parents Jan Kowalski (b. 1889, Rzeczyczyna
Poland, son of Hipolit and Karolina) and Anna Piotrowska (b. 1898) get
married and live in
Rzeczyczyna (Wolhynia, Poland; present day Ukraine).
Antoni, Zosia's older
brother, is born.
February 8. Zosia is born in Rzeczyczyna.
||The family moves to Kozak,
a village near the town of Korzec where Jan Kowalski has a large farm
Kozak. Mother, Anna Piotrowska, stays home to take care of the
is near Korzec town, Wolhynia (Wojewodztwo Wolynskie) in the Pre-war
Poland (today: Ukraine).
Agata (Agatka), Zosia's sister,
Stanislaw (Stasiu), Zosia's
Wiktoria (Wikcia), Zosia's
Zosia's sister, is born.
Jan Kowalski marries his second
wife Anna Jaworska.
|February 10 -- the family is
taken from its home in Kozak by the Soviets, and sent by train from
Korzec along with thousands of others, and deported to a transitory
forced labor camp in the Soviet city of Gorky
(today: Nizny Nowogrod).
language summary. Polish
language voice file: Deportation
Lady of Czestochowa that Zosia Kowalska took with her in 1940 when
forcefully resettled from her home in Wolhynia to the Siberian Gulag.
She kept it with her all the way to liberation and the United States.
ZL: On the 10th
of February the Russians came in the night and told us to pack all the
stuff that we could take with us, and they took us… (…) And they put us
into these trains. And there was no water, no light, no lavatory. And
there was freeze, February 10th, it was terrible. And then
people, huddled, they cried… (…) And so they brought us to this Gorky
MK: You mentioned
this image. Could you tell about this image once more?
Well, this image… all the people there were asking if someone perhaps
had some, even if small, image of Jesus or Holy Mother. And I
remembered that I just had an image. And then they took this image, and
attached it so high, and these women were coming, cried, kneeled,
prayed to God to take them out of that place (…) And then a miracle
happened, that the sky opened, Blessed Sacrament, and people talked
that…. God, perhaps a miracle will happen… and they took us and
transported, in a few weeks, in a different place (…)
|February 21 -- Kowalski family
arrives in Gorky and works at
the Poldniewica labor camp in the Szarinski District of Gorky
Province. They stay there over half a year until
they are relocated to another camp in the northern Russian region of
Zosia Kowalska poses for a photo (dressed up in borrowed
clothes) in Russia.
| Ocotber 25 1940: they arrive at
the Saminskij forced labor camp (Adomski
District, Wologodzka Province, Archangielsk Region). Here is
of the place today.
language summary. Polish
language voice file: Siberia/Archangielsk
Image of Zosia
in the Siberian Gulag. She is standing at the far right.
MK: Where did they
ZL: I don’t remember
exactly that place. But they took us there, and we… into those small
rooms. There was no water, and anything. And later we were going to the
forest to work (…) Russians were saying: ‘you will not see Poland any
more (…) you have to live here and work’. (…) So we worked there. And
it was difficult to work, to go to the forest and chop wood. (…)
Night and day was
MK: it was in the
yes, in the north. And later they again… me and other women… we had to
pull the wood to the river. And I remember, that one woman said: ‘take
this peg and put it here, so this wood… and I will lift (…)’. And I
didn’t make it yet and she dropped that wood and that wood hit me here,
in my teeth, almost killed me, but only knocked out my teeth. And I
fell down. And my brother came and saw and started to scream and cry.
He thought that was already dead.
Broader historical context. Part
1 | Part
|June-- Zosia has an accident at work
in the forest.
- The family is transported to Kazakhstan.
- August 31
-- They are released from imprisonment in Uralsk (Kazakhstan) and
allowed to join the new Polish army which was forming in the
Soviet Union territory following the military agreement of August 14.
|September - December
- The family traveled through Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan,
where the nearest center of formation of the Polish Army was
located. Travel through Kazakhstan was long and difficult for
Zosia. She got lost along the way and traveled most of the way
alone. But in the end she found her family.
