Browsing: Tracing Poles

“The Polish Dream” by Karin Kooijman is a portrait of three highly educated Polish women who went to The Netherlands with dreams of fulfilling their ambitions. Before Justyna, Paulina and Ilona can do this, they have to struggle with difficult circumstances and difficult people. Being far from home, they feel displaced, but the desire to realise their dreams is stronger. Are you curious to see how the story ends?

On Saturday, January 17th, the elements that make up a large-scale model of this famous ocean liner MS Batory were transported to the seat of the Emigration Museum in Gdynia. Here – in the permanent exhibition space – its assembly shall soon commence, followed by additional modelling work. Due to its four-ton construction in 1:10 scale, as well as the meticulously reconstructed details based on documents acquired over many years, this is a unique undertaking in the world of museums. Over 20 people have been working on the model in the same way as they would build a real ship – the complete hull would even float on water.

We often do not realize how many Poles live in Brazil. According to the statistics, there are 1.2 million people with Polish blood in their veins in this faraway land. Different circumstances led them to this great country in South America. In the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century it was earning emigration, they were mainly landless peasants who emigrated from southern and eastern polish lands, from Galicia and Małopolska. After the World War II a wave of political migration started. At that time soldiers who fought in the army of General Andres and also participants of the Warsaw Uprising settled in Brazil. Among the last of them was Janusz Wścieklica. I was lucky to meet him in 2003 during my visit to Brazil.

I met Mrs Janina Wscieklica and her husband in a quite unusal way. Before another expedition to Brazil, I had got in touch with Poles from the Club 44 in Sao Paulo which is an organization of ex-insurgents. Mr Janusz Wscieklica, who is a club treasurer, responded to my letter. Even though he did not know any of us, he send me an e-mail with an invitation for a cruise to tropical islands. In this untypical way we got to the tropical islands located on the Bay of Bahia da Ilha Grande, in between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Over 1400 Polish WWII refugees found shelter in the Mexican colony of Santa Rosa. On Saturday a documentary film, co-financed by the Polish MFA, that tells their extraordinary story had premiere in Chicago.