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3: Nineteen Migrant Families

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This Bajkowski family arrived in Fremantle, aboard the Dunkalk Bay, on 29 March 1950 and included Antoni and Hildegard Bajkowski, plus their two daughters, Susi and Antonnette, both of whom were born in post-war occupied Germany, in Celle-Gross Hehlen. Antoni Bajkowski (1918-2003) was an ethnic Pole, having been born in Grozimy, so in north-eastern Poland, in the Bialystok region, while his wife was an ethnic German, being born in Starogard, which is situated just south-east of present-day Szczecin or in what is now Polish Pomerania. However, she had spent much of her childhood in Konigsberg, now Kaliningrad, since it was incorporated into Russia in 1945, but was then German East Prussia. However, Hildegard returned to Starograd shortly before the outbreak of World War II while in her early teens. Antoni before the war had worked on farms in his region.

Like several others who settled in Wyalkatchem Antoni had been captured with the fall of Poland to Reich and its allied forces in September/October 1939, so was interned as a prisoner-of-war and worked as a miner. This meant that his war years, all five and a half of them, were somewhat similar to those of the Italian POWs who contemporaneously worked as farm hands in the Wyalkatchem district though for a much shorter period. However, it should be noted that the experiences of those in the Reich were far more arduous than Axis POWs held in WA.

To gain an insight into and an appreciation of the fate of those captured by the Wehrmacht or any other German fighting arms, except perhaps units of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler's SS, it’s worth quoting English historian, Adrian Weale, at some length.

Post-war books and films about life in POW camps in Germany have, by and large, succeeded in creating a very false impression of what conditions were actually like. The Great Escape, The Wooden Horse and their ilk have managed to foster the idea that prisoners enjoyed conditions that were not dissimilar to life in a British public school. It would be easy to gain the impression that life for the POWs consisted of an endless circuit of choir practice, amateur theatricals and escape attempts, fuelled by the tempting contents of parcels from home and from the Red Cross. In reality it was very different. [1]

Weale could perhaps have included a reference to the American television series, Hogan's Heroes, which gave an even less accurate impression of prisoner life. Though here it should be added that its producers were really spoofing this chapter or aspect of the war, not attempting to portray it as something it was not. Weale, in his book, Renegades: Hitler’s Englishmen, writes that most POWs were interned in what were called Stammlager, usually abbreviated to Stalag, which were sizeable barbed wire compounds that held several thousand prisoners who were engaged in work in the surrounding region, be it in Germany, Austria or an occupied country like Poland.

Each Stalag supported, in addition to the main camp, a group of satellite working parties or Arbeitskommandos, in which NCOs and private soldiers were put to work, often as agricultural labourers, miners, navvies and so on (privates were obliged to work for their captors but could not be used in work that was ‘dangerous’ or directly connected to the war effort) . . . Conditions varied between camps, but virtually everywhere it was a struggle for survival. Most prisoners found themselves in unsanitary, overcrowded accommodation that was bitterly cold in winter and uncomfortably hot in summer. They were often inadequately clothed, had lost much of their equipment and spare gear on capture; and, of course, almost all had been subject to the severe physical and emotional trauma associated with combat . . . [2]

Weale's excellent, even if brief, description of POW life in the Hitler Reich was experienced by several of the Polish menfolk who settled in Wyalkatchem in or soon after late 1950, and this most certainly applied in Antoni Bajkowski's case. Although it would be an exaggeration to say that every Pole or Ukrainian who was compelled to work in or for the Reich during the war years was harshly treated by the German farmers they were allocated to work for, it would not be inaccurate to say that as a rule they faired worse that the Italian PWs in Wyalkatchem. Poles, it should be remembered, were classified as a racially inferior entity by SS and other German racial and demographic agencies. No such classifications applied to Italian or German PWs in Australia.

According to Bajkowski’s son, John, who was born in Wyalkatchem:

Dad was a POW at Scheunen, near Celle, Germany. He said he worked in a coal mine where he was given a choice of work and appears to have decided that it was safer underground than on the surface. [3]
Antoni and Hildegard met because she had taken an interest in the Polish language and was seeking a book from a girlfriend whose boyfriend knew Antoni, now freed from captivity. They married in Celle-Gross Hehlen, where part of the family was born, Susi in January 1947, and Antonnette in June 1948.

The Bajkowskis reached Wyalkatchem, via Koorda, where they were briefly stationed, arriving later than most of the other arrivals which meant that they were to live in the camp for a only a short period. They were consequently immediately housed in a WAGR house situated at the western end of Railway Terrace. Both daughters and John attended the Presentation Convent. [4]

Like several of the other Wyalkatchem migrant families they had reached Fremantle in late March 1950 aboard the Dundalk Bay. The third child, a son, John, was born in Wyalkatchem on 2 November 1952. According to John, the family was to have settle in Sydney but was allocated at the last minute to travel to Australia aboard the Dundalk Bay.

John said:
In Northam families would walk into town and migrants very soon found Roediger Brothers, the butchers who supplied meat in European-style. I’m sure Dad had the option of working in Wittenoom or Koorda, and opted for the latter where he worked on the railway. Accommodation in Koorda consisted of two tents and a tin shed as the kitchen plus two bare beds. Dad covered in the sections between the tents to give extra protection. After the tents, accommodation was upgraded to a cabin, tent and tin kitchen. Dad trimmed sleepers to make a wooden floor as prior to this it was dirt. A few months later our family was moved to a two-bedroom house. [5]
Even while the Bajkowskis were still living in Koorda, Susi attended school in Wyalkatchem since she boarded with the Presentation Sister in the convent house on Johnston Street. On Sundays she was driven from her family in Koorda by Father Reginald Hynes to the convent and after school on Friday Wyalkatchem’s general practitioner, Dr Fratel, who came from India in January 1951, having gained his medical qualifications at the University of Durham and the Royal Medical College, London. This arrangement came to an end in when the Bajkowskis relocated to Wyalkatchem in December 1955.

