History of the Diary


Mrs. Frankowski’s diary is a record of the events she and her family suffered as a result of the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939. Her father, Marian Pawlicki, was a veteran of WWI, and along with other veterans had been granted the land in the area near the Russian border where they lived. Her father was on border patrol duty when he was killed, leaving seven children, of which Elizabeth was the oldest at almost 13, and his wife, expecting their eighth child.

Elizabeth and her family were deported to Siberia, where they lived as labor camp slaves. She lost three siblings as a result of the “hunger, disease, extreme cold, hard work beyond our strength and the pain of losing our loved ones.” Her family spent two and a half years there, and in spite of the hardships, Elizabeth recounted the kindness of strangers as well as her appreciation of the beauty she saw on her travels. 

Her diary was written in 1942, in Isfahan (Iran), after her liberation from Siberia. It is hand-written on a notebook a friend gave her, with lined pages, in beautiful, Polish script. She also drew and illustrated scenes of her life within the pages. The cover of the book is a hand-sewn remnant from a school uniform. The collection Mrs. Frankowski generously allowed us to scan also includes a published transcription, in Polish, which includes a photograph of her father and of her family and life in Toledo. Fortunately, Mrs. Frankowski also translated her work, which we were also able to scan. 

The loan of Mrs. Frankowski’s material to us came through US Representative Marcy Kaptur, who learned of the diary and was able to obtain it for us to borrow and digitize. 

You can find a number of resources in our digital collections related to Elizabeth Frankowski: