Written by Imelda Drury. Daughter of Louis Paul Huon. 2/5 Australian General Hospital
My trip to Poland was to find where my father Louis Paul Lived for three years during the war.
Something that you may not know about Torun is that during the Second World War many Australian, Italian, Russian and English soldiers were detained here by the Germans in various prison camps.
Our first stop was the beautiful old town of Warsaw, with lovely accommodation where we rested in preparation for Torun. After three nights we hired a car and drove to Torun.
Again our accommodation was right next to the Old Town, so it was easy to stroll to meet with the Curator of the Torun WW2 Historic-Museum, (Piotr Olecki) Paul showed us around, it was very good to think that all those years ago, Dad could have walked about in that same little town.
There was a great deal of memorabilia and we were told about each piece, there were many stories and the history of that time in Poland and the Prisoners of War which was amazing.
The next day we met Pawel (Bukowski) our guide, he showed us two of the approximately fifteen Forts that can be found around Torun. The first Fort (Fort 1V) has been restored and we were able to get a genuine feeling of how the prisoners spent their time, where they slept, cooked and dined.
They suffered from lack of nutrition and the freezing temperatures in the winter months.
My father always said they lived underground and I could never understand what he meant.
Pawel explained that the whole Fort was built underground by the Germans to hide from attack from the Russians before WW1.
The second fort, Fort XV. Was the actual one in which dad was imprisoned.
This can be accessed, but only with unbelievable local knowledge such as our guide Pawel, as it is privately owned. We trekked for some time through the beautiful deciduous forest and then entered Fort XV. It was a strange experience thinking we were standing in the exact place where the Aussies exercised and lived their lives as Prisoners 70 years earlier.
I have a photograph of Dad standing roughly in the same place as I did.
Fort XV is in disrepair, but exactly the same configuration as the restored Fort.
Pawel is a fantastic guide, he was able to tell us so much about the life of the Prisoners and the general history of Poland and the beautiful little gothic town of Torun.
I would recommend that anyone interested in exploring their relative’s experience of the POW camps should contact the Wartime Guide’s website (www.wartimeguides blogspot.com) and discover the beautiful people and country of Poland.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!