Although Antoni remained in WAGR undertaking track repair work, in later years he took on the job of being a length runner which meant travelling on a motorised trolley to Mukinbudin and Merredin where he would stay overnight and then return to Wyalkatchem. The Bajkowskis briefly lived in the “kemp”, in cabin quarters, before moving into the town to live at the western or Perth end of Railway Terrace, next door to the Poprzecznys and Bracknells. The family on the other side of the Bracknells were the Marcinowiczes.

Antoni also worked in his own time bagging salt at Lake Hindmarsh, south-west of Wyalkatchem. Although one cannot now be certain but this was probably for Norman Edwards who had the salt supplying contract and right to farm this commodity from this lake. At the same time Hildegard worked as a domestic for the de Pierres family. This was followed by working in the kitchen at the Wyalkatchem Hotel, then still owned by the family of the late and legendary Country Party Senator Bertie Johnson; followed by being a cook at the hospital and finally as barmaid at the hotel.

Quoting John again on several aspects of life in the camp:
The buying of furniture and the like was from Boans in Perth. A trip to Perth by train saw many family possessions acquired over time. Mum spent many months in hospital in Perth as a result of falling down the ash pit in between the railway line. If it was not for Susi hearing Mum yelling, who knows what would have happened. Life in general was good and getting better by the year. Most immigrants were getting a feel for the place and the language was not big problem it used to be. Many parties were held with music supplied by Stan Piekarczyk on the piano accordion. Because of the large numbers of Poles a social life did exist. A number of transient workers also came through Wyalie being Water Supply workers as well as with the WAGR. Many knew or knew of people from the days on the ship or Northam Camp. [6]

In Merredin Antoni was to be a trades assistant with the WAGR and later a storeman until retiring in 1982. Nine years later Antoni and Hildegard moved to live in Bunbury and in 2000 moved to Mandurah to lived with Antonnette and her husband Graham Allen.

Antoni died in January 2003. Susi had married Joseph Piestrzeniewicz and has three children. Antonnette who had earlier married Robin Downs of Wyalkatchem, had had two children, while John, married to Betty Newport, also had two children.


The Baluchs remained in Wyalkatchem for probably less than two years. The head of the family was Jan who was born in Przemysl, in the south-east of present-day Poland. He was born in 1902 so was relatively old when accepted for migration to Australia. Although shown on the Dundalk Bay’s passenger list or nominal roll as a factory worker he, at least at some stage in his life, worked as a small trader at fairs in Poland. His wife, Boleslawa, was seven years younger than her husband and was born in Zolkiewka, about 40-kilometres south of Lublin, present-day south-eastern Poland. Their only child, a son, Jozef, was born in March 1939, so was markedly older than the other children living in Wyalkatchem’s railway camp. Jozef, who was nearly 12-years old when he reached Wyalkatchem in late 1950, relatively quickly moved into the workforce. He was born in Goscieradow, which is 65-kilometres south-west of Lublin and 20-kilometres from Krasnik, near his mother’s place of birth.

Although the Baluchs had left Wyalkatchem well before the mid-1950s Jozef was to return at least once as a sales attendant with a side-show stall at the Wyalkatchem Agricultural Show, meaning he had followed in his father’s footsteps, at least for a time. Like the two Kozlowski children, Rose and Waclaw, who are mentioned below, he had probably left WA by the 1960s and was not to maintain contact with anyone in the town, not even with his closest Australian friend, Ian Ashelford. [7] 


This couple, Jozef and Irena Chorza-Purkhardt, arrived in Fremantle aboard the Skaugum in July, 1950, on the same journey as the Roszaks and Szczesnys. Like others reaching WA at this time they were initially housed in Northam. After a short time Jozef was assigned to employment in Perth metropolitan area while Irena remained in Northam, a situation not dissimilar to the Szczesnys where Stefan Szczezny first worked in a Perth glass works, away from his family in Northam, and later at Mundaring Weir from where he was transferred to Wellington Dam near Collie and was able to take his wife and son.

Our main source for the Chorza-Purkhardt family is their son, Leszek (Leslie), who was born in Northam in October 1950, only three months after the couple had arrived in Australia. He said of these early months in Australia:

My dad left Perth and settled in Northam. In 1951 my mum was hospitalised for about a year. While in hospital my sister, Ina Mable, was born, in September, and I stayed with a number of Polish families. [8]
Jozef had been born in Lwow, south-eastern pre-war Poland, in September 1913, when this region was within the soon-to-be-dismantled Austro-Hungarian Empire, while Leslie’s mother, Irene, was born in Ostrowiec, in March 1930, a town whose economy was based on steel works and steel fabrication, situated in central Poland. Leslie says that the Purkhardt family were quite well off with his grandfather being a qualified carpenter who owned a joinery business that specialised in assembling doors and windows.

With the outbreak of World War II Jozef served in the Polish Army and was taken prisoner by German forces, which included Austrian troops. Here Leslie says:
The Germans, being thorough by nature, had determined that my father was of German descent and as a result drafted him into the German Army, where he served in the Wehrmacht. He worked his way up to the rank of lieutenant and served on the Russian Front. [9]
Jozef was consequently classified by German interrogators as what was then known as a Volksdeutsche – literally a German folk. This term applied to Germans outside the Reich and referred to persons who were either regarded or regarded themselves as ethnic Germans even though they did not hold Reich citizenship or perhaps even speak the German language, which many did not. It should be noted that the Hitler Movement’s ideology was first and foremost a racial one and included in the Germanic community – folkdom – were all those who were seen as having ancestral blood ties to Reich Germandom. [10]

Because this background or wartime experience is so markedly different to that of the other Poles who found themselves in Wyalkatchem it is worth considering it in greater depth. Probably the writer who has most concisely explained this is Polish-born American historian, Professor Tadeusz Piotrowski of the University of New Hampshire, in his path-finding book on wartime collaboration, Poland’s Holocaust – Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947.

Pre-war Poland was, like Australia, the United States and Canada today, a society in which there were many ethnic groups. Piotrowski’s study focuses upon how each of these responded to Poland’s occupation between 1939 and 1947, by the forces of Hitler’s Reich and by Stalin’s Bolsheviks. As well as carrying separate chapters on the Soviet and Nazi Terrors he therefore surveys Jewish, Polish, Belorusan, Lithuanians and Ukrainian collaboration within the context of both these terrors.

