The Genealogical History of the Kowalski Extended Family

J. Kowalski, January 24, 2020, revised February 11, 2020

During the year 2019, a number of positives has permitted a more complete knowledge of the Kowalski Extended Family Genealogical History.

First is the improvements in Ancestry.com’s ethnicity estimate based on DNA.  Previously, my ethnicity was ‘100% eastern European which means Slavic.  The new Ancestry ethnicity estimate is that I’m “Eastern Europe and Russia – 62%; Baltics -36%; and, Sweden 2%.  A big change.  The primary Baltics are the old Prussia, which occupied western Poland from the late 18th century until 1918, and Lithuania.  My maternal grandparents are from eastern Poland, and I have not identified any Baltic influence.  My paternal grandparents came from western Poland, and undoubtedly are influenced by the Baltics, and, especially by old Prussia.  Making the reasonable assumption that no Baltic influence is in my maternal grandparents, my father should be considered Prussian.  With this assumption, my father is: Baltics – 72%; Eastern European and Russia – 24%; and, Sweden – 4%.

I have four grand-parents: John Kowalski, Maria Henke, Joseph Sysko, and Bronislawa Lewandoska.  The only information that I have in regards to my Kowalski great-grandfather comes from John Kowalski’s death certificate.  His name sort of looks like Laurentius which is Latin and has been used in Catholic records.  A Polish equivalent is Lorenz and I have used this Polish name.  According to the death certificate, Lorenz was married to Elizabeth Zbiarwony.  Yet, a Polish-born academic doesn’t consider Zbiarwony to to be a correct Polish surname.  The only search for Lorenz that has been ‘successful’ has been on the Poznan project.  This should be good since the Kowalskis come from province of Poznan in Poland.  The report states: Lorenz Kowalski age 28 (born 1817); Anna Elizabeth Fiedler, age 27 (born 1818) were married in Kargowa [Karge/Unruhstadt] in 1845. [located in Zielona Gora county, Lubusz Volvodoship, Poland.  Roughly half way between Berlin and the city of Poznan.]

A great deal of information has been collected, primarily, through DNA matches from Ancestry, com in regard to our Henke ancestors.  I have traced our Henke lineage to our great-great-grandfather, George Henke.  His son, John Henke, our great-grandfather, married Antonina Kolodziejorek (or Kolodziej), our great-grandmother.  John and Antonina had one daughter: Maria.  John Henke’s sister, Rosalia Rosina, married Antonius Tony Radtke and they and their family emigrated from Poland to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.   After John’s death (per Connie MacKinnon, he died in a battle, likely the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871), Antonina married Joseph Dywelski.  They had one child – Constance.  Constance emigrated to New York city, and married Mr. Herbert.  Later, she moved to Massachussets.  One of her children, Connie MacKinnon lived in Truro, Nova Scotia, and Constance Herbert lived in her later years with her.  I visited Connie MacKinnon in 1995,  On that trip, I was able to examine Constance Dywelski’s birth certificate, and, from that, obtain her mother’s name and where Constance was born.  John Henke’s brother, George, had a farm in Kansas which John Kowalski took his entire family from Nanticoke, Pennsylvania to visit circa 1906 when my father was about four years old.

Again, with the help of DNA matches on Ancestry.com, I have gathered a great deal of information in regards to the Sysko family.  It is likely that the  proper spelling is Szyszko.  Sysko, in my opinion, is the Anglo-sized version.  The Sysko family in the U.S. has three branches: the Kowalski Sysko family, the Wilkes-Barre Syskos, and the Chicago Syskos.  Josef Szyszko of the Chicago branch had two sons: Alexander and Boleslaw.  Both Alexander and Boleslaw emigrated to Chicago.  The Wilkes-Barre Syskos are ones that many of us remember.  We spent many good times together.  The three branches are headed by three brothers: John Sysko (Kowalski branch), Josef Szyszko (Chicago branch), and Stanley Sysko (Wilkes-Barre branch).  Their father who is the common ancestor Szyszko is Unknown.  Searches of birth, marriages, and death have been futile.

Nothing is known of Bronislawa Lewandoska, our grandmother.  Again, searches have been futile.

What follows is, primarily a simplified descendant’s reports extracted from Family Tree Maker.

The Kowalski Family.

As I have written in the past, our Kowalski Y-DNA is extremely rare.  The Y-DNA is only passed from father to son, and therefore is a powerful tool for determining paternity.  In my case, I have only one Y-DNA match, a Mr. Belousov who is likely Russian and resides in Saint Petersburg.  And, our common ancestor lived 25 generations ago.  Using 25 years per generation, this means 625 years ago or the year 1395.So, expecting any cousin DNA matches is out of the question.  My post – Who Am I? – The Need to Understand 1st Millennium Slavic History – discusses my research in trying to unravel the whys.  See http://joekowalskiweb.com/wordpress/?cat=6.

We do know that Lorenz Kowalski is one of my paternal great-grandfathers.  We are assuming that Anna Elizabeth Fiedler is his wife.  From Y-DNA, we are aware that our Y-DNA is extremely rare.

My father explained that John Kowalski, my grandfather, had siblings back in Poland, but I have been unable to obtain any information in regards to them.  I suspect that the German invasion of Poland and the genocidal bestiality of the German Wehrmacht has obliterated many Poles in Poznan and destroyed crucial records.

My grandfather, John Kowalski (1857-1906), emigrated to the U.S.in 1882, and we know from the 1900 census that he lived in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania with my grandmother, Maria Henke, and their children: Elizabeth, (1893-1947), Constantine, (1899-1907), Sylvester Constantine, (1902-1968), Edward, (1904-1933), and Joseph (1907-1907).

John Kowalski died in 1906 shortly after the family returned from Kansas where they visited their family.  This likely included George Henke, Maria’s uncle, who farmed in Kansas.  Prior to their Kansas visit, John sold his saloon.  When, John died in 1906, Maria was pregnant with Joseph who died in 1907.  Also, Constantine died in 1907.  I’m sure a difficult time for Maria.

My father, Sylvester C. Kowalski, and his older sister Elizabeth are the only two, to my knowledge, who married and had children. John Kowalski and Maria Henke had the following children:

Elizabeth E Kowalski was born on 24 Sep 1893 in Nanticoke, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. She died on 02 Feb 1947 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She married StanIslaw Janczak, son of Michael Janczak and Rozalia Trojanowska on 20 Nov 1910 in Newport, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. He was born on 27 Oct 1887 in Poland. He died on 16 Apr 1928 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania.   Stanislaw and Elizabeth had the following children: Regina Janczak was born on 13 Nov 1911 in Butler Township, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. She died in Oct 1988. She married Carl Heinrich on 22 Jan 1943 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. He was born on 17 Oct 1906 in 627 Vale Ave., Scranton, Lackawanna Co., Pennsylvania. He died in Dec 1987 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, USA.  Leopold Janczak was born on 15 Oct 1914 in Butler County, Pennsylvania. He died on 16 May 1996 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. He married Modesta Rehm on 04 May 1946 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. She was born about 1920 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. She died (date unknown) in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. He then married Mary Ligocki. She was born on 17 Jun 1916 in Scranton. She died (date unknown) in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania.  Rose Janczak was born on 15 Apr 1917 in Butler County, Pennsylvania. She died on 10 May 1996 in Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. She married John T. Forconi, son of Chester Forconi and Agnes (Forconi) on 14 Sep 1940 in Roaring Brook Township, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. He was born on 15 Oct 1913 in Scranton , Pennsylvania. He died in Oct 1977 in Scranton , Pennsylvania. They were married in St. Stanislaus PNC Church.  Vince and I, inadvertently, were altar boys for the marriage service.  We were the only family members to witness the service.  Mary Janczak was born in 1919 in Pennsylvania, United States.  She died at an unknown young age.

Sylvester Constantine Kowalski was born on 02 Dec 1902 in Nanticoke, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. He died on 24 Nov 1968 in Cherry Hill, Camden, New Jersey. He married Sophie Sysko, daughter of Joseph Sysko and Bronislawa Lewandoska on 07 Mar 1928 in Carbondale, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, USA. She was born on 28 Dec 1907 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. She died in Dec 1980 in Glendora, Gloucester, New Jersey.  In 1930, the family lived in a small house in the rear of 621 Locust Street.  Sylvester C. Kowalski was the head of household. His wife Sophie and his son Sylvester J. lived there. In addition, his mother Maria Henke and his brother Edward lived there.  Sylvester Constantine Kowalski and Sophie Sysko had the following children:  Sylvester J Kowalski was born on 01 Feb 1929 in Brooklyn, New York, New York. He married Pauline Rita Rizzo, daughter of Theodore Rizzo and Vita (Anna) Miraglia on 07 Jun 1952 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She was born on 26 May 1926 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She died on 26 Jan 1986 in Cherry Hill, Camden, New Jersey.  Vincent Kowalski was born on 14 Oct 1930 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. He died on 31 Oct 1987 in Pennsylvania. He married Dolores Kersavage on 29 Jun 1963. She was born on 04 Dec 1933.  John Kowalski was born on 21 Dec 1932 in Pennsylvania. He died on 26 Dec 2006 in Lansdowne, Delaware, Pennsylvania. He married Sally Leahy. She was born on 19 Mar 1933 in Lilly, Cambria, Pennsylvania. She died on 12 Jan 2005 in Lansdowne, Delaware, Pennsylvania.  Ronald Kowalski was born on 27 Aug 1936 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. He married Jeanette L Kennelly on 05 May 1956 in Springfield, Delaware, Pennsylvania. She was born on 03 Aug 1936 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Joseph Kowalski was born on 24 Oct 1941 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. He married Joyce Dare on 07 Jul 1961 in Bellmawr, Camden, New Jersey,. She was born on 20 Sep 1941.

The Henke Family.

In 2020, I was able to more accurately develop the Henke line.  Other researchers developed a good foundation.  These researchers assumed that Rosalia Rosina Henke was the daughter of John Henke, my great-grandfather.  My analysis shows that she is the sister of John Henke.  The following tells us about the Henke family.

My great-great-grandfather, George Henke, was born in 1810 in Prussia.  Until 1871, we had Prussia, but no Germany.

George Henke had four children: George Henke was born on 11 Mar 1836 in Silchov, Pila, Schneidemuhl, Prussia. He died on 19 Oct 1922 in Osborne, Kansas, USA. He married Elizabeth Krall in 1858. She was born in 1835 in Germany. She died on 25 Dec 1877 in Atchison, Atchison, Kansas, USA. He then married Mary Rosalia Greener in 1879. She was born on 30 Jul 1853 in Germany. She died on 19 May 1946 in Washington, Washington, Iowa, USA.  John Henke was born in 1838 in Prussia. He married Antonina Kolodziejorek (Kojodziej in some records) in 1865 in Rogozno, Obernicki, Poznan, Poland. She was born in 1844 in Poznan, Wielkopolskie, Poland. Our cousin, Connie MacKinnon of Truro, Nova Scotion whose mother, Constance Dywelski, our Henke grandmother’s younger half- sister, told me that John Henke died in battle.  The likely battle was the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian war.  Anton Henke was born about 1840 in Prussia.  Rosalia Rosina Henke was born on 10 May 1846 in Rogozno, Obernicki, Poznan, Poland. She died on 04 Feb 1934 in Michigan. She married Antonius Tony Radtke in 1868 in Rogozno, Obernicki, Poznan, Poland. He was born about 1841 in Rogozno Obernicki, Poznan, Poland. He died before 1900 in Filer Township, Manistee, Michigan.

George Henke was a farmer in Kansas.  He had seven children with Elizabeth Krall, and four children with Mary Rosalia Greener.  John Henke and Antonina Kolodziejorek had, to my knowledge, one child, Maria Henke, my grandmother.

Antonina Kolodzjeorek’s first cousin, Vincent Kolodziejczak, in 1900 lived in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania about 1 and 1/2 miles from where John Kowalski and Maria Henke lived.  Vincent Kolodziejczak had ten children.

The Szyszko/Sysko Extended Family.

With the help of DNA matches on Ancestry.com, I have gathered a great deal of information in regards to the Sysko family.  These DNA matches allowed me to come into communication with our Chicago and Michigan cousins.  Without their help, my results would have been meager.  And, especially with the story of Anthony Sysko, which I will discuss later.  The help of my Michigan cousin is invaluable.  For anyone interested in the Sysko family as a whole, one needs to consult their family trees.  They are located on the Ancestry.com website, and can be accessed with a membership with Ancestry.com.  First, there is the Roth Family Tree which is managed by Phil Roth.  The second is Guzorek Prezwoznik Sysko Skowronski Family Tree managed by GotToSmile.  Both are invaluable.

The Sysko family in the U.S. has three branches: the Kowalski Sysko family, The Wilkes-Barre Syskos, and the Chicago Syskos.  Josef Szyszko of the Chicago branch had two sons: Alexander and Boleslaw both of whom emigrated to Chicago, Illinois.  The Wilkes-Barre Syskos are ones that many of us remember.  We spent many good times together.  Sophie and Ziggie Sysko along with their mother attended my graduation in 1951 from Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University).  The three branches are headed by three brothers: John Sysko (Kowalski branch), Josef Szyszko (Chicago branch), and Stanley Sysko (Wilkes-Barre branch).  Their father who is the common ancestor Szyszko is Unknown.  Searches of birth, marriages, and death have been futile.

Ancestry.com provides DNA matches and the amount of shared DNA. Also, the Szyszko/Sysko surname is in the Roth FT, Guzorek Prezwoznik Sysko Skowronski FT, and John Kowalski FT.  As the table below shows, Phil Roth is my 3rd cousin once removed, while GotToSmile and I are 3rd cousins.  The probabilities based on the amount of shared DNA support the table’s conclusions.

 

Roth Joekowalski9898 GotToSmile
3C1R Phil Roth 3C1R
3C Private Grocki about 1929 Sylvester J Kowalski 1929 GotToSmile 3C
2C Agnes L. Syska 1909 Sophie Sysko 1907 Jeannette Sysko 1923 2C
1C Alexander Syska 1885 Joseph Sysko 1885 Boleslaw Sysko 1893 1C
Sibling Josef Szyszko about 1860 John Sysko about 1860 Josef Szysko about 1860 Sibling
Common Szyszko Ancestor Common Szyszko Ancestor Common Szyszko Ancestor

 

The specifics are as follows:

Josef Szyszko was born about 1860 in Bialystok, Poland. He died in 1934. He married Konstancja Dziewiatkowski. She was born in Knyszyn, Podlaskie, Poland.  They had the following children:

Boleslaw Sysko was born on 16 Nov 1893 in Dlugoleka, Gmina Krypno, Monki County, Podlaskie Volvodeship. He died on 22 Jan 1974 in Eau Claire, Berrien, Michigan, USA. He married Anna Skowronska on 10 Oct 1917 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA. She was born on 10 May 1896 in Hula, Wielkopolkie. She died on 01 Aug 1952 in Rural Pipestone Twp, Berrien, Michigan, USA.  They had the following children: Jeannette Sysko, 1923-2006; “Babt” Sisko, 1918-1918; Stanislaw Siska, 1919-1920; Helene Sysko, 1921-2007; Henry C. Sysko, 1926-2016; and,Casimir Sysko, 1928-2012.

Alexander Syska was born on 06 Nov 1885 in Knyszyn, Podlaskie, Poland. He died on 18 Dec 1964 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA. He married Lottie (Wladislawa) Stachurski, daughter of Adam Stachurski and Rosalii Markowski on 17 Sep 1907 in Chicago, Illinois. She was born on 29 May 1886 in Lesniki Tykocin Parish,Poland. She died on 29 Aug 1960 in Chicago Il.  They had the following children: Agnes L. Syska, 1909-1977; Joseph S. Syska; and, Harriet M. Syska, 1913-2002.

Josef Szyszko and Konstancja Dziewiatkowski had five additional children:  Jadwiga Szyszko was born in Długołęka, Gmina Krypno, Mońki County, Podlaskie Voivodeship. She died in 1934; Jan Szyszko; Ludwiga Szyszko; and  Paulina Szyszko.

John Sysko was born about 1860 in Bialystok, Podlaskie, Poland. He married Amiela. Sysko. John Sysko and Amiela Sysko had the following children:

Joseph Sysko was born in 1885 in Bialystok, Podlaskie, Poland. He died on 25 Feb 1914 in Greenwood Cemetery, Greenwood Avenue, Moosic, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, USA. He married Bronislawa Lewandoska, daughter of Pan Lewandoski and Pani Lewandoska in 1906 in Moosic, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, USA. She was born on 22 Mar 1889 in Bialystok, Podlaskie, Poland. She died on 07 Jan 1961 in Moosic Borough, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.  They had the following children: Sophie (1907-1980), Anna (1910-1985),Joseph (1912-1998), and, Jean (1913-1995).

Stanley Sysko was born about 1865 in Russia, Poland. He died on 26 Apr 1928 in Wilkes- Stanley Sysko and Sophia Bernacki had the following child:

John Sysko was born about 1892 in Bialystok, Podlaskie, Poland.  He married Sophia Sysko on 04 Feb 1912 in Luzerne, Pennsylvania, USA. She was born on 12 Mar 1894 in Poland. She died on 05 Oct 1977 in Kearny, Hudson, New Jersey, USA.  They had the following children: Sophie (1913-1986), Zigmund (1920-2001), Edmund (1924-1980), and, Edwin (1927-1991).

John and Amiela Sysko had the following additional children: Katarzyna, Emilja, and, Aleksandra.

The Lewandoski Family (This section was added in the February 11, 2020 revision.)

A more thorough review of my DNA match with C.K., managed by sharonblattnerheld, showed that the proper way to analyze the family connection is via CAROL ROMAN.  While C.K. and I share 129 cM of DNA, C.K. and CAROL ROMAN share 318cM of DNA.  With this approach and using the probabilities of the quantity of shared DNA, CAROL ROMAN and C.K. are 2ndcousins, once removed.  Carol Roman’s mother, Eleanor Kosciuk, and C.K. are 2nd cousins.  Bronislawa Lewandoska and Regina Cybulski are 1st cousins.  Bronislawa Lewandoska mother, Pani (Ciesielska) Lewandoska and Joseph Cybulski are siblings, and Jan Cybulski is their father.Antoni Szyszko Story

The Antoni Szyszko Story.

For at least twenty years, I have been aware of “Tony” Sysko.  The 1910 U.S. Census lists him as living with my grandfather, Joseph Sysko, at 3352 Greenwood Avenue in Minooka, Scranton, Pennsylvania. The census states that he was born about 1885 in Russia, migrated to the U.S. in 1905, and was a coal miner.  No more was known about “Tony” Sysko until in 2019, our Sysko cousin from Michigan, unearthed on her Michigan farm two letters written in Polish, dated in the year 1937, and addressed to the sender’s uncle who turned out to be Boleslaw Sysko.  Anthony Sysko’s letter was sent from Greenwood Avenue in Minooka appealing to his uncle for help because in the Scranton area there was no work.  He stated that his father was Anthony Sysko who had two brothers, Alexander and Joseph, and that his grandfather is John Sysko.  Joseph Sysko is my grandfather in whose home in 1910 Anthony’s father, “Tony” Sysko resided.  My grandfather’s death certificate states that his father is John Sysko which corroborates the information in Anthony’s letter.  The second letter was written by my aunt, Jean (Sysko) Bohenek just prior to Christmas introducing herself and the Sysko family in Minooka and to wish her uncle a Merry Christmas.  Both letters were written in Polish, and both had the same penmanship.  Both were written by Jean (Bohenek) Sysko.  But, the big question remained:  What happened to Anthony Szyszko when he left Minooka.

