Ania Kaczmarek

Germany. April, 1942. Ania Kaczmarek is in one of the many Nazi concentration camps.

While working the job she was assigned, out of the corner of her eye, she sees a few crumbs of food on the floor.

Starving, she wants to pick the crumbs up and savor the flavor. A Nazi woman finds her, and by her command a vicious dog jumps up and starts attacking her.

Her screams are echoing.

In that moment one of her eight children comes and wakes her up. She doesn’t realize that it is the year 2014, and that this was a memory coming back to haunt her.

***

Ania Kaczmarek, 94 years old, living in Gonice, Poland with Alzheimer’s. When one sees her now, they describe her as a person who has been through hell.

Her wrinkles make her look like an old prune.

She has eight children, but only two of the eight care for her.

According to her oldest, she was always a the caring type, and wanted to help any way she could.

“She loved taking care of people as well as animals,” said daughter Barbara Kaczmarek.

Ever since a young age, she had animals.

Chickens, cows, horses, goats, cats, dogs.

But her passion; caring for bees. She made her own honey and was proud of it.

Since her early 20s, to a hearty 85, she was caring for these bees. Sadly she had to give it up because it was simply too difficult for her. She ended up giving away her bees, but went for a visit any time she could.

Sadly, every time she went, there were less bees every time. They weren’t being properly cared for and that made Kaczmarek feel worse about giving them away.

“In her spare time she also like to do some embroidery,” said son Grzegorz Kaczmarek. She was always very frugal.”

In her spare time, she would make bed sheets and clothes for her children rather then go waste money on something that she knows how to do herself.

With the money that was saved, she was able to buy more of what was needed.

She was able to buy medication for herself and children, and the essential food.

She was a stay at home mom, and was the type of woman that would always help her husband.

“She always took pride in what she did,” said Grazyna Brankowski.

***

In the present day, she doesn’t remember or do much.

She is basically immobile. When she remembers, it’s about the past of her days at the camp.

Her main caretaker is her middle child, Barbara Kaczmark. Anytime she goes to feed her mother, (Ania) hides the food thinking she’s back in the 1940s in the concentration camp.

Ania Kaczmarek always said,
“You always needed to hide and preserve the food, it’s the most precious thing in the world.”

In the middle of the night she will randomly start screaming; she always thinks someone is trying to attack her.

It’s a recurring nightmare. A Nazi guard took her and raped her, and she became pregnant.

Her first son was conceived during this horrific time.

Her daughter, Barbara, always tries to wake her up from this nightmare, but nothing seems to be work. She is stuck in the past, and nothing can bring her back.

“I hate to see her like this, I hate to see her suffering,” said, daughter Maryla Kaczmarek.

***
Barbara, reminisces about times when she and her mother were waiting in line at a local pharmacy, and a woman in back of them didn’t have enough money to pay for her own, so Ania took it upon herself and paid for the older woman.

“The woman was so thankful for her generosity, that she came by our house with a homemade pie as a sign of her thanks,” said Barbara.

***

Every human being who has a pulse has good qualities, but they also have bad qualities about themselves.

Krystyna Kaczmarek, her daughter in law, was married to [Ania’s] oldest son.

“She never really cared for her oldest. When he was sick with cancer, she wouldn’t even check up on him,” said Krystyna Kaczmarek.

Ania Kaczmarek was kind to many people, but that group didn’t always include her family. She had this perfect image that she wanted others to see.

She wanted people to see her as this sweet, kind, and giving person.

Unfortunately, the family got a different view on her and how she really was.

Krystyna Kaczmarek was trying not to bash her mother in law like the cliche, but she was just telling it like it was.

When her granddaughter, Ania Raczek, wanted to go to the hospital to visit her father, she asked her grandmother for a ride to the hospital, but all Kaczmarek would say is,

“Go find someone else to take you, I don’t have time for you.”

Ania Raczek’s mother’s best friend took her to the hospital, and was more of a grandmother to her than her own was.

***

When you ask friends of Ania Kaczmarek, they all say the same thing, like a broken record.

“She was an amazing human being that would give and give until she had nothing left.”

Certain family of Ania Kaczmarek has a different version.

Although a person has amazing qualities and a certain sensitivity to them, they can be totally and completely heartless at the same time.

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