The role of Polish citizens of German ethnicity, even if very distant, are considered within the Polish chapter. When considering this issue, however, Piotrowski advises of the need to “distinguish between the term conscription and the term collaboration” and claims the former should not be considered as collaborator.” [11]
For example, the Nazis tried to Germanize the Wasserpolen, Maurian, Kashub and Silesian Polish nationals simply by placing their names on the Racial Register (Volksliste) Neither should we include in the list of collaborators the hundreds of thousands of Poles who were forced in the Germany army, whether they carried arms or were used in auxiliary functions (the usual case). By war’s end there were 400,000 Poles in the Wehrmacht and the Organization Todt (a technical paramilitary organization), compared with 380,000 in the Armia Krajowa [the clandestine Polish national underground army inside German and Soviet-occupied Poland]. According to one authority on the subject, Stefan Korbonski, in 1942 all Poles of military age in the western territories that had been incorporated into the Reich were rounded up, placed on the Volksliste, and automatically drafted into the German army. General Wladyslaw Sikorski addressed the plight of these unfortunate, involuntary conscripts: “The determined resistance to and the mass desertion from this press-gang conscription, unheard of in the 20th century, have already led to numerous death sentences in the home country.” It is little wonder, then, that after their capture by the Allies, some 90,000 of these ‘press-gang’ conscripts served willingly under British command. [12]
Also worth highlighting here is Piotrowski’s judgement of all those who were press-ganged to work in the wartime Reich, that is, people whose fate was like that experienced by so many who settled in Wyalkatchem.

Finally, we should not include in the category of “collaborators” any forced labourers who “worked for Hitler” no matter what their nationality, or any members of the Polish Red Cross who co-operated with the Germans for humanitarian reasons, or any of the tens of thousands of kidnapped Polish children who were drafted into Nazi youth groups such as the Hitlerjugend. [13]

In the final days of the war Les Purkhardt says that his father’s unit was surrounded by the Red Army an ordeal he managed to survive and escape from after which he eventually reached Warsaw and took another surname, Chorza, so as not to be identified within the newly Sovietized Poland. Jozef Chorza eventually found work in Skaleczno (now Scicnawka Srednia) as a personnel manager in the town’s power plant where he met Irena Kozera, who was the plant manager’s daughter. Irena had been born in Ostrowiec. Leslie says that his father was associated with an underground group, the members of which maintained regular contact with each other. Because Jozef suspected they were being watched he opted to flee westwards into present-day Germany, to Wolterdingen. Several years later he clandestinely arranged for Irena to do likewise.

Three years after reaching Fremantle the family was relocated to nearby Toodyay where they lived for about a year. They next moved to Perth metropolitan area and were to settle in Midland Junction, then a major centre for migrants, particularly Poles, many hundreds being employed either directly by WAGR to work on the railways or at the Railway Workshops. Leslie says that his father sought promotion within the WAGR and in 1955 moved to Wyalkatchem where he worked as a guard on trains travelling between Wyalkatchem and Merredin, Northam and even Mukinbudin.
My best and most memorable times were in Wyalkatchem. We lived on Flint Street, next door to the Walkerdens – Russell, Bobby and Lyn were my friends. Across the road and a little over to our right lived my friend Eddie Wyrzykowski, and across town was my other friend Michael Roszak. I attended the Convent where Mother Veronica was the principal and Sister Clement our teacher. Father Hynes ran the parish church. But alas, the Wyalkatchem stay did not last too long for in 1957 we left for Wooroloo. [14]
Both the Chorza-Purkhardts were to find work in Wooroloo, which, in the 1950s, was still a sanatorium township in a woodland setting and relatively close to Perth. In the following year the family left Wooroloo to commence their voyage to Canada, namely Quebec. Leslie says the family remained in Perth until August 1959 because of a shipping hold-up due to disputation on the docks. The four left Fremantle that month and reached Canada, via Europe, aboard the Aurelia.
Jozef died in 2002, aged 89, while Irena, who was born in 1930, was still alive in October 2005. Ina later moved to Vancouver where she has two children, Yuliss (born 1980) and Andrew (born 1983). Leslie has remained in Montreal where he attended McGill University studying engineering, after which he joined the Montreal-based engineering giant, Bombardier Aerospace, working as an aeronautical engineer. Leslie has two children, Adam (born 1987) and Natalie (born 1989). Leslie returned to WA for a visit and although not visiting Wyalkatchem went to Bunbury to meet Mrs Roszak and her daughter, Lil Drinkwater, and also her brother, Michael Roszak. The visit was made possible due to the fact that Bombardier sells aircraft to several Australian regional airlines. After completing business with these Leslie took the opportunity to have a private holiday on Australia’s west coast to re-establish this 1950s contacts which dated back nearly half a century.


The head of this family was a widow, Helena Kozlowska, a qualified seamstress. She and her two children, Rozalia, who was 14-years old in 1950, a year younger than her brother, Waclaw, spent less than 18 months living in the town, not in the camp but in a rented house on Wilson Street, diagonally opposite the Town Hall. Waclaw worked briefly as a farm hand while Rozalia worked as a shop assistant for the Wilson family. Like nearly 1200 other Poles the Kozlowskis reached Fremantle aboard the wartime American troop carrier, General W C Langfitt, in February 1950, having sailed from Mombasa, Kenya.

All the 1180 former Polish citizens aboard the General W C Langfitt on the trans-Indian Ocean voyage had been forcibly expelled from Eastern Poland between 1940 and mid-1941 by Stalin’s NVKD, as part of a deliberate policy of forcibly de-polonizing these sovereign Polish lands, which the Soviets annexed with Berlin’s concurrence after occupying them in September 1939. These Eastern Polish expellees were dispatched by train either to Western Siberia or Kazakhstan where they remained until l942 when a treaty between Moscow and the Polish-Exile-Government in London – the Sikorski-Maisky Treaty negotiated their release. [15] This treaty was signed because Hitler had invaded the Soviet Union that summer.

Of the million or so Polish citizens – not all were ethnic Poles who had been expelled from their homes - only about 100,000 managed to leave the Soviet Union during the war under the terms of the Sikorski-Maisky Treaty signed in London to make their way, with Allied (British and American) assistance via Iran to India, the Middle East and to East Africa.

