Almost Forgotten, Stanislaus Stephen Krajewski in WWI

StanislausKrajewskiDrawing 001By Peter Finley, Member, Saratoga Springs History Museum

Before I knew much about war, I latched onto a pen and ink drawing that belonged to my grandmother, Edna Mahar. The drawing is of a man with one abnormal hand, staring off into the distance, sitting on a small table, and nearby was an empty liquor bottle. It was dated, Jan 16-1924, and signed, SSK.
Fast forward 30 years or so, and I remember being told by my grandmother that the artist was her cousin, Stanislaus Stephen Krajewski, and he had fought in World War I. We will call him Stan the rest of this story because that is what his family called him.

Recently, my brother, Paul, found a Saratogian newspaper article, dated, March 3, 1919, that described Stan’s war experience in great detail. It answered a lot of questions, and for that I am very grateful.
Stan was born in Bayside Long Island, NY, but lived in Saratoga Springs prior to enlisting in August 25, 1917. After basic training, he arrived in France on April 2, 1918. American troops, like him, were part of the American Expeditionary Force that was sent to Europe to help end World War I. The American troops might have lacked experience, but they made up for it in their “can do” fighting spirit.
At the Second Battle of the Marne, which began on July 15, 1918, Stan belonged to Company B, 30th U.S. Infantry. Unfortunately, on the opening day of that battle, every man in his platoon was either killed or captured. German troops had crossed the Marne River and overwhelmed Company B. Stan’s fate was not only to be captured but to be badly wounded as well.

A machine-gun bullet penetrated Stan’s right hand, between the thumb and forefinger, and passed through the hand, struck the bones in the wrist, and exploded. It actually tore out bones and flesh in his arm for about eight or nine inches.

After Stan’s capture, the Germans laid him on the bank of the Marne until morning. He had lost a tremendous amount of blood and he didn’t care if he lived or died. The next day, the Germans carried him to a brick house, but left him uncared for. He begged for water many times, but was ignored.

Stan eventually received treatment when a German Red Cross doctor put a bandage on his wound. He then got moved again. At Longvall, a base hospital, he started to see bugs coming out of his bandage. Although Stan begged for treatment, he didn’t get any, until a German nun heard his pleading to God and dressed his wound.
At Longvall, Stan was finally operated on, but they gave him no ether, they were short of it. Two doctors held him down while the third operated on him. And in his delirium he yelled out things in Polish. A few days later, a doctor came in and asked him his name. The doctor didn’t stay long and acted like he didn’t want anybody else to know about it.

When Stan reached the Neuhammer prison camp, it dawned on him that the doctor must have recommended this prison camp for him, and it was probably the best prison camp he could have been sent to. The place was largely run by Poles. Stan met an American aviator at the prison camp that would lift his spirits further. He told him those bugs on his wound probably ate the poison out of it. Unfortunately, Stan was treated cruelly by the head doctor. When it came time to take off his bandage, the doctor pulled it off, instead of unwinding it. And it would have grieved him further if he knew his parents were notified, in early August of 1918, that he was killed in action.
One day, a Polish sergeant slipped Stan some books to read, and he learned that the Americans were winning the war. He also found out that after his capture, Allied troops had gone on and won the Second Battle of the Marne. Once it was discovered that Stan was alive and in a POW camp, he began receiving packages and letters via the American Red Cross. But he didn’t receive all of the packages sent to him because the beleaguered Germans got to most of them first.

On November 10, 1918, Stan knew the Germans were beaten, and an armistice was signed the next day. Soon after, Stan was released from his captors, and was put on a British hospital ship and landed at Leithe, Scotland. There he spent a month in an American military hospital and then sailed for America. Back home in Saratoga Springs, Stan just wanted to forget the war, but still spoke to gatherings about his horrible war experience.
World War I has been called the forgotten war, but 12,000 Americans died or were wounded in a battle that’s much less known than the war itself. Despite this, the Second Battle of the Marne has been called the turning point of World War I. In this battle, inexperienced Americans fought beside battle-hardened but weary Allied troops, and stopped a very determined German army from capturing Paris and winning the war.
After reading the newspaper article and reading about the battle, I still had a few questions, and Stan’s nephew, Joe Krajewski, did his best to answer them. Joe believed Stan was gassed at the Second Battle of the Marne and also developed shell-shock because of his hideous battle experience.

There was something I really wanted to know from the very beginning: Was Stan right-handed and did he use that hand to draw when he returned? Joe wasn’t sure, but said he was able to move his fingers in that hand a little. Luckily, in another newspaper article, dated, November 1, 1918, it mentioned that Stan’s right hand was so badly wounded a fellow prisoner wrote a letter for him. So, Stan must have been right-handed, and that drawing, because of that abnormal looking hand, could have been a self-portrait. Whatever hand he used, we know that Stan took art lessons after the war, but never made a living from his artwork. Sadly, I was told, Stan would spend the rest of his life in and out of veterans’ hospitals, dying in Albany’s Veterans Administration Hospital in 1959.
The terrible irony is that on the day Stan was wounded, his infantry unit was to have been relieved. And it wasn’t until 1933 that he received a Purple Heart decoration.

I never expected to end this story on such a sad note and I won’t. What Stan suffered as a result of that battle, was more important than anything he could have achieved as an artist. His suffering was no doubt redemptive and benefited us all. No, Stan, you were not forgotten.

If you want to pay him homage, visiting the World War Memorial Pavilion in Congress Park is a good way of doing that. In this memorial, he is honored for being both injured and captured in battle.

