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So Lucky? - Tadeusz's Violin
Forensic Investigation

A forensic investigation of Seran Kubisa’s Polish Grandfathers Tadeusz Kubisa’s Violin and bow. To retrace their journey from origin to migration. The main time frame during WWll and including moments from the1920’s and up to the1970’s. The main event is the tunnelled out escape from a detention camp in 1939 Hungary and epic journey by foot across Europe to England of Tadeusz with his Violin. The battles of the Polish 1st Armoured Division and the retrieval of a high quality bow in fallen Germany. The Violin and bow united in Scotland and England. The result is a project of the highest quality to inform various art outcomes, exhibits and public art during the development to final stages. 

'When I play the violin I get taken over by an unseen force, I can play anything.' 

Tadeusz Kubisa


Tadeusz description in his war papers

XIV. Description: 

Name: Tadeusz Kubisa

Born: 24.10.1915 Poland, Siewierz

Town: Zawiercie

County: Kielce

Trade: Policeman

Height: 5ft 9

Weight: 146 lbs

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Fair

Nose: straight

Lips: average

Chin: jutted, convex

Violin 2018 web.jpg

Tadeusz Violin description 

Name: Violin

Born: Poland

Town: Zawiercie

County: Kielce

Proprietor: Tadeusz Kubisa

Trade: Sounds

Height: 3ft

Weight: 1.5 lbs

Body: Chestnut

Strings: Fair

Case; Mock crocodile, wood and felt

Music Played:

Polish Folk





Forensic fragments collected from the violin, violin case and bow. Fragments analysed with the confocal laser microscope to create artworks

Tadeusz Kubisa

Poland:10th Anti-Tank Squadron, 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade

Scotland: Polish 1st Armoured Division

I. Military specialty and knowledge of weapon (armament) system:

Anti - tank guns operation

6 and 17 pounder anti-tank cannon

Ia. Functions:



Project to date:

  • Interview of Tadeusz sons of the escape from camps in Hungary to Scotland and the history of the violin and German bow

  • Retrieval of Tadeusz war records 

  • D-Day Stories Museum U.K translate Tadeusz war records from Polish to English. Tadeusz's escape stories are  factually verified in his war records

  • Forensic fragments collected from the violin, violin case and bow.

  • Six fragments analysed with the confocal laser microscope and artworks created (A high cost technique for each experiment)

  • The Violin displayed with photos in the D-Day stories museum, the story shared with HRH The Princess Royal and the Lord Admiral at the official opening

Currently (see project tab)

  • Developing the project to find cultural partners, exhibition venues and funding 

Historic Background

Tadeusz Kubisa escaped the war camps of 1939 in Hungary by tunnelling out and took with him his violin encountering an epic journey. A journey by foot across the Alps to Brittany, France. As part of the British sea evacuation of troops from France he had to go to Dunkirk to get to England. At the battle of Dunkirk they couldn't get near due to the heavy fighting so four of them together continued up the coast and at night stole a fishing boat. In the English channel a Naval Destroyer picked them up and took them to Portsmouth, England. From there he was sent to the camp in Abroath, Scotland with his Violin in tow. 


The Polish regiment regrouped at the Polish army camps in Scotland. Tadeusz was In the 1st Armoured Tank Division and they fought with the Canadians in the 1945 D-Day landings and Battle of Normandy in France. At  Falaise most of his company were killed. They continued onto Belgium, Holland and Germany where he found  a bow with exceptional quality which he brought back to Scotland with him.

Many of his platoon died on this first escape route, many died escaping after Dunkirk, and then at Falaise in the battle of Normandy many more.  

The violin stayed by Tadeusz Kubisa's side and travelled with him on his escape. The violin was cumbersome, carried on his back a heavy fragile object through forests, mountains, cold, rain and encounters with the Nazis. As described by him, to play music was “beyond life” he felt like “I am taken over when I play the Violin”.

Tadeusz Kubisa's thick Polish accent and dominant but lively personality are etched in Seran's mind along with the sounds of the violin and bow being played. As a child she accompanied him to the Polish club in Bath where he played the violin whilst laughter bellowed out and drink flowed. She remembers his uplifting state of fun and musical bursts to downturns of dark moods and of her being afraid. For the rest of his life he suffered from the unrecognised and undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Seran has witnessed the handing down of this trauma into the third generation.The first part of this investigation has revealed the intergenerational mental wounds of war, death and deceit.

The artist will retrace the Violins life and journey, from its place of making and Polish life to collect fragments, sounds, visuals, heritage documentation to discover her heritage and relive her Grandfathers journey.Whist acknowledging the traumas as well as the humans capabilities to transcend this through music whilst capturing the mystery of her Polish heritage. 

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