Anne Applebaum’s epic study of Stalinist imprisonment and murder of so many innocent people, Gulag - A History, briefly considers these Poles and Polish citizens. [16] In doing so she makes the pertinent point that this 100,000-odd internee group was unique in that once one was ensnared within that Gulag one generally did not escape. But because of the unique wartime circumstances where Hitler invaded his former ally, these Poles and Polish citizens managed to escape. Never slow in maintaining that the Soviets had legality on side the Stalinist administration justified this large scale release by alleging that it had extended to them “an amnesty” as if these men, women and children had committed a crime.

On the Polish side, many objected to the Soviet Union’s use of the word ‘amnesty’ to describe the freeing of innocent people, but this was not the time to quibble: relations between the two new ‘allies’ were shaky. [17]

According to Applebaum the reason for the so-called ‘amnesty’ was so the Polish Government in London could create inside the USSR a Polish Army which was to be led by General Wladyslaw Anders. This was to result in the Siberian or Kazakhstan Poles often being referred to as the Anders Poles. Later still, in Western Australia, their name was changed to African Poles or simply the Africans when being referred to or spoken of by those Poles who had reached Fremantle via the Reich.

Relations between Anders and the Soviet authorities, who were still arresting and re-arresting people, finally came to breaking point and Anders decided that it was simply not possible to maintain and feed those who he was congregation in the USSR leaving as the only option departure en masse. Those who left kept fighting. After recovering in Iran, Anders’s army did manage to join the Allied forces in Europe. Travelling via Palestine - and in some cases via South Africa – they later fought for the liberation of Italy at the Battle of Monte Cassino. While the war continued, the Polish civilians were parcelled out to various parts of the British Empire. Polish children wound up in orphanages in India, Palestine, even East Africa. Most would never return to Soviet-occupied, post war Poland. The Polish clubs, Polish historical societies and Polish restaurants still found in west London area testimony to their post-war exile. [18]

Generally speaking the men and older boys within this sizeable group of ethnically cleansed Eastern Poles were used to form a regrouped Polish Army that later served in Italy while the women, elderly, sick, and children lived from late 1942 until January 1950 in a network of East and Southern African camps that were subsidized by the London-based Polish Government-in-Exile, the British, and later UNRRA and IRO. These fortunate 100,000 had been released by the Soviets because they were military or potential military personnel with dependents.

In round figures this 100,000-odd people were disbursed from Teheran as follows: 70,000 to the military for training either in Iraq or Palestine; 19,000 transferred to a network of East African camps; 5000 settled in camps in India; and about 1500 orphans settled in a camp in Mexico and in another camp New Zealand. [19]

According to Maryon Allbrook and Helen Cattalini:

In total, there were twenty-two different camps for Polish displaced persons, scattered throughout East and Southern Africa, all of which had been receiving Polish refugees since late 1942. [Father] Królikowski (1983, p. 84) claims that “the reason for this dispersal of the camps from the equator to the Cape of Good Hope remains still a secret of the British government”. Given the numbers of people involved, a simple though obvious explanation may have been the sheer logistics of supplying these people with food and necessities. In total these camps held some 19,000 people, including 3500 older men who were unfit for military service, 6000 women and approximately 8000 children, including some 1500 adolescent girls (Królikowski, 1983, p. 85). They were, as one participant observed, an “incredible pool of femininity” who united to develop lively and creative communities in which to nurture and educate their children. [20]

The Kozlowskis were to be the only Poles from this Soviet-initiated Siberia/African expulsion/migration to reside, even if only briefly, in Wyalkatchem. Inquiries made during mid-2004 indicated that the mother and perhaps her son had left the town to live in Northam, which by the mid-1950s had a sizeable Polish community, including clubhouse. Several peoples who had known Rozalia both in Koja Camp and in WA indicated that she had briefly attended the Presentation Convent in Goomalling as a boarder after which the family moved to Wyalkatchem where neither Rose nor Waclaw attended school. Inquiries about Rozalia’s and Waclaw’s later whereabouts amongst the relatively closely-knit “Siberian” “African” or “General Langfitt” Poles, as these Poles were also commonly referred to, failed to locate them. However, Rozalia worked was employed for about two years by the Wilson family who owned three stores on Railway Terrace and for a time she maintained contact by letter with Mrs Wilson. According to Mrs Wilson’s eldest son, John, Rozalia went to live in Sydney where she married a onetime sailor either of the Royal Navy or Royal Australian Navy with the name Howes or House. Mr Wilson cannot recall which of these names. Mr Wilson briefly met the couple in Sydney on his way back to Western Australia from New Zealand in 1959. But the contact between Rozalia and the Wilson did not continue beyond that meeting. [21] While in Wyalkatchem Rozalia had been engaged for about one year to Ernie Howe, who hailed from Carlisle, was employed by a Korrelocking farmer. Howe later returned to live in Perth where he emerged as an iconic figure in the Young Liberal Movement and even contested a State Parliamentary seat during the 1960s. His impact on people appears to have been quite extraordinary with many of his contemporary Young Liberals still vividly recalling him and his aspirations several decades after his death in 1973. It is purely coincidence that Rozalia’s later ex-naval husband had a similar sounding name to Howe. All that can be therefore be said is that Rozalia's road to Sydney, from Eastern Poland, which she probably left during 1940, either via Siberia or Kazakhstan, then the Middle East, East Africa, Western Australia and then to Wyalkatchem was surely one of the longest odysseys taken by a wartime teenager.


