PROGRAM FOR OCTOBER 2019
MEETING DATE: Tuesday 09 October 2019
VENUE: KwaMuhle Museum, Bram Fischer Road [Ordnance Road] Durban.
TIME: Meeting commences at 17h15; Refreshments will be served from 16h30.
PARKING: Off Bram Fischer / Ordnance Road [next to the Museum]
COST: Members: R20.00 Visitors: R40.00
TITLE OF TALK: The Polish Africans of World War II
SPEAKER: Dr Anthony Zaborowski
As a result of the events of World War 2, as well as centuries of conflict with between Poland and her neighbours, the Polish Diaspora is one of the largest of all nationalities. On the 1st of September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland. On the 17th of September 1939 Russia attacked Poland from the East. The purpose of the Russian invasion in particular was the eradication of Poland and Polish culture. A process of systematic deportation of Polish people began, specifically targeting the Polish intelligentsia. Entire families and communities were packed into cattle cars to Siberian labour camps, trains had no sanitation with one hole in the floor for 70 people to use. There was little food and snow was melted for water, and many died in transit. Polish Gen Wladyslaw Sirkorski was the prime minister of the Polish government in exile and later gained permission from Allied leaders for Polish refugees to leave the Soviet Union. Many undertook a 2-year journey from the arctic to Africa, transported by trains, river barges and trucks. The story of the Polish refugees of World War II is a complex and fascinating part of the history of Europe, which has largely been overlooked by historians. Thousands of displaced Poles thus ultimately took refuge in former British colonies in Africa after being afforded the protection of the British Empire, including in South Africa. Polish enclaves were created with bakeries, gyms, open air theatres and farms. Many settlements were taken over by the African governments when the Poles left after the war, although many did not leave Africa.
Dr Anthony Zaborowski, a prominent Durban Ophthalmologist, is a descendent of Jadwiga and Roman Zaborowski (senior). They were deported together to a Siberian forced labour camp in in 1941. Zosia Zaborowski’s family fled to the Polish countryside and her grandparents and mother were maimed in bombings of the Polish countryside. She ultimately made her way to the USA, worked as an academic and remains an active socialite in her early 90s. Roman Mscislaw Zaborowski was born 10 October 1941 on a train in Uzbekistan. His mother – Jadwiga – wet nursed other babies. They embarked on a convoy journey across the Indian Ocean to Mombasa, Kenya, Uganda and ultimately Northern Rhodesia.