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
Since the 17 September 2021 "go live" on the new and improved Kresy-Siberia Virtual Museum, we have been working hard to iron out annoying bugs and issues, as well as continuing to add further content. The three main data holding areas are complete – the Wall of Tribute, the Hall of Images and Survivor Testimonies. One area of development that was particularly complex was the connectivity between a Wall of Tribute entry and related content. The bespoke coding for this element has now been completed and is up and running, whilst some finishing touches to the results pages is in progress.
For example, if I go to my grandfather's profile in the Wall of Tribute - Jan Pacewicz - I can click on the red hyper-link for "Related Images" and this takes me to all of the Images uploaded for my grandfather in the Hall of Images (all screen-shots attached). I can also click on the red hyper-links for "Related Galleries" which will take me to, for example, the Katyn Gallery in the Museum Galleries. And if I were to start in the Hall of Images for Jan Pacewicz, I can click on the red hyper-link for his Wall of Tribute ID and this will take me to his Wall of Tribute profile. Thank you Shelley Upton for successfully designing and coding this complex inter-connecdness between our three main data holding areas. Please take some time to explore, or add, your family details in the museum.
The majority of the Virtual Museum area of the site is complete and work has begun on the Special Exhibitions, which will include specially themed areas of the website as well as virtual flipbooks to read. As well as completing the previous exhibitions, we will be adding a brand new exhibition in due course which has been provided on the "A Trip to Nowhere" - by one of our KSVM members, Grazyna Balut Ostrom.
At the same time, we have been providing technical support for our members who are getting used to contributing their photos and memories to the new platform.
Lastly please do check out the many lists of sources in the Wall of Tribute. A new upcoming addition is ROPWiM's Iran Archive 1942-45 which has been lovingly and painstakingly digitized in a searchable format (previously it was just images of the original lists) in which the handwritten names were transcribed by Christina Zehaluk (she has a talent for deciphering hand script) and Chris Wroblewski did the editing and MS Word format.
Also transcribed and searchable digitally for the first time are going to be the KOL 138_296 A-E and KOL 138_297 F-M, List of Polish families (civilians) evacuated from the USSR in August 1942. Thanks go to: Chris Wroblewski (transcriber and editor); Anita Cwynar (corrections and spelling); (Transcribers:) Anita Watson, Barbara Gdowski, Eve-Marie Galka, Gabriela Teresa Firkowska, Izabela Spero, Liz O'Sullivan, Marcin Kawala, Michael Lester, Natalie Schmidt, Tamara Bulmer, Vanessa Shaw.
Whilst all of this work could go on remotely during the covid pandemic, some of our on-the-ground activities have been restricted. In the UK, our annual event in February to mark the anniversary of the first of the deportations by Soviets to Siberia in 1940 was not able to go ahead due to the lockdown.
Many other events which we would usually support in the UK were similarly cancelled during the year. With the ease on restrictions a few events planned by other groups in November managed to go ahead and Kresy-Siberia was represented at the Independence Day Celebrations at the Polish Embassy in London, and at the Commemoration Ceremony at the Polish Social and Cultural Centre (POSK) in London. Members of the Group also attended a meeting of the Koa Lwówian (Friends of Lwów), the commemorative meal for the Carpathian Association for the 80th anniversary of the siege of Tobruk and attended a commemorative event at the grave of General Kopanski, the commander of the Polish Carpathian Brigade, that helped defend Tobruk.
