On 5 Apr 2004, at 08:52, Wanda Madeyski wrote: I was in Buzuluk when Sikorski came to visit and was feted by Poles there. I never heard that the British and
Message 1 of 1
, Apr 5, 2004
On 5 Apr 2004, at 08:52, Wanda Madeyski wrote:
I was in Buzuluk when Sikorski came to visit and was feted by Poles
there. I never heard that the British and Polish Government in Exile
prohibited civilians to leave with the troups although at that time,
there was no talk about ANY evacuation of Poles whatsoever.
In September of 1941 with a mass of civilians I travelled almost the
whole length of Trans Siberian Railway towards Buzuluk. We had heard
that Polish units may be formed there. Due to the front advancing deep
into Russia, the stations were absolutely clogged by homeless
refugees, convicts, zulicks, etc. Therefore, at main stations, we had
to have our papers stamped either by NKWD or a Polish army
representative to proceed east. Neither of them would do it, directing
all the civilians south towards Tashkent and other placed far south. I
was among them, but had received a telegram to report to Buzuluk as
soon as possible. I was just 15, starved and in rags, and the Polish
officer on duty would not even listen to me until he noticed that the
telegram I had received had been sent by General Szyszko-Bohusz. So I
found myself in Buzuluk, already full of military and civilians,
needless to say mostly in rags, except for the few in budding Anders'
Headquarters. Since the space in the camp was limited and the troups
were to be organized, the civilians were transported south, where
tremendous numbers died due to starvation, tyfus, typhoid fever and
disentery. This started happening before any plans for evacuation to
the Middle East were made and continued for years later.
Personally, nobody knew about planned escape to Iran, at that time, so
crazy with fear I struck for Ashhabad on my own and then over the
mountains into Iran and the town of Meshed. Believe me, I would never
have considered something like that if there was even a whisper around
that there might be any kind of evacuation out of Russia.
There were several efforts to have Poles leave USSR. I personally saw
the following. Late in 1941, there were two ( I believe) transports
of Polish Air Force personnel - mostly pilots - to England by rail to
Archangielsk and then by sea to Britain. In March of 1942, when I came
to Ashhabad, I found a Polish Commision there who had been sent from
London to rescue as many Polish orphans as possible. The Commission
knew evacuation was coming, but their plan involved transporting the
children to India. This they did, but before they could set out over
the mountains, they sent two "lorries" for petrol (gasoline), thus
allowing me to hitch a ride to the British Consulate in Meshhed.
Unfortunately, they convinced me to destroy my "girl's dairy" because
if caught crossing the border, I could land in a jail, instead of
Iran. I don't remember the names of all the members of the Commission,
but there was a distinguished looking diplomat from the government in
London, whose name escapes me, Ordonka, the wife of Tyszkiewicz, and
a popular singer from Warsaw, a Vice Consul from Bombay, Lisiecki, a
priest whose name I do not remember, and a professor Hadala - from
England. When the orphans arrived, they all very dilligently pulled
lice infested rags from the children and burnt them in an iron stove,
while I scrubbed the ematiated little bodies in a tub not even
thinking about the danger of tyfus and tuberculosis. At 15, I felt
myself immortal and ready to face any danger.
Opinions about Anders and his actions varied. I never heard that he
had orders not to take civilians and disobeyed them - which of couse
might have been true. The people went in trains to be transferred on
to the boats, so I heard a lot about how the trains were loaded but
not about packing civilians on board of ships which I am sure DID
take place, although I wonder how many could manage to get there on
their own and not by evacuating trains. Actually, when loading the
trains, soldiers were taking their families and many people not in
uniforms. Russians were there trying to check documents and their
records and making sure that no one not entitled to be evacuated was
included (There is a good book "The Horror Trains" where this scene
is described by the author Wanda E. Pomykalski, who witnessed it.).
There was a lot of angry talk that Anders took his two horses -
Stalin's gift - in a freight car which took space that could have been
filled with Polish civilians. He was a former cavalry officer whose
love of horses was well known, but who knows for sure? On the other
hand I WAS present when he ordered two Polish boys shot, because they
robbed a food storage shed in Buzuluk. I met him personally and was
greatly impressed with the way he presented himself, but even young as
I was then, I never got to trust him after the boys were executed.
(Shadows of carnage at Monte Cassino?) If I hadn't been there and
heard the verdict myself, I would have never believed such a thing
could be true. I will be glad to let you know anything that might
I have written much too long a email and it is high time to finish. I
am now in Atlanta to take care of my daughter who is undergoing a
major operation in two days.
Once again, kindest regards and thanks for everything - Wanda Madeyska
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