Irena Sikorska's biography

The story of Irena Sikorska my neighbour who passed away 3 years ago; victim of nazi barbary as so many who are victims of today's barbary.


This is the story of my teenage years during the turmoil of world war II. My narration starts in Eastern Poland in the summer of 1939 when I was fourteen; it ends in Southampton England in the month of march 1948 when I was 23.

In the summer of 1939 I was 14 years old, a young girl full of life, looking ahead for the future, heedless of the dramatic events that were about to fall on Poland and the world (see my narration of my summer 1939 holiday). The second world war started on September 1. Germany invaded Poland without any declaration of war, intent on recovering the territories lost in 1919 at the end of world war I, and of reinstating the status quo ante, ie. when Poland had been wiped out of the map of Europe by the third partition (see history of Poland: three partitions). The other powers that had partitioned Poland ie. Austria and Russia were associated in the events. Austria had been annexed to Germany in 1938 (Anchluss); Russia invaded Eastern Poland on 17 sept ember 1939. History was repeating itself a hundred and twenty five years later.

The Russians were again intent on wiping out Polish culture, imposing Russian integration and the communist social and economic system (see history)... One and a half million Poles were deported to the outposts of Eastern Russia, north western Siberia, north Kazakstan, because they wanted to exterminate the Poles. With my mother and two brothers younger than me, I was deported to a kolkhoz at Zoldubay in North Central Kazakstan (approx. 45km from Kochetaw. (see my narration of this stay).

The war changed dramatically in June 1941 when Germany attacked Russia. The Russians were caught by surprise and for some time, they suffered heavy losses and defeat seemed near. But they recovered and the Russian General Winter served them again, like in Napoleon's time. In a gigantic movement of machines and workers, they had moved most of their industrial machinery from the region of Moscow to Cheliabinsk in the Urals, and they started to produce heavy 50t tanks which were to prove fatal for the Germans. The United States of America pledged support to Russia in the form of a 10 billion dollar plan of war machinery. Most of all, the Russians changed the organization of the army and civilian society, giving more liberty and autonomy of decision to the industry and military leaders. General Jukov became chief in command... They appealed to the patriotic spirit of the people to resist the German invader. The war started to change in favor of the Russians at the battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1941-1942. 800000 Germans under General Paulus were killed and 120000 made POW.

When the Soviet Union was attacked by Germany, in June 1941, following a visit by General Sikorski, prime minister of the Polish government in exile in London, the Polish POWs were amnestied and organized into an army under the command of General Anders. Civilians were taken under the protection of this army and of Archbishop Gawlina and were allowed to follow the army to make their way to Persia (modern-day Iran). Having escaped Russia, the troops of the Polish army were incorporated in allied units stationed in the Mediterranean; the civilians were placed under the care of UNRA. The Polish Second Corps, fought with distinction in Italy, their most notable victory being that at Monte Casino, in May 1944, which opened up the road to Rome for the Allies as a whole. (see history) .

This is why we left Kazakstan for Iran ex Persia, which incidentally was a base for receiving American aid to Russia in the form of equipment (guns, ammunition, war manufacturing equipment, etc...). We stayed in Tehran for another two years under care of UNRA (United Nations Refugee Assistance program) (see my narration).

Then we were displaced by UNRA to another refugee camp located in the British colony of Uganda in Eastern Africa. We stayed there for another four years. In 1948, my mother was directed to England to join her husband, a Polish officer serving in a Polish unit that was integrated in the British army. I was 23 years old and as such could not accompany my mother because I was over the age limit of 21. But I was directed similarly to England two weeks after. (see my narration of my stay in Uganda)

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Updated 01/09/2012