Skiing in Safety in the Tatra Mountains

Couple skiing in the Tatra MountainsIn honor of the record blizzard blanketing the East Coast, I thought of a Polish winter. In 1946, the high Tatra mountains offered Henry Zguda secluded safety from certain communist leaders looking to arrest him after the war.  A friend hired Henry as a caretaker of a mountain cabin in the mountains. Thus, Henry spent the winter of 1945-46 skiing in safety in the Tatra Mountains.

Henry on skis1 watermarkIn Henry’s words,

“After the war communists took over. If you were too nationalist. then the Russians killed anyone working against them. 
I make a business on the side smuggling tires from Czech to Poland.  I was on my skis constantly going back and forth – to pull the tires on the rope on the snow.  I ski to my friend in Morskie Oko [deep mountain lake.] There was another tourist home there.  My friend, Adam Gurka, was at that time longer than me. Sometimes we share our vodka – you have to have vodka in the winter. That winter there were many people skiing past, trying to leave Poland for Slovakia.
In Poland in the winter it’s so cold when you spit it’s frozen before it hits the ground.”
Photos are from Henry’s personal photo album.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Great anecdote and photos!

  • Do I hear a hint of history repeating itself….extreme weather and poor Russian outreach with current historical times????

    • Katrina Shawver
      January 26, 2016 5:28 pm

      Wow, I hadn’t even thought about current events. Poland’s post-war history was tragic, in that so many courageous Poles who had fought for their country, and survived, were rounded up the the Communists and executed, especially 1945-1947. The thought was that if they could organize against Nazis, they could organize against the communists – better to squelch any hint of rebellion before it happens. Then, the stories of these heroes were buried, as Polish history was forbidden to be taught in schools for three generations, until 1989. I love this quote by James Michener in the prologue to his novel Poland: “That Poland survived so many fatal reverses was a testimony to its volatile spirit of freedom.” Thanks for the great thought.


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