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A photograph of Ray Szyfelbain

Ray Szyfelbain

A German bullet or a German uniform

Born: 1951

Duration: 28m 23s

Type: Audio

Filesize: 24.5 Mb

Recorded: 11 August 2022

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About this recording

Ray Szyfelbain shares some memories of his Polish-born father, the late Oskar Schiefelbein - better known as Steve Szyfelbain after he settled in Wick and married Violet.

"When Poland was invaded by the Germans, they were offered the choice of a German bullet or a German uniform," Ray explains. "Obviously he took the German uniform.

"He never became a solider. Photographs we saw in 1975 showed him as the equivalent of a military policeman.

"Father eventually, along with a lot of Polish colleagues, ended up in France. Knowing that Hitler was on his way out, they decided 'we've had enough'. They ran through a minefield, survived, and were captured by the British soldiers."

Oskar was later sent to the Dounreay RAF camp. He worked on farms and as a blacksmith.

Oskar was a gifted craftsman and had tailoring and cooking skills too, as well as being a fine dancer.

Ray's wife Jenny also takes part in the recording and she talks affectionately about Oskar, a.k.a. Steve.

"He was just a character - a real character," Jenny says. "I'm glad I met him."

During the interview Jenny points out similarities between some German words and Caithness dialect.


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