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  • To serve Poland – to build Europe – to understand the world
  • A priest's odyssey - dr Andrzej Chibowski

    The true story of Fr Michał Wilniewczyc, one of the 200,000 survivors of the World War II mass deportations of 1.5 million Poles to Siberian forced-labour camps.
    The story follows his deportation, suffering in the forced-labour camps, escape and eventual refuge in Iran where he served as chaplain in the Polish army-in-exile. He then joined a group of 105 adults who accompanied 733 mostly orphaned Polish children to their permanent refuge on the other side of the world in Pahiatua, New Zealand, in 1944.
    It continues his epic journey with his departure to Lebanon, Rome and finally back home to his native Poland in 1957.
    Fr Michał is a 20th Century version of Homer's Odysseus, who after long and eventful journey of 10 years returned safely to his native Ithaca. The return of Fr Michał lasted 18 years.

     

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    New Zealand's First Refugees. Pahiatua Polish CHildren - Polish Children's Reunion Committee

    On 1 November 1944, a total of 732 Polish children and their 102 guardians landed in Wellington Harbour. Together they had shared the fate of 1.7million Poles who had been ethnically cleansed from their homes in eastern Poland by the Russian Secret Police, under Stalin's orders at the start of World War II, and deported in cattle wagons to forced-labour camps thousands of miles away throughout Siberia and the Arctic Circle. Life was brutal - subzero temperatures, constant hunger, disease and death surrounded them.

    Of those 1.7 milion, 1 milion died and 200,000 are still unaccounted for in Stalin's genocide. This group of children, mostly orphans or having lost family members, were the lucky ones. Through the tides of wartime politics they fled from their bondage, found temporary refuge in Iran, and were finally offered a safe and permanent home in New Zealand. Their story is one of remarkable survival against all odds in war and successfully integrating into a foreign country.

    This is their book.

    These are their stories.  

     

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