English language summary. Polish
language voice file: Travel
ZL: … they were
transporting us in the train there, to Kazakhstan… and I remember… were
transporting us, and I wanted to get some food for the family. (…) The
train stopped, and they said: ‘oh, here, there may be a bazaar here, so
maybe you go and get something’. So I had few rubles, I run quickly to
that bazaar to get something. And I bought some, and there was no more
to buy. And I am coming back and the train left already. And I stayed…
… and I quickly… and
there was a high bank, so I slide down and sit there huddled, and they
were watching the whole train everywhere and they didn’t find me. And
then the train moved, and I jumped quickly on those steps and grabbed
that door. And I held it and traveled this way. I don’t know how long I
traveled, I don’t remember, until that place where my family was… and
when I came… my father saw me there, and they cried. They couldn’t
recognize me, I was so black, dirty from that sand, mud, everything.
… and later (…) they
were taking us to these various villages (…) maybe there were 10-12
carts. So we had to walk, and they – elderly or children – they could
sit. And I remember we walked and walked, and finally they brought us
to that place. And these small huts… they put us there, so we sit
there. And already the second day, or the third, they already gave us
work. So we went to work and they were saying that the potatoes need to
be dig (…) and younger, who was healthy, so that they go there to dig
those potatoes. (…)
from behind the bushes, they were looking… these women from Kazakhstan
were looking… that we so… there was around 15 of us, we dig those
potatoes. Those potatoes were so small. And I had a coat… a jacket, and
I had a belt ligated and if there was a potato a bit bigger than a nut
I put that everything to that pocket to bring there for my family, so
they could make something from those potatoes. (…)
- The oldest brother
Antoni separated from the family at some point of the journey and
managed to join Anders Army, probably somewhere in Kazakhstan (in
the fall 1941). He sent a postcard to his family (which
stayed in a village in Kazakhstan at that time) informing them about
where to go and what to do, since they, as civilians, needed to get a
certificate that a member of their family was an Anders’ soldier.
English language summary. Polish
language voice file: On the organization of Anders' Army.
ZL: My brother sent
a postcard, that there somewhere the army already was organizing itself.
MK: the Polish army?
ZL: yes, the Polish
MK: Anders’ army?
ZL: yes. So he
joined the army (…). We got that postcard. And later, I could read
Russian very well, I read newspapers. I was buying the newspapers
somewhere there, and I was reading that the Polish army was organizing
itself, that they will be releasing us (…)
And then I took that
postcard and I went in train to Guzor. And there the Polish army was
organizing itself. And I found a soldier there (…), and I got that
stamp. And I brought it back home and then we started to pack and we
managed to get out. (…) And so we walked to that town.
- Zosia and the rest of the Kowalski family join the
in G’uzor (Guzar) in Uzbekistan.
- The Kowalski family travels from Guzar
Kermine (now Navoi,
Uzbekistan) with the 7th Infantry Division.
(Commander: Gen. Zygmunt Szyszko-Bohusz, later replaced by Gen. Leopold
language summary. Polish
language voice file: From Guzar to Kermine with the Army.
ZL: And we got out
of that place, the same, you had to be careful (…) and we arrived to
Kermine, somehow, a miracle, where the army was organizing itself. And
we, there, in those barracks, those tents were on the field. And we
there….... there in those tents. But we needed bread, we needed
something to eat. So they were giving a soup once a day, once a day you
could get a soup (…) And my stepmother was going and collecting some
green leaves and was cooking to add some more to that.
- In Kermine,
Zosia got a job in the
army’s kitchen. Brother Stanislaw joins
military school (szkola junacka). Later Zosia with her younger sisters
Wikcia and Agatka join the military school for girls (szkola
juneczek). They separate from the rest of their family and travel
with the school.
|March-- August: Zosia’s Journey:
from Kermine (Uzbekistan) – in
train to Krasnowodzk (Turkmenistan) – from there in ship
through the Caspian Sea to Pahlavi (Iran)
pierwszej i drugiej ewakuacji z ZSRR na Bliski Wchod lacznie ewakuowano
115 742 osoby, w tym 78 470 zolniezy i 37 272 osoby cywilne. Wsrod
ewakuowanych zolnierzy bylo: 4033 oficerow, 66 890 podoficerow i
szeregowcow, 4618 juneczek i junakow, 2924 ochotniczek PSK. Wsrod ludnosci
cywilnej bylo 13 948 dzieci, w wiekszosci sieroty.”
