- Title: Polish nurse, 97, recalls training for a war that terrified her
- Date: 27th August 2019
- Summary: VARIOUS OF KIALKA LOOKING AT PICTURE OF FEMALE PARTICIPANTS OF PWK TRAINING IN ISTEBNA IN SOUTHERN POLAND
- Embargoed: 10th September 2019 14:48
- Keywords: combat survival preparation Polish Home Army summer camp war survivor
- Location: WROCLAW AND GARCZYN, POLAND
- City: WROCLAW AND GARCZYN, POLAND
- Country: Poland
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA006ATZULO9
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Wanda Kialka was 17 when a friend suggested she join a military training camp for women outside Vilnius, then a part of Poland, as a way of preparing for something both hoped would never come - another war.
The girls' summer of 1939 was spent playing war games, learning how to shoot, how to treat basic wounds, and feeling useful. Few suspected war was imminent.
Kialka had grown up hearing stories from her school teachers about their struggles during World War One. Moved and inspired by their bravery she decided to train for a potential conflict.
On September 1, 1939, the German army attacked Poland, starting the largest world war in history and pushing Kialka, later a nurse and liaison officer, unexpectedly into action.
Kialka was part of an organisation called Female Military Training (PWK), designed to train thousands of women to provide support services to the army.
Set up by women who had served during World War One and who wanted to remain active in the army, PWK had almost 45,000 members. Few were ready for another major war to begin.
Weeks after Nazi Germany attacked Poland's western border, the Soviets attacked Vilnius as part of an assault from the east on the country. After Germany and the Soviet Union later declared war on each other, the Germans captured Vilnius.
As Poland prepares to mark the 80th anniversary of the start of the war, Kialka, now living in Wroclaw in Poland's west, said her memories of the fighting and of the injured she treated are still fresh in her mind.
The legacy of the training camps that Kialka attended continues. Many still operate today as summer camps, incorporating elements from their predecessors, such as shooting lessons and archery classes for their young attendees.
(Production: Piotr Hawalej, Natalia Dobryszycka, Malgorzata Wojtunik, Louisa Naks)
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