Since 2007, the Polish History Museum has been conducting a project entitled ‘Families Separated by History’. Its aim is to document one of the most important Polish experiences of the 20th century – separation of families in the years 1939–1989 due to, among other things, resettlements and deportations of the war period, political imprisonment, and the decisions taken in the communist era to emigrate to the West because of political or economic reasons.
As part of the project, an exhibition entitled ‘Separated by War’ was organised; however, it does not conclude the whole project. Apart from the life stories of Polish families during World War II, we also would like to collect accounts and document the history of emigration in the post-war period as well as in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. We also plan to release a written publication and a documentary. We would thus like to preserve the memory of separated families, establish a link between the history of the Poles at home and the history of Polish emigration, and to encourage also the young generation, to take an interest in the history of their relatives or acquaintances.
Every account and story is invaluable, as there are no two identical family stories. All of them deserve to be recorded, because they testify to the vastness of experiences and complexities of Polish life in the 20th century.
Therefore, we ask all those who could and would like to share stories of their own life and the life of their relatives or acquaintances to relate their experiences connected with deportations, leaving the country and emigration as well as those of returns and reunions many years later.
We are grateful for all the memories and materials we have received so far as well as for all the kind words of support for the project. Thanks to your commitment and participation we can develop the project and achieve our goals, one of which has been the exhibition ‘Separated by War.’
If you wish to share your history with us, please contact us at:
Muzeum Historii Polski (with a note 'Families')
ul. Mokotowska 33/35
00-560 Warszawa, Poland
tel. +48 22 211 90 30
Who of your family members left the country (or never returned to Poland) between 1939 and 1989?
Who in your family currently lives in Poland and abroad (we suggest mapping out family relations)? Where (location, country) do your family members live? What was their itinerary of emigration? Did anyone else in your family leave the country later or decide to return?
Why did they decide to leave (or not return to Poland)? Did they originally decide to leave permanently?
When and in what circumstances did you/ they leave?
What did your family members take with them from Poland in the eponymous suitcase?
6.LIFE IN EMIGRATION
What was your relatives' life like in emigration? Where did they live and work? What did they do at their leisure?
7. THOSE WHO STAYED IN POLAND
How did the emigration of some affect the situation and fate of those who stayed in the country of origin? What changed in the family's life in result?
8. IN TOUCH WITH THE FAMILY
Did your family keep in touch with those living abroad and if so, how? Could family members meet and if so, what were those meetings like?
9. EMOTIONS AROUND THE SEPARATION
What did you feel when separated and during the first meeting/ return/ visit abroad? What about the contacts today?
Do you have memorabilia/ photographs/ letters/ documents illustrating the history of family separation? If so, what are they? Did anyone in your family write its history in a diary/ story?
2012 (c) MUZEUM HISTORII POLSKI
Wszystkie prawa zastrzeżone.