2016 Hall of Fame Nominations

hall of fame nomination form

The Saratoga Springs History Hall of Fame was begun in 2005 to honor men and women who have made significant and enduring  contributions that have enhanced the civic, social, cultural, religious, education or business life in Saratoga Springs. 23 Saratogians are currently in the Hall.

We two members in November. The Museum is currently accepting nominations for consideration to be members of the class of 2016. If you would like to nominate someone, please click the link above. You can then download the PDF and return it via e-mail or by the instructions listed on the form. All nominations must be received by October 14.



Surrounded by History Fundraiser

Northshire Bookstore and the Saratoga Springs History Museum co-host

Surrounded by History Fundraiser







Saratoga Springs- On Thursday, October 15 at 6:00 PM Northshire Bookstore and the Saratoga Springs History Museum are partnering to present three local authors in a program titled Surrounded by History: an Evening of Regional History at the History Museum located in the Canfield Casino in Congress Park.

This is a great “triple bill,” with three authors discussing their recently published histories. Richard Brown will discuss his book “Revolution: Mapping the Road to American Independence, 1755-1783”, followed by Bruce Dearstyne with “The Spirit of New York: Defining Moments in the Empire State’s History”, and David Pietrusza will discuss “1932: The Rise of Hitler and FDR”.

Books will be available for purchase at the event. Tickets are $5 and available at the door. Admission is free for History Museum Members.




2015 Saratoga Springs History Hall of Fame Nominations

2015 History Hall of Fame


The Saratoga Springs History Hall of Fame was begun in 2005 to honor men and women who have made significant and enduring  contributions that have enhanced the civic, social, cultural, religious, education or business life in Saratoga Springs.

We induct one living and one deceased member in November. The Museum is currently accepting nominations for consideration to be members of the class of 2015. If you would like to nominate someone, please click here to download the nomination form. You can then return it via e-mail or by the instructions listed on the form. All nominations must be received by October 2, 2015, not the date listed on the bottom of the form.

New Caffè Lena Digital Archival Database Reveals Treasure Trove of Music History and Features the Caffe Lena Colelction from the Beatrice Sweeney Archives

Saratoga Springs, NY: February, 2014

Q: What has 11,000 items, 54 years of history, rare images of Bob Dylan and original recordings of Pete Seeger?

A: The Caffè Lena Collection, a brand new archival database featuring rare photos and recordings of Pete Seeger and other 1960s folk singers, now searchable online via the Library of Congress at

In January 2013 The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation approved a grant to arrange, describe, and catalog significant archival collections that comprise the complete Caffè Lena Collection, a unique record of a major 20th century American music venue. The digitization of the material was made possible through generous funding from the EMC Corporation.

The complete Caffè Lena Collection include 700 hours of recorded performances restored and digitized by Magic Shop Studio (held by the Library of Congress), six boxes of founder Lena Spencer’s original papers and her extensive collection of performer files, (held by the Saratoga Springs History Museum), the Lively Lucy’s Coffeehouse Collection, an important student-run coffeehouse, (held by Skidmore College), and 7,000 period photographs made at Caffè Lena between 1960 and 1968 by legendary photographer Joe Alper (held by the Joe Alper Photo Collection LLC).

The completion of this project coincides with the recent publication of a book “Caffè Lena: Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse”, and a companion CD box set – both recently featured in the New York Times, People Magazine, TIME, BuzzFeed, Mojo, and GRAMMY Week in Los Angeles – together with a traveling exhibition and an educational website.

Caffè Lena embodied the cultural forces and aesthetic expression that defined the 1960s folksong revival movement. A small, live-performance venue that continues to thrive and to evolve after fifty-four years, Caffè Lena’s comprehensive history is a valuable primary resource for scholars and writers focusing on this groundbreaking era in the story of American music. The Caffè Lena Collection piqued the interest and earned the support of the GRAMMY Foundation, the New York Council for the Humanities and Director Martin Scorsese.

The Caffè Lena Collection online database is now publicly available at for research and licensing requests, and is represented in scholarly search engines including the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and the Saratoga History Museum.


2014 Saratoga Springs Calendars and Shop Sale

2015 calendarWe’ve expanded our popular annual Holiday Sale!   Come to the Museum Saturday, December 20th from 10 – 1 and do your holiday shopping and save 10% on all purchases. Dave Patterson and Charlie Kuenzel of Saratoga Tours and the History Museum have partnered to produce the 2015 Saratoga Springs Historical Calendar,  This fantastic calendar features twelve images from the Bolster Collection. Each calendar comes with two additional Bolster Collection images suitable for framing and a complimentary membership to the Museum.

Along with a great new selection of holiday gifts, we will also have some favorites from the Bolster Collection for sale. Many images copied from the collection will be displayed and available for purchase at discounted rates.


2013 Wine Raffle Tickets

If you like wine and would like to support the Saratoga Springs History Museum then we’ve got the raffle for you.  Our Annual Instant Wine Cellar  Raffle Tickets enter you to win Four Cases Of Wine, a Water and Wine Tour of Cayuga Lake, and a stay in the Finger Lakes at the Driftwood Inn. Tickets are just $10 each. The drawing will be held at the Holiday Gala on December 6 but you do not need to be present to win.

Special thanks to the Thirsty Owl Wine Outlet and Garden!

You can purchase tickets by stopping at the museum, by calling us at 518-584-6920

or by clicking here.