The next piece of the jigsaw puzzle also happened in 2019 shortly after the two letters surfaced.  An Ancestry.com DNA match showed up: irene6461 and showing that she and I were 2nd cousins and likely related via the Sysko line.  To further complicate the matter, irene6461 and I share a match with CAROL ROMAN who is my half 1st cousin.  After my grandfather Joseph Sysko died in 1914 as a result of a mine explosion, my grandmother, Bronislawa Lewandoska, married John Kosciuk.  Carol Roman is John Kosciuk’s grand-daughter.  So, in some manner, the Kosciuk line is involved with Antoni Szyszko line.  At about this time, I found a 1920 U.S. Census listing for Antoni Szyszko which had the following information.  Antoni Szyszko, head of household lived at 3 Main Street in Minooka with his wife Katie.  He was born about 1891, and immigrated from Poland in 1908.  Anthony was a coal miner, and he and Katie had three children: Anthony, 5 years old, Charles 2 and 1/2 years old, and Mary an infant.

After seeing irene6461’s DNA match, I communicated with her with what I knew, or thought I knew, via the Ancestry.com message system.   What follows is a synthesis of information from the Antoni Szyszko family, the Boleslaw Sysko family, the Alexander Sysko family, and what I knew and experienced.

Some time after the 1920 U.S, Census was taken in Minooka, Antoni Szyszko, along with his family left the United States, returned to Poland, and resided in the village of Dlugoleka in the province of Bialystok.  Alexander Szyszko, who never left Poland was a farmer, and had three children: Katarzyna, Albia, and Antoni.  Antoni Szyszko’s wife’s maiden name is Kazimiera Kosciuk, and is the sister of my grandmother’s second husband John Kosciuk.  Kazimiera’s and John’s parents are Stanislaw Kosciuk and Aniela Osieckie.  She was born in Bajki.  They had the following children: daughters Kazia and Maria, and three sons, Jan (my grandmother Bronislawa’s second husband), Jozef, and Czeslaw.  Mary Kosciuk married Edward Gutowski, and they lived on Loomis Avenue in Taylor, Pennsylvania.  In 1938, our family lived directly across the street from the Gutowskis.  The 1930 U.S. Census report shows that Amiela lived with her daughter Mary on Loomis Avenue in Taylor, Pennsylvania.  Later she lived with my grandmother, Bronislawa on Greenwood Avenue in Minooka.  Amiela was a quiet woman short in stature and quite slim.  She spent her time weaving throw rugs from rags on her loom in the basement.  Our family had one of her “rag” rugs.  About 1940, Amelia moved back to Mary’s home on Loomis Avenue and died there in 1943.

Antoni Szyszko and Kazimiera Kosciuk had four children: Anthony, Cazimir, and, Mary all born in Minooka, and Monika born in Poland.

As detailed above, Anthony returned to Minooka in 1937, and then relocated to Chicago.  Casimir followed him to Chicago in 1939.

I frequently state that every family has a story to tell, and that it is very important to each of us.  We are the result of our ancestors.  Can we really know who we are if we don’t know something about our ancestors?  I believed until recently that I was 100% Slavic and Polish.  New DNA information informs that I am 62% Eastern Europe and Russia, 36% Baltic (Prussian) and 2% Sweden.  The Prussian part comes from my father.  Ethnically, my father was Prussian.  But, he was not the stereotypical Prussian.  He was a “real” man – bright, respectful of others, a radical for social justice, kind, and considerate.  He certainly had the opposite characteristics of the stereotypical Prussian.  He is my hero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My post – Who Am I? – The Need to Understand 1st Millennium Slavic History – discusses my research in trying to unravel the whys.  See http://joekowalskiweb.com/wordpress/?cat=6.

 

With Anna Elizabeth Fiedler as one of my two paternal great-grandmothers, and John Henke, one of my two great-grandfathers, I can now account for 50% of my Baltics DNA.  The remaining 22% could be accounted for by assuming that Lorenz Kowalski’s mother was Prussian, and, that Antonina Kolodziej’s mother, likewise, is Prussian

 

The Kowalski Family.

 

The

 

 

Continuing with George Henke, the son.  He died on 19 Oct 1922 in Osborne, Kansas, USA. He married Elizabeth Krall in 1858 in Prussia. She was born in 1835 in Prussia. She died on 25 Dec 1877 in Atchison, Atchison, Kansas, USA. He then married Mary Rosalia Greener in 1879. She was born on 30 Jul 1853 in Germany. She died on 19 May 1946 in Washington, Washington, Iowa, USA.

JOHN HENKE was born in 1838 in Germany. He married Antonina Kolodziejorek in 1865 in Rogozno, Obernicki, Poznan, Poland. She was born in 1844 in Poznan, Wielkopolskie, Poland.

ANTON HENKE was born about 1840 in Germany.

ROSALIA ROSINA HENKE was born on 10 May 1846 in Rogosen, Posen. She died on 04 Feb 1934 in Michigan. She married Antonius Tony Radtke in 1868 in Rogasen, Posen. He was born about 1841 in Rogasen, Posen. He died before 1900 in Filer Township, Manistee, Michigan.

 

The Kowalski Story: An Oral History and My Memories of the Great Depression

This is a narrative of a particular Kowalski family; one that started with the 1882 emigration of first John Kowalski and then in 1884, his wife-to-be Marya from Prussian occupied Poland to Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.  This is also the narrative of my consciousness from my birth in 1929 until 1942 when the Kowalski family emigrated from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia.

John Kowalski was born about 1860 in the province of Posen (Poznan), Poland.  His wife, Marya Henke was born in the same province about 1867. At that time, and until 1918, there was no Poland.  Poland was partitioned since the late 1700’s by Russia, Austria and Prussia.  Posen (Poznan) was in the Prussian area.

John and Marya married about 1889 in Nanticoke, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.  According to the 1900 census, they lived at 24 Slope Street in Nanticoke.  They had five children: Elizabeth, the oldest, born in 1893;

Constantine born in 1899; Sylvester, my father, born in 1902; Edward, born about 1904: and Joseph, born in 1907 (6 months after his father’s death).  Elizabeth likely married Stanley Janczak in 1910, and they had three children: Regina – born in 1911; Leopold – born in 1914; and Rose – born in 1917.  Sylvester married Sophia Sysko in 1928, and had five children: Sylvester – born in 1929; Vincent – born in 1930; John – born in 1932; Ronald – born in 1936; and, Joseph – born in 1941.

Regina Janczak married Carl Heinrich in 1943.  Both were living in Scranton.  Rose married John Forconi somewhere between 1940 an1942.  The most probable date is 1940.  Leo married Modesta Goltz in 1946.

The Janczak family, from the time of my earliest consciousness, lived on Cedar Avenue near Brooks Street in Scranton which was quite close to where we initially lived on East Locust Street.

Sylvester Kowalski married Rita Rizzo in 1952; Vincent married Dolores Kersavage in 1963; John married Sally Leahey;  Ronald married Jeanette Kennelly in 1956; and Joseph married Joyce Dare in 1961.

Most of what I would consider facts about the Kowalski’s is what I absorbed over the years from my father, who was an excellent conversationalist.  A little comes from my memory.  Most of what is in this story about the Sysko/Kosciuk family is what I and Brother Ronald learned from our cousin, Theresa Bohenek.  She is an encyclopedia of knowledge in regards to my mother’s side of the family.  Brother Ronald’s research and talking to the Janczak family provides insight on this important part of the family. But, a great deal of what is in this story is what the environment hammered into my consciousness.  A number of blows made up this environment.  The death of my paternal grandmother was, even though I was quite young, very difficult for me.  I bonded to her, and there was nothing to take her place after her death. Her death was extremely difficult for my father, and he needed a number of years to make peace with her death. After my grandmother’s death, my father was my guardian angel.  The period of my father’s involvement with the United Anthracite Miner’s of Pennsylvania (UAMP) was stressful.  The meetings of my father’s local took place in our home.  I overheard the violent and dangerous nature of the various strike actions. Later, after UAMP was disbanded, my father had neither employment nor income; he was black-balled from working in the coal industry.  I was well aware of all this.  When he was able to join the Works Project Administration, I was aware of its importance. Some money would be available for food. I can still remember his obtaining rubber boots with felt liners so that he could work outside in the extremely cold winters of that period.  In 1937, when he was able to get a job as a miner in Taylor, Pennsylvania, the only thing that could be said was that he had private rather than governmental employment, but we were still in poverty.  He was twice in mine cave-ins, and, in the second one, was covered with rock and coal for two hours.  Only later, after his employment with Manor Farms as a mechanic, was a reasonable stability reached.  During this entire period, the country, and especially, Scranton, was in a vicious depression.  We, who were born during this period and which is called The Fourth Turning (see The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecyby William Strauss and Neil Howe) were called the Silent Generation.  The authors suggest that a Fourth Turningis analogous to winter.  Fourth Turning’s are periods of revolution, and in the 1930s, the country had a far-reaching revolution: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal.  We had destitution, homelessness, hunger, and little hope.  We had Wall Street thieves stealing from everyone – from the rich to the poor.  We had large corporations who controlled the country.  FDR and the New Deal was indeed a revolution.

 As we currently are experiencing in the United States, and globally, the 1920s economy was dependent on the increasing amount of debt.  As Carroll Quigley states in his Tragedy and Hope:

“The stock market crash [the 1929 stockmarket crash] reduced the volume of foreign lending from the United States to Europe, and these two events together tore away the façade which until then had concealed the fundamental maladjustments between production and consumption, between debts and ability to pay, between creditors and willingness to receive goods, between the theories of 1914 and the practices of 1928.  Not only were these maladjustments revealed but they began to be readjusted with a severity of degree and speed made all the worse by the fact that the adjustments had been so long delayed.  Production began to fall to the level of consumption, creating idle men, idle factories, idle money, and idle resources.  Debtors were called to account and found deficient.  Creditors who had refused repayment now sought it, but in vain.  All values of real wealth shrank drastically.”

“It was this shrinkage of values which carried the economic crisis into the stage of financial and banking crisis and beyond these to the stage of political crisis.”

Another insight of the Great Depression is The Great Depression: An International Disaster of Perverse Economic Policiesby Thomas E. Hall and J. David Ferguson gives a sense of that era.

