Hey everyone! Happy fourth! If you can believe it, it's been three months since we opened up our historical contest! We had 4 entries in total, which was more than I was expecting, and it was an absolute pleasure to be able to read each story.
Let me just say. I'm impressed. Like really impressed.
We had one on the War For Independence,
One on the Great War (WWI)
One on the Cold War, during the time of the USSR
And last but not least, one set during the Vietnam War.
It was soooooooooo hard to choose. There was heart and emotion in all four, enough to make you cry. So thank you, to our four members who entered, it was a great reminder of the heartache and pain those in our past had to suffer for others sakes, and it was so beautifully done! Thank you for taking the time and effort to capture moments in time like this!
And now, without further ado, I'd like to announce the winner of this quarters contest... *drumroll* ... Abigail G. Thompson!! The title of her story: My Babcia Whispered Freedom.
It's an honor to share this story, and let me just say that every added detail made the story all the more real, raw, and vivid. Not only that but the Cold War is a complicated and confusing subject, and not many people realize how tight of a grip communism had on the world, and the number of people who suffered from it. Abigail told this story with a clear voice, and a simple premise, and I'm super excited to share it with you today!!
So without rambling anymore about history, please give a shout-out to Miss Abigail Thompson, and take just a few minutes to read her winning story!!
My Babcia Whispered Freedom
Abigail G. Thompson
June 28, Thursday, 1956
All I wanted was freedom.
The shifts had changed, hordes left, hordes came. I was a comer that morning, my
bones weary from the hours I’d spent the day prior in Hipolit Cegielski the metal factory that had been Stalin’s pride and joy. The place smelled of oil, metal, and smoke. I ambled to my line full of men where we beat the metal until it was thin and bendable ready to be shaped and formed by men later down the assembly. My palms sweat as I stepped into place, but my face was high as I didn’t want anyone to know I was afraid. The other men in my line greeted me with a grunt or nod, we didn’t talk. The police were listening even in the factories. There was nothing to say anyway because we were all thinking about it.
Even with the constant listening of the government, whispers happened. I don’t
know who began them but words that could get us incarcerated were being said.
Riot, strikes, freedom, they were all dangerous and made my breath quiver in my
lungs as I thought of them.
I’d heard the stories before 1939, before Stalin, before Hitler, before Khrushchev.
All said in the dead of the night, behind closed doors, in the quietest of whispers. Babcia
would place her papery, withered fingers on my shoulder and whisper, “Pamietac,” Remember.
The bell, that usually signaled the beginning of our shift, rang but now it sang the
beginning of our silent scream for freedom. My whole body shook in excitement as I
turned away from our line along with other men. One that stood beside me every day
placed a hand on my shoulder before I could get very far.
“Wojciech, be careful.” He whispered.
The bell continued to ring and hordes that had entered not but fifteen minutes
prior headed toward the exit. All was quiet, but my pulse thundered in my ears.
My eyes scanned the crowds, our clothes were worn, and I saw their age with a
new light. Today, we walked for food, bread, and decency, Stalin was dead, but nothing
was better. If anything, the demands were higher and the food scarcer. I saw the bones
beneath our old clothes, I saw our hard labor lines and the anger began to burn anew. I
was Polish, I was proud, and I wanted freedom.
I leaned toward the man beside me.
“Where are we walking?”
The whispers were vague, not absolute, and dangerous so they were often hushed
which led to a lack of information.
“The city center, to have a talk with the Council.” The man answered.
The City National Council controlled our wages, controlled our hours, controlled
My breathing quickened and I wished to quicken my step in the cool morning, but
people crowded me on all sides. The walk was quiet all that could be heard was footsteps,
but the quiet was not peaceful, our footsteps grew louder as our anger grew. My eyes
continued to gauge the people, and I begin to see the gawkers, the others joining. My
excitement continued to grow, but I tried to contain it all within my body as my mind
spun with Babcia’s words from those many nights.
“Remember, my little warrior, remember Poland wasn’t always like this,
remember Poznan is beautiful, remember you’re a proud Pole not-,” She would pause
knowing she couldn’t whisper her traitorous thoughts, “Remember we were ruled by
kings and had merchants that didn’t work in factories. Remember we didn’t have to
wait in lines. Remember we were once our own country.”
The marchers were furious, hungry people were not nice people. I sensed the fury
as my own broiled, as I thought of my own dead mother, dead in Auschwitz. Babcia had
survived with me as a baby, and I would make her proud.
Minutes passed and we continued walking as the scenery changed from dense,
gray slabs to colorful tenements of the Old Town Market filled with history, my Babcia
had whispered in my ear, filled with the lore of merchants, farmers, and the days of yore in Poznan.
Our numbers had grown into masses as we all crowded around the streets, our
bodies full of passion, full of hunger that went beyond food, bodies pushed, shoved as our anger boiled and I could see a spark. My energy coursed through me and I couldn’t
contain myself any longer.
