Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–Poland Dwanaście

I’ve changed my heading yet again. Today I thought to myself, “Why am I using a French word to describe my next Polish posting??? So, I’ve switched from French to Polish. The previous postings will remain French. Why? Because that’s how they were originally written. I want everything to be authentic, as it were.

Today I was going to hit Auschwitz, but I was too exhausted. I slept in really late, as usual because I was up really late, as usual. Bopped around the town and took a video of the Main Market Square. Tonight I attended a concert in St. Peter and Paul Church a few hundred yards south of Main Market Square. Of course, the church was breathtaking inside. It opened in 1619 and is beautifully appointed. 

The concert was by the Krakow Chamber Music Orchestra and featured music by Chopin, Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart. It was only about thirteen dollars and lasted around seventy-five minutes. Well worth the money.

These are the types of experiences I enjoy as I trek through Europe. Can I attend a classical music concert in America? Certainly. But there’s something otherworldly about sitting in a church that is hundreds of years old in a city whose history shows its earliest settlement to be in the fourth century BC. Just adds a bit more ambiance, don’t you think?

But this is not the primary happening today. I returned to my host’s apartment after the concert and asked him if he would help me find an archivist this week. He said he would. Later we were both sitting here, tapping away on our laptops. I thought he was doing his own thing while I tried to do some research when suddenly he told me that he was certain he had found my grandmother’s birthplace in Ukraine.

I cannot express enough how huge this find is. I had found a couple of cities that were similar to my great-grandfather’s birthplace–one in Poland and one in Ukraine. I had been leaning towards the city in Poland. With this find, I am now convinced that the birthplace for my great-grandfather and my grandmother are both in Ukraine. Both cities are within ten kilometers of each other. Both are tiny hamlets, very rural.

The town for my great-grandfather is listed as “Olesku”, as I’ve pointed out many times. There is an “Olesko” in Ukraine with a very famous castle named, appropriately enough, Olesko Castle. I had pretty much ignored this town, convinced as I was that I should be focusing on Poland for my grandmother and her family.

The finding of “Rozwaz”, pronounces “ROS vowsh” convinces me that Ukraine is the place to focus for Grandma’s family. My Grandmother Karolina’s death certificate states she was born in “Rosvausch”, Poland. This caused me to assume a Polish geography. At the time she was born, however, Poland didn’t exist. It was called Austria-Hungary. I shouldn’t have been so quick to ignore Ukraine which was also Austria-Hungary at the time. Confused? You’re entitled!!

The irony in this is that lately I had started to look more closely at Ukraine for my grandmother’s birthplace. The problem was that I wasn’t finding any useful maps. Everything showed only large cities of 50000 population or more. Obviously, this didn’t help as Rozwaz only has 350 souls.

So tomorrow I trek to the archive in Krakow to do some snooping. My host has been invaluable in helping me circumnavigate these Polish websites. I now have also the location in Warsaw for all archives older than one hundred years. Looks like I’ll be going there. After WWI all archives were moved to Warsaw from the area where my family lived. Austria-Hungary was dissolved and Poland was re-born. I tell you, the history of this area is fascinating. And I’m a part of it.


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