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A Special Christmas Present

Two years ago, in October 2012, I visited my grandmother. In the middle of a casual conversation about how life was going, the weather, etc. She told me:

— I want to show you something.

She went in her bedroom and brought back a damaged photography of my grandfather dressed as a soldier. She was very concerned and I think it’s the only time I’ve seen her in such an emotional mood (she is 94):

— Look. Look how handsome he was. He was a good man. A very good man…

Please meet Adalbert Pakosz.

Damaged Photography

He was born in Poland on March 23, 1914 just before World War I and arrived in France in 1920. He then had been having difficulties in obtaining the French citizenship from 1933 to 1937. He used to say:

— And then, I’ve been brutalized French.

The reason for his naturalization was obviously conscription. He got drafted far away from home and back then you didn’t get to be on leave and rest with your family.

Fast forward to 1939.

There’s a French tradition called “Persan”: 100 days before the end of military service, you got to party. That day instead, France entered World War II.

In 1940, after he fought in Lamballe, Normandy, he was taken prisoner and sent to a German camp until 1945.

So, from 1937 to 1945, he didn’t get to see his family.

When the war ended, he came back home. Out of surprise her sister slammed the door to his face: dead people don’t usually knock at the door…

During the war, the French army made my grandfather change name for “Albert Duverne” so that he doesn’t get to face firing squad (Wehrmacht mass murdered Polish prisoners of war after the Invasion of Poland). That kinda worked as planned but “Adalbert Pakosz” was unknown to the Germans or Red Cross. As such, he’s been reported as missing in action.

That’s the story behind that beautiful photography of my grandfather, taken away from the ones he loved for 8 years, by war.

I asked my grandmother:

— Can I have it?

And I took it back home, decided to get it recovered.

I browsed the internet and found the website of Karine Bres’ shop: Mémoire De Famille. Karine did a very good job at recovering the picture and I can only thoroughly recommend her services. Here are the steps of the recovery:

Recovery - Step 1
Recovery - Step 2
Recovery - Final

That was my 2012 Christmas present to my grandmother. There were tears in her eyes (which I was very afraid of upfront) but I know it was very special to her.

Since then, the picture is exposed in the living room in a beautiful framing and she can look at him every day.