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Re: Kazakhstan's `forgotten Poles' long to return

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  • romed46 <romed46@yahoo.ca>
    The 1936 deportations of well to-do farmers from the Soviet Ukraine were ordered by Stalin to seize the land for the establishment of the collective farms
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 5, 2003
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      The 1936 deportations of well to-do farmers from the Soviet Ukraine
      were ordered by Stalin to seize the land for the establishment of the
      collective farms (kolkhoz) in Ukraine.
      I believe that people, who lost their property to the Soviet state,
      should now seek recompense, for the loss, from the present Russian
      Government, the present owners of the seized properties. Germany and
      Switzerland had to compensate people for seized property.

      Roman Skulski

      --- In Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com, Stefan Wisniowski
      <swisniowski@p...> wrote:
      > Thanks to an alert from Eve Jankowicz, I am circulating this recent
      article
      > from the Chicago Tribune, in which Jan Kozlowski, the Polish Consul
      in
      > Almaty, Kazachstan, suggests a fund to assist the Poles stranded
      there after
      > deportation by the Soviets to emigrate to Poland.
      >
      > I am also copying this to the Polish Consulate in Kazachstan in
      case they
      > have any further information for us on how to help.
      >
      > Stefan Wisniowski
      >
      >
      **********************************************************************
      ******
      > *  KRESY-SIBERIA GROUP = Research, Remembrance, Recognition
      >
      **********************************************************************
      ******
      > *  Discussion site:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Kresy-Siberia
      > *  Film and info  :  http://www.AForgottenOdyssey.com
      >
      **********************************************************************
      ******
      >
      >
      >
      > http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-
      0301020253jan02,1,5785444
      > .story
      >
      > Kazakhstan's `forgotten Poles' long to return
      >
      > Thousands in Asia since Stalin's era
      > By Cheryl Collins
      > Special to the Tribune
      >
      > January 2, 2003
      >
      > ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The knock on the window came on a summer's
      night in
      > 1936.
      > The summons was repeated thousands of times across Soviet Ukraine.
      It
      > signaled the start of a journey that would take the Polish and
      German
      > villagers of Zytomierz from their prosperous farms to lives of
      hardship and
      > deprivation thousands of miles away in the vast steppe of Central
      Asia, in
      > what is now Kazakhstan.
      >
      > Kazakhstan, part of the Soviet Union until 1991, was a place of
      internal
      > exile and deportation for many victims of Stalin's purges, much as
      Siberia
      > was. Thousands of Ukrainians, Germans, Poles, Chechens, Koreans and
      others
      > were relocated to the vast unpopulated region, whose rolling
      grassland had
      > been used for centuries as the grazing grounds of the nomadic
      Kazakhs.
      >
      > For the Poles, the first wave of deportations came in 1936. Stalin,
      > foreseeing war, wanted to move those of uncertain loyalty away from
      the
      > western front. He also wanted to cultivate the rich soils of the
      steppe.
      > Polish farmers had worked the fertile lands of Ukraine for hundreds
      of
      > years.
      >
      > In Zytomierz, the Polish and German men were summoned to the
      village council
      > and were told that, "for their own good," they and their families
      were being
      > sent away. They were not told where.
      >
      > The doors were locked, and the men were held in custody for a week
      as their
      > families packed belongings, sold livestock and prayed.
      >
      > Maria Murawicka remembers that summer well. Her prosperous family
      was among
      > those sent by cattle car on the two-week rail journey to the heart
      of Soviet
      > Asia.
      >
      > Murawicka, then 6, has a memory that burns so brightly she
      attributes its
      > power to God.
      > She vividly remembers the shock and panic that swept among the
      deportees as
      > they arrived at their final destination: a desolate spot in a sea
      of endless
      > high grass. A newly dug well and a signpost were all that marked
      Village
      > Number 2.
      >
      > She remembers people screaming, "Where are the rivers, where are
      the lakes?
      > How will we build houses if there are no trees?"
      >
      > The men said, "Perhaps they have brought us here to shoot us."
      >
      > The steppe of Kazakhstan is a place of extremes, marked by intense
      sun and
      > dry blazing heat in summer and heavy snow with freezing
      temperatures in
      > winter.
