Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Ciocia Dziunia

On a business trip to south-west Poland, I take the chance to stop off and visit my mother's oldest sister, Jadwiga, to us, 'Ciocia Dziunia'. She is a lively raconteur of times gone by, and remembers far more about those years than her younger sisters. Their childhood in Horodziec, their deportation to Siberia, their wanderings across wartime Russia, she recalls in great detail.

To me, the most thrilling tales concern the vast forests that lined the Horyn River - and the character of my maternal grandfather, Pyotr Stepanovich Bortnikov. He was a Russian, born in Odessa, and fought on the side of the Whites in the Civil War, ending up in eastern Poland after it ended in victory for the Bolsheviks. He worked as the forest estates manager for a Belgian magnate, de Pourbaix.

Ciocia Dziunia corresponds with old friends from Horodziec (today "Gorodyets" in western Ukraine). Below is a snap of a photocopy of a rare pre-war photograph of the de Pourbaix palace in Horodziec. Today, nothing remains of either the palace or of the its estate manager's house where my mother and her sisters grew up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Dembinski,

My name is Tomasz de Pourbaix, grandson of Kamil de Pourbaix who owned the Hordec estate. I would be interested in getting in conatc with you to discuss your family's connection with Horodec and the old family estate. I currently live in Sydney, Australia. My email address is as follows: