February 10th 1940 – Lest We Forget

January 24, 2019
January 24, 2019 Karola Woods

February 10th 1940 – Lest We Forget

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You are invited to remember Stalin’s deportations of Poles to Siberia during World War II by attending a special lunch on Sunday February 10th, at 1pm, at the White Eagle Polish Club, 211 Balham High Road, London SW17 7BQ. Kresy-Siberia’s contact details for tickets are at the end of this post and their Facebook page about the event is here.

It will be the 79th anniversary of the first wave of deportations and I’ll be speaking about my novel ‘Are My Roots Showing?’ which touches on this terrible part of Poland’s history. 

Mum

My late mum, her parents and her older brother and little sister were in the first wave of Stalin’s deportations of Poles to Siberia. If she were still alive, mum would have been 82 this year. She never talked about Siberia to me as I grew up – not in depth anyway, it was tiny snatches here and there. As a child, when I was chided for not finishing a meal that she would have been very grateful for in Siberia ‘as there was nothing ever to eat out there’, I would sit transfixed, puzzled and confused as no one else’s mother I knew had been to Siberia and back, even in our Polish parish. If I pressed mum, she’d throw her hands in the air and say ‘Siberia, Siberia, why do you keep on asking, there was nothing there, just wolves!’ I had to find out what happened from relatives, books, online articles and documentaries. Now, I am able to learn much more from the excellent Kresy-Siberia Virtual online Museum. 

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Theatre Show

Perhaps as a result of mum’s silence, I wrote and performed a solo theatre show in 2005/6 called ‘My Polish Roots and Other Vegetables’, which had runs in London and Edinburgh. It was about my Polish Yorkshire upbringing and it touched on the deportations. There is a YouTube link to a Siberia-themed animation I made for the show here. It is based on one of the tiny snatches mum told me about a time when she stole some carrots with her brother Heniek.

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The Novel

I then followed up the show with a novel called ‘Are My Roots Showing?’ The story is about British Pole Magda who goes to live and work in Warsaw to explore her Polish roots. Of course Magda is based on me and like me, Magda’s mum was torn from her safe bed in Poland on February 10th 1940, and deported to Siberia on a cattle train. It’s quite a humorous book in other ways, with the Siberian deportations and other bits of Polish history woven through. I figured not many people would pick up a large volume on Polish history, but they might read a popular novel set in Poland today, and it would be my small contribution to trying to keep this part of Polish history alive in people’s memories. 

February 10th – Kresy-Siberia’s Commemorative Dinner 

So are you in or near London on Sunday 10th February? Kresy-Siberia cordially invites you to remember the 79th anniversary of Stalin’s first wave of Deportations from Eastern Poland on the exact calendar date of the first deportations: February 10th, by coming to lunch at 1pm at the White Eagle Polish Club, 211 Balham High Road, London SW17 7BQ. Syberiaks /Veterans £22, Siberia donors £25; Others £30. Lunch includes a Polish meal, a glass of wine or soft drink and entertainment.

For reservations and payment details please send an email to Iwona.Krason@Kresy-Siberia.org or ring/text her on 07973 792 253 by Friday 1st February 2019. 

 ‘Mama, tesknię za tobą coraz bardziej’. Mum, I miss you more and more.