The head of the family, Piotr (Peter) was born in Stanielewicze while his wife, Czeslawa, hailed from Borowa, which is in south-eastern Poland, in the county of Mielec, roughly midway between Krakow and the historic Italian-style town of Zamosc. Stanielewicze is in present-day Belarus, in the area that Poles called Nowogródczyzna. This is the area from where Poland’s famous 19th century patriotic poet, Adam Mickiewicz, Poland’s William Shakespeare hails, and is the region he referred to when writing the following lines:

“Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! Ty jestes jak zdrowie;
Ile cie trzeba cenic, ten tylko sie dowie,
Kto cie stracil.Dzis pieknosc twa w calej ozdobie
Widze I opisuje, bo teskne po tobie”

(O Lithuania, my country, thou
Art like good health; I never knew till now,
How precious, till I lost thee. Now I see
Thy beauty whole, because I yearn for thee) [22]

These are the opening patriotic lines of Mickiewicz’s epic love poem, “Pan Tadeusz”; ones which can so easily bring tears to Poles’ eyes when recited on stage or even at small social gatherings. Czeslawa’s village, on the other hand, has been described as follows:

Borowa was a village with the status of urban centre (gmina, shire) between the two world wars. A document dating back to 1404 gives evidence of the existence of Borowa. In 1921 it had a total of 1256 inhabitants, 186 of whom were Jews. The Christian population dealt in farming, whereas the local Jews made a living from small trade and peddling in the area villages. Some Jewish families owned farming lands or orchards. [23]

Peter was born in January 1915 while Czeslawa, although born in the same month, was 12-years his junior. Piotr joined the Polish Army at age 18 and was taken a prisoner in 1939. Since he, like so many other prisoners-of-war, had the choice of remaining interned as a POW or working on a farm in the Reich he understandably opted for the latter so spent the remainder of the war working on farms within the Reich, in the Utmetan region. After being liberated in the spring of 1945 he joined the American armed forces, in which he served until emigrating to Australia in early 1950. It’s worth pointing out that all of Eastern Poland was reincorporated into the Soviet Union in 1944-45, as it had been in 1939, following the Molotov-Ribbentrop or Hitler-Stalin Pact, so that where Peter hailed from now came under Moscow’s control.

Czeslawa’s parents were farmers. At the age of 14, she and her brother, Jozef, then aged 18, were taken from their family farm by German soldiers and loaded on to a truck to be dispatched by train to Hamburg, on the North Sea. This was experienced by many hundreds of thousands of Poles, and Ukrainians, during the German occupation years. Czeslawa was directed to domestic work on a farm in Utmetan while her brother was required to work in a brick factory.

Czeslawa was one of six children. Her sister, Anastasia, was killed in Warsaw during a bombing action while, Helen, Francis and Tony remained on the family farm. Jozef returned to the farm after the war. Czeslawa re-established contact with her family after the war but decided not return to Poland which was now under Soviet control with backing from a small group of Polish Bolsheviks, many of whom had been pro-Moscow activists even before the war broke out.

The Marcinowiczes first child, a daughter, Monika, was born in August 1946, in Peine, Germany. The family reached Fremantle aboard the Dundalk Bay in March 1950 and arrived in Wyalkatchem late that year. This meant they were amongst the first to become residents of the camp. Like other such new arrivals Peter worked as a railway repairer on the tracks between Wyalkatchem and Dowerin, and Koorda and Trayning. Their son, Alexander, was born in Wyalkatchem in November 1951, and in the early 1960s, Peter and his family left for Northam and East Fremantle. Of her father, Monika said:

Dad communicated with his family after the war to discover that his brother had been killed during the war aged 20. But his parents and both his sisters were to survive. His sister Mary wrote and told him not communicate with them again as their lives would be in danger. She also advised him not to return to his home as he would be shot – the region was now under communist rule and it was thought that because he’d served in the Polish army and subsequently joined the American Armed Forces that his life would be in danger. He was never to see his family again. [24]

Monika attended Iona Presentation College at Mosman Park. After graduation she was a secretary and teacher and later entered the financial services sector. Brother Alexander studied accountancy at the WA Institute of Technology and embarked on a computer retailing and hardware installation business. In 1980 he emigrated to New Zealand where he works in the computer sector.


The Olejasz family lived only briefly in the camp, almost certainly less than a year before boarding a train at the Wyalkatchem railway station for Merredin, Kalgoorlie and on to Adelaide. The reason for moving interstate remains unknown. The most likely reason is that relatives or friends had advised the couple of brighter prospects in South Australia. Another possibility is that Wyalkatchem was initially seen by all the newcomers as being isolated and even though life there was no more primitive during the early 1950s than say pre-war Poland, which all had experienced, a desire to move to a city,even one on the other side of the Nullarbor, undoubtedly had its understandable appeal. Both these reasons are, of course, conjecture in this case and are offered only to cast light on considerations that initially, at least, had crossed other minds. It’s worth remembering that all migrants were shocked to see a water pipeline along the section of the Perth-to-Northam railway line when they were being moved from Fremantle to Northam camp. The existence of this pipeline (the Mundaring-to-Goldfields line) led many to believe they were headed for a desert location, not a Mediterranean climatic region as exists in the central wheatbelt. The head of the Olejasz family was Kazimierz who, in 1950, was already 50-years old, so significantly older than males who were generally accepted for entry into Australia. His wife, Agata, was born in 1908, so she was also older than most of the migrant women who were to reach Australia, and Wyalkatchem.

Their acceptance as migrants by Australian officials undertaking processing duties in Germany is probably explained by the fact that they were accompanied by three children, all daughters – Aniela (15), Janina (11) and Zofia (5). The first two were born in their father’s village, where the family was living before the outbreak of the war. Zofia, on the other hand, was born in Kempten, Germany.

Most other families reaching Australia at this time had just one, perhaps two, children. It was rare for a family to have three or more children. Kazimierz hailed from Dzwinogr while his wife was from Buczarcz, so both came from south-eastern Poland, a region from where many Poles had fled during 1943-44 due to a terrorist war launched against them by the fascist and pro-Nazi Ukrainian Nationalist Organization. The anti-Polish terrorist war resulted in the massacre of many tens of thousands of Poles – men, women and children. However, whether the Olejaszes had actually fled like so many thousands of others for that reason is not known since they could no be located for interview. [25]


Stanislaw (Stan), Maria, and their son, Peter, then aged 2, arrived in Fremantle from Germany aboard the Anna Salen on the last day of 1950 and disembarked the next day, so on New Year’s day, 1951. Stan Piekarczyk hailed from the southern Polish city of Nowy Sacz, having been born in Juraszowa in October 1920, while Maria was born in Simorogi in October 1924.Both were victims of a lapanka so were forcibly dispatched to the Reich to work. During the war both found themselves in the Bamberg region, in south-central Germany, where Stan worked as a farm labourer while Maria was employed as a domestic in a hotel. Commenting in 2005 on his parents’ wartime experience Peter, who was born in Coburg, Germany, said:

My parents met in Coburg, Germany, while living in a refugee camps. My father whilst in that camps worked for the United States Army as a volunteer supply guard. [26]

Like others reaching Fremantle at this time the Piekarczyks were immediately dispatched to Northam. Within six weeks Stan was working on a dam construction project at Morawa in the state’s northern wheatbelt. Once this project was completed he was transferred to the CBH to work on wheat silos and later moved to Koorda where the Bajkowskis were living and where he remained with his family until 1955.