“The Great Depression in the United States occurred from 1929 to 1941.  The worst of it was during the first three and a half years when virtually every single indicator of economic prosperity reflected the disaster.  The falling levels of economic output resulted in widespread human misery, the extent of which is measured by the rising level of unemployment, increased poverty, and high rates of default on debt by both firms and households.  The Depression was so severe that the human perspective and drama of events cannot truly be shown through these numbers.  It led to huge changes in our social fabric.  Large migrations of people occurred from the dust bowl areas of mid-America to more prosperous places like California, and from the rural south to the industrial north.  There were food riots, violent labor strikes, and widespread discontent that made many fearful that the socialist or communist political parties might enjoy great gains in popularity or even rise to power.  Some might say that such a revolution indeed happened – through Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal.”

Poverty exploded. With no jobs available, many became hoboes and roamed across the country.  The homeless population exploded.  Hunger and malnourishment was very prevalent.  We must keep in mind that in the early 1930s, the country had no safety nets: no food stamps; no unemployment compensation; no welfare to speak of; and, no retirement pay.  The elderly were a sorry lot.  In Scranton, many had serious occupational diseases from working in the coal mines, and therefore, unable to work.  Their children were also living a meager existence, and the elderly were continuously shuttled to live with different family members.  The Socialists and Communists found many individuals who were susceptible to theithat Carlr message.  A fear arose that the country would go “red.”  Workers were being ruthlessly exploited, and, in defense, joined labor unions and fought the enterprise owners.  Frequently, these labor activities were quite bloody.  The 1932 election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his subsequent New Deal was a major revolution.  He saved the country from revolution and civil strife, and also saved capitalism from its own aberrant behavior.  Roosevelt had weekly radio “fireside chats” with the people, and, through that medium, gave them hope that they would soon live in a better social environment.  He succeeded. While the latter 1930s were not prosperous, the people had reasonable lives.  I lived in this environment until I was thirteen years of age.

In 2019, examining “hints” to my Ancestry.com family tree, I learned of the plight of the Heinrich family.  Carl Heinrich was Regina Janczak’s steady boy-friend during the late 1930s.  They married in 1943.  The 1940 U.S. census shows that Carl, his mother and father, and his younger sister were living with Carl’s married sister.  The report further showed that Carl was unemployed for the entire year of 1939.  Carl later enlisted in the U.S. army, and he and Regina could get married.  This vivid example shows that, in spite of the improving national economy in 1940, the improvement did not reach Scranton.  In the Heinrich’s case, Carl’s brother-in-law was supporting the entire Heinrich family.

In 1942, when we permanently left Scranton, I knew that I was being reborn, that the darkness was being left behind, and that all of us Kowalski’s would enter a better life.  And, so it was!  But first, we had to live through the Great Depression.

 John and Marya lived in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania where all of the children were born, and where John died on October 24, 1906.  Marya later remarried to Stawni, and, relocated to Scranton, Pennsylvania about 1917 (date of move unknown, but this date is reasonable) where Sylvester, Sr. completed two years of high school education. After marriage, Stanley and Elizabeth lived in Butler Township, probably the Butler Township located in Luzerne County.  This was the southwestern part of the anthracite coal region, and Stanley likely was a coal miner.

From what our father told me, John had at least several brothers back in Poland.  One of brothers was in the Kaiser’s army.  Another was a classical musician. John was the owner of a saloon in Nanticoke.  In the early 1910s, John sold the saloon and took the family west by train to visit relatives in Kansas.  They likely visited my father’s great-uncle George Henke who was a farmer in Kansas. My father told me that his uncle wanted him to stay and live with him on the farm.  Shortly after they returned to Nanticoke, John died leaving Marya a widow with four children.  She was pregnant with Joseph.

The best information that we have regarding Marya’s Polish background is through her sister’s Constance’s birth certificate.  In 1995, as part of a trip to Nova Scotia, I was able to visit Constance’s daughter, Connie MacKinnon of Truro, Nova Scotia who shared with me the information on her mother’s birth certificate.  From this document we know the following:  Constance’s father’s name was Joseph Dywelski and her mother was Antonina Kolodziej.  She was born January 1, 1889 in the city of Rogozno, the District of Obernicki, in the Province of Poznan, of the Republic of Poland.  Marya Kowalska’s maiden name was Henke.  This suggests that Marya and Constance might be half-sisters.  Marya’s second husband’s name was Stawni.  My father, Sylvester Kowalski, related that his mother’s sister, Constance, was secretary to Eugene Debs during World War I. Debs was an American Socialist leader, pacifist, labor organizer and Socialist candidate for US president five times.  During World War I, Debs was sentenced to ten years in jail for his pacifist beliefs.

Sylvester married Sophie Sysko in March of 1928.  In 1929, the year that I was born, my parents lived in Brooklyn, and my father worked for a Westinghouse lamp plant located in Brooklyn.  Since I have a Brooklyn birth certificate, this is where I was born. Shortly after I was born, I developed rickets, and, for health reasons, was sent to live in Scranton with my paternal grandmother while my parents remained in Brooklyn.  To the best of my knowledge, my mother came to live with my paternal grandmother when she was expecting Vincent.  While I was young, I can remember some scenes of when Vincent was an infant.  We lived on Locust Street between Prospect and Webster Avenues.  Everything was placid until my grandmother passed away about 1932 when I was three years old.  Obviously my father immediately came back to Scranton.  My father asked a co-worker to advise his boss that he would return as soon as possible after his mother’s funeral.  Whatever happened, when my father returned to Brooklyn, he was told that he no longer had a job.  He returned to Scranton and again became an anthracite coal miner.  When he and Mom married in 1928, his occupation was listed as “Miner”; therefore, again becoming a miner was perfectly natural. Our placid life ended.

After my father resumed coal mining, he became president of his United Mine Worker’s local.  My father, humanitarian that he was, entered the fight against John L. Lewis, the president of the United Mine Workers (UMW), and the mine owners because of labor exploitation and John L. Lewis not respecting the union’s negotiating committee’s remedy when he signed a new contract between the UMW and the mine owners.   In 1933, John Maloney, a forceful and idealistic insurgent, was thrown out of the UMW, and shortly thereafter formed the United Anthracite Miners of Pennsylvania (UAMP).  The movement grew, and my father, with his members approval, changed his local’s allegiance from the UMW to the new UAMP.  The result was that the entire anthracite coal region experienced violent and widespread strikes.  Slowly, a number of mine owner’s signed contracts with the UAMP.  My father’s local was one of them.  In October of 1935, Judge W.A. Valentine ruled that the UAMP was not entitled to the union dues amassed as dues coupons.  This effectively bankrupted the UAMP, and led to its demise.  As Monroe Douglas Keith states in his dissertation A Decade of Turmoil: John L. Lewis and the Anthracite Miners 1929-1936: states:

“Lewis’ UMW, with the heavy-handed support of the federal government, and local police and court system, had finally destroyed the UAMP, and in private, Lewis and Gorman were jubilant in victory.”

And, further:

“The question which remains is not whether the cards were stacked against Maloney and his mine workers.  They clearly were and under the conditions which were imposed on the new union, it was destined to fail.  More important, however, is whether the UAMP’s failure wasgood or bad, and whether it had any impact in its brief life.  In retrospect, the first question is fairly easy to deal with.  Maloney was an idealist and in many respects a true radical, a man who was captivated by a strong sense of right and wrong.  He was convinced that the UMW was corrupt, inefficient and lacking in the ideas needed to better the conditions of the anthracite workers.  In this regard, he cannot be faulted.”

Even after the UAMP was destroyed, the viciousness did not stop.

“Maloney, his son Thomas. Jr., and Hanover Township School Director Michael Gallagher were all killed when packages sent to Maloney and Gallagher exploded on Good Friday, 1936.” My father, as previously mentioned, was “black-balled” from working as a miner, and, because the Great Depression was raging and jobs in Scranton were non-existent, the family sunk into deep poverty: A sobering experience.  Needless to say, we lived in poverty.

I remember three pleasant activities from that period after the demise of UAMP.  My father bought a 1928 Dodge sedan for $16.  It was previously owned by his barber who purchased it for his two sons to drive.  It was inoperable, and thus the low price.  Pop found that the timing chain was broken, and replaced it.  Pop didn’t have enough money to pay for the license fee, and he operated the Dodge illegally, and, always, on the un-policed dirt roads. There was ritual, and both Vince and I participated.  I would go to the Richfield gas station at Locust street and Prospect avenue, and purchased enough gas which would fill two one-gallon jugs.  Pop would drive toward East Mountain and get on the back roads which were in the general area of the Laurel Line intercity rail train. We would enter Minooka on the road adjacent to St. Stanislaus cemetery and after skirting all of the cemeteries and more dirt roads, we would get to Grandma Kosciuk’s home in Greenwood.  Pop always turned the engine off when driving downhill in order to conserve gasoline.  On those back roads, we saw stark Appalachia poverty. On those back roads were a few coal mines, and the few area residents lived in poorly constructed and poorly maintained sun-bleached wood houses.  The children were all without shoes.

Another pleasant activity was to take a Sunday trolley excursion to Greenwood, and spend a pleasant Sunday with the Sysko/Kosciuk family.  Grandma Kosciuk always fed us well.  A third pleasant diversion was a sleep-over at Ciotka Janczak’s home. Along with treating us well, Ciotka’s house had central heat.  Oh, what luxury!

In 1937, Pop was able to work in the Moffat Coal Company coal mine in Taylor, Pennsylvania on the condition that he would not participate in any way with the union.  Later, in either late 1938 or early in 1939, Pop was able to get a job as the mechanic for Manor Farms, a milk bottler and milk retailer.  From this point, the family’s economic situation became more stable, and the Kowalski family went from poverty to just being poor, as where most people in the Scranton area.