“Wolnosc!” My voice broke a silence echoing throughout the crowd.
For a second my voice was the only sound in the masses and then another voice
joined mine, “Away with Bolshevism!”
I hollered in agreement as I pumped my fist in the air. The man beside me placed
a hand on my shoulder
“They will arrest you,” His voice was ice, and fear radiated from his being.
He was here for food, not freedom, but the power of the moment overwhelmed
me, and I answered him,
“I’m tired of fear, I want freedom.”
I pushed forward until I caught up with a boy with a sign that read, Zadamy
Chelba, We ask for Bread.
“Wolnosc!” I yelled and he grinned at me with large eyes and curly blond hair and
My heart thrashed in my chest, I helped him raise the sign high as we began to
“We want a free Poland!”
“We want a free Poland!”
My fist was in the air as I thrust the sign up with the curly, blond-haired boy, his
mouth open just as wide as we shouted. Our blood pumping on the thrill of speaking out,
not daring ourselves to think of the prisons, to think of our own condemnation. We knew nothing of each other beyond that we wanted a free Poland where we could support our families.
As I chanted, I wondered of Babcia and if she’d watched the crowds from the
balcony. I prayed that she had, that she had smiled a secret little smile. I prayed she’d
thought of my mother and the thought of freedom.
Morning turned to afternoon and men went inside the Council building to meet
with the important men inside to voice our needs. The numbers grew of the crowds as
more and more workers began to strike. The people of Poznan had shown up with their
demands. We continued to chant, vying for food.
My blood thundered with excitement. My feet grew blisters, and my voice went
hoarse, but I didn’t leave and neither did anyone else.
“Babcia this is for you.” I would mumble under my breath on occasion when I
grew tired. The summer sun burned my nose, but I continued to stand outside the
Council building throughout the entirety of the night along with the crowds. We sat and
lay on the streets determined not to leave until our demands were met. My adrenaline
never left even when I sat, I sat with anticipation. We all knew soldiers were going to
show up. The next morning, I stood chanting, my arm growing tired from being in the air when the shots rang out. I saw the onslaught coming, thousands of soldiers coming for us, coming to quell us. We’d been too loud. No one was in their factories, no one was
meeting quotas. I wanted to laugh at our rebellion, but my blood ran cold moments later
as I heard death in the streets from the soldiers' infernal guns. I didn’t stop I continued pressing forward. More screams and chaos exploded as people scattered, I started being shoved and pushed. I tried to keep my spine straight, like steel, so I would not be trampled.
“Beigac!” Run, a man beside me screamed.
I swallowed hard, I didn’t want to be a coward, I wanted to live up to my
I was a warrior, as I stared at the soldiers fighting their way into our midst,
shoving guns at people’s spines.
They would roar and shove men, women, and children forward. I ran toward the
chaos, determined to live up to my namesake, I rushed up to a child.
“Beigac!” I ordered, the boy looked petrified as he stared at the soldiers closing in
“Beigac!” My voice was hoarse, the boy didn’t move. I grasped his wrist and he
turned towards me, and I turned around ready to pull him from his spot on the street.
Shots began to ring again, pinging through the crowd.
“Get down!” I tackled the boy who’d gone to move with me. My world was a
tumble of asphalt, clothes, and a metallic smell as I toppled to the ground falling on the
boy trying to protect him.
Seconds later I heard more shouts, more screams, more terror. How had this
peaceful protest turned into this? Was freedom so dangerous?
I tumbled off the boy.
“Get up, we’ve got to move,” I said as I looked to the boy, who was yellow in pallor,
and then I saw his face of horror. I looked down and saw it, blood oozing from his
“Kid! You are going to be alright.” I said as I shrugged off my coat and shoved it at
his wound. Blood slicked my hands as I clumsily pressed the worn cotton to his bleeding
stomach. The boy's eyes stared at the sky and my heart began to sink. Guards hollered
and I prayed, I prayed harder than I ever had in my life.
My shaky palms reached for his throat and fumbled for a pulse. I swallowed as I
It had happened so fast; he’d been so scared and now he was dead. My mind
didn’t want to comprehend the fact. I scrambled to pick up the boy in my arms, and I
tried desperately to sneak through the crowd. I shoved and hollered for the bodies in my
path to move, stumbling toward a hospital or any place with compassion.
All I wanted was freedom. I gritted my teeth in barely contained grief at the
injustice of this dead boy. In those moments I determined he would get retribution for
such a nonsensical death. I shuffled on the streets, pushing my way through panicked
crowds, my movements slow and yet fearful.
There was no happy ending to today. Poland would be free but not today. This
couldn’t mean anything, our bravery had to mean something. Poland had been frozen
under communism for way too long, we were finally thawing out and sometimes that
revealed some dirty secrets like death. As I pushed and shoved, a thought rang through
But indeed, we would be free someday.
Wasn't it wonderful?? Thank you again to everyone who entered, have a blessed holiday week, and a Happy Fourth Of July!