Cultural Family History Research Essay – Assimilation of Ancestors
Professor Edmund Pries, Professor Bina Mehta
Wilfrid Laurier University
Sto lat, sto lat, Niech żyje, żyje nam. Sto lat, sto lat, Niech żyje, żyje nam, Jeszcze raz, jeszcze raz, Niech żyje, żyje nam, Niech żyje nam! As a child I heard this jumbled collection of words flying out of my family’s mouths in song, directly after the celebration jingle ‘Happy Birthday’. Other children would ask me what it meant and all I could comprehend was that it was Polish. I was mildly aware while growing up that I had European family members and ancestors but as I transitioned into adulthood it became less of an understanding and more apart of who I have became today. This essay is going to explore the last four generations of my mother’s side of the family and our own cultural family history. As well as employing forms of cultural and ethical analysis from our two texts and other academic sources, the essay will be demonstrating how my family history has incorporated elements from various cultures around the globe.
Remembering the days of old where my family began, goes much further back than my particular research in this essay. Although, where I have chosen to start appears to have the most impact on my life. To begin, the scene is set in 1933, Krochcice Poland when Alois Glosnek was born to Stefan Glosnek and Elizabeth Nee Pielat, starting one of the many stages of their family. It is important to note that Kochcice was a part of Upper Silesia, which was inhabited predominantly by ethnic Germans as opposed to Poles. (Russell 1941) Agnieszka was born in 1935 and then Jadwiga, in 1936. On September 1st 1939 Germany invaded Poland and men went to war. Most Silesians, because of their German heritage, were conscripted to the German army. (Lukas 1997) Stephan went to fight in the war as Elizabeth was left to, alone, parent their three children. Due to the war, Stephan was not home as much as he would have preferred. However he was made happy as during the war the third sister, who is now my grandmother, Ella was born in 1943. As the war progressed, there was a vicious back and forth battle between the Germans and the Poles and subsequently the Russians. Later in 1943, Stephan was no longer able to return home to his family as German men, including Stephan’s brother, were killed if they tried to return home. He had two choices, risk returning home and facing new certain death or leaving his family and starting a life elsewhere, which ultimately became his decision. After the war ended in 1945, Stephan wandered Europe trying to figure out what to do and decided on joining the Secret Service. Three years later he made the decision to come to Canada and after his arrival he tried to contact his family but was unable to for a very long period of time. Alois, Agnieszk, Jadwiga and Ella and their mother Elizabeth lived a hard life during this time without Stephan for fifteen years from 1943 to 1958. After a lot of persistence Stephan eventually was able to find his family. Following his discovery of his family he made plans to reunite the entire family. Elizabeth and her four children arrived in Canada on December 14th 1958. As I have often heard, coming to Canada was the best decision they had ever made because they were able to reunite with their husband and father that they had not seen for such a long period of time. After hearing of this “new” life developing in Canada many Europeans wanted to come over seas as well. The Ochman and Tomasevic family followed in 1960 and Helcia arrived a few years later after the untimely death of her mother Nicia. This portion of my essay relates to the “Old” culture, examined by Hopper, transnationalism and touching on a diaspora community. “Old” culture, according to Hopper is based on territory, boarders or nations. Countries and nation states have given...
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