When Pop worked in the Taylor coal mine, we lived on Loomis Avenue in the town of Taylor.  The Scranton-Taylor boundary was a few streets away.  From here, Pop was able to walk to the coal mine.  We continued our schooling and other activities at St. Stanislaus.  Vince and I walked the two miles from Loomis Avenue to St. Stanislaus each day.  The route that we used was about ¾ miles shorter than walking all the way on city streets.  Our short-cut was through the mine and colliery property.  And, we learned a little about coal mining.  The route was next to the mine access, and we would see the low coal cars being pushed into the mine by the small, low electric locomotive. Further, we passed the “breaker” where the coal was crushed and sorted, the coal loaded onto rail cars, and the separated rock carried to the top of a huge culm pile by conveyors.  This was the era of coal-fired steam engines.  After the colliery, we crossed a number of railroad tracks, and walked along the tracks until we reached Luzerne Street.  From this point, we walked on city streets to school.  When we had to go to Stanislaus at night, we used the same route, and for illumination we used lit candles placed inside of discarded tin cans.  We frequently saw the Waszko’s  who also attended St. Stanislaus.  The eldest was in my grade, and she had the same job of looking out for her siblings as I did.  Her father had a truck, and one of his ways to earn a little money was to illegally mine coal at what were called boot-leg mines.  The Waszko’s were very poor.

Vince and I spent most of our spare time exploring the wooded areas of Taylor when we lived there, and towards East Mountain when we lived in Scranton.  These areas had a lot of huckleberry bushes, which we picked, and, in Taylor, bootleg coal mines.  With Pop, Vince and I did go into one of these mines with our miner’s hats and carbide lamps, and mined coal for home.  Separately, Vince and I would screen the tailings from these mines again for home fuel.  When we lived in Scranton, without telling anyone, Vince and I would go “skinny-dipping” on the first warm day in May in a mountain stream.

Starting in the fifth grade, I attended Loomis Elementary School which was located roughly half way between where we lived and where Theresa now lives.  My teacher was Miss Bahler – one of the few teacher’s names that I do remember.  She had tremendous influence on me in getting me to take school seriously.  Our fifth grade was very much Appalachia.  One of my classmates was Cock-Eye.  True to his nickname, he was cross-eyed.  His family had a cow, and his job was each day to take their cow from the barn to the adjacent field and tether it.  The cow would munch on the grass all day, and Cock-Eye would bring it into the barn after school.  Another classmate was from a Russian family who lived diagonally across the street from the Gutowski family.  He was a terror, and acted like his older brother who frequently was AWOL from the army.  This was our education environment, and Miss Baihler wisely placed Francis Kowalski and I (we were not related) into desks in the unoccupied part of the room, and gave us special assignments.  The rest of the class was unruly, and demanded a lot of Miss Baihler’s attention. This was the beginning of my interest in reading and education.

Early in the sixth grade, about October or November of 1939, we moved back to Scranton about a block away from St. Stanislaus.  Until our relocation to Philadelphia, we did not experience the comfort of central heating, a hot water system, or electric refrigeration.  Refrigeration was an ice-box.  Also, when we lived on Loomis Avenue, out toilet was an outhouse. Since, Pop was on call, his company, provided him with a telephone – the first one for us.  A little later, Pop received from Manor Farms, Blue Cross hospitalization.  We were now living like millionaires.  The major Kowalski entertainment was the radio programs: Amos ‘n’ Andy; Buck Rogers; Fibber McGee and Molly; Flash Gordon; Green Hornet; Jack Armstrong – The All American Boy; Lone Ranger; The Jack Benny Show; and, The Shadow.  The branch library was only two blocks from Brooks Street, and Vince and I voraciously read their books – on average, three books per week.  Before we left Scranton, we graduated from the children’s section to the adult.  When we had the 11 cents admission, we would go to the Saturday double-feature matinee.

In Scranton, I attended Public School #8 located on Cedar Avenue nearer to central Scranton.  Scranton’s elementary and junior high schools were first class with first-rate teachers, and my educational aspirations flourished.

During these years, I was fortunate to have several anchors which immensely helped a youngster get through this period.  These were: our church, the Janczak family, and the Sysko/Kosciuk family.

The first was the Polish National Catholic Church, and, in particular, St. Stanislaus in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  It is here in St. Stanislaus that the Polish National Catholic Church was founded in 1897 by The Reverend Franciszek Hodur, a young priest born and educated in Poland. In the Biographical Note of Hodur: A Compilation of Selected Translationsby Theodore L. Zawistowski we find:

“As in many Roman Catholic parishes throughout the United States, a protest movement developed at Sacred Heart [a Scranton parish that Father Hodur was a vicar in 1895 but was subsequently transferred to Nanticoke, Pennsylvania] in 1896, leading to the building of a new church, St. Stanislaus.  Father Hodur accepted the invitation of the dissident parish to become its first pastor in 1897.  The date of his arrival, March 14, has become the traditional date marking the beginning of the Polish National Catholic Church.”

My education through the fourth grade was in St. Stanislaus parish school.  Until we left Scranton, Vince and I were continually active in the church: school; altar-boys; summer camp at the church property in Minooka: Pennsylvania; summer camp at the Spójnia camp located next to Waymart, Pennsylvania; May Day parade from St. Stanislaus to the above mentioned church property in Minooka; and, on and on.  While quite young, Mr. Wysocki, the executive-director of the Polish National Union, first arranged for my tonsillectomy, and, then later, for my first pair of glasses. Joseph Nieminski became a good friend while we lived on Brook Street.  He also participated in the above mentioned church activities. Later, he entered the PNCC seminary, and after ordination was assigned first to the Buffalo parish, and then later, to the Toronto parish. Nieminski was consecrated as bishop in 1968, and became the Bishop of the Canadian Diocese.  While always grateful, the full significance of St. Stanislaus became much clearer much later.  Bishop Hodur passionately worked to bring the Kingdom of God to St. Stanislaus and to the Polish National Catholic church.

When Father Hodur was assigned as pastor of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Parish in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania in 1894, our paternal grandparent’s lived in Nanticoke, and undoubtedly knew him.  Our father always stated that his mother was a charter member of the PNCC

Vince and I, as altar boys, were intimately aware of Bishop Hodur.  We heard many of his Friday evening sermons at Vespers, although since they were in Polish, they were difficult for us to completely understand. Later, when Bishop Hodur was unable to leave the Rectory, Vince and I would participate with Auxiliary Bishop John Misiaszek in a mini-procession from Church to the Rectory and Bishop Hodur with his Holy Communion.  A lot of wonderful memories remain with me.

The second, and equally important, anchor for me were the two extended families that we, the Kowalski’s, were part of: the Janczak family; and, the Sysko/Kosciuk family.

My mother, Sophie, was the oldest of the four Sysko children.  Their parents were Joseph Sysko – born in 1885 in Russia, and Bronislawa Lewandoska – born in 1889 in Bialystok, part of Russian occupied Poland.  They lived on Greenwood Avenue across the street from their Roman Catholic Polish-speaking parish.  Sophie, my mother, was born in 1907; Anna in 1910; Joseph in 1912; and Jean in 1913.  Sophie attended the Moosic Borough public school and completed five grades.  Cousin Theresa was George Bohenek and Jean Sysko’s eldest child.

Joseph Sysko, our grandfather was a coal miner and died at an early age (in the year 1913) as did the typical coal miner of that period.  Our grandmother’s second husband, Joseph Kosciuk, was also a coal miner. He was alive when we were young children, but, he also died at a young age.  Our grandmother’s maiden name is Bronislawa Lewandoska.  Some records indicate that her last name was Lewkoska.  The Kosciuk family consisted of seven children; John, born 1916; Bertha, 1919; Florence; Edmund 1924; Eleanor, 1927; Christine, 1931; and Henry, 1934.

Our grandmother was a kind, gentle woman who had a very strong Catholic faith, and was a survivor. She was born March 22, 1889 in Bialystok, Poland.  Her entire life in Poland was under the extremely harsh Russian occupation rule. Bialystok is in the extreme eastern end of the  1918-1939 Polish-Soviet Union borders.  It is just across the border from Minsk, Belarus.

As a young lady, she participated in the annual pilgrimage to Our Lady of Chestochowa.  The pilgrimage was and still is a walking pilgrimage.  The pilgrims walked together, prayed together, and sang as they walked.  This pilgrimage is still traditional today and typically one would start in the capital Warsaw and walk to Chestochowa, which is slightly west of Krakow.  In our grandmother’s case, she had to walk first from Bialystok to Warsaw and then to Chestochowa.  When the church bells tolled for the evening Angelus, Grandma, regardless of whatever she was doing, knelt and prayed the Angelus.

Her grandchildren loved her.  We were frequently at her house on Sundays.  She always had a feast of fried chicken, her own fresh sausage and plenty of fixins’.  Dessert was her homemade pie, apple or strawberry-rhubarb all from her own yard. When Mom was young, Grandma raised, at times, a cow or a pig.  When we were young she would have chickens and ducks besides having an ample vegetable garden.

One interesting facet was that she insisted on listening each Sunday to Father Coughlin on the radio. Father Coughlin was an extreme reactionary who was rabidly against Roosevelt.  So much so, that he joined forces with the two most powerful Protestant reactionary clerics and tried to prevent Roosevelt from being reelected in 1936.  I also had the opportunity to help her with English so that she could take her citizenship test.  Grandma Kosciuk was a wonderful person.

The Janczak family was the third leg of our support system, and provided the young Kowalski’s with much love and support.  Ciotka, our father’s sister Elizabeth, and her three children, Regina, Rose, and Leo, provided us with sleep-overs, treats, such as, ice cream, and, at times, the only Christmas presents that we received.  My father and Elizabeth were very close.  She lived on Cedar Avenue near Brooks Street.  A number of factories were located across Cedar Avenue from Elizabeth.  There was a button factory, a silk mill, and a casket manufacturer.  Regina and Rose, at times, worked in the first two factories. Later, when my father began working for the Manor Farms, he was able to arrange for Leo to be his assistant, and both traveled to the three Manor Farms business locations: Fleetville was the main office.  Scranton and Wilkes-Barre were distribution locations for dairy products.  During the summer, Vince and I were able, at times, to accompany our father and Leo to the Wilkes-Barre location.

