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Zofia Nalkowska

Served as an executive member of the prestigious Polish Academy of Literature during the inter-war period, becoming one of the country's most distinguished feminist writers.

Zofia Nalkowska

Served as an executive member of the prestigious Polish Academy of Literature during the inter-war period, becoming one of the country's most distinguished feminist writers.

It's always cold, the frost is harsher than it ever was before, it's felt everywhere. It's cold at home, it's cold in the shops, any walks through the city feel like being in a strange Arctic or Ice Age world. We ran out of fuel and the central heating in the whole building stopped working - we've been fearing it for a long time, and it finally happened. In the evening, we get under the covers fully clothed and freezing. It feels like being under streams of ice-cold water.

There is now a new Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief, General Sikorski.

Yesterday's news, the latest, so to speak: President Mościcki President of Polandis interned in Romania. Some "government" has been formed in Paris, with Raczkiewicz serving as "President" and Zaleski as foreign minister. This is Poland now. I don't know what happened to BeckPolish Foreign Minister. But there are no rumours that anyone committed suicide.

They are still not issuing passes to Warsaw. And the world goes on: the sun is warming the chilly air, two puppies are rolling in the mud in front of our house.

When we were driving up to Stoczek, we saw the burnt villages I had heard about. In every cottage, there was only a chimney left, wide at the bottom, and a kitchen stove attached to it. In one of the cottages, we could still see black iron pots on the stove. Another cottage was surrounded with tree branches on the ground. A woman was standing there and cooking something, clinging to these remains of her life. Tin dishes were lying in the ashes.

Radio reported that if Warsaw doesn’t surrender, it will be destroyed. 

It is very sad. Women are crying. A very bad night.

There's barely any news. Nothing is heard from Warsaw, London reports that Warsaw is defending itself and that Dęblin is also still defending itself. A French statement says that several aircraft are lost (it is not known how many).

For centuries, we have been repeating the same mistakes – confidence in one's strength, neglect of others, empty boasts, arrogant platitudes. There is something childish in this lack of responsibility, in assuming that things will always work out on their own. To be sober or even reasonable automatically means to be a bad Pole.

Ah, Warsaw! It was becoming more beautiful every day, neglected and ugly for so long, it had become charming – even this last summer! Now, the castle full of art treasures and the old cathedral, Belweder Palace, the town hall (newly renovated), the Grand Theater, houses near Napoleon Square, houses on Warecka Street, the Romanian embassy, and the Soviet embassy have all been demolished. Now during air raids there aren’t seven or nine bombers, like at the beginning, but seventy! Starzyński is still there, the only dignitary who stayed – as he used to improve Warsaw, now he watches its destruction. This inconspicuous, not very eloquent, small and fat man is becoming her hero.


Bad, screeching radio transmission, barely audible, brings horrible news: the castle and the cathedral were bombed, the population is evacuated. The French station transmits a message from President Mościcki, who left Poland. It ends with: "Providence will bring justice." The latest news is that the Soviet army entered Polish territory.


What happened over these few days, God! A country that is as if it didn’t exist anymore – is it possible! These cities – like Lviv, Krakow – are silent on the radio, cities, no trains go there, messages don’t reach them, letters and newspapers can’t be sent out! Warsaw...

I heard in church today that Warsaw is still fighting to defend itself, that it is not surrounded, only attacked "from the left". I have a crazy impatient longing to get there soon.

For the whole day before yesterday we walked through dirt roads, hiding in furrows and shady meadow ditches beneath alder bushes. We wanted to go as far as possible, without avoiding day light as we used to, we walked many kilometers. In the cottages, we did not receive anything except water, which even I drank from shared mugs and dirty buckets left next to the well.

I am lying in the courtyard of an unfriendly peasant farm, leaning against my bundle like a pillow, with a suitcase open in front of me, in which I have everything that is mine. They do not want to give us boiled water.

Tonight, we made the decision to wait here for the Germans. Resignation and dumbfounded, asleep in beds and under blankets for the first time in a while. It is dark everywhere, closed shutters, curtains.

Last night men were woken up by the radio and told to leave. Men from 16 to 20 should leave – on their own, anywhere. The Germans are to find an empty country, without men, without working hands. 

We pass some fallows and paddock, a big gaping hole from a bomb amongst the fields. We lie in the woods for a long time again, in a beautiful grove, in the ditches of the old war. Bogusław, as if he felt the separation, does not leave my side. We look at the sky again.