The third post card in the series is an old one! My mom (as was her mother) is a packrat. They never get rid of anything without a good reason. Luckily for me, that included old post cards – like this one!
The label on the post card reads Ostrołęka – Ogólny Widok [which means Ostroleka – Overview]. On the back, someone dated it with Lipca 1938 roku which means July, 1938.
Ostrołęka – Ogólny Widok
I dug around on Wikipedia for a while, since I had never even heard of this tiny town (located 75 miles / 120 kilometers northeast of Warsaw). What I did find is amazing!
- The town was founded sometime around the 12th century. in the 1300’s, it was the largest town in the area.
- Fun fact: Ostroleka is on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, due to a military victory there by the French in 1807.
Whoever visited Ostroleka in 1938, and got this postcard, was there at a very precarious time in history. Only one year later, in 1939, German forces reached Ostroleka. But that seems par for the course for that poor town, because they had been invaded again and again over the centuries.
“During the Interbellum
After the First World War, the city became a part of Białystok’s province. 75% of the city and population was devastated. New schools and departments were opened as the city was rebuilt. During the Polish-Soviet War, Ostrołęka once again became a center for military operations. During the night of August 5, 1920, Soviet forces entered the city. However, the Soviet occupation was short lived as Polish forces thundered east towards the former Polish-Soviet border. After the Polish-Soviet War, Ostrołęka began to industrialize. A cinema was opened in 1923, and a power plant in 1928. During the summer of 1939, both sides of the Narew beachhead were fortified.
Ostrołęka at the time of the Second World War
On September 10, 1939, German forces reached Ostrołęka. Its name was changed to Scharfenwiese and the city was integrated into the Third Reich. Quickly, a resistance movement was established with a substantial presence of local Kurpes. Churches and schools were changed into workshops and factories controlled by the Underground. Underground Partisans started attacking and destroying German fortifications in and around Ostrołęka. A minority of citizens of Ostrołęka declared themselves as Volksdeutsche and signed the Volksliste. The majority of the Jewish population in Ostrołęka was murdered in Treblinka. Those that survived the Holocaust emigrated to Israel.”
Well, that was my history lesson for the day! I can’t even imagine being in a small town less than a year before it is completely taken over by an invading army. I know this happens still today in some areas of the world, so I am incredibly grateful that the city where I live is in no danger of that now. It certainly puts things into perspective!