Elizabeth Janczak was a wonderful person, but had a taciturn personality.  She kept her thoughts to herself.   As a result, about the only thing that I knew of the Janczak history was that, at one time, she lived in Glen Lyon which is a community in Luzerne County.  From this, one can assume that since the three Janczak children were born in Butler Township and since Elizabeth spoke of Glen Lyon, a reasonable conclusion is that the three Janczak children were born in Luzerne County.  Likewise, little is known other than the fact that Elizabeth married Stanley Janczak.

In 1941, Pop went to Philadelphia to work for the Baldwin Locomotive Works.  War for the United States was imminent (December 7, 1941-Pearl Harbor) and the defense industry was mobilizing.  Pop was hired by Baldwin to work on their army tank contract.  The Kowalski family moved to Philadelphia in October 1942.

Life for those living and working in the anthracite coal region was harsh and brutal.  The immigration from the anthracite coal regions was similar to the migration of Okies to California and the rural south to the industrial north.  We from the anthracite coal regions were referred to maliciously as coal-crackers. In reality, we were no different than the 19thcentury European immigrants who were seeking a better life in the New World.  The coal-crackers migrated to: Schenectady, New York where General Electric had large industrial facilities; North Jersey which had considerable industrial activity; a few to Connecticut; and, a large number to Philadelphia.  This was a huge social revolution.  Many who came to Philadelphia, such as our family, moved to Bartram Village, a federally constructed residential project which is located at 54thStreet and Elmwood Avenue.  We were a Philadelphia sub-culture.  Those living in Bartram Village were all seeking a better life, and they were good people.  We were very friendly with Frank and Bessie Kersavage.  When in high school, I worked after school at the Whitman chocolate factory with Betty and Peggy Kersavage.  Later, brother Vince married Dolores Kersavage.  Sally Leahy was from Lilly, Pennsylvania, and came to live in Bartram Village with her older sister.  Sally married brother John.  Mike Bobelick and his family came from the Tower City area of Pennsylvania, and we both started Tilden Junior High School on the same day.  Others can add to this list.  All were seeking to escape the 1930s exploitation.

A final thought: When we entered our spanking new Bartram Village apartment having central gas heat, a Servel gas refrigerator, a gas range, and a domestic hot water system, magically the Great Depression stench left me, and I could “smell” the potential for a better life.  And, better it was.  The twenty five years post-World War II period was the most prosperous for ordinary Americans of any period in the country’s history.  Ordinary people went from the depressing 1930s to a new era of hope and accomplishment.  And, so did the Kowalski family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Thoughts on A.J.P. Taylor’s The Origins of the Second World War

Update – April 8, 2019.

In December2013, A.J.P. Taylor’s The Origin of the Second World War appeared as the thesis most likely in regard to the origin of World War II.  Mr. Taylor, a highly regarded historian, and lived through the pre-World War II period.  Today, April 8, 2019, in the Unz Review appeared an article written by John Wear in January 26, 2018.  This article, with many citations, concludes that Franklin D. Roosevelt was the prime cause of World War II.  The major citations are from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs documents captured by German forces in 1939 from the Ministry’s archives before they could have been destroyed.  “The German Foreign Office published the Polish documents on March 29, 1940.”  This German publication was known in the United States, and it is unbelievable that Mr. Taylor did not take the German publication into account when he wrote his book.  While Mr. Wear’s article is historical revisionism, it has a powerful message and cannot be ignored.  Let us wait and watch!

Original article.

24 December2013

A.J.P. Taylor’s The Origins of the Second World War, in my opinion, strongly contrasts with the majority of historians in regards to British culpability in the outbreak of this war.

When it came to Poland (after Czechoslovakia and Austria were occupied by Germany), Hitler’s objective was an alliance with Poland. Joseph Beck, Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, believed that as long as he could keep the Danzig affair in the forefront, he could finesse Hitler’s offer of a German-Polish alliance, and, by so doing, “preserve Polish independence. Amid a great deal of rumors and provocations, Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, drafted assurances (March 30,1939)to the Polish Government:

“If…. any action were taken which clearly threatened their independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly felt obliged to resist with their national forces, His Majesty’s Government and the French Government would at once lend them all the support in their power.”

Taylor continues:

“That afternoon Beck was discussing with the British ambassador how to implement his proposal of a week earlier for a general declaration, when a telegram from London was brought in. The ambassador read out Chamberlain’s assurance. Beck accepted it “between two flicks of the ash of his cigarette”. Two flicks; and British grenadiers would die for Danzig. Two flicks; and the illusory great Poland, created in 1919 [the Versaille treaty], signed her death warrant. The assurance was unconditional: the Poles alone were to judge whether it should be called upon. The British could no longer urge Poland to co-operate with Soviet Russia. Germany and Russia were regarded in the West as two dangerous Powers, dictatorial in their governments , ruthless in their methods. Yet from this moment peace rested on the assumption that Hitler and Stalin would be more sensible and cautious than Chamberlain had been – that Hitler would continue to accept conditions at Danzig which most Englishmen had long regarded as intolerable, and that Stalin would be ready to cooperate on terms of manifest inequality. These assumptions were not likely to be fulfilled.”

“The British had no practical means with which to fulfill their assurance; it was a declaration in words only. Translated into practical terms, it could only be a promise that the French would not go back on their alliance with Poland, as they had done in Czechoslovakia.”

Most Germans had an “indelible grievance against [the] Versailles” treaty regarding the loss of German territory to Poland. While Danzig and a corridor linking East Prussia to Germany was important, Hitler had to do something about the loss of territory. In October 1938, Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister, discussed these aspects with Lipski, the Polish ambassador: “If Danzig and the corridor were settled, there could then be a ‘joint policy towards Russia on the basis of the Anti-Comintern Pact.” When Beck visited Hitler in January 1939, Hitler elaborated, but Beck did not respond. It was common knowledge that Poland aspired the territory of the Soviet Ukraine so that an alliance with Germany aimed toward the Soviet Union was consistent with Germany’s aims.

After the British alliance with Poland was known by others, the policies of France, Italy, Russia and Germany changed: “The Germans planned to dissolve the Anglo-Polish alliance; the Russians to exploit it. The French and the Italians both dreaded its implications for themselves and sought, in vain, a way to escape.” Chamberlain, with his alliance offer to Poland, created a monster.

“Was Polish obstinacy then the only thing which stood between Europe and a peaceful outcome? By no means. Previously Danzig might have been settled without implying any upheaval in international relations. Now it had become the symbol of Polish independence; and, with the Anglo-Polish alliance, of British independence as well. Hitler no longer wished merely to fulfill German national aspirations or to satisfy the inhabitants of Danzig. He aimed to show that he had imposed his will on the British and on the Poles. All parties aimed at a settlement by negotiation, but only after victory in a war of nerves.”

Chamberlain, with his Anglo-Polish alliance, blundered into an eventual war unless Britain and Poland agreed to Hitler’s demands. Negotiation without war was no longer possible. Poland was adamant and would not agree to Hitler’s demands. Germany attacked Poland on September 1, 1939, and this was the first phase of World War II. Britain “sleep-walked” the West into a World War with Germany. This was a war that was won neither by Germany nor the West, but by the Soviet Union. Poland and a good part of Germany were controlled by the Soviet Union after Germany surrendered in 1945.

What should Chamberlain have done in March of 1939? In my opinion, a prudent approach would have been for Britain to disengage from the German-Polish problem once it became clear that Poland had no intention of negotiating with Hitler. Britain should have left the Germans and Poles to resolve their differences between themselves. Further, if the final result was an attack on Poland by Germany, Britain should mobilize itself, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands into a defensive military alliance to protect Western Europe from Germany. By doing this, a German-Polish war might be limited to Central and Eastern Europe. Any expansion would have been because of aggressive German or Soviet Union aspirations. Hitler in 1939 did not feel confident of attacking the Soviet union without help. Neither before September 1, 1939 nor after the German victory over Poland did the Soviet Union show any signs that it wanted to start a war with Germany. After the conclusion of the German-Polish war, Hitler likely would concentrate on the South – Romania, Hungary, and the Balkan countries, and, also the Scandinavian countries.

While history shows that wars are caused by aggressive Hitler-type leaders, history also shows wars are started by blundering, stupid statesmen, such as, Chamberlain.

The Seven Contradictions Facing the United States

Sylvester J. Kowalski. November 3, 2018

The seven contradictions currently facing the U.S.:

  1. The federal debt. When will it implode?
  2. The high fiscal deficit due to the military program, and the belief that this deficit is sustainable. When will it not be sustainable?
  3. The high trade deficit due to the decades long de-industrialization. The trade deficit is being sustained by debt. How long can this go on?
  4. The high stock market capitalization versus the high U.S. corporate debt. A recent example is General Electric’s near bankruptcy due to its high debt. In all reality, GE’s problems are the result of asset stripping by its executives. How long is this fantasy market sustainable?
  5. The U.S. belief that it is the world hegemon, but, in reality, China is the world economic superpower and Russia is much more powerful militarily. While not admitting that this is the case, the U.S. is well aware that it no longer is the world hegemon. The trade wars, the “Russia is destroying the U.S.”, and the drive to leave the INF treaty are the U.S. responses to its dilemma.
  6. Trump’s infantile belief that he can re-industrialize the U.S. by invoking tariffs on its competitors. Re-industrialization can only be accomplished by blood, sweat, and tears. Re-industrialization has a cost, and that cost must come from the hides of Americans.
  7. The Pentagon believes it can regain its military superpower status by leaving the INF treaty and then successfully blackmail Russia with a threat of (or actual) limited nuclear strike with new intermediate nuclear missiles.. Russia likely will neutralize this threat by installing nuclear missiles in Cuba, and all aimed at the U.S.

How long can the U.S. continue functioning with all of these contradictions? There is no easy answer. Likely, the key issue is the federal debt, and the stability of the U.S. Treasury bond market. The availability of foreign buyers and the maintenance of low interest rates are likely key. Interest rates are rising, but whether this is a trend is something unknown by other than central bankers.

