Anna’s character in my novel ‘Stolen Years’ is based on Anna Majcherczyk. The plot is based on real events as recounted to me by Anna and on my own historical research. All other characters, conversations and daily situations are fictional for the purpose of driving the plot.
Anna Majcherczyk was my husband Michael’s mother. Aged only 17, she was taken by the Germans from her native village in Poland and forced to work as a slave on a farm in Austria. Not knowing when her slavery would end, she suffered terrible deprivations with a group of young Poles, until their liberation by the 8th British Army in May 1945. Her special friend was Michal, whom she married in Italy, a month after liberation.
Their most ardent dream was to return home, but the Treaty of Yalta in February 1945 had left Poland in Stalin’s power. Most of the Poles, dispersed during the war, were afraid to go back.
Anna and Michal settled in England and had three sons, Michael, George and John.
They arrived not knowing the English language but managed to find work in local factories. At first cleaning but then working their way to the production line. They worked hard and saved so they could eventually buy a terraced house. They were also very keen that their sons were educated.
Anna’s favourite phrases were ‘I manage!’ and ‘It’s not me, it’s the others!’ The harsh conditions she lived in at a young age made her a very tough person who lived to 90 years old.
For a person who appeared to be so ordinary, she had an extraordinary tale to tell.