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December 13, 1981

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December 13, 1981

Jaruzelski announced Marshall-Law in Poland. Stan Wojenny. The state of war. It sounds much more serious in Polish than it sounds in English. The German word is Kriegszustand, the state of war.
We were sitting around a radio again. It was a bit like the evenings we would spend in Poland, listening to the Radio Free Europe, or Voice of America, or at least what was left of it, between the hammering noise from the special disturbance radio stations built to knock the Western News off the air. Now we were in the West. The messages nd were not disturbed. Somebody had put a radio into the kitchen and we were all listening. The voice of Jaruzelski was high pitched and clear. There were no other news. Just his announcement of the new state of Poland. Poland was at war. There was no enemy, just the one sided military action. Curfew, no Television, no Radio, except for War announcements. We later heard that the people on the news were wearing uniforms. What seemed to be an urge for freedom came to a prompt halt. We expected much, who knows what we expected. Definitely not war. It was 1981, the end of the 20th century. This was not a movie. This was reality. The borders of Poland were now closed. There was no communication with the outside world except for the announcements of General Jaruzelski. What would happen now? Would the Soviets march in? Was Jaruzelski preparing Poland for occupation? Did we know of any other case in which an entire civilized country would knock itself off the map to be at war? I knew that history was happening. I was incredibly glad we were where we were. We listened to the announcement over and over again. Now there was definitely no going back. This was it. We made it, just in time. The rest of the family was trapped. What was going to happen to them now? We knew that they had to expect retaliation because of our escape. How severe would it be? Would we ever find out? There are not many dates I remember. December 13th 1981 comes back to me as the hallway of the apartment we shared with three other families. Me walking toward the kitchen, which we shared with seven families. Looking out the window. It was a gray day. General Jaruzelski had a high pitched voice. I imagined him as a tiny man, inside of that radio, talking about things that were beyond our imagination. I tried to imagine war in our home town. I tried to imagine the tanks in the streets, the soldiers with guns, ready to shoot a civilians. I tried to imagine all that. But I could not.