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The cross of an unknown soldier


Almost exactly 13 years ago, in March 2007, being a ranger in Napiwoda, I found human remains with military equipment in the forest near Moczysko. Among the items I also found a silver cross that believers wear around their necks. Orthodox cross. The site of the find is a place where on the last day of the battle of Tannenberg, on August 30, 1914, the remains of 3 corps withdrew to Russia through the forests between Nidzica and Zimna Woda, in disarray and mostly on their own.

If you look at the maps of East Prussia before the First World War, then not far south from Nidzica was the border between tsarist Russia and imperial Germany. Polish Kingdom - if it is written there, it is only lowercase. To freedom, to live - to the Russian border - the Kingdom of Poland - this soldier only had a few kilometers left, an hour of walking!

A small Orthodox cross, a soldier's mother, somewhere far from here, hung her son going to war, with the blessing and hope that he would bring his son home. It happened differently. The cross lay here in former East Prussia, on foreign land, for over 90 years.


Description of the meaning of the symbolism contained on this Cross obtained from Museum of the Icon in Supraśl, a branch of the Podlasie Museum in Bialystok:

It is an Orthodox cross, with arms ended with a three-note leaf. It was probably decorated with enamel. Inside is a smaller cross with eight ends, characteristic of Orthodoxy. The lower diagonal bar refers to the scene of the Crucifixion from the Gospel according to St. Łukasz, where two rogues were crucified next to Jesus. One end is raised, it points to the sky, which is the place where the Good Thief goes. The other end points to hell, or the place where the other villain, full of pride, goes.

Letters in Cyrillic, which are on the shoulders in the Polish alphabet, mean: IS (Jesus), XS (Christ), letters at the top CS (King of Glory).

The letters at the bottom are GA (Adam's Tomb or Golgotha). According to apocryphal sources, the first man Adam was buried in this place and Jesus was crucified in this place to redeem his and our sins. The motif under the cross is Adam's skull.

Unfortunately, the lower part of the cross is very blurred and it is difficult to say what else is there. Punches, which are on the back of the cross, can tell which city in Russia he came from. Unfortunately, which place in Russia is difficult to say.

signed by Maciej Ćwiklewski.

Information on the origin of the cross received from Bogusław Perzyk read from the signatures on the reverse:

  1. The object was manufactured in the studio of Wasilij Nikolajewicz Czułkow (WNCz)
  2. The manufacturer was registered at the Assay Office of the Kostroma Governorate.
  3. The object was made of silver "84"


Near my find is the village of Zimna Woda. On the edge of this village is one of the many battle cemeteries of this war, where 37 Russian soldiers were buried. Closer to the village, at the stone monument, there is a grave of 7 German soldiers. They all died on August 30, 1914.

The church in Zimna Woda, built among forests, is a good place for this cross - souvenir after young people from 100 years ago - soldiers for whom our forests were home in their last days of life. A cross was solemnly suspended in this church against the background of a carved, enlarged copy of it.

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Wooden buildings and my ancestors

Suszarnia tytoniu w Krasnoborkach. Rok 2005.

In my computer I collected some photos about wooden construction in Sztabin and the area that I once took just not to forget my hometown. My grandfather Antoni was a carpenter, a bit of a sawmill worker. He built houses, roof trusses, he was building, as Fr. bishop Tadeusz Zawistowski, a roof truss in the churches in Kobyliny and Sokoły and others. After World War I he was renovating the roof of the Sztabin church. He supposedly specialized in the construction of a tobacco dryers. There was a drying room in the farmyard of Sobotko, which is now slightly rebuilt to a smaller size, stands on the Siebiedziński property on Rybacka Street. It is not excluded that the great dryer from Krasnoborki is the work of my grandfather. The two brothers of grandpa Antoni who remained in the USA were also carpenters.

Antoni was self-taught, but in 1907 he was on a drawing course in Warsaw.

More information about Antoni and the whole Sobotko family is in my book entitled "We from Sztabin". I encourage you to read it.

As a supplement, I share photos of wooden construction from our sides. In the first photo, the wooden cross from Krasnoborki no longer exists, author unknown.

The next photo shows the carpentry knot in the attic of the Sobotko house in Sztabin, dating back to around 1915.

Na następnych dwóch zdjęciach widać wspomnianą suszarnię tytoniu w Krasnoborkach. Zdjęcia pochodzą sprzed 15 lat i nie wiem, czy suszarnia stoi tam, gdzie stała po dziś dzień.

The old photo immortalizes the already mentioned Sobotko house from around 1915. All the buildings were wooden, the fence and the gate as well. The whole probably built grandpa Antoni. At present the house is insulated and covered with siding.

The next photo is the former home of the Zdanowicz family, my grandmother Stefania's family. My guess is that this house may come from around the mid-nineteenth century. It looks like a skeletal structure, filled with wooden slats and clay, maybe mixed with lime. This house is still standing next to the Sobotko house. It was renovated, timbered many times, etc. This house was bought by Michał Łazarski, a member of parliament of the Second Polish Republic. This property borders directly with the Sobotko farm.

The last photos were taken in the village of Ewy: the house of my grandfather Szyc, a wooden cross from 1914 and a cellar.

In our area you can still find many examples of old wooden buildings. I encourage you to wander and photograph these often very rare buildings.