Blanka

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I came to Birmingham in 1952; I met my husband, got married and have been here ever since. I love Birmingham, I wouldn?t move from Birmingham.

I was born in the Eastern part of Poland. My father was a Policeman. He retired just as the war broke and he was taking part in politics. I was starting school at the age of seven.

In 1940, when the Polish soldiers were defeated by the Germans, the Russians invaded us and they started transporting people to Siberia. On the 13th April 1940 all the men were arrested and my father three months later was sentenced to twenty-five years hard labour. Three days after he was imprisoned, Russian soldiers came to our house in the night. They allowed us to take what clothes and food we could and took us to the station.

They were dropping the families, in one collective farm. They left us in the town hall and told us to find accommodation. The following morning the Russian women had heard about the transport of women and children in the night and they were waiting by the door to give bread and water. They took us in however they could. They were very good hearted.

We stayed there nearly two years. My mother and two eldest sisters had to work in the fields because they were only getting the rations for themselves and they had to feed the whole family. After nearly 2 years Poland signed an amnesty with Russia. My father when he was released from the prison joined the army and he was asking the red cross where we were, he knew what collective farm we were at and he got permission to come and pick us up.

Eventually we went to the port by the Caspian Sea. The army were going to Palestine so that?s where my father said goodbye to us and we went to Tehran. It was Christmas in Tehran. We had all the illnesses, like dysentery. People were dying like flies. We waited for a ship to take us to Africa. Sometimes it went to India. All over Africa they set up camps for the refugees because the war was still on. They sent me and my family to Rhodesia where we spent six years.

In 1948 they started to sort out the refugees. We had husbands and brothers in the Army so we could come to England. We arrived when I was sixteen so I carried on with my education, I went to the Holy Child Jesus Covent School in Preston. When my father was demobbed he moved to Preston where there was jobs available for people in the cotton mills until 1951 when they lost the jobs and closed the mills. My father decided to move to Birmingham. Being an industrial city, there was more work there.

I met my husband, got married and have been here ever since. I love Birmingham, I wouldn?t move from Birmingham. I am always busy socially with the polish clubs. I belong to various organisations and I am now chair for the Polish Senior Citizens. I live together with many of my polish friends in a Midland Heart scheme in Harborne.

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