In that year the Piekarczyks relocated to Wyalkatchem since Stan had opted to transfer to the WAGR. Wyalkatchem, unlike Koorda, was at the junction of the Northam to Merredin and Northam to Mukinbudin lines which meant a greater number of gangers were based there. This probably helps explain why the Piekarczyks and Bajkowskis were relocated there from Koorda. The Piekarczyks were among the last migrants to remain in Wyalkatchem. Their daughter, Danuta, was born in 1957 and the family left for the south-western port city of Bunbury in 1971.

Like so many other wives of migrants Maria had a variety of jobs in the town over the more than a decade and a half that the family lived in Wyalkatchem, including at the district hospital, a major employer of migrant women throughout the 1950s especially, and the town’s Bowling Club. Stan was one of the few Polish migrants to have owned an automobile, a Valiant, something he took advantage of because he was able to do additional work for farmers during peak seeding seasons, which he did.

Peter was educated at the Presentation Convent and St Ildephonsus’ College, New Norcia, while Danuta also attended the Convent and then Wyalkatchem High School and completed her education at Bunbury High School.


The head of the family, Jozef (1915-1989), hailed from Gielniow village, which is about 100-kilometres south of Warsaw. Helena hailed from Poland’s historic Zamosc Lands, from the village of Skierbieszow – 17-kilometres north-east of the Italy-style town of Zamosc which was the first of 297 villages that Hitler’s demographic expert, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler’s senior SS-man and police chief (Polizeiführer) in charge of Lublin Distrikt, Odilo Globocnik, targeted to launch the top secret Generalplan Ost.

Jozef was press-ganged into working in the Reich in March 1942. He was transported by rail to German-incorporated French Lorraine after being arrested at Koluszki railway station, which is just south-west of Warsaw. He was transiting through Koluszki because he was returning from his home village of Gielniow, via Opoczno and Koluszki, and was headed for Piastow on the western approaches to Warsaw. Helena, in late 1944, also found herself in Lorraine since she had been dispatched there to a sub-camp of the Natzweiler camp, Ebingen A.C., from Auschwitz-Birkenau in August that year. The nearly two years between her expulsion from her home in Skierbieszow, in November 1942, and August 1944 was spent either in Auschwitz-Birkenau or within a work sub-camp near this huge killing centre called Babice. She had reached Auschwitz-Birkenau in early December 1942 with 613 other Zamosc Lands expellees. Before being dispatched to Auschwitz-Birkenau, however, she with all others from Skierbieszow was ethnically processed in a transit camp in Zamosc where children and parents were split. Helena’s then 18-month old daughter, Zofia, was taken from her at this stage and the two were apart for the entire war, and until 1981 when Zofia migrated to Australia with her husband, John Rurka, and their daughter. Helena had discovered, while in Germany in the late 1940s, from her sister that Zofia had been saved by a stranger who had unofficially adopted her. [27]

Jozef and Helena met in the village of Kemplich, Lorraine, where they were liberated by General George S. Patton’s Third Army (XXth Corps) after which they were moved to an UNRRO refugee camp in Trier, Germany, where they lived until late 1949. During those years Jozef worked as a tailor for the French Occupation Forces based in central Trier. He had left his village of Gielniow in 1931 to undertake a tailoring apprenticeship and had been working as a self-employed tailor when war broke out in September 1939. In the winter of 1949-50 the family moved from Trier with their son, Janusz (Joseph), to another camp at Dietz, on the eastern side of the Rhine, and then on to Bagnoli Camp, near Naples, where they boarded the SS Dundalk Bay which reached Fremantle on 29 March 1950.

After six months in Holden Centre, Northam, the Poprzecznys moved to Wyalkatchem’s just-built railway camp, since Jozef, like all other males who had reached Australia under the refugee migration scheme was required to work for the WAGR for a two-year period. This was a condition of his and his family’s paid passage to Australia. A daughter, Lisa, was born in January 1953. Both children attended Wyalkatchem Convent. Joseph, however, had briefly attended Wyalkatchem State School prior to the opening of the Convent on Johnson Street by the Presentation Sisters in 1952. In 1953 the school was relocated to a site near the Catholic Church at the eastern end of Railway Terrace. The Poprzeczny family left Wyalkatchem in 1970, so were one of the family’s to live longest in the town, a full 20 years. Six years earlier Joseph moved to Perth where he undertook tertiary studies at the University of Western Australia while Lisa gained teaching qualifications. In Perth Jozef was employed by the State Education Department as a gardener on the campus of Mt Lawley College of Advanced Education while Helena worked for several years at Dianella Hotel.

Skierbieszow: The Starting Point for Hitler’s Final Solution of the Slavic Question.

As stated above Skierbieszow was the first of 297 villages that Hitler’s demographic expert, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler gave the order in mid-1942 to Germanize (Eindeutschung). Germanization meant the expulsion of all Polish residents and their replacement by Reich Germans and/or Volksdeutsche, that is, persons deemed to have German ancestry.