[Piotr Zaron, Armia
Andersa, p. 144]
"During the first and
second evacuations from the USSR to the Middle East, 115,742 people in
total were evacuated, including 78,470 soldiers and 37,272 civilians.
Among the evacuated soldiers were 4,033 officers, 66,890
officers and serial soldiers, 4,618
cadet boys and girls, and 2,924 volunteers in the Women's
Service. Among civilians were: 13,948 children, mostly orphans."
and Wikcia were among these numbers of evacuated people. They
traveled in the first transport
Interview Fragment. English
language voice file: About epidemic in Kermine, military
school for girls and evacuation through the Caspian Sea to Pahlavi.
ZL: Later my brother
joined the cadet school there, so he, Stasio, was already there. So I
went to see my little brother there because it was not far, there,
where the army was organizing itself. When
I came, there was a big wagon, full of dead people (…) they were taking
[them] away to some delve and burying.
So we traveled in a
ship, and we were so packed …. My sister was crying to give her water
to drink, but there was no water anywhere, because that water was
dirty… so she cried. I remember, my leg started [to hurt], (…) and I
couldn’t walk (…) I cried, because this leg hurt (…) Later they took us
from that train in ship to Pahlavi. The same… children were dying…
- Over 10 000 civilians
traveling with the army die along the way and are buried in SRRs and
Iran. Among them are Zosia’s father Jan Kowalski (53 years
old, died from the heart attack in the hospital in
Kermine, Uzbekistan), her brother Stanislaw Kowalski (15 years
old, died from an epidemic disease in Kermine, Uzbekistan), and sister
Janina (8 years old, died from an epidemic disease in
Kermine, Uzbekistan). They died between
March 1942, when Zosia left Kermine, and the fall of 1942, when Zosia
Pahlavi. She recalled getting a letter with the information about their
deaths when she was staying in Pahlavi with the school.
(18 years old) probably died somewhere on the
way from Kermine to Pahlavi, most likely during the journey through the
Caspian Sea. Their brother Antoni
(24 years old), who later
found himself in Iraq where the II Corps was formed, traveled
separately with the serial soldiers. Their
stepmother Anna Jaworska
was among the evacuated civilians in
the second transport. She died in Kenya, Africa, during the 1952 Mau Mau Uprising
|September-- December: Zosia’s
Journey: Pahlavi (Iran)
to Teheran (Iran) to Kirkuk region (Iraq) to Nazareth (Palestine)
- Zosia and Wikcia travel with the school girls of the
‘szkola junaczek’ military school for girls from Pahlavi to Teheran.
They come to Teheran
together with 1,066 girls, 309 of them, who were at least 16 years old,
including Zosia, stay. Some of them were sent back to their parents,
or joined PSK (Pomocnicza Sluzba Kobiet/ Women's Auxiliary Service).
412 girls, orphans below the age of 16, including Wiktoria Kowalska,
are sent to orphanages organized by the army. Wiktoria is sent to an
orphanage in Isfahan ,
Polish language voice file
form Pahlavi to Teheran.
then in Teheran, the people, when everyone was marching, the people
were looking and saying: ‘where this little one is from? All the girls
so tall, and this one so little’. And she, later, Wikcia, (...)
couldn’t go to Palestine because she was too small. (...) And she had
to go to Isfahan... all the little children... to Isfahan...
- At the end of 1942 the school is relocated from
Teheran to Palestine. Zosia did not go
with the school, but traveled with the army through Iraq to Nazareth.
the way to Palestine Zosia stops in Iraq
she meets her brother Antoni and they
travel together to Nazareth (Palestine).
Kowalska and her Brother Antoni Kowalski in Polish Army uniforms in
was crying so much. God, I think, I won’t see him again.. And once a
woman came, she was (...) at a good position and she said: ‘ Zosia, you
know, come there with me...’ They were giving us cigarettes in the
army, but I didn’t smoke and she didn’t smoke. ‘You know – she says –
we will go there, these Arabs sit there – she says – they will give us
oranges and everything for the cigarettes’. And I took these cigarettes
and we went. And we took oranges, all, they gave us for those
cigarettes. And we go. And she already
went to her tent and I still am staying and looking. I am looking and
thinking: ‘Oh, what a handsome boy, so tall, beautiful, he walks around
these tents back and forth. I don’t know... he walks and walks’.And I
thought: ‘I’ll go closer and I’ll see who is this handsome boy’. So I
went... and I walk so close to him and he started to shout: ‘Zosia,
it’s you!’. It was my brother! I started to shout, I dropped those
oranges, and started to cry... he hugs me. And then he went to his
captain – they were also about to leave – and he told all the story
(...) And he says: ‘go Antos with her to Palestine, I permit you’.
