When my mom was helping my grandmother pack up in getting ready to move, she came across a cigar box that contained a number of photographs along with journals my grandfather kept while he fought in Europe during World War II. He wrote his thoughts down in a little spiral notebook, a postcard book from Versailles, and within the pages of a Nazi passport, which he took from a soldier he killed in battle. His journal entries are dated from June 6, 1944 through January 12, 1945, and aren’t in chronological order, often ‘jumping’ from date to date. Events that weighed on his mind, are repeatedly written down; such as when his best friend was killed, the Battle of Saint-Lô, or waiting for letters from my grandmother. Repeatedly, throughout his journals, he noted his name and his address. I believe his photographs include his time in basic training to his time in Europe. Many of them don’t have notes on them, so it’s hard to be entirely certain. The hundreds of questions I have for my mom about my grandfather about his World War II, she can’t answer. He refused to speak of it. Everything I know is what the cigar box contained. However, because he repeatedly wrote his name and address again and again, and because he did keep these items rather than destroying them, I believe that he would have wanted his writings to be read and his photos to be seen. PFC John Gurecki shares my grandfather’s story from his point of view.
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I’m John Gurecki’s granddaughter and consider myself extremely lucky that my mom has entrusted me with my grandfather’s journals and photographs. With a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Photography from the California College of the Arts, my primary interest has been exploring the complex relationships that happen within families through photography and other relics, with PFC John Gurecki being my first self-published narrative about a single family member. A typical artist, I have my hand in a number of projects all at the same time, from writing to making soap in unexpected shapes to keeping up my cat’s daily photos on his instagram account.