Dear All Today, 10th April 2013 is the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the 500 Polish Children into Oudsthoorn, South Africa. On Sunday the 7th April aApr 10 1 of 1View SourceDear AllToday, 10th April 2013 is the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the 500 Polish Children into Oudsthoorn, South Africa. On Sunday the 7th April a commemorative Mass was held at the Polish Church in Norwood, Johannesburg for the Polish Children of Oudtshoorn and for those Children who have passed on.Today is also the 3rd anniversary of the Smolensk tragedy when former Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his entourage died in an aircraft accident whilst on their way to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Forest massacres.Below is the address that I read to the congregation on Sunday. It may not seem to be immediately obvious but the above two 10th April events are linked in Polish history and an attempt was made to describe this link."Sunday, 7th April 2013
Dzien dobry/good morning
Father Faustyn, thank you for the opportunity to address the congregation this morning.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Stefan Szewczuk and President of the Polish Association of Siberian Deportees in South Africa. Stefan Adamski, a Siberian Deportee from Oudtshoorn and whose father was murdered at Katyn is Honorary President of the Association. Zosia Greaves, whose mother Janina Morawska is also a Siberian Deportee from Oudtshoorn, is Treasurer of the Association.
Wednesday, the 10th of April 2013 is the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the 500 Polish Children into Oudtshoorn. This arrival into Oudtshoorn was the culmination of a long and little known odyssey for those few Polish citizens who managed to escape from the deportations into Siberia. Both my parents found refuge in Oudtshoorn, my mother Stefania Bednarczyk and my father Jan Szewczuk.
Also, Wednesday, the 10th of April 2013 is the 3rd anniversary of the Smolensk tragedy when former Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his entourage died in an aircraft accident. President Kaczynski and his entourage were planning to visit Katyn to attend the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Forest massacres.
It may not seem to be immediately obvious but the 10th April arrival of the Polish Children into Oudtshoorn and the Smolensk tragedy are linked in Polish history.
Briefly, on the 24th August 1939, pre-planned by Russia and Germany, the notorious and infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed, dividing Poland. Following the German invasion of Poland on the 1st September 1939, Russia invaded Poland on 17th September 1939 and immediately started the de-Polonisation of Polish lands that it occupied.
The Polish nation was also subjected to a calculated Russian and German ethnic cleansing campaign that would later be defined as a new crime against humanity, called genocide.
A criminal act of historic proportions was the cold blooded murder of 22,000 Polish citizens in various locations in what has become known as the Katyn Forest massacres.
During the period from the 10th February 1940 until 20th June 1941 the infamous NKVD as part of the de-Polonisation of Russian occupied Poland brutally deported 1,7million Polish citizens into Siberia.
On the 22nd June 1941, Germany invaded Russian occupied Polish lands and on the 30th July 1941 the Polish Government-in-exile and Russia signed the Sikorski-Maisky pact agreeing to the raising of a Polish army on Russian territory and the granting of amnesty to all the Polish citizens in Siberia who were deprived of their liberties and freedoms.
After the discovery of the Katyn massacres, Russia claimed to be ‘offended’ by the Polish insistence on an independent investigation into the massacres and broke off diplomatic relations with the Polish government-in-exile and stopped any further release of Siberian deportees.
Nevertheless, about 115,000 Poles of whom about 18,300 were children reached freedom. 500 of these Polish children finally finding refuge in Oudtshoorn.
Now, what is being done to ensure that the forgotten odyssey of the Polish deportees is remembered? Amongst a range of various initiatives and projects, an international effort and project is in progress to establish the Kresy-Siberia Virtual Museum and this virtual museum can be viewed on www.kresy-siberia.org
Aneta Hoffmann, director of the Kresy Siberia Foundation in Warsaw, sends her best wishes and regards to the Polish Children of Oudtshoorn, who will also be in her thoughts during this morning’s Mass.
Zosia Skarbek, President of the Polish Association of Siberian Deportees in Victoria, Australia also sends her best wishes for the 70th Oudtshoorn Anniversary. Pozdrawiamy serdecznie
Finally, what legacies are the Polish Children of Oudtshoorn leaving behind?
As now part of Poland’s dramatic, sad, courageous but glorious history, the Polish Children of Oudtshoorn’s unwavering belief in Poland and its enlightened values has been passed onto subsequent generations.
In deference to Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen and Protector of Poland, the Children established the Black Madonna Chapel in the crypt of Oudtshoorn’s Cathedral. The Children also established the Polish section in Oudtshoorn’s CP Nel museum.
Bardzo dziekuje/Thank You"Regards
President: Polish Association of Siberian Deportees in South Africa, Johannesburg
PS. 10 April also has significance to some sectors of the SA population. 20 years ago on this day the general secretary of the south african communist party, chris hani, was assassinated by Polish immigrant, Janusz Walus. Consequently the 50th anniversary celebrations of 1993 were postponed to later in 1993. Similarly the 70th anniversary celebrations are planned for later this year.