Ostpreussen, our trip to Poland.
July 2000

My mother and I, together with my mothers cousin traveled to Poland on 20th July 2000 and stayed in the former Ermland for four days and four nights. This page is a short summary of that trip.
July 20th 2000, DAY 1. Arrived in Olstyn (formerly Allenstein) by train and took a taxi to Lidzbark Warminski (formerly Heilsberg). During the day we explored the city of Lidzbark (Heilsberg) including Heilsberg Castle.

July 21st 2000, DAY 2. Sister Leonarda (from the monastery See below "where we stayed" ) arranged a car and driver for the day and took us to some of the surrounding villages of Heilsberg which were of particular interest to my mother and her cousin (who had spent part of their childhood in these villages). Places we visited included Stoczek (Closter Springborn), Napraty (Napratten), Krekole (Krekollen), Rogoz (Roggenhausen) and Samolubie (Lauterhagen). Later in the day we visited a former childhood friend of my mother in Gorowo? who had remained there after this area of Germany was handed over to Poland.

July 22nd 2000, DAY 3. Today took us to Swieta Lipka (Heilige Linde). We were able to get there by car due to the very kind help from a young man who I have met over the internet and his father. Gregory and his father drove us to Swieta Lipka and we were able to see the organ being played in this amazing church. When we returned to Lidzbark Warminski (Heilsberg) we went to the cemetery with the hope of finding any old graves. Unfortunately all have been destroyed or removed so any hope of finding any new clues to my family tree by this method were quickly dashed.

July 23rd 2000, Day 4. Today took us to the beautiful city of Olsytn (Allenstien). We wandered the city for some hours and visited some of the old catholic churches and acquired our train tickets to Warsaw for the following morning.

July 24th 2000, Day 5. Took a train to Warsaw and left Ermland.

Where we stayed
We stayed at the Catholic Monastery in Lidzbark Warminski. The monastery as well as being the home to Catholic nuns also acts as a guesthouse to visitiors. We were only a party of three but it appeared that the guesthouse could accomodate at least 30 guests. We were made to feel extremely welcome by Sister Leonardo who speaks German as well as Polish, which was very handy as we did not know a word of Polish but my mother and her cousin are fluent in German. The phone number for the monastry is from Germany 004889-7672685.

Photographs & Postcard Images
I appologise for the quality of the scans. Some have fine lines from the scanner.
Heilsberg City Lutherin Church, (Orthodox) Another of the Lutherin Church Old City Gate Other side of the old gate
Monastery, Oldest building Old Mill
Heilsberg Castle Into the Castle we go Another view of Castle Yet another view of the Castle B&W 1938 photo
Heilsberg Church Church Outside view Church Inside view
Heilige Linde
(Holy Linden)
Organ inside Church Outside view of Swieta Lipka Church Gregory, his father and me at the church gate Linden tree inside church
Napratten One view of Opa's house Another view of Opa's house Mum oustside house Chapel, Mum and her cousin
Krekollen Outside of Church Inside of Church Winter Postcard image
Springborn Ouside of the Monastry Another ouside view Back grounds of Monastry Inside the Monastry Chapel
Lauterhagen Outside of Church My mother inside of Church, maybe she was Christened here? Another outside view

In summary - My views
Well what can I say? This trip with my mother was a "a once in a life time journey". My mother had not returned to the place of her birth in over 50 years. I was honoured and excited to have taken this journey with her. From what I saw of the countryside of Ermland all I can say is "beautiful!".

I can understand now why my great grandparents always dreamt of returning to their home that had been taken forcibly from them. Unfortunately they died never realising this dream.

I did feel that we were not completely welcome in Poland as there is an underlying feeling towards foreigners especially Germans. I will call it "concern" for want of a better word, but there is also a small amount of uncertainty and fear thrown in. Let me say however that all the Polish people that we met were very polite and friendly. Until recently this country was a Communist country and many people still live and think in this way, especially in the remote areas like the one we visited. Even though Poland is no longer Communist it is also not Europe, as it has not as yet been accepted into the European cluster of countries. In time I am sure it will become a more welcome place to visitors but for now it still has much of it's raw charm of a former communist country. Because of this it has one major thing in its favour to people like my mother and I. That is not much has changed in the last 50 years. Apart from the German speaking people being replaced by Polish speaking people the area we visited remains a very rural area with a very basic way of life.

My mother has no claim to her grandparents house in Napraty nor does she want any. We actually met the two ladies who now live in this house and they are lovely people who made us feel more than welcome. Our journey was purely to visit this place of our ancestors and in some way for my mum to make peace with the ghosts from the past, which I believe she has done. I cannot see myself or my mother ever returning to Ermland, but you never know what the future may bring. I am very happy I visited this beautiful part of Europe and I recommend anyone else wanting to make this same pilgrimage to do the same. You will not be disappointed.

November 2000

Please do not hesistate to contact me at this e-mail address: carlnpat@netspace.net.au