- Zosia accompanied by Antoni travels to Palestine. On
the way there she joins the school again, and Antoni goes back to his
| August - December
- Zosia arrives to Nazareth with the military school.
She stays there until the end of the war.
- At some point Zosia stops attending school
(traumatized, as she explains in the interview, by losing almost all
the family at the same time). Instead she gets a job in a shop.
From time to time she carries messages between Nazareth and Jerusalem
for and from General Jozef Wiatr, Base Commander of the Polish Army in
the Middle East.
Antoni Kowalski travels
with the army to Italy.
Zosia stays in Nazareth in the
Anders' Army base.
language voice file
: In Nazareth.
there was a need to go somewhere, to Jerusalem, to meet, to take papers
to general Wiatr – and it had to be delivered to his hands, you
couldn’t give it to anyone – then the commander always came to me:
‘Zosia, you have to go to Jerusalem today’. I didn’t know where and
what. There was a Polish House in Jerusalem. And I had to take a bus,
and go, and I found, and I gave those papers, I delivered to his hands.
And wherever was a need to go, they would send me, because: ‘Zosia
would take care of everything best’. And I remember there was this
major... all army was watching us, the school.... so he would always
come. And the other one, a captain. And they say to me: ‘Zosia, you
know, perhaps you would go with us to the cinema today? (...) They
invited me to the cinema. I went. And so he would come: ‘Oh, Zosia, you
know, we are going to play cards. There will be the priest, the two of
us, and you.’ So, everywhere, always only ‘Zosia, Zosia’, they were
|Zosia Kowalska at the end
of World War II.
- The Anders' Army is relocated to Great Britain in
1946 and 1947. Zosia and Antoni travel with them.
Kowalska and her brother Antoni
decommissioned from the Polish Army in Nazareth, Palestine at the end
of World War II.
Polish language summary: From Palestine to
transported us to England in a ship, and later we... there was this
place, where we stopped temporarily (...) so we were there for few
- Antoni gets a job in a hotel in Stratford.
Zosia visits him there.
- Zosia meets Ignacy Legowski, (1914-1981), a Polish engineer
from Pomorze, in northern Poland. He plans to return to Poland after
the war but after meeting Zosia decides to stay in England for
her. Photo: Ignacy Legowski in
a Polish Army uniform during World War II.
| Zosia and Ignacy
Legowski get married in Birmingham,
Zosia and her husband Ignacy Legowski in England during the late 1940s.
After the war (sometime in the early 50s) Zosia's sister Wiktoria comes
from the U.S. to visit Zosia and her family in England. Wiktoria,
who was separated from her sister in Iran in the summer of 1942 and
transported to the orphanage in Isfahan, lives in Detroit (Hamtramck)
as the adopted daughter of a single American woman.
Daughter Barbara (Basia) is born.
Daughter Halina (Halinka) is born.
After the war (sometime in
early 50s) Zosia’s
sister Wiktoria came from the US to visit Zosia and her family in
who was separated from her sister in Iran, in summer 1942 and
transported to the orphanage in Isfahan, lived in Detroit (Hamtramck)
as an adopted daughter of a single American woman.
1956 Zosia moves to the United States with her
husband Ignacy Legowski and daughters Halinka and Basia.
Interview Fragment. English
language voice file
visit to England and Zosia's arrival to the United States.
MK: and how, when
you came to the United States from England? In what circumstances?
ZL: We, there, in
England… I already had… we had a house already, because my brother had
a house, and we lived at me brother’s house, we bought furniture,
everything. And we planned to stay in England already, and to buy a
house there, and we already were looking for a house. But my sister
Wikcia came from America to visit us in England, and she saw, and she
started to talk that ‘maybe you would come to America… that would be
very good’. And so, and she started to ask me. I didn’t know… I say,
that I don’t know… and it was free, to go to America, and later you had
to pay money. And I had two girls, Basia and Halinka. Basia was 6 and
Halinka 4 years old.
