“Mum was led into the courtroom.
It was a grand room and people were sitting in the pews staring at her intently as she walked in. Some murmured things under the breath, but mum couldn’t hear what they were saying.
She was wearing her best shoes, and they were making an annoying clicking sound for every step she took.
She couldn’t see her mum, but Mum hoped she would be allowed to sit next to her.
“We have to ask you a few important questions” they had said. “It’s about your mum and her students”.
They said that it was important that Mum told the truth.
“Your mummy is in a lot of trouble Anna” they said.
Mum was getting more and more nervous. The courtroom was packed. She recognised some of the villagers from home, but most were unfamiliar, unfriendly faces.
She was ushered to the front on the courtroom before the judge. He was an old stern looking man who didn’t look up at her once.
Her new best shoes were hurting her toes and she wished she hadn’t worn them. Auntie had said not to wear them.
Mum suddenly sees her and cries out.
Her mum is standing to her right side on a make shift raised part of the courtroom, flanked by two secret police officers. Her hands are tied behind her back. Her hair is tied back in a neat bun and she’s wearing a soft grey suit. Her eyes are heavy, she looks tired but she’s smiling at Mum. “I love you” she mouths to Mum.
“Silence in the courtroom” the judge shouts, his voice echoing throughout the room.
Mum is trying to fight back her tears. They are stinging her eyes.
Her shoes are hurting her toes.
“No crying” they had said. “The judge doesn’t like crying”.
Mum doesn’t want to get her mum into trouble. She mustn’t cry.
They ask a lot of questions. “Had she seen her mum outside of school with the students?” “Is your mum interested in Politics?” “Is your mum an anti-communist?”
Mum answered no to of their questions. She kept her eyes firmly on her Mum who was smiling back at her throughout. “Keep looking at me” mum whispered.
She looks tired, mum thought. She wished she could hug her and Mum would tell all would be okay and that they could finally go home…”
My mum Anna was put on the stand to testify against my Granny Helena when she was six years old. This was post war Poland and anyone who was deemed “anti-communist” or “anti-establishment” was punished heavily.
Helena was a teacher and had allowed her 17 year old students to use her classroom to meet and discuss politics.
A right we take for granted.
Helena was a WW2 Hero and it was seen as an embarrassment that she had allowed these boys to foster anti communistic ideas and a “free” Poland. As such, the government would have to set an example…
Helena was sentenced to prison for 8 years and the boys were sentenced to 4-12 years.
This year on Mother’s Day I feel incredibly proud and humbled to celebrate two extraordinary and brave women – my mum Anna and grandmother Helena. ❤️