Joseph Stanley Wardzala
Born: 1923, Smigno, Poland
Describes the badge Poles had to wear in forced-labor camps in Germany [Interview: 1990]
Everyone, when we get to Germany, we have a, a, the company takes so many guys, you know, people, uh, men or women, or separate woman, men separate, and every Pole, like me, they gave us a little cloth like two, three-inch square with "name/P," and you have to put on the right, uh, side of your jacket, jacket and on the shirt and you have to sew it yourself and you have to have it all the time. If you don't have this you get beaten very hard, uh, very strong. And this was "P" for, marked for Polish, and I was one of the two million Polish citizen that was taken by force to Germany to forced-labor camp.
Joseph and his family were Roman Catholics. After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, roundups of Poles for forced labor in Germany began. Joseph escaped arrest twice but the third time, in 1941, he was deported to a forced-labor camp in Hannover, Germany. For over four years he was forced to work on the construction of concrete air raid shelters. Upon liberation by U.S. forces in 1945, the forced-labor camp was transformed into a displaced persons camp. Joseph stayed there until he got a visa to enter the United States in 1950.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum - Collections