War changes nations. The World Wars of the Twentieth Century recreated Poland twice, and, as the names suggest, involved many of the world’s people. Our families were affected, not only by military service (most of the age-eligible men and several of the women were war veterans), but in more personal ways as well.
Our mother’s Skrok and Kapuściński parents had each come to the United States in 1913, and then returned to Europe in 1920 after Poland became an independent country. Unfortunately, the area around Sandomierz had seen some of the worst of the fighting on the World War I Eastern Front. That is perhaps why our grandparents and great grandmother settled in Sosnowiec with their families Our grandfather returned to the US first, and then our grandmother, crossing the ocean in the 1923 with three little ones by herself. They had 7 children. The two oldest, Helen and Chet, were born in the US, Ted, who was born in Poland, Jane and our mother, Stella, born in the US, and two that died. Can you imagine?
My grandchildren’s other grandmother’s eastern German Moser and Mehnert families lived in Breslau (Wrocław in Polish) in the Silesian province of Germany. After World War II, the border between Germany and Poland was shifted along the Oder and Neisse Rivers, so a great number of German and Polish people were forcibly repatriated after WWII. Our father had enlisted in the Navy when he was seventeen, but the war ended and he was sent home in 1946. A teenager, he did not follow up with the paperwork, and so was drafted into the Army in 1951. Because he spoke Polish, he was not sent to Korea. Instead, he was trained as an X-Ray technician and sent to Germany to help in the settlement of displaced persons (known colloquially as “DPs”) after World War II.
The French sounding name Monsees (variations Mounsey, Mounsie, Mouncie, Mouncey, Mouncy, Muncey, Muncie, Mounceaus, Monceaux, Monceux, Monse, etc.) appears to have been originally associated with Alsace-Lorraine, a geo-political area contested between France and Germany that was awarded to Germany after World War I. Today, the name Monsees is most often found in the area around Hanover, Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) in northwestern Germany.
Whenever I think my life is hard, I think of these people and what they lived through.