Please welcome Dr Peter Lesniewski from the University of Dundee, Scotland
to the group. His introduction is below.
Peter, have you already viewed the film, A Forgotten Odyssey? It may
provide a good addition to your lecture course. Also, I hope that some or
all of your archives and the memoirs you speak of make it on to the internet
for broader accessibility.
From: "Peter Lesniewski" <peter@...
I have no direct connection with the deportees. My father
reached Scotland via Hungary and France. The family comes from Central
Poland. However, I am running a project at the University of Dundee building
an archive of interviews with Polish servicemen and women. This task
developed from a conversation that I had with an ex-soldier who was helping
mount an exhibition of Polish military artefacts St. Andrews, Fife. This was
in mid-2000. He and a couple of others had been collecting them at second
hand shops, car boot sales, etc. It seemed that surviving relatives were
getting rid of these medals, photo's, bits of uniforms, and so forth.
Remembering my father's stories I asked who had been collecting memiors
about coming to Scotland. I discoverd to my amazement nobody had. I started
doing oral history interviews immediately and soon discovered that the most
terrible stories were those of the deportees from Eastern Poland.I've
received written memoirs from three of them.
I knew about the outline of the story but until I
interviewed deportees I never realised the full horror of what they went
through. The interviews also revealed that the survivors were very bitter
over the lack of knowledge of Polish histor in Scotland (and elsewhere). I
spent last summer writing a Polish history course for the University
Continuing Education Dept. Over thirty attended. One lecture was devoted to
the deportees. I will be repeating the course this year and I'm continuing
the interviews and collecting memiors. The objective of the archive is to
keep alive the memory of the Polish service personnel and provide future
generations of Scots-Poles with a source of information. I will be writing a
book on international relations over the period and using the archive to
illustrate the effect that these decisions had on ordinary Poles.
I have to dash off now.
(Dr.) Peter Lesniewski
Honorary Research Fellow
University of Dundee