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“Few Now Survive, But None Are Forgotten”

“I was delighted and honoured to be asked to step in to sponsor this event as the co-convenor of the cross-party group on Poland.”


An event was held in the Scottish Parliament this week which included an exhibition introducing the stories of individuals, who came to Scotland during the Second World War, fought for freedom and then settled in Scotland; and came to love this country as their own and contributed to their local societies.

Local MSP Maree Todd, SNP, co-convenor of the cross-party group on Poland, joined the Polish Consul General on Tuesday night , 14th March, to welcome the exhibition ‘Scottish Polish Heritage of WWII: Life Stories’ to the Scottish Parliament.

The aim of the event was to commemorate those who served in the Polish Armed Forces during the War and to highlight the strong links that exist between the Scottish and Polish people.

The exhibition displayed 26 panels of photographs and stories written by living relatives which describe the journey from Poland to Scotland of each of the servicemen and women. These stories reflect the changed lives, aims, and aspirations of those who survived the war and made a new life in their adopted country of Scotland.

Poles 3

Many of the relatives of the men and women who served their country during the war attended the event in Parliament. Mr Stanisław Zawerbny (Stanley Young) is the only living person out of the 26 who were commemorated and attended the exhibition with his family.

Poles 2

Commenting after the event, Maree Todd MSP said;

“I was delighted and honoured to be asked to step in to sponsor this event as the co-convenor of the cross-party group on Poland.”

“Scotland and Poland have strong links with each other and this event was a fantastic opportunity for members of Parliament to learn more this rich history and some of their most active members of their constituencies.”

“The theme of the event, stories from WW2, was of particular interest to me having grown up in Ullapool. Many men from the village where I grew up, including my uncle, spent much of the war in Poland in a POW camp called Stalag XXIB, near Schubin. I remember hearing stories when I was a kid about how kind and generous the Polish people were; giving the prisoners food, despite hardly having enough themselves.

“Families of the soldiers are now well established across Scotland and make great contributions to their local communities, both culturally and intellectually.”

“I hope this event will be the first of many that will reach out to as many families of soldiers from World War Two as possible.”

Maree Todd Poles 1

Quotes from the exhibition panels:

‘Józef Zawiński was a special man, ripped from his family at the young age of 16 and exposed to the rigours of war at its worst, he endured much and played his part in ending that war, but after the war was not able to return to his home, to the country and society he grew up in.  He made another country his own, his new home!  He became an integral part of the community, respected and liked by many.  He and Margaret raised a large, very close knit family with love and respect and to this day they continue his legacy in remembrance, his eldest daughter Vanda now each year organises the Polish Remembrance Service and his grandchildren carry the Polish Standard in his, and his comrades honour. ‘

‘My Father Mieczyslaw Kazimierz Stanislaw Gladysz-Gryff was a strong resilient person and he coped with his emotional pain by firmly locking away the agonising memories. Therefore, like so many others, he spoke little of his wartime experiences. I think also, he wished to shield us from the horrors he had endured.

My Father’s love for his parents meant that each attempt at unlocking the memories was unbearably sad and painful so really I know very little of my Father’s life before he met my Mother. Also, I was only seventeen years of age when I lost my Father in 1976. For the last ten years of his life, he had suffered many heart attacks and strokes which meant that his speech was affected and it was difficult and frustrating for my Father to try to have lengthy conversations.

As a child, I was not interested in stories from the past. I had my parents – I loved them very much – the future and the past did not matter to me – I was happy in the present. How I wish now that I had shown him the interest and respect that my Father so richly deserved. Thankfully, there were certain keywords which had stuck in my memory from childhood, which were to prove invaluable when I began my research into my family’s past.’

 

 

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