MK: What year was
ZL: it was fiftieth,
I think, sixth.
MK: and where did
your sister live?
ZL: My sister lived…
I don’t know exactly.
MK: In Detroit?
she lived in Detroit. They had a house, that woman who adopted my
sister, she was single and she had a brother, and he lived with us. And
my sister lived there. And she… best schools, best everything for my
sister. She worked in that company, Jews, I don’t know, a company, and
they liked her a lot. She worked there.
- Zosia gets a job in a Detroit
- She starts working for Mr.
Bielawski at the Cabaret Restaurant on Chene Street, located above the
Round Bar owned by Leon Kulesza.
Polish language voice file:
The beginning in Hamtramck,
looking for a job, and Mr. Bielawski's restaurant.
ZL: … and I want to
go to work. And then I… the son lived there, just… I forgot…
downstairs, a family lived, and I was saying – he had a restaurant
somewhere – I was saying if I could get a job there in the restaurant,
anything, to wash the dishes, or whatever… And he says: ‘I will speak
to my father – he says – maybe he would give you a job there.’ But we
needed to find a babysitter to look after the kids, the girls. And I
remember that I went. And they said: good, so you can come here and
wash the dishes in the kitchen. Here, on Chene, and I went where he had
MK: and which
restaurant was that?
ZL: his name was
MK: what was his
ZL: his name was
ZL: Yes. He had that
restaurant. And I began to work there.
MK: Which restaurant
ZL: there, on Chene.
MK: The Round Bar?
ZL: Yes, Round Bar.
(Polish Daily News) Round Bar ad, December 31, 1959, wishing
a happy new year.
(Polish Daily News) Round Bar ad, dated December 25, 1960,
wishing patrons a Merry Christmas and happy new year.
being served at Zosia's Restaurant by a waitress, who later became the
the owner of the Round Bar.
Photo taken by Frank J. Slomzenski in
and her cook in the kitchen at
Photo taken by Frank J. Slomzenski in the
Golik, a waitress at Zosia's Restaurant getting ready to take food out
into the dining room.
Photo taken by Frank J. Slomzenski in the
Legowska's younger daughter Halina working at her mother's
Photo taken by Frank J. Slomzenski in the early 1960s.
In the early 1960s Zosia's family bought a house in Hamtramck.
they lived with her sister Wiktoria.
buys Bielawski's business and opens her own
She rents the space from Mr.
Kulesza, who still owns the Round Bar.
language voice file: About Zosia's Restaurant.
MK: How did it [the restaurant] look like?
ZL: There was a large window as you came in, there was a
door, the windows were long, and there were very large windows
upstairs. It looked very nice.
MK: what was the color? was it made of wood? or the brick?
ZL: the brick. And the next one, there was a Polish bookstore
also, and it was very nice.
MK: what you could see as you came in to the restaurant from
ZL: as you came in, there was a huge bar, long; and then, to
the left, you would go to Zosia’s, to the restaurant.
MK: was there a balcony upstairs?
ZL: there was a balcony. I have a photo there, I will show
you. And later there... so I started to work there. And later he, he
drank, so he was sick and he couldn’t work any longer. And that owner,
of that bar, was saying if I perhaps could take... he would give me for
free for now, so I try if I could run that restaurant. I say that I
don’t know. So I asked my husband, what he
thought. And he says: ‘try, take it, if for a while, and you will see
how you will be able to run this restaurant’. And I agreed, and he gave
me a little cheaper. And I started to cook then. That woman there...
that one... across the street she lived...
MK: What was her name?
ZL: … her name was... and she was coming, and they were
coming already...., the other one, Jusia, and that one, I don’t know,
Maria, or what was her name, so they were coming already at 4am. She
was cooking soups. And always she cooked two soups. Every day there
were two different soups. And she cooked. And they did everything. And
pierogi on Friday and Saturday, and pierogi already were on Friday, and
potato pancakes, all that was cooked.
MK: and now... the restaurant always was upstairs, right? And
where was the kitchen?
ZL: and kitchen was also upstairs.
