28- The Bees Save Me


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(From Tapestry): 

“June 1943, in Grabowka. While I was tending the garden I had planted, two Nazi soldiers appeared and began to talk to me. I couldn’t let them know that I understood them, so I just shook my head as they spoke. Dziadek, the old farmer who had taken me in as his housekeeper, came to stand watch nearby, but the honeybees rescued me first, swarming around the soldiers. ‘Why aren’t they stinging you?,’ the soldiers asked Dziadek as they ran out of the garden.”

Embroidery and fabric collage, 1996.

31-11/16″W x 34″H.

Narration by Esther's daughter, Helene McQuade

00:00 / 01:01

Transcript of Narration

Our mother was always very proud of how quickly she learned to help the old farmer run his farm and household. And the farmer, who she called Dziadek, or Grandfather in Polish, quickly came to depend on her.

Dziadek had a beautiful orchard with apple, pear, cherry, and plum trees. He kept bees, and my mother was awed by how he could move among them without being stung. One day in June, two German soldiers came into the garden where my mother was tending the strawberries she had planted. She knew from the way they trampled the plants that they brought danger. Dziadek is standing in the left of the picture watching out for her. But now even Dziadek couldn’t help her. Our mother used to say the bees could sense the strangers among them, and they began to swarm around the soldiers until they finally drove them off. So she would always believe that it was the bees that saved her that day.

​Transcript prepared by the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Science Docent Association.