War Immigrants

Officially-sanctioned history books tend to be written by people who put their own slant on heroic and dubious battles, decisions and deeds—and more often by victors than the defeated.

Polish history regarding World War 2 has suffered from its stories being told by “others.” Seldom mentioned are the hundreds of thousands of Polish civilians and combatants, often incorrectly described as “ordinary,” who experienced direct contact with invaders or rescuers both within their country's borders and outside them.

This section of the website commemorates those Poles who died defending their own country, and the countries of others; those Poles murdered, massacred or left to die in the Soviet Union under Stalin; those Polish soldiers who died as forgotten allies in northern Africa and Europe; and those Poles who, after enduring extreme hardships in the depths of the USSR, escaped to continue their lives without fanfare—often in foreign lands.

These stories of Polish veterans and civilian survivors, who made their homes in New Zealand after World War 2, reflect what happened to hundreds of thousands of Poles all over the world.

The military timeline highlights the movements of Polish units in relation to the rest of the allies. missing humanity gives an insight into the brutal journeys experienced by nearly a million civilian Poles in 1940 and 1941 after Soviet soldiers forcibly removed them from their homes in eastern Poland. pahiatua refuge introduces the 733 Polish children and their 105 caregivers whom the New Zealand government invited to stay until the war ended. Individual recollections follow in pahiatua stories, polish veterans, military cadets, displaced persons and independent journeys.

We thank all of those who gave their time to record some of their personal experiences and look forward to posting more. We welcome contributions.

—Barbara Scrivens