Orphans of the Storm

Orphans of the Storm
The Maharaja Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja with Polish Exiles in India. Third from the right is my mother Josephine (Ziuta).
On August 23, 1939 a secret pact was signed between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany which divided Poland between her two enemies. After the Soviets invaded Poland on September 17, 1939 about 1.7 million Poles were forcibly deported to labor camps in the remotest regions of the USSR. They were guilty of being Poles. They were guilty of being Roman Catholics, and most of all they were guilty of practicing their faith in the privacy of their homes. My mother, Ziuta Nowicka, and her family were deported on February 10, 1940 from their farm in Poland to a gulag near Archangel, in the northern region of European Russia. The cruel and inhumane experience happened in the name of Bolshevik Communism. After Germany attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Stalin concluded an agreement with the Polish government in exile in London, in which the Poles in the Soviet prisons and gulags were to be freed so that a Polish Army could be formed that would fight the Germans. After 20 months of solitary confinement in the notorious Lubyanka prison in Moscow, Polish General Wladyslaw Anders was released and offered command of the Polish Army to be formed and Polish Army reception centers were established. After two years in prisons and camps, men arrived at these centers with their families in rags, wracked with diseases, lice-infested, covered with ulcers and sores and ultimately many died on route or upon arrival. To make matters worse, an inadequate amount of food, clothing, boots, food and weapons were provided upon arrival and it was impossible to undertake adequate training. An agreement was reached with the Soviets that the Ander’s Army would leave the USSR to Iran, then in the British sphere of influence. There it would be trained, equipped, and deployed to protect the oil fields of the Middle East, then threatened by the German advances into the Caucasus. Together with the Polish Army of approximately 77,000 men, some 39 thousand civilians were allowed to leave the Soviet Union by this route and found safe haven in Persia.

My mother and her family escaped from their gulag and found sanctuary initially in Kuybyjshev, where a Polish embassy was established. It was in Kuybyshev that news arrived via the Polish Red Cross that a kind-hearted Maharaja offered lodging and care for 500 Polish half-orphaned and orphaned children. Ziuta and two of her siblings were transported with the Polish Army to Ashgabat, to a Polish orphanage near the Persian border and further on to India where she remained from 1942-1947. India became her country of salvation. One Star Away is a fictionalized account of my mother’s deportation and exile. Her experience as a young Polish exile is a testimony not acknowledged in most histories of World War II. ~Imogene Salva, Author of One Star Away

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The book is now available!

 I just received notification that "One Star Away", the novel that I started writing in 2015, is now live on Amazon in both e-book and paperback versions. With my father's recent passing, I have to admit I am experiencing a range of emotions. The book was due to be released earlier, but I am glad it happened today, on October 13th, The Feast of the Day the Sun Danced at Fatima. God is always full of surprises. Thank you so much for any support in helping me promote "One Star Away" and to reach as many hearts as possible. I want to thank my editor, Joasia Pelszynska, who was equally invested in my mother's story getting published. Please be patient as I will be updating both my author's page and my blog in the next few weeks. Here is the link for the book on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/One-Star-Away-Imogene-Salva-ebook/dp/B08KTVYPK7/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=One+Star+Away&qid=1602640186&s=books&sr=1-1

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A Good King of Gujarat

An article about the great maharajah who gave refuge to almost a thousand Polish children, many of whom had been orphaned, all of whom had been displaced by the Soviets. From Hindustan Times:
It is mid-afternoon in Jamnagar and a bus is taking a round of one of its squares. The archway of a once-magnificent fort is in sight. Beside it, shops selling juice, spices and visiting cards, inhale and exhale customers from and onto the street. Roman Gutowski, 83, a retired Polish civil engineer, pulls back the grey curtain on one of the bus windows, and peers out. Naturally, the Jamnagar he sees 71 years after he left it is not what he remembers of the place. His son, Tomek, a businessman, who has brought along the third-generation Gutowski, his son Maciej, is shooting with his camera to ensure that this time he does.

Photographs cannot stand on their own without memories. “I know about Jamnagar and Balachadi from my father’s stories,” says Tomek. “Maciej must see where his grandfather comes from. Had I just shown him pictures….” Roman Gutowski grew up alongside almost a thousand Polish children in a camp at Balachadi, 25 km off Jamnagar – the capital of the erstwhile princely state of Nawanagar in present-day Gujarat – in the British India of the ’40s. These were children of mainly Polish soldiers and they were trying to somehow survive the horrors of World War II.

The German occupation of Poland (September 1, 1939) led to the eventual extermination of six million Polish citizens. Lists were drawn up of teachers, clergymen, the intelligentsia and army officers for public execution; more than two million Jews died in concentration camps. (Read more.)