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Poles in India 1942-1948

This Indian adventure is intrinsically linked to World War II: after the deportations to the Soviet Union a group of Poles found safe refuge in India, where they would stay until the end of the War , hoping to return to their own country. Unfortunately the Yalta Agreements made that impossible. Very few people went back to Communist Poland; the great majority scattering throughout the Western World. But the bonds of friendships formed in India survived and they occasionally had reunions in different parts of the world until they formally organised themselves into the Association of Poles in India 1942-1948. As children or teenagers, more than half a century ago, they did not realise just how unique was their stay in India. As mature adults they decided to research the archives, camp chronicles and their own diaries, to preserve that small, but unique part of the history of the Polish Refugee Odyssey during and after the War. It was only after the majority of the authors of this collective work reached retirement age that they found time for research and writing.To their advantage was the fact that many documents, previously unobtainable in Poland and only available after a fifty-year gap in England, now became accessible. This book often quotes the original documents in order to better convey the spirit of those days and maybe help future researchers, enlivening the text with personal reminiscences and entries from their youthful diaries. The first Polish edition of this book sold out among the people whose story it told, the second found its way to many universities and libraries in Poland, as research of the deportations to Russia had until recently been forbidden, and all the material found in the London Public Record Office, British Library, or the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum, was new to them. The English edition will be of interest to their children and grandchildren for whom English became the first language, also their friends in India, and hopefully all students of the period of the Second World War. As it is a collective work, the book retains the individual style of different authors so the English may seem rather unconventional.
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From Shirley Felts: This is an extraordinary, moving account of the Eastern Polish refugees in the Second World War, testimonials by many of the survivors. The people who compiled their stories were small children at the time. Owing their survival to their resilient mothers, fathers away fighting,they were taken in the dead of night by Russian military and transported in windowless trucks to Siberian transit camps. Here they had very little food and were reduced to foraging the little they could find. They suffered cold, hunger and disease. Many people did not survive. Finally,when the refugees were allowed transport to camps in Valivade, India, their fortunes changed. In Valivade, families could be together in separate housing. They had food, sunshine, warmth. Spirits lifted, friendships formed and have lasted strongly. Years after the war ended, when information could be accessed and the book was written, the Association of Poles in India was created. In Valivade the Poles had schools, theatre and musical groups, creative workshops. It was a time of hope and resilience. This is a great book and a great achievement. / From Tomila Sanders: We are fortunate to be living in times of secret archives being opened and access to riveting information being freely available. If you are like me and long for filling in the gaps in your knowledge of World War II this book is for you. Poles in this book tell us of survival as Siberian exiles in various transit camps, tell us of hardships and upheavals in their lives during World War II and the following years. They tell us all this in a factual, authentic and wonderfully inspiring way. But through all this they maintained the courage, their values and their national identity as is best shown in their stay in India, in Valivade Camp where they found a refuge after their hardships in Russia and where they created an oasis of Polish culture. The bonds of friendship formed in India survived and they organised themselves into the Association of Poles in India 1942 - 1948. Their inner strenght carried them through all these years and they lived to tell the tale now in this great book. I recommend it to all who like to see a testimonial of integrity, courage and good will to prevail over evil and oppression

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