The man designated to carry out this huge ethnic cleansing action was a senior SS-man and the police chief (Polizeiführer) in charge of Lublin Distrikt, Odilo Globocnik. Between 28 November 1942 and August 1943 he and his long-time wealthy pal from Carinthia, southern Austria, Reinhold von Mohrenschildt, with the help of the pro-Berlin Krakow-based fascist Ukrainian Central Committee’s (UCC) officials and police units, expelled from the Zamosc Lands some 110,000 ethic Poles. Across the north and west of these lands German farmers were settled while in the east and south-east Ukrainian peasant farmers took over entire villages. Globocnik’s Zamosc Lands ethnic cleansing action was therefore jointly conducted even though the eventual fate of all Ukrainians was to have been the same as that of the Poles – expulsion into Western Siberia and the creation there of a series of Slavic “Bantustans”. Because the UCC’s top officials either did not realise or did not want to realise this they continued as Berlin’s collaborators throughout the war. The significance of Skierbieszow is therefore that it was the first of the nearly 300 villages within the Zamosc Lands to be ethnically cleansed of Poles. What happened on 28 November was that the village was surrounded – in the early hours of the morning – by German and Ukrainian police units. When the sun rose there was yelling, shouting and cow-bell ringing and all the waking residents were ordered to assemble promptly in the village square or centre.

A few hours later they were taken by cart and on foot to Zamosc, 17-kilometres away. While making that journey they noticed a long line of horse drawn wagons which were carrying the new occupants - Volksdeutsche. Interestingly, most of these people were from Rumania. They has spent some two years in camps in western Poland. The reason they had been removed from Rumania’s Bessarabia region was that as part of the Hitler-Stalin partitioning of Eastern Europe many tens of thousands of people of German ancestry were allowed to leave newly Soviet-acquired lands that Hitler had agreed that Moscow could annex. Some of those settling in Skierbieszow may well even hailed from pre-war eastern Poland since many people there had opted to be recognized as Germanics rather than remain in a Soviet-controlled Ukraine or Belarus, the two Soviet republic into which most of eastern Poland was incorporated. The Germanization of Skierbieszow on and after 28 November 1942 was repeated nearly 300 times over during the next nine months because the Zamosc Lands had been targeted by Globocnik and von Mohrenschildt to be the first compact region or zone of central or occupied Poland to be so Germanized. The intention was to repeat the Zamosc Lands action over and over across all of occupied central and western Poland and then do likewise in the three Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, across all of Belarus, the entire Ukraine, and all of European Russia, with all the ethnically cleansed people expelled into Western Siberia, so over the Ural Mountains. These traditional Slavic Lands were thus to become, forever, Germanic Lands. And it was across these lands that the new 1000-year Reich was to be located.

The name of this enormous, indeed, unprecedented, demographic blueprint was Generalplan Ost. Although it was primarily drawn-up in Berlin Globocnik had established in Lublin a unit called the Research Centre for Eastern Settlement (Forschungsstelle fur Ostunterkunfte) where plans for eastern colonization was being refined by his university trained SS-men. [28] Unfortunately, western or English-speaking historians have been remiss by not researching and outlining this plan in published histories and school texts, something that could be done even though most of the paper works associated with it was deliberately destroyed before the end of the war by German SS officials both in Berlin and Lublin.

It is interesting to note that in February 1943, just three months after Skierbieszow was forcibly Germanized one of the families settled there, the Koehler family, had an addition. The child was named Horst, and he is today the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, so is President Horst Koehler, a German, who at the time of Wyalkatchem’s centennial year must be classed as Skierbieszow’s most famous former resident. Prior to taking up this position Horst Koehler, a trained economist, was president of the International Monetary Fund. His family had acquired the homestead and lands owned by a Jozef Weclawik, a distant relative of Helena Poprzeczna, whose maiden name was also Weclawik. Interestingly, Skierbieszow has links with another president, President Ignacy Moscicki, who was the president of the interwar Polish Republic in the years immediately before the Nazi invasion of September 1939. President Moscicki spent his childhood in Skierbieszow and the graves of his family are there. He escaped from Poland in late 1939 and was for some time interned in Rumania, after which he settled in Switzerland. He did not become involved in the Anges, France, or London-based wartime Polish Governments-in-Exile which pursued the fight against Hitler’s Reich throughout the entire war.

Most of the Polish expellees from the Zamosc Lands villages were scattered into the Warsaw region. Children were forcibly taken from parents while younger men and women were taken into the Reich to be labourers. It has been estimated that about 250 residents of Skierbieszow perished either in Auschwitz-Birkenau or elsewhere. Helena Poprzeczna’s mother and first husband are among this figure. Information obtained after Helena’s death on Christmas Day, 2008, revealed that her first husband, Wladyslaw Krepinski, had died or was murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau on 26th February, 1943. Her mother, Anna, died or was murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau on 6th March, 1943.

The fact that Helena Poprzeczna and her relatives were to find themselves in Auschwitz-Birkenau was unfortunate because archival records show that just two train-loads of Zamosc Lands villagers were directed there, with many Skierbieszow residents being on at least the first train. Although overlooked or ignored by academic and other historians, the Zamosc Lands ethnic cleansing action is therefore of paramount significance to understanding Nazism since it allows us to clearly see the ultimate aims of this aggressive and racially fixated totalitarian fascist ideology of which so many Poles, including those who settled in Wyalkatchem in the early 1950s, were victims. Skierbieszow therefore has the unique distinction of being the village that was the starting point not only of the Zamosc Lands ethnic cleansing action but also of Generalplan Ost, that is, the Final Solution of the Slavic Question and the entire Germanization of the entire so-called East.


Like several of the other Wyalkatchem migrant families the Przybylowicz family (who later abbreviated their surname to Plowicz) reached Australia aboard the Dundalk Bay so late in March 1950.

The head of the family was Jozef (1923-1993) who hailed from Tuliszkow in the Poznan region, north-western pre-war Poland. His wife, Julia (1926-1994), was from the historic southern Polish city of Krakow which, during the war, served as the capital of occupied central Poland for the German occupant. Krakow was also the administrative centre for what the occupant called Krakow Distrikt, initially one of four such larger administrative units – the others three being Warsaw, Radom and Lublin Distrikts. Like so many others they found themselves in wartime Germany as workers. Jozef was from a farming family while Julia was a dressmaker. After war Jozef was employed for a time as a member of the 882 Labor Service, an American post-war works unit, near Munich.