MK: upstairs, behind the restaurant?
MK: and how many tables there were upstairs?
ZL: there were quite a lot around (...)
MK: and the restaurant was open only for dinner or for lunch
ZL: yes, it was [open] from 12pm to 8pm.
MK: and what time you were coming there?
ZL: I was coming very... I was coming always earlier, because
I had to go shopping to the market.
MK: to the Chene Ferry Market?
ZL: yes, and I had to… everything there, to give an order for
them to bring (...)
ZL: And one day that detective was coming.
He was the biggest boss detective, and was always coming and playing
the piano so beautifully, and everything… and so, always, he was my
best friend: ‘Zosia, if you need anything, just tell me’. Later a guest
was coming from the city, he was the biggest boss of these all
pharmacies, and his wife was the biggest boss of all these schools, and
they had one son. And he was coming always, always right to the kitchen
he run, and hug me and: ’you the best’. So he was coming, he was
bringing me so many generals, and that one, from …(?), senator Levine
(?), he was there. And I don’t know, these professors, so many of them
were coming. So many of all of them that I even didn’t know who was
who. And they only wanted to see Zosia, and ‘hello’, and hug. And so
many of these young detectives was coming there, a lot of them, all. I
didn’t know… and one day a guy came from…, I think a big boss of
automobiles came. I said to my husband,
that he… ‘what are you saying? where he would there… to that your
restaurant…?’. When I saw in the television, I said: ‘he was there’. He
said: ‘impossible… wow’. And all the people hug and so, families are
coming and kids. (…)
Interview Fragments: 1 and 2.
Polish language voice files,
Zosia talking about traditional Polish food served in her restaurant.
|The most popular dishes
served at Zosia's restaurant:
Sour ryemeal soup
||Stuffed cabbage rolls
||Veal schnitzel with
Hanna Golik (a waitress at Zosia's Restaurant): 1.
Hanna's experience of coming to the United States and getting a job at
Hanna Golik: 2.
Hanna's description of Zosia's Restaurant
Hanna Golik: 3.
Hanna's description of Zosia
Hanna Golik: 4.
Hanna speaks about her work in the Restaurant
Hanna Golik: 5.
Hanna speaks about the food served in the Restaurant
Hanna Golik: 6.
Hanna's memories of the Restaurant
1973 December 16th (Sunday) - Leon Kulesza,
owner of the Round Bar, is shot in the bar. The Round Bar is
taken over by Tadeusz (Ted) Nawrocki. Ted had been a bartender at
taken on May 11, 1978 at Irene Jaruga's 50th birthday party at the
Round Bar on Chene where she was born.
Jaruga (George's wife)
is sitting in the foreground. Kenneth Charles Bartos (Irene's
in the plain sport coat. Linda and Ed Andrzejewski Jr. are
along the back table.
of Round Bar taken from the upstairs balcony.
Michael A. Yuskowatz (Norene's son) being held up by George Jaruga
(Irene's brother). Photo taken facing the front window onto Chene.
of the Round Bar
and Zosia's Restaurant (located upstairs) at 5331 Chene
Photo taken in the
mid-70s by Larry Chominski.
|From article about Zosia's Restaurant "City's Ethnic Bistros Stay Put -- and Thrive" in Detroit Free Press :
gentleman from Troy had just downed a bowl of czarnina zupa (duck blood
soup) and a generous portion of pierogi z kapusta (cabbage dumplings). He washed it down with gulps of bitter Zywiec
Polish beer and grinned contentedly. ‘You know’ he said ‘you can have a
$50,000 home in the country and make $30,000 a year but you still have
to come back here to get to your roots”
see full article here: 1,
|Zosia's Restaurant has
been also mentioned in a poem, Philip Levine's "Naming," from his collection
15, 1979. Zosia's reopens at 2990 Yemans.
says in the interview
that she closed the restaurant shortly after her husband's death.
Zosia is hired by the Polish Village Restaurant, Hamtramck.
Ignacy Legowski died in 1981, and in that year Zosia's name
doesn't appear on the list of tenants.
She closed the
restaurant in 1981.
Legowska taken in September in the garden of her home in Warren,
June 26. Zosia dies in Warren, Michigan. Obituary
from the Polish Weekly.