/ Poland: Her heroes and her traitors
: Questionable past of Polish war hero - Bernard Buchwald
At the end of 2013 Bernard Buchwald died. He is feted by the Polish Air Force as a hero of the second world war and I have no reason to question his war service. However, in his official biography on the Polish Air Force website there is a glaring omission which can only have come from him and casts a shadow over his honour and veracity.
In that biography he describes in some detail the time he spent in England. What he fails to mention is that while he was in England he married and had two children. When he returned to Poland he told his wife he was going to make a home for them and would send for them. His wife was left to bring up the two daughters without any input, assistance or interest from Mr Buchwald. It would appear that he expunged them from his memory.
Many years later he visited his wife without giving her any warning and left after an hour. This visit was the cause of extreme distress to his wife. Three days later she had a heart attack and within a few weeks she had died. Whether his visit caused her death is a matter for conjecture.
Following this visit his daughters obtained his address. One of them visited him in Poznan with her husband. The other daughter made a point of communicating by the occasional letter and Christmas cards. These rarely attracted a reply.
He made no response when informed of his wife's death; his older daughter's diagnosis of breast cancer and mastectomy or the death of his younger daughter from cancer. It seems reasonable to assume that he felt no familial responsibility towards them.
Interestingly, in his will he disinherited his surviving daughter and granddaughter on the grounds that they had failed in their familial responsibilities. That sounds very much like the pot calling the kettle black.
His surviving daughter recognises that she cannot in reality challenge the will even though his action in disinheriting her and her niece is yet another cruel rejection but she feels outraged both for herself, her sister and most of all her mother, that they can be written out of history in such a cavalier fashion.