Welcome members and donors to our autumn update! Work has been continuing on the new Kresy-Siberia Virtual Museum Plaform
All the Special Exhibitions are now live, with the main Exhibitions page complete and all added to the menu. These are:
The exhibitions for Berling's Army, The Polish 1st Armoured Division and People of the Polish 2nd Corps have been created in a digital book format, embedded with photographs, links and survivor testimony clips of the featured veterans.
Iran Archives Section
In the Sources for the Wall of Tribute, Shelley has also been adding transcribed files to the Iran Archives section - these are lists of persons preserved in the Polish Embassy in Tehran, Iran from 1942 to 1945.
Service Costs of the Museum
In addition to the physical work that Shelley is doing on the virtual museum, your donations also help with our service costs. This month we have paid for the license renewals for Gravity Forms & Perks, WPML. Thank you Shelley and also Artur in Poland (who does our server back-ups) for navigating us through the very technical aspects of operating a virtual museum.
New Zealand Gallery
This month work has started on the New Zealand Gallery, Poland Refugees in New Zealand 1944 - 1951. This involves:
Irena Lowe, our representative in New Zealand who curated the New Zealand Gallery writes that "we have a Polish Festival in Wellington on 2nd October and we are celebrating 150 years of the Polish Communities in Aotearoa. Part of it is a dedicated space for celebrating our community and there will be posters about our families and why and how they came to NZ. Our Wellington community is very much tied into migration caused by WW2 and hence the NZ Gallery is very informative. We also have a 12 panel exhibition which describes the journey of the orphans and later soldiers that came to NZ." If you would like any further information about the Festival please get in touch!
As we mentioned in our previous report we are planning a conference and gathering in September 2023 with our partner, the Sybir Memorial Museum in Bialystok. Our Executive Committee member Stanley Urban, who lives in Warsaw, has just visited the museum and writes, "Friends, thanks to Marcin's (Marcin Kawala) wonderful introduction we were received by the director Wojciech Sleszynski. He is very open to their association with Kresy-Siberia. It's a new museum and they're looking for content. He assured me that we're most welcome to meet there next year. It was a most rewarding visit and experience. Well worth the day spent. I recommend it."
We will keep you updated as our conference plans progress! In the meantime, we thank you for your on-going support to our valuble work.
Thoughts for Ukraine
Firstly, we must acknowledge the shock and heartache since our last report of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Forever a faultline between East and West, we once again bear witness to death and destruction in what was for many of us our family homelands. We have watched powerlessly as bombs have rained down on the historical Polish city of Lwów and Russian forces have encircled Kiev - the city where 3,345 Polish prisoners were shot and buried in the mass grave of Bykownia as part of the Katyn Massacres - the 'so-called' Ukraine List. This has produced a lot of emotional generational trauma for our members as evidenced by the many posts in our Facebook group. In addition to being a museum, we are also a family whose mission is to support each other in navigating not only the past, but the present.
Kresy-Siberia Virtual Museum
Work has continued on the re-build of the Kresy-Siberia Virtual Museum on the new platform. In addition to the enormous data content transferred across to the new site, our wonderful administrator Shelley has also graphically re-built the Museum Galleries and the Special Exhibitions in addition to creating new interconnected links between them and the Wall of Tribute, Hall of Memories and Survivor Testimonies. We thank our donors for their generosity. There is still work to be done in maintaining the virtual museum and we kindly ask for your ongoing support.
The Museum Galleries
In the Museum Galleries, each of the 29 Gallery Rooms now link to all of the thematically related Hall of Images. For example, in Gallery 4 'Freed to Fight', Room 4c. Polish 2nd Corps (1943-47) (see picture) the 'View the Gallery' link now takes the visitor to every single piece of content uploaded into the Hall of Images for the Polish 2nd Corps (see picture). The wonderful inter-connectedness that Shelley has created allows the vistor to also click on the related Wall of Tribute or Survivor Testimony links for the images and/or documents. Every Gallery, every image, every document, every survivor are all intricately connected from the individual story to the broader thematic Gallery.
The administrators (Anna and Irena) are now data testing every single Gallery Room links to the Hall of Images to check that every item is correctly attributed to the correct thematic Room.
In addition to the Galleries, we have also re-created several of the Special Exhibitions (see picture) including the exhibition that I created several years ago "Polish Naval Memories of WW2" (see picture). This multi-media special exhibition explores the contribution of the elite Polish Navy to the Allied war effort during the six years of the war at sea 1939-1945 and until 1947 with the PRC in G.B. Whilst many of the details of the Polish Navy during WW2 are well known, the stories of the veterans are not. This exhibition tells the story of the Polish Navy in WW2 through the witness testimonies, memories, photographs and stories of the brave men who served in her (see pictures).
You will also find the following flip-book special exhibitions, Berling's Army, The Polish First Armoured Division and People of the Polish 2nd Corps.
Our Board members in the UK, Mark and Iwona Krason, had a busy April 2022 representing the Kresy-Siberia Foundation at the Katyn Memorial in Gunnersbury, London and also at an Easter Lunch organising by the Polish Airmen's Association UK.