 

 

 

US Imperialism

Sylvester J. Kowalski, October 24, 2018

David Harvey’s The New Imperialism is a must-read to get an understanding of the US’s method of imperialism and its concurrent actions in capital accumulation. In the first several chapters, he outlines the US imperialism and especially capital-accumulation, since 1870. The purpose of imperialism is to facilitate capital accumulation. Crisis occurs when capital-accumulation is stymied, such as in the 1846-1850 (in Europe), during the US Civil War, and during the 1930s US Great Depression. At the beginning of the 2000s, the US embarked on the Middle East ‘War on Terror’ to rejuvenate its need for capital-accumulation, but, during this period, two significant competitors began their long quest of standing in the way of US hegemony: China and Russia. Until 2015, when Russia entered the Syrian war on Syria’s behalf, and until China about 2015 announced, its Belt Road Initiative, the US ignored both of these powers. Currently, the US cannot extract capital from either Russia or China, and, as a consequence, is going through a crisis. The US in response is using economic (sanctions, tariffs against China, etc.), political shouting, and military (all kinds of military threats including a first nuclear strike against Russia, all to no avail.

China now has an economy, when based on purchasing power parity, greater than that of the U.S., and will begin to extract capital from other countries as Belt Road Initiative continues. Russia for its part has been successful in economic growth in Russia and its successful global trade. Now with the Saudi Arabia, Russia formed OPEC+ which has, since its inception, balanced oil supply and demand, and consequently stabilized oil prices. Its goal is oil at $65 to $70 a barrel. US stupidity has increased the oil price to $80 a barrel because of US sanctions on Iran, instigating political problems in Venezuela, and destroying Libya. Obviously Trump is livid, and is demanding that Saudi Arabia increase oil production. What is important is that Russia is now controlling oil prices. The US now has little influence on this important commodity.

The US is now in a crisis relative to its inability whether by economic, political, or military means to continue capital accumulation because Russia and China have stymied this US process.

 

The Death of the U.S. Empire

Sylvester J. Kowalski, July 12, 2018

David Harvey in his book The New Imperialism (OUP Oxford, Kindle Edition) importantly explains the economic complexity of the United States. The following quotation introduces us to this complexity.

“Imperialism is a word that trips easily off the tongue. But it has such different meanings that it is difficult to use it without clarification as an analytic rather than a polemical term. I here define that special brand of it called ‘capitalist imperialism’ as a contradictory fusion of ‘the politics of state and empire’ (imperialism as a distinctively political project on the part of actors whose power is based in command of a territory and a capacity to mobilize its human and natural resources towards political, economic, and military ends) and ‘the molecular processes of capital accumulation in space and time’ (imperialism as a diffuse political-economic process in space and time in which command over and use of capital takes primacy). With the former I want to stress the political, diplomatic, and military strategies invoked and used by a state (or some collection of states operating as a political power bloc) as it struggles to assert its interests and achieve its goals in the world at large. With the latter, I focus on the ways in which economic power flows across and through continuous space, towards or away from territorial entities (such as states or regional power blocs) through the daily practices of production, trade, commerce, capital flows, money transfers, transfers, labour migration, technology transfer, currency speculation, flows of information, cultural impulses, and the like.”

In the following quotation, Mr. Harvey introduces us to a concept that is foreign thinking to most of us – “….. recognizing the compelling need felt on the part of business interests in the United States to keep as much of the world as possible open to capital accumulation through the expansion of trade, commerce, and opportunities for foreign investment.”

“It would be hard to make sense of the Vietnam War or the invasion of Iraq, for example, solely in terms of the immediate requirements of capital accumulation. Indeed, a plausible case can be made that such ventures inhibit rather than enhance the fortunes of capital. But, by the same token, it is hard to make sense of the general territorial strategy of containment of Soviet Power by the United States after the Second World War—the strategy that set the stage for US intervention in Vietnam—without recognizing the
compelling need felt on the part of business interests in the United States to keep as much of the world as possible open to capital accumulation through the expansion of trade, commerce, and opportunities for foreign investment.“

“With these insights, we can more readily understand the 21st century imperialism of the United States. A sovereign country is a barrier to this “open” imperialism, and we can begin to understand the U.S. aggression to independent countries, such as, Cuba, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Turkey, Iran, Russia, and China. These countries are, or had been before U.S. aggression, sovereign countries.”

A contradiction arose between bourgeois nationalism and imperialism – no outlets for surplus capital. As Mr. Harvey states:

“The underlying contradiction between bourgeois nationalism and imperialism could not be resolved, while the rising need to find geographical outlets for surplus capitals put all manner of pressures on political power within each imperialist state to expand geographical control. The overall result, as Lenin so accurately predicted, was fifty years of inter-imperialist rivalry and war in which rival nationalisms featured large. Its essential features involved the carving up of the globe into distinctive terrains of colonial possession or exclusionary influence (most dramatically in the grab for Africa of 1885 and the Versailles settlement after the First World War, including its partitioning of the Middle East between French and British protectorates); the pillaging of much of the world’s resources by the imperial powers; and the widespread deployment of virulent doctrines of racial superiority; all matched by a total and predictable failure to deal with the surplus capital problem within closed imperial domains, as seen in the great depression of the 1930s. Then came the ultimate global conflagration of 1939–45.”

After 1945, the global economy became stabilized. Mr. Harvey states:

“The period from 1945 to 1970 was, then, the second stage in the political rule of the bourgeoisie operating under global US dominance and hegemony. It brought a period of remarkably strong economic growth to the advanced capitalist countries. A tacit global compact was established among all the major capitalist powers, with the US in a clear leadership role, to avoid internecine wars and to share in the benefits of an intensification of an integrated capitalism in the core regions.”

The stable period ended about 1970. The U.S. excess of “guns and butter” was the cause.

“This second stage in global rule of the bourgeoisie came to an end around 1970 or so. The problems were multiple. First there was the classic problem of all imperial regimes—overreach. The containment of (and attempt to subvert) communism proved rather more costly than expected for the United States. The rising costs of the military conflict in Vietnam, when coupled with the golden rule of never-ending domestic consumerism—a policy of guns and butter—proved impossible to sustain, since military expenditures provide only short-run outlets for surplus capital and generate little in the way of long-term relief to the internal contradictions of capital accumulation. The result was a fiscal crisis of the developmental state within the United States. The immediate response was to use the right of seigniorage and print more
dollars.”

Further:

“This system has now run into serious difficulties. As in 1973–5, the causes are multiple, though this time the volatility and chaotic fragmentation of power conflicts within political-economic life make it hard to discern what is happening behind all the smoke and mirrors (particularly those of the financial sector).”

“Either new arenas of profitable capital accumulation (such as China) must be opened up, or, failing that, there will have to be a new round of devaluation of capital. The question becomes: who will bear the brunt of a new round of that devaluation? Where will the axe fall? The trend towards ‘regionalization’ within the global economy then appears more worrying. Echoes of the geopolitical competition that became so destructive in the 1930s begin to be heard. US abandonment of the spirit if not the letter of the WTO rules against protectionism by the imposition of tariffs on steel imports in 2002 was a particularly ominous sign.”

“A major faultline of instability lies in the rapid deterioration in the balance of payments situation of the United States.”

Mr. Harvey explains the ramifications (or, better yet: the consequences) of the past financialization of the U.S. economy.

“But the hegemony and dominance of the United States is, once more, under threat, and this time the danger seems more acute. Its roots lie in the unbalanced reliance upon finance capital as a means to assert hegemony. Historically, Arrighi (following Braudel) points out, financial expansions indicate ‘not just the maturity of a particular stage of development of the capitalist world-economy, but also the beginning of a new stage’. If financialization is a likely prelude to a transfer of dominant power from one hegemon to another (as has historically been the case) then the US turn towards financialization in the 1970s would appear to have been a peculiarly self-destructive move. The deficits (both internal and external) cannot continue to spiral out of control indefinitely, and the ability and willingness of others (primarily in Asia) to fund them is not inexhaustible.”

Rather than attack the root cause of the problem, the U.S. embarked on a program of manipulation in order to maintain hegemony.

“As Gowan remarks: ‘Washington’s capacity to manipulate the dollar price and to exploit Wall Street’s international financial dominance enabled the US authorities to avoid doing what other states have had to do: watch the balance of payments; adjust the domestic economy to ensure high levels of domestic savings and investment; watch levels of public and private indebtedness; ensure an effective domestic system of financial intermediation to ensure the strong development of the domestic productive
sector.’ The US economy has had ‘an escape route from all these tasks’ and ‘by all normal yardsticks of capitalist national accounting’ has become ‘deeply distorted and unstable’ as a result.”

All that the manipulation succeeded in doing was to prolong the agony (or, “kick the can down the road”). The U.S. first had a recession in 2001, and, then, a financial crisis in 2008. To solve the 2008 crisis, the Federal Reserve drove interest rates to near zero and embarked on a massive Qualitative Easing – a euphemism for infinite printing of money.

And, an economic hegemon did come forward – China. First, China’s economy on a Purchasing Parity basis exceeded that of the U.S. Then, China began the Belt and Road Initiative which will allow China to be the global economic leader. Further, it started China 2025 whose goal is to be the global technological leader in ten technological areas. All of this terrifies the U.S., and we now see some very amateurish actions by the Trump administration to somehow contain China’s economic rise. It has started a global trade war which somehow is to reverse the past U.S. economic blunders.

The mistake that U.S. made was to de-industrialize after 1970. Now, the only solution, and a very painful solution, is to re-industrialize. The U.S. consumes more than it produces. Economically, a successful country produces more than it consumes. Re-industrialization is the only answer for the U.S. As of today, the U.S. economically is in a much lower position than China.

Today, the U.S. is, militarily, in second place to Russia (see Andrei Martyanov’s brilliant analysis in Losing Military Supremacy The Myopia of American Strategic Planning. Clarity Press. Kindle Edition.), and, economically, it is it least in second place to China. This is the consequence of the U.S. political elite’s incompetence ever since 1945.

