at the cinema with a girl, how I had wanted so very much to experience everything I saw. And I had also seen tents surrounded by darkness, or drenched in moonlight, and illuminated from the inside by a lamp or campfire, and had heard the singing, the music, I'd seen love. Is it not by God's grace that I'm experiencing everything now -except love.

Obviously, love belongs to my past experiences.

Oh delicious love.
You belong to the past,
All feelings yearn for You,
Happy are those who enjoy You.*

The sun is setting -the last rays colour the world. The world here is so beautiful.

I have to break- they're serving supper. After a warm, sunny day it's turning cold again. It's the wind from the West that's doing it; I feel it's going to be a cold night again.

19:30 hours. By the weak light of our little lamp, we're playing bridge for oranges.

The frogs are singing in the distance, and crickets close by. A cool wind blows through the torn canvas of the entrance. For the time being it isn't cold, but it may be by morning.


* Four rhymed lines -a quotation? :

O rozkoszna milosci.
Ty nalezysz do przeszlosci,
Do Ciebie wszystkie uczucia spiesza,
Szczesliwi ci co Toba sie ciesza.

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29 December

We're on an excursion in a beautiful green valley. It's enchanting here. We sat down on the walls of a bridge. A beautiful bridge, made entirely of yellow stone, over a small river. A negro soldier from Madagascar joined us. He is somewhat comical, he says he's 32; he looks like an 18-year old boy. They all look fairly young - a healthy people.

It's hot here in this valley, really sweltering. I'm amazed how anyone can survive here in the summer. Ahead of us a beautiful specimen of a tree. Leaves similar to those of our willow; the trunk, however, looks as if the bark's been peeled away - a delicate silver-blue covering. There are many of these trees here, creating cosy shady glades.

The Arabs have a very characteristic garb. They wear long white cassocks, their heads covered in a folded cloth, wrapped around and tied in typical fashion.

A lot of negro soldiers; one comes across the cavalry mounted on mules.

I never believed that these southern parts would indeed appear as mottled as I had seen them in pictures. Truly exotic. Mountainous terrain with gentle slopes. Lots of brown rock, their bases, seen from a distance, resemble our turf but are multi-coloured. The entire background has a red hue draped here and there with the vivid green of the various glades. Across the slopes, reaching up to the peaks themselves, are scattered little stone cottages with red roofs, surrounded by greenery and flora of various colours. A fairy tale sight, especially at sunset. Everything is then in its natural form, bathed in the sun's red glow.

Very interesting chats with the little black negro. He's intelligent, talks in French.

When we mentioned we'd like to visit Madagascar he said, "It would be a great honour to welcome you, we would be delighted." A good little race.

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Monsieur Marisou...*

The little negro signed himself at my request: "Mr Marisou".

As we parted we gave him a condom. He was terribly thrilled, couldn't contain his joy. He was laughing -behaving according to his own custom. But he knew what it was for. "At home in Madagascar," he said, "we don't have these; I'll take it back to my wife."

I'm amazed that this man can be so happy, like a child, and how well he demonstrates his joy; we Europeans aren't able to do this.

We're looking at some beautiful marble gravestones, surrounded by tall cypresses.

Some sort of memorial. The monuments have our Catholic crosses on them. some have four-armed crosses** or crescents. Sarcophagi. One sarcophagus has columns and is guarded by angels. A beautiful grave.

I can see an elderly Arab woman. A black veil covers her face. An age-old tradition maintained to this day.

We're passing the Arab beggars' quarter. They live in shacks made from rags sown together. Wretched sight. These are tramps. Some of them approach us wanting to tell our fortune with the help of some beads.

We stroll through a shady glade. Dwarf -like trees, twisted, their trunks full of holes, the leaves similar to those of our Polesie willow ***. There are so many of them, all the


* "Monsieur M...." - the signature is not very legible -the surname is only a guess.
** The Jerusalem cross, with four anns of equal length.
** "loza poleska - a species of willow common in the Polesie region of pre-war Poland (wetlands east of Brzesc, now in Belarus), used particularly in wicker-work. (Salix cinerea)

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hillsides are covered with them. I can see they've been planted this way on purpose, as they form straight lines. The hillsides have been unnaturally cut into steps, the edges of which are lined with stones (something like our skiing pistes). These trees are planted at the margins of the terraces. There's a cave visible in one of the terrace walls. It was inhabited once -the grotto's fire blackened; one can see a few women milling around there.

Driven by our curiosity we walked too far along this hillside. We didn't feel like going back, because we would have had to return to that first little bridge I mentioned; all the more reason why we wouldn't have had time, since we wanted to get back in time for lunch. So, in an attempt to take a shortcut, we had to descent into a steep gorge, at the bottom of which flowed the stream I mentioned earlier. The slope was very steep, overgrown with thorny bushes. A jungle expedition, we needed axes to cut clear a path.

And the stream? Why, the stream is an opportunity to wash our dirty feet. Youthfully adventurous, we ventured on a daring trek. We got scratched by the thorns; some of us recalled our childhood days, when we'd slid down slopes of compacted snow on our backsides.

My friends washed themselves, undressing completely. The water was very clean, cold, like spring water. It fell with great gusto, flowing over the smooth stones. I didn't feel like undressing; I just washed my feet which were by now covered in half a centimetre of dirt.

We didn't make it back in time for lunch, but after some effort, we managed to get some when the newly-arrived "Polonezy"* came. Some 350 arrived, amongst them


* "Polonez" -jocular term for Poles; strict meaning -the national ceremonial dance, the Polonaise.

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Wladzio- I was so very happy. What shame it would have been if such a good freind and able man had been stuck somewhere.

Saturday, 30 December

I recently changed 170 zloty and got 51 francs. What was the point of maintaining the high exchange rate at all costs before the war.

The trips are a real delight. We set off south, walking along the slope of a high hill, along a path of hairpin bends. On the right a deep gully along the bottom of which flows the stream I mentioned yesterday. They call it the "Jordan". (not the one where Christ was baptised, though). Down below, clearly visible lies Beyrouth, and beyond it the sea. A beautiful panorama.

We're sitting on the hillside. The wind penetrates our shirts and tickles our bodies. It's warm nonetheless. the wind isn't cold.

There is a vast amount of rocks of different type here. A whole slope of upright bluish rocks. Huge boulders scattered everywhere. There are mountains too, made up of some brownish red materials which looks something like an ore, I think they're of volcanic origin. One comes across all sorts of rocks here, even marble. There's iron ore as well.

Nevertheless the mountain peaks aren't bare; they're partly overgrown with a thorny moss and various shrubs. I can see a mountain whose slopes are bare rock, but on its peak are normal trees and even some buildings.

Masses of cactuses -we see them by the roadside, growing on the rocks, with their roots reaching between the rocks to where there is soft soil.

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We make our way along the road, which snakes its way ever higher up the hillside.

We meet three mates from our tent here. The rest is not intended to overcome any tiredness, which one doesn't feel, but to register our delight. It is difficult to express this joy. By the sea one can see a shifting dune of red sand.

We're high up. Here again the hillside consists of man-made terraces lined with stones. A lot of work has gone into this; the whole hillside, all the way from the base has been cut into terraces. Clearly they're there to prevent water from damaging the slopes.

It's strange, though, that one also sees completely barren rocky hills whose slopes have also been cut into terraces. Is this some human mania here, or an attempt by the local people to maintain their terrain homogenously, or do they just see a particular beauty in this? It is beautiful, but it must have taken some organised joint labour. Very characteristic. One came across this in Balcic already, but only within the precincts of the homesteads. In the main the galleries of such terraces are cultivated or lined with trees.

Tut! Tut! This has its appropriate purpose, because otherwise the hillsides wouldn't be usable at all, as everything would be washed away by the water draining down. Yes, that makes sense, because for example, here by the buildings, the terraces are specially maintained, one can even see that a different soil has been brought here.

11:15 hours. We're returning for lunch.

The meals aren't good, there's a shortage of meat. It's all stringy and inedible. No wonder, they don't have meat here, they have to import it. The situation is saved to a large extent by the fruit.

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