Virtual and Physical Painting Exhibition - Alicja Edwards (nee Moskaluk)
At our 2017 Kresy-Siberia conference in Warsaw I presented a virtual exhibition showcasing the paintings of Sybirak Alicja Edwards (nee Moskaluk). Alicja was a child in Bóbrka, Chodorow when the Soviets deported her and her mother to Kazakahstan in April 1940. A talented artist now living in Montana, USA, Alicja has documented her memories of the deportation through evocative paintings that really do tell a thousand words. You can see several of her paintings which have now been migrated to the new virtual museum, 'Paintings of Life in Kresy and Siberia'. The painting shown below of a family burial is titled "Death in the Steppes". Whilst we are a 'virtual' museum, we have been liaising closely with the new Sybirak Museum in Biaystok, Poland and they were delighted to accept the shipment of all of Alicja's original artworks so that the world can now see them in person. You can see the details of the exhibition launch on the Facebook page of Muzeum Pamieci Sybiru.
Although the war in Ukraine is giving us pause in 2022, we are planning once more a 2023 "Generstions Remember" Conference in Biaystok at the Museum of Siberian Memory, our partner who has done a grand opening this year. We anticipate our Conference to take place on the weekend of the annual March of Living Memory, September 8-10 on the Saturday. The following week will mark our National Day of the Siberian, with our collective memorial at the Monument to the Dead and Departed in Warsaw, on Sunday 17 September.
Connecting our family stories in the new museum
By Anna Pacewicz - Chair of the Kresy-Siberia Foundation
Kresy-Siberia was started on 17 September 2001 by Stefan Wisniowski, the Australia-based, Polish-Canadian son of a Siberian deportee. It started as as an internet discussion forum concerned with research, remembrance, and recognition of the Polish Citizens of all faiths and ethnicities that were persecuted by the Soviet Union during the Second World War.
By 2008, our collection of websites began to reach capacity and a decision was made to create the Kresy-Siberia Foundation, headquartered in Warsaw. The Kresy-Siberia Virtual Museum was officially opened in the Senate of the Republic of Poland on 17 September 2009, on the 70th Anniversary of the Soviet invasion.
The Kresy-Siberia Virtual Museum serves not only to preserve the group’s member collections, but also includes the collections and scholarly works of many individual historians, active research institutes and archives around the world. It provides an accessible window into this poorly known history and a base from which educational programs are being developed.
As you know we have been working extremely hard for over a year now on a full up-grade to our virtual museum to improve online visitor interactions and bring the computer programming up-to-date to ensure the preservation of the platform into the future. One of the last tasks was working on the site translations.
That work is now completed and - on the 20th Anniversary of the creation of Kresy-Siberia - we are thrilled to unveil the newly re-built virtual museum at www.kresy-siberia.org in time for the commemorations on the 17 September 2021.
We welcome you to the new and improved platform and we invite you to visit. For existing users we would really appreciate your feedback - please take the time to review your family testimonies, photographs, biographies and documents. Please send any comments to email@example.com
A special thanks to our wonderful Shelley Upton for her tireless work and dedication, to Artur Golicz in Poland who looks after the server and to Irena Lowe in New Zealand for her own tireless work in testing the new site.
We need and welcome your support and your contributions, your time, your talents, and your financial support in order to maintain this work that has become our passion – to honour the Polish citizens who so heroically struggled for freedom and for life itself in the eastern Borderlands and in exile outside their beloved Poland during the Second World War.
It was a very challenging to the start of the year. As many of you will know, our Founder & President Stefan Wisniowski suffered a serious stroke on the 16th January. Having spent several weeks in hospital he is now home and beginning the long road to recovery. The stroke has left him with aphasia of speech - and whilst he is still very much across all aspects of the Foundation he has been unable to be as hands on.
A call to arms went out and our “Kresy” family of volunteers have stepped up to help. Welcome to new Facebook admins Stanley Urban, Kris Nietubyc and Shelley Upton who have welcomed 47 new members since the beginning of February. And our continued thanks to stalwarts Alexa Topolski and Chris Wroblewski.
And a special shout-out to our dear “Timcio” Tim Bucknall who continues to build the Kresy-Siberia Twitter account with over 10,000 followers.
Behind the scenes we are super excited to tell you that the three main areas of the virtual museum re-build - https://new.kresy-siberia.org/ - are 99% complete! Please have a visit and check out the Wall of Tribute, the Hall of Images and the Hall of Testimonies. All the data has been transferred and our I.T. guru Shelley Upton is now tidying things up and optimising data performance.
The last stage of the museum re-build will be finalising the complex linking of people, stories and images in the three main sections to the Museum Galleries.
Thank you to Shelley for your painstaking preservation of the museum and also to Irena Lowe for administering the back-end, that is approving new users, answering queries and testing new pages.
Irena has also been busy coordinating the Polish Festival in Wellington, New Zealand with a display for Kresy-Siberia including exhibits from the Poland to Pahiatua 70th Anniversary. She suggests “maybe we can encourage other members to also front our Kresy-Siberia museum at various Polish functions around the world”. If this is something that you are interested in please let us know! We can help with exhibits, presentations and display material.
Finally, thank you for your generous support of the Kresy-Siberia Virtual Museum www.Kresy-Siberia.org and its mission to research, remember and recognize Poland's citizens fighting for survival and freedom in eastern Poland’s “Kresy” and in forced exile during World War II.
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