UK BACKGROUND WORK
Background work and planning did continue by the UK based team. We helped with preparing an application for the Siberian Cross medal and submitting it officially. The medal is granted by the President of Poland to survivors commemorating their suffering and survival during their deportation to Siberia. This award was finally presented in December 2021 at a ceremony held at the survivor’s home, by the Polish Consul General Mateusz Stasiek and the 2nd Vice Consul Tomasz Balcerowski. More information can be found here: Wolverhampton woman, 97, who survived gulag horrors recognised with medal from the Polish Government | Express & Star (expressandstar.com)
It was uncertain for most of 2021 whether the Kresy-Siberia Annual Conference, usually held in September in Warsaw, would be able to take place. A team of volunteers was put together to try and plan a Virtual conference and we had many speakers lined up and films ready to be shown. For technical reasons the conference could not go ahead, however we were able to make the seminal documentary film ‘The Forgotten Odyssey’:
A FORGOTTEN ODYSSEY English - YouTube and A FORGOTTEN ODYSSEY Polish - YouTube available on the Kresy–Siberia You Tube Channel.
Covid-depending, we are hoping for a Kresy-Siberia "Generations Remember" annual conference and members' get together at the new Sybirak Museum in Biaystok in the weekend of 16-17 September 2022, so keep an eye out for more news!
Finally, leaving on a positive note, the expansion of our social media reach continued. Our Twitter account, which is managed by Tim Bucknall, reached 10,400 followers!
Thank you for all of our donors and volunteers for keeping their Survivor Memories alive.
Dear Kresy-Siberia supporter,
Thank you for your generous past support of our mission, dedicated to researching, remembering and recognizing Poland's citizens fighting for survival and freedom in eastern Poland’s Kresy (eastern Borderlands) and in forced exile during World War II.
As you may know, our priority now is the IT redevelopment of our Virtual Museum website www.Kresy-Siberia.org. The team working on this is 2nd Generation Sybiraks and group members Anna Pacewicz and Irena Lowe representing website administration and Shelley Upton doing the web development. They are supported by Poland-based IT expert Artur Golicz doing the web hosting arrangements.
Meanwhile, our friendly and supportive online research and discussion group continues to grow and now has nearly 2000 members from Poland and all around the world. Please invite your friends and family to join us at www.facebook.com/groups/KresySiberiaGroup/.
"Generations Remember" 2019 Conference and Reunion
We are pleased to confirm that we are holding our 6th “Generations Remember” conference in Poland on the weekend of 14-15 September 2019, with participants also attending Sybirak Day ceremonies on 17 September to mark the 100th anniversary of Kresy returning to Poland on 1919, as well as the 80th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Kresy on 1939. Our special 2019 anniversary badge marks those three dates.
As in previous years our venue will be the History Meeting House (Dom Spotkan z Historia) in Warsaw.
This year we are again featuring an interesting variety of conference speakers on Kresy and the Polish wartime experience in Soviet captivity as well as in military and civilian exile around the world. This will include David Stewart, son of one of the American POWs brought to witness the Katyn massacre exhumations in 1942, who will speak about his father’s experiences and how the US government dealt with his report of the war-crime, based on approximately 1,200 Katyn-related recently declassified documents that he downloaded from the U.S. National Archives. We will also hear once again from Tomasz Kuba Kozowski, Poland’s foremost historical buff on life in pre-war Kresy. We will also be screening the film “Children in Exile”, by US-based Director and son of a Sybirak, Chris Swider, who will join us by satellite to talk about the film.
As well as being a conference, this is our annual reunion and 1st, 2nd and 3rd Generation Kresowians and Sybiraks attend from literally every corner of the world. Please register now to take advantage of our “early bird” 10% discount rates, available until 15 June 2019, at https://kresy-siberia.org/museum/conference/.
We are still able to make some late additions, so if you would like to suggest a presentation, film or exhibition for the conference, please send details, including the title and a brief (100 words or less) synopsis to Conference@Kresy-Siberia.org for consideration by 15 May 2019.
Thank you again for all of your priceless support of the Kresy-Siberia mission, whether through your financial donations, volunteer time and talent, or contribution of photos, Survivor interviews or other historical materials. Preserving and promoting this history all depends on you!
With gratitude and warm regards,
Stefan Wisniowski, Foundation President
and the whole Kresy-Siberia team
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