The U.S. Empire is in shambles, and we can hear it’s death-rattle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God, Christ and Faith`: “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church” by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

Sylvester J. Kowalski, June 12, 2018

I was given the gift of Faith by The Holy Spirit when I was a young adult. My search for God took me on a difficult, multi-year pilgrimage. I had my Epiphany in somewhat the same manner as St. Paul had his on the road to Damascus. I have to emphasize that my Faith is a gift from God. Not withstanding my Faith from the time of my young adulthood, I have endeavored to read and study the works of outstanding Christian thinkers. The two major figures are Hans Kung and Bishop Francis Hodur (Prime Bishop of the Polish National Catholic Church, now deceased).  What I wish to discuss is a relatively new profound, Christian thinker – Bishop Geoffrey Robinson. His book, Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church is a must read. Bishop Robinson was an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia, and in 1994 was assigned in an official position in regards to sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in his diocese. His book intelligently shows the complexity of the issue, and he insists that further study in the following areas are needed in order to fully understand the root cause of Catholic clergy sexual abuse of children: (a) the clergy live in “An Unhealthy Psychological State”; (b) “Unhealthy Ideas Concerning Power and Sexuality” exists in the autocratic Catholic hierarchy’s dominant beliefs, dogmas, practices, etc.: and, (c) the Catholic clergy live in “An Unhealthy Environment of Community”.

Bishop Robinson worked on this sexual abuse tragedy for about 10 years, and experienced a great deal of emotional and psychological stress in dealing with the uncovered issues. But the most difficult point was when he came under attack by the Vatican regarding his work. I quote from his book: “When in front of several journalist’s at a public meeting, I answered a victim’s question by saying I was not happy with the level of support we were receiving from ‘Rome’, I received an official letter (7 August 1996) expressing ‘the ongoing concern of the Congregation for Bishops that you had in recent months expressed views that are seriously critical of the magisterial teaching and discipline of the Church”. In addition Bishop Robinson was told that these issues disturbed the Pope. Two months later, he received notification that all relevant documents that he was involved with relative to his sexual abuse duties were to be forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (The Inquisition.). Bishop Robinson’s conclusion was that the Vatican was “implying that I was suspected of some form of heresy”. So, we can forget that the Pope and the Vatican are Christ-like in their actions. Both are perfect examples of the anti-Christ, and the evil that resides in the Catholic hierarchy. The end result of all this (and, likely more), Bishop Robinson resigned, later wrote his book relating to power and sexuality in the Catholic Church. His book devotes most of its pages at looking at the wider Catholic church issues that were instrumental in both the Catholic clergy sex abuse and the cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy.

The titles of the first three chapters shows the profound thinking of Bishop Robinson: Chapter 1. Healthy People in a Health Relationship with a Healthy God: Chapter 2. The Two Books of God; and, Chapter 3. Spiritual Discernment.   This book provides an outline with specifics for the re-assesment of the present state of the Catholic Church and, at least, a starting point for rethinking what a Christ-like church should like and act.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x    God, Christ and Faith

“What is it that human beings owe to each other”

Rowan Williams states that Dostoevsky was in general asking the question: “What is it that human beings owe to each other?” His answer:

“At the beginning of this introduction, I summed up the central question posed by the various moral crises to which Dostoevsky was seeking to respond as “What is it that human beings owe to each other?” The incapacity to answer that question coherently—or indeed to recognize that it is a question at all—was for Dostoevsky more than just a regrettable lack of philosophical rigor; it was an opening to the demonic—that is, to the prospect of the end of history, imagination, and speech, the dissolution of human identity”.    (Williams, Rowan. Dostoevsky (Making of the Christian Imagination) (p. 14). Baylor University Press. Kindle Edition.)

Some questions: Doesn’t our current world look demonic as Dostoevsky wrote in the 19th century? Wasn’t George Bush’s War on Terror demonic? Isn’t Obama’s terror war in Syria which was aimed at regime change demonic? Isn’t Trump’s pledge to nuke North Korea demonic? (This is not to say that all of his utterances are other than demonic.) Isn’t the U.S. policy of controlling the world which was developed prior to Pearl Harbor demonic? Isn’t the blather emanating from the cultural Marxists demonic?

God help the United Syates!

Why Is The United States Showing So Much Anger At Russia?

Sylvester J. Kowalski, November 29, 2017

The anger of the United States noticeably started in 2014, made a step increase in 2015, and starting in 2016 has now reached a crescendo. The short answer is that Russia has bested the U.S. in the monetary world, diplomatically, militarily, and geo-politically. The specific’s are as follows:

 

  1. Since 2014, Russia has not contributed to the U.S. reserve currency welfare fund. Russia must sell its oil, natural gas, and uranium for US dollars, but since early 2014, immediately exchanges its US dollars for Fort Knox gold. Russia is foiling the reserve currency welfare fund scam.
  2. The U.S. had visions of grandeur when it accomplished the coup in Ukraine. Russia promptly annexed the Crimea, and by so doing, controlled Sevastopol and its major Black Sea naval base. The U.S. major objective was to control the Crimea.
  3. Russia stopped the U.S. sanctioned aggression in Georgia. The U.S. impotently watched Georgia get a bloody nose from Russia.
  4. Russia’s support for Syria in 2015 has precipitated a major reduction of U.S. influence in the Middle East. The U.S. lost its proxy war in Syria. With Iran’s help, Iraq has regained its sovereignty and now U.S. influence is almost gone. Because of the Syrian war, Iran and Hezbollah have become major actors in the Middle East. Because of U.S. mistakes, Turkey has now joined Russia and Iran as the major players in the Middle East. Prior to the Syria debacle, the U.S. controlled southwest Asia, and, therefore, had a means of controlling the Eurasian heartland. Russia, Turkey, and Iran now control southwest Asia. CENTCOM sits impotently in Qatar watching all of this.

 

A tired-out United States is now left with the tired-out European Union (NATO) and the impotent Japan to project power on the Eurasian continent. Clearly, these assets are inadequate. Now, The U.S. empire is quickly moving towards impotence.

 

I think that the United States has good reason to be angry, but this anger will not change the global reality.

The People in the Chimney and The Perfect Mothers by Donya Kowalski

Donya’s Poem The People in the Chimney and her essay The Perfect Mothers

 Donya Noudoshani Kowalski is an 8th grade student at St. Mary of the Lakes in Medford, New Jersey. In the fall of 2016, she plans to enter Bishop Eustace Preparatory School which is located in Pennsauken, New Jersey.

 In my opinion, her poem, The People in the Chimney, is powerfully insightful regarding the German people and its un-forgetful and un-forgiving twentieth century crime against humanity – The Holocaust: the genocide of millions of Jews, Slavs, and Roma. The Germans always considered these three groups as the untermenschen – the sub-humans.

 What we see in Donya’s poem and essay is humanity. Humanity appears to be a characteristic which is sorely lacking in the Germanic psyche.

 

 The People in the Chimney

By: Donya Kowalski

 

Darkness overtakes Auschwitz

as people in striped pajamas filled the camp

 

The smoke of my people

filled the once clear sky

 

I look out past the barbed wire

at the world I used to live in

 

I push a wheelbarrow full of dirt

and imagine that I am doing yard work

 

As the list of numbers for the showers was being called

I heard

Vier und fünfzig drei hundert ein und neunzig

My life

was going to go up a chimney

 

The German guards barked orders

The people in the striped pajamas

marched to the shower

 

Thousands of us squeezed into the chamber

The door was bolted shut

 

The gas began to fill our lungs

We slumped over into piles

 

We did not deserve this fate

We did not deserve to end our life

by going up a chimney

We did not deserve to be killed like

an infestation of bugs

We did not deserve this at all  

  

The Perfect Mothers

By: Donya Kowalski

           All my life my mom has gone to the ends of the earth to make me happy. When my best friend passed away, I was devastated. My mother knew exactly what I needed to hear. Mary shared the same maternal instinct with her son. Mothers always know what their children need. Mary knew that Jesus needed her to stay by his side and my mom knew I just needed a hug from her.

My mother has shown her endless love for me all my life. When I get sick, she cares for me. My mom brings me food and medicine and helps me to feel better by simply loving me. If I am scared, she will embrace me in a tight hug. I automatically know that she loves me so much that she wouldn’t let anything hurt me. Mary showed the same love to her son, Jesus. As he was carrying the cross that he would soon die on, Mary followed by his side. Mary loved her son so much that she stayed with him through his suffering. I see that same love from my own mother.

When I have doubts that I am able to do anything, my mom encourages me to do my best. She knows that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. The night before the entrance exam for high school, I became very worried. Thoughts of not being accepted filled my mind. Without me saying a word, my mother could tell I was worried. She told me she knew I would do great and that I had nothing to worry about. I knew that if she thought I could do it, then I really would do well. Like my mom, Mary encouraged her son. Even though Jesus did not feel ready to perform his very first miracle, Mary knew he was ready. Jesus changed water from a well to an abundance of the best wine at a wedding with help from his mother’s encouraging words.

My mom is patient with me when she asks me to do my chores. I usually respond with, “I will do it in a minute.” My mom knows that I really mean that I am not going to do my chores. She is patient with me and calmly tells me to do them. After a while, I give in and do them. Without my mom’s patience, she would have a hard time when I need to do chores. When Mary and Joseph were leaving Jerusalem after the Passover, they discovered that Jesus was missing. They searched everywhere for him. Mary was patient and did not get mad at Jesus when they found him sitting in temple with the teachers. That took a lot of patience and bravery not to worry about Jesus.

Out of all the people I know, my mom is the bravest one. She always manages to smile, no matter what the situation. When my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, my mom went with her to all of her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. After spending a long day at the hospital with my grandmother, she would come home with a smile. Although my grandmother was going through harsh treatments, my mother made sure I knew everything would be alright. Like my mom, Mary was also brave. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, she took on a great challenge. The angel told her that she would be the mother of God’s son. She knew it would be tough, but Mary accepted it.

I am so grateful to have a mother as loving as mine. She always believes in me and I know that she will always keep me safe. I see Mary in my mom everyday. Mary loved her son so much that she stayed by his side during his suffering. She was brave enough to take the challenge of being his mother. Both my mom and Mary are the perfect example of a mother who would do anything for their child because they care about them so much.