Dilemmas of Polish Memory
Paweł Rodak - The Unusual Everyday Under the Occupation
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The Unusual Everyday Under the Occupation
‘It feels so strange, so different’, Zofia Nałkowska notes in her diary on Christmas Eve 1940. It has been a year since she returned to German-occupied Warsaw. For this year, the character of the writer’s everyday notes has been changing. Over the next five years of occupation, until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, Nałkowska’s diary will be filled with entries about what is everyday and mundane – a hitherto unimportant topic in her writing. At the beginning of 1939, Nałkowska, like many others, returns to Warsaw from her wanderings in the east and experiences a life that mostly revolves around concerns about the most basic needs. ‘Mum and I bought a bushel of potatoes, we are also promised a tonne of coal. I don’t earn anything and, as we know, I don’t have money. I cook, I wash the dishes, I clean up’1 (17 November 1939) – this is one of the typical entries of this diary. There used to be relatively little of such everyday, mundane entries before. Now they move to the forefront. The main subject becomes the problem of supply of the most elementary, indispensable goods and the related question of finding the necessary means of livelihood. The writer now considers things that she did not notice before to be worth noting: making a fire in the iron stove, darning stockings, cleaning, preparing daily meals. At the same time, she...
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