"The Germans had an air-raid shelter we weren't allowed to use. I remember on April 28, when the front was next to us and the shelling from both sides continued, I hid in this air-raid shelter with two other colleagues out of fear; but after a few minutes we were discovered and we were thrown out. We had to find some kind of shelter under this fire. We discovered a hole, dug in the ground, in which we spent the whole night. And in the morning, the Russian troops were already there."
Maria Kawecka was born in 1918 in Lewiny, Poland, 40 km from Łódź. As a result of the occupation of Poland in 1939 the family was driven from their farm in Piotrów. In April 1942 the Germans deported the 24-year-old Maria, her two brothers and her parents. Kawecka had to help out as a nanny for three months with a gardener in Güstrow. She was able to return to Łódź, but was arrested again on 17 November 1942 during a raid on a tram.
Kawecka was deported to Berlin-Reinickendorf (Walderseestr. 21). She had to work for AEG and for the company Dr. Klaus Gettwart (Köpenicker Straße 50) in the production of aircraft and submarine parts, among others. In order to escape the ongoing air raids in Berlin, she tried to flee to her cousins on the countryside in summer 1944. In the S-Bahn she was controlled by policemen. Her documents revealed that she had left her workplace without permission and was travelling illegally on the S-Bahn.
The Gestapo sent her to the Gestapo " Arbeitserziehungslager“ (Work Education Camp, AEL) Fehrbellin. There Kawecka had to do hard physical labor in a bast fiber factory for three months. Hunger and maltreatment were the order of the day. When she was sent back to her workplace in Berlin after 3 months she weighed only 28 kg. None of the other forced laborers recognized her.
During an air raid in November 1944, Dr. Klaus Gettwart's factory was severely damaged and production was then transferred to Klausdorf. Here, Kawecka used her function as a materials tester to sabotage the armaments production. Maria Kawecka worked in Klausdorf until the liberation in April 1945.
(Source: Interview Ewa Czerwiakowski with Maria Andrzejewska, née Kawecaka, Łódź, 22 August 2004. Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre, Berlin History Workshop Collection)