4. Good business
In spite of the religious, cultural and social differences between Mennonites and Catholics, fellowship was encouraged by a common suffering. Pandemics, insurrections, flooding, bad harvests and harsh winters left no one unscathed.
The Ksiazyk family came from the Great Duchy of Posen (Wielkie Księstwo Poznańskie) to establish in the region during the early 1870's. Blażej Ksiᶏżyk (1824-1882) was originating from Wyrzeka (district of Śrem) and his wife Józefa Witkowiak (1816-1901) was born in Prusy (district of Jarocin). They spoke German fluently. Their three sons Józef, Walenty and Wojciech, married with young girls from local Catholic families. In our family, Mennonites were not called Niemcy but “The Protestants” because Blażej and his sons were aware of the difference between Mennonites from Kazun and Germans from Prussia. Beside significant linguistic differences, a common knowledge of the German language has certainly encouraged profitable business relationships.
Market days were the occasion to talk about common issues: taxes, weather, and prices. However, political topics were carefully avoided. Before 1918, Mazovia was under Russian domination. There was some resent on the Polish side because Mennonites were allegedly "protected" by Russian rulers and did not suffer to the same extent from the Russian oppression. They were exempted from conscription before the generalization of the compulsory military service in 1874. Later, whenever enrolled for military service, they could obtain administrative positions and were not obliged to go far away in remote places of the Russian Empire. The Mennonites avoided any involvement in social or political activities. As a result, they were not exposed to arbitrary arrests and confiscations without compensations.
For many farmers of the area, the construction of the Kazun Fort (Przedmoście Kazuńskie), was an opportunity for business. Located on the left bank of the Vistula, it was the Southern flank of the Modlin Fortress. The construction was undertaken from 1832 to 1841. Between 1883 and 1888, two additional forts were added in Grochale and Cybulice. The massive presence of Russian troops in the area has transformed the lives of the local population. Whenever possible, many Polish farmers converted to new activities such as blacksmith, forger, boilermaker or wheelwright. The Mennonites did not step out of their traditional farming business.
Butter, flour, potatoes, or fodder for horses had to be delivered everyday to the stationed garrisons. There was a fierce competition to capture this new market. Several generations ago, Mennonites had built windmills that gave them a strong competitive advantage over local farmers. They produced the best flour in the region. Their cottage cheese (glomms) and sour cream (schmaunt fat) were delicious. They also proposed excellent marmalades and preserves. Mennonite homemakers mastered the art of drying fruits - all the fruits and not only the traditional 12 components of the wigilia kompot. The Mennonite honey was a serious competitor for our family production from the black locusts planted in Gochale Górne.
Mennonites Deutsch Kazun
Mennonici Kazuń Niemiecki
Holendrzy - Olędrzy
This series is a reminiscence of the Mennonite Community in the Kazun-Szcymin area with no historical pretentions. Mennonite People were Polish subjects and Polish citizens as any other members of the Polish population. However, for a better understanding, we use the words “Catholics”, “Poles” or “Polish farmers” to designate the native local population.
Mennonite blintze with cottage cheese made from the receipt of “Mennonite Girls can cook”. The Mennonites called their cottage cheese glomms, a word derivated from the word glomza used in Northern Poland. Our routine to serve blintze with maple syrup is definitely not Polish. We have imported this American taste from our visits to the Amish and Mennonite Communities living in the Lancaster County (Pennsylvania).
"Lied maäje korte Jebäde un langue Worschte"
People like short prayers and long sausages
"Een fula Aupel moakt tieen"
One rotten apple makes ten