My father, Pawel Ryszard Kirchhoff was forced to leave Swarzedz (Poznan) after Germany invade Poland in 1939. The only information I have about a group he was with walked from Romania to France… mostly at night. After he arrived in France I think he joined the French Army, France fell weeks later. As a lot of Poles escaping to England after the fall of France.
He joined the RAF and was a Sergent as cook. He cooked for various Polish squadrons here and in Europe.
My Mother was also in the RAF as cook also, they met in RAF Northolt England, later marrying and settling in Northumbria England.
My father died in 1978, never returning to Poland, tried to see and meet family in Berlin after the war ended, but forced would not allow.
All family ties were lost after around 1969- 1978, I knew I had family there, but had never visited Poland.
I made the effort in 2003, booked into a hotel in Szczecin, took old photos, envelopes etc., always hoping.
When the owner/manager noticed my name he asked me questions about my Polish roots, he then made a few telephone calls (not knowing any Polish then, not understanding what was said). After waiting for about 30 minutes, he stopped and said “Your family is coming to see you, they think they know who you are” (words that still now are memorised in my mind).
Next morning coming up from breakfast… there were about 15 people waiting, a lady cried running to me, calling…Dawid, Dawid… she was my full cousin. That day I met more cousins, second cousins etc….
It was a very emotional day for all…
Since then I visit Poland maybe 3 – 4 times a year, staying with family, meeting more family, visiting my Grandfather’s & Grandmother’s old house in Swarzedz, graves of family and learning more and more history of my family.
I am now a Polish Citizen, I have my own Polish passport, am teaching myself Polish (on the computer)… but my pride & joy is my Polish Eagle tattoo I have on my arm, which I had done when I met family in 2003.
I have a great family there in Poland and of course here in England, my heart has always been Poland.
David Kirchhoff ( 8 July 2016 )