Larry and I have discussed posting about this subject for quite some time. We realize that it's a part of Hesch history, but it's painful. To leave it out would be a form of lying, but to include it as a regular post seems callous.
In the end, please understand, we're trying to honor the tremendous sacrifices made by Otrembas who didn't emmigrate, and who died in Poland during WWII.
All my life, I've tried to avoid thoughts and images of the Holocaust. When I was seven, my sister talked, in horrifying detail, about some clippings and memorabilia a kid brought to school that day. I had nightmares for years because of it. I was glad we weren't Jewish, because eventually, I realized that some part of the family didn't emmigrate...and that there could easily be Heschs left in Germany.
Now, I realize that "our" Heschs didn't come from Germany proper, so dad probably wouldn't have confronted any soldier cousins in WWII. I didn't know where Otrembas came from, either, but I did have a vague sense that the name wasn't German.
Today, the internet provides startling information we might never have discovered otherwise: of the Otrembas who stayed in Silesia, the family of one Pawel Otremba worked with the Polish Resistance during WWII against the Third Reich. Some of them were eventually arrested and sent to Auschwitz, then to other camps. We don't know how/if they're related, but the evidence is strong that they were.
If you've kept up with the blog so far, you'll know that Paul Hesch married Mary Otremba in 1874 here in Minnesota. Mary came to America with her parents and siblings in 1868....well before WWII.
Pawel was of the same generation as Mary's children.
Late last year, Larry found Holocaust records online, and there are more now. Some were photos taken by the Nazis at Auschwitz when people were arrested--full face, profile and three-quarter--three of whom were Otrembas. They were Pawel and two of his daughters, Lucy and Valerie.
Josef Otremba was one of Pawel's sons, but his card says he lived with his mother, Franziska. Perhaps this Josef was from another family, since Pawel's wife was Agnes Laska. The information on Josef's card is similar in form to the one on the left.
Much of our information comes from this website by artist Richard (Ryzard) Otremba. It was his father, Pawel Otremba, who died at Mauthausen.
If you've scrolled down that page, you saw the concentration camp photos of Pawel Otremba.
Pawel Otremba Mary Otremba
These two photos show definite physical similarities. We know they came from the same small area of Poland: as Larry said, "the county or region of arrest is now known as
Pszczyna; in German, it was Pless. At the time he was arrested Pawel was a forester in the Woli district there. The exact village is Mizerow. Paul and his wife Agnes were from Kobielice, Opole District...."
Mary's family came from Guschwitz, which was six miles south of Opole. Mizerow is 61 miles from Opole, and Kobielice is about 5 miles from there.