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Letters from WWII delivered after being discovered in donated car

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Posted at 10:10 AM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 11:10:37-05

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KNXV) — Inside a small canvas bag, the story of a family is revealed in letters and photos.

“These three are the oldest ones, from like the forties,” said Liz Dysigner. “I think, first of all, the story that it tells is the story of war, and how difficult life is after that,”

The remarkably preserved letters were written during World War II. In them, a family in Poland pleads for help from relatives living in Minnesota.

“These people lost their home, it was bombed and burned down, and then they lived in a bomb shelter for eight months, and they are struggling just to survive,” said Dysigner.

Her mother-in-law works and volunteers for Treasures for Teachers. The letters were found inside the car that was donated to the organization.

“Honestly I don’t have many pictures of my own family so when I saw this, I just knew that this was priceless,” said Dysigner.

She was born in Poland. Her grandmother survived a Nazi concentration camp, but many other family members did not.

The photos are a reminder of that loss.

“I need to find this person, I need to find out who this belonged to,” she said.

Dysigner translated the letters written to a woman named Anna Kowalczyk. Utilizing social media and internet searches, Dysigner spent five months hoping to get them somehow home.

“The fact that I’m from Poland, the fact that I can still read Polish, the fact that I don’t have any photos and photos are so important to me, this really was a mission for me,” she said.

On Tuesday night, that mission was accomplished.

“This is probably when she was in her late sixties,” said Teresa Rechwien.

Over zoom from Minnesota, Rechwien held up a picture of her late grandmother, Anna Kowalczyk, the intended receiver of those letters.

“I know that she tried to help, my grandparents weren’t wealthy people, but I remember her bagging up boxes of clothing and other necessities and sending them to Poland,” said Rechwien.

Rechwien said she has no idea how the bag ended up in the trunk of a donated car. She wonders if those photos and letters were handed down to a distant relative they’ve never met.

While Rechwien is still trying to find out who donated the car and how the letters ended up there, she is happy they are back home.

“It’s a blessing that this all happened and came together for us," Rechwien said. "I see it as a wonderful gift for our family."

This story was originally reported by Cameron Polom on abc15.com.