AMCS held a very special birthday last week for Stefan Kulesza, a senior that has been with us for some time as part of our Social Support Groups and our Centre Based Respite program (delivered in agreement with Uniting lifeAssist).
As you will see from the photos, Stefan was clearly the life of the party held at the Pascoe Vale Respite Centre. Born in 1917, Stefan still lives in his own home with his daughter and grandson. He is a very active man and spends a lot of his time socialising within the Polish community. Every week he is participating in two Polish social support groups and also attends the Pascoe Vale Respite Centre.
Whilst the photos will do the majority of the talking, the party was well attended and had all the trimmings with entertainment being provided by some very talented singers.
Representing the AMCS Board at the party was AMCS Board Director Ewa Figiel, who spoke on behalf of the organisation and kindly provided us with some of these photos.
Speaking of his grandfather, David Rae said “I am so extraordinarily proud of my grandfather surviving the horrors of Auschwitz and settling into this country, put simply, my whole family would not be here otherwise. We still discuss how amazed we are we still have him, turning 100 years.”
Stefan Kulesza generously provided us with a short bio about his life which is provided below.
I was born in a village called “Komorowo” of the Ostrow Mazowiecki district where I lived with my parents and three sisters. When I was four years old my father passed away. At the age of seven I went to primary school and at fourteen I started bricklayer apprenticeship.
In 1939 when I was twenty two years old the 2nd World War started from a German attack on Poland. Under German occupation I was taken as a force labourer to Germany where I worked for one year on the farm. Then I escaped and returned home where I was hiding from Germans for a while. In 1940 I started to work again.
Eventually, in 1943 the Gestapo captured me again. I was taken under arrest to “Pawiak” prison in Warsaw. After 3 months they transported me to Auschwitz concentration camp. We had to take our clothes off when we arrived and were given the stripped prisoner uniform. They tattooed the number on my arm. My number was 139078. I was taken to the barracks with about 600 other prisoners inside. The conditions were very bad. After a while a soldier came in asking who is a brick layer. I put my hand up with some other prisoners and was chosen for the work. We started to work immediately. I had a good job and felt better because I had better clothes and warm food.
After the war, for 1 year I was doing a voluntary job as a policemen, then for two years I was in 1st division of the Civil Mixed Watchman’s Service (CMWS) in the occupation zone in Germany. In 1949 I came to Australia as an immigrant with my wife and 2 children on a ship called ANNA SALEN.