      > The deportees were forced to learn new techniques for survival in
      the harsh
      > environment. Officials taught them to make bricks from mud and
      straw, and
      > explained how to burn animal dung for fuel.
      >
      > According to Jan Kozlowski, the Polish consul in Almaty,
      Murawicka's village
      > was lucky. Many deportees were dumped onto the steppe with no
      instructions
      > or tools, forced to fashion crude homes dug from the earth. Many
      died their
      > first winter there.
      >
      > The next wave of Polish deportees came after Stalin and Hitler
      divided
      > Poland in 1939, and Poles to the east of the Oder-Niessen line found
      > themselves new citizens of the Soviet empire. In 1940 and 1941 as
      many as
      > 1.5 million Poles were deported, mostly to Siberia and Kazakhstan.
      >
      > Village named Bright Meadow
      >
      > Murawicka's village eventually was renamed Yasnaya Polana, or
      Bright Meadow,
      > but that did not change a harsh reality. Deprived of the identity
      papers and
      > internal passports needed to travel and considered "enemies of the
      state,"
      > the deportees were in effect living in rural labor camps.
      >
      > Movements were strictly monitored. They lived under an all-
      consuming fear of
      > arrest and worse.
      >
      > Maintaining cultural traditions, observing their faith and speaking
      Polish
      > were illegal. Even colored Easter eggs were to be kept out of sight
      of the
      > local Communist Party officials.
      >
      > Many Poles were able to leave in 1941 when Gen. Wladyslaw Anders
      assembled
      > an army of prisoners of war, deportees and their families and in an
      epic
      > journey marched from Soviet Asia through the Middle East, arriving
      in
      > Europe. Fighting for the Allies in Italy, Anders' heroic Polish II
      Corps
      > captured Monte Cassino in May 1944 from the Germans after earlier
      attempts
      > by British and American troops failed.
      >
      > Harder life after war
      >
      > For those left behind--mostly those who had not lived within
      Poland's
      > boundaries--life became even harder after the war, Murawicka
      remembers, as
      > official propaganda crudely linked the Poles with the German
      aggression.
      >
      > It was not until 1956, in the thaw after Stalin's death in 1953,
      that these
      > so-called special settlers finally were issued passports that
      allowed them
      > to travel within the Soviet Union.
      > Some visited Ukraine, hoping to realize their long-held dream of
      returning.
      > What they found was a land devastated by war and populated by new
      residents
      > who had no memories of those who had left 20 years before.
      >
      > After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the story of the "forgotten
      Poles"
      > slowly came to light, and the Polish government made efforts to
      repatriate
      > those who qualified.
      > In addition to an interest in Polish culture and religion, one of
      the
      > conditions for repatriation is proof of accommodation, that they
      will be
      > able to fend for themselves and not depend on welfare. This creates
      a
      > painful situation for Poland's consul. He regularly sees many of
      the older
      > generation, who, he says, burnished cultural traditions during
      repression
      > and who speak "the most beautiful, archaic" Polish, whose poverty
      prevents
      > them from returning.
      >
      > Many of the younger generation, on the other hand, are more removed
      from
      > their heritage and often seek to live in Poland for economic
      reasons.
      > According to the census, less than 10 percent of the ethnic Poles in
      > Kazakhstan speak Polish.
      >
      > The most difficult cases are those such as Murawicka's. The
      applicants are
      > ethnically Polish but did not live in Poland when deported,
      according to
      > Kozlowski, whose job it is to decide "who is a Pole."
      >
      > According to the most recent census, in 1991, about 47,000 remained
      in
      > Kazakhstan, a
      > drop from about 65,000 in 1981. In contrast, almost all the "Volga
      Germans,"
      > as the ethnic Germans are known, have migrated to Germany, a sign
      of the
      > greater resources of the German state.
      >
      > Hopes for aid
      >
      > Kozlowski's fondest wish is the creation of a fund by those from
      Poland's
      > vast Diaspora to support these elderly Poles seeking to spend their
      last
      > years in Poland.
      >
      > For people such as Murawicka, who lives on a tiny pension, the only
      hope
      > lies with the small possibility of finding a place in a subsidized
      senior
      > home in Poland, where there is space for few.
      >
      > "My parents taught me, even if you are forced to speak Russian, you
      will
      > always be a Pole," she said.
      >
      > Copyright © 2003, Chicago Tribune
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