Their son, Roman, known by his contemporaries and teachers as Robert, was born in Coburg, Germany, in November 1946. He, like others children at the camp, attended the Convent School. Although her place of birth was Krakow Julia, whose maiden name, according to her son Robert, was Baran, spoke either Russian or Ukrainian. [29] The Przybylowicz family left Wyalkatchem in 1959 and initially leased a delicatessen in Claremont. In subsequent years they managed similar shops in Subiaco and North Perth. [30]


The Roszak family briefly lived in a single tent just outside the perimeter of the camp (“kemp”), just a short distance away from it, on the western side of the Wyalkatchem-to-Cunderdin road just south of the town. The Roszaks had reached Fremantle aboard the Skaugum in July 1950 and arrived in Wyalkatchem either late in 1952 or early 1953.

Wladyslaw (Walter) Roszak hailed from the town of Koscian in Poznan Province while Serafina Roszak was from southern Poland, from Skawina, which, is on the outskirts of Krakow. However, Serafina had worked in Bavaria prior to the outbreak of war, something that made her quite different from the other Poles and Ukrainians who settled in the town. When the family reached Wyalkatchem their first child, Lil, was aged six-years so immediately attended the Presentation Convent while their son, Michael, had just been born in Northam. Serafina, like most of the other migrant wives commenced working soon after arriving in the town.

Like many tens of thousands of other Polish males Walter had spent the war years interned. He had been mobilised in August 1939 to serve in the 6th Pulk Artylerii Cieszkie (the 6th Heavy Artillery Regiment) and saw action near the south-eastern Polish city of Lwow. There he was captured by German forces on 2 October and taken to a Stalag, either VI/d or VI/a, where he remained until January 1945. [31]

Lil went on to undertake her secondary studies at Iona Presentation Convent, Mosman Park, where several other girls went. She was to marry John Drinkwater who reached the town in the early 1960s as the publican of the Wyalkatchem Hotel, which by then the Johnston family had sold. The Drinkwaters now own and manage Bunbury’s historic Rose Hotel. Michael completed his primary and most of his secondary eduction in Wyalkatchem after which he attended Carmel College, near Kalamunda, where he completed his final two years. After this he worked for the State Education Department and like so many others then in their late teens or early twenties relocated to the Pilbara which was undergoing its early expansionist phase to become the world’s leading iron ore province. On returning to Perth in the early 1980s he went into business owning a number of liquor stores and later a tourist-oriented motel in Cairns, Queensland.


Klass (Charlie) and Nelly Schuilling lived in Wyalkatchem from late 1953 until early 1955, so not quite two years. The couple were unusual migrant settlers for several reasons. Unlike others reaching Wyalkatchem during the fifties they had travelled to WA not by sea but rather by air, and were to reach Perth airport in July 1953 aboard what was probably the first KLM migrant flight into Australia. Like many of the Polish and other Wyalkatchem families the Schuillings lived at the Holden Centre in Northam but after just a month Klaas commenced work at the Northam Water Supply Depot. However, this was to be a briefly held position because both he and Nelly wished to work further inland so went to Wyalkatchem where they found employment at the Wyalkatchem Hotel which was then under the management of Jack Wright.

Commenting on this move from the sizeable Northam to the smaller Wyalkatchem more than half a century later, Mr Schuilling said:

Our reason for coming to Australia was part adventure, partly the Dutch weather. I had spent 30 months in Indonesia with the Dutch Air Force and partly a desire to start farming. [32]

Clearly, remaining in Northam in government employment could not have seen his desire to become a farmer realised. Their next move was to be to Gordon and Lindsay Carter's where Klaas was a farm hand while Nelly undertook dressmaking to supplement their income. From the Carters they relocated to work for Hadley and Monty Davies at Benjaberring where they remained for one year.

In 1955 the couple moved out of the district to go to Perenjori where they remained for a years working for Tom Smithson Caron, followed by short spells in Brunswick Junction, Dinninup, Koorda, and Wongan Hills. Mr Schuilling next became a contract seed wheat grader with a mobile Hannaford’s plant and as a sheep dipper with the WA Sheep Showering Company. All up he worked 12-years in these two farming service occupations.

Although Mr Schuilling left rural work in 1969, to settle in metropolitan Perth, where he worked in real estate, he returned to be a contract seed grader between 1980 and 1985.


Janis and Helena Saveljevs were relative latecomers to Wyalkatchem. They reached the town in 1953, so a year or so after most of the first migrant arrivals had already taken up railway houses in the town. Janis was a Latvian while Helena was an ethnic Ukrainian but she was from pre-war Poland, from near the south-eastern Polish city of Jaroslaw. Janis, who was born in Likana, Latvia, in October 1926, was a truck driver in the Reich with the Wehrmacht after late 1941, having, until then, been a member of a Latvian military unit from the age of 17. The couple reached Fremantle aboard the Goya on 22 June 1949, and soon after their only child, Victor, was born in Northam. Victor said:

Dad initially transported firewood and milk in the Wehrmacht but later in the war he transported fuel and ammunition. [33]

Like several of Wyalkatchem’s other migrant women referred to above, Helena found herself in the Reich as a forced worker, an Ostarbeit. Victor Saveljevs said his mother had left occupied Poland because she had decided to take the place of her younger sister who was destined to be taken forcibly from their family.

According to Victor:

Mum was assigned to the Munich area, in southern Germany, and worked on a farm from 1940. My parents met in a refugee camp situated in the Munich area, which was near where Dad and several others associated with him had abandoned their trucks and surrendered. [34]

The Saveljevs family lived briefly in Graylands Migrant Camp and were then moved to Holden Centre in Northam. Victor was born shortly after they arrived in Australia. Janis initially worked in Cannington, where he was stationed for a year with what was later known as the State Electricity Commission (SEC) constructing power lines. After that period he was relocated to Yelbini, 17-kilometres east of Wyalkatchem and then just a railway siding, to be the bin attendant with CBH. In 1953 the Saveljevs family moved to Wyalkatchem which was then still a growing town.

Although Janis died in 1972, Helena stayed on in Wyalkatchem until 1977 before opting to join Victor in Perth. Victor had joined WAGR in 1965 and worked for a time in Mullewa and later transferred to Perth. Helena, who died in late 2004, had worked at Wyalkatchem Hospital and the hotel throughout the 1950s until the late 1970s.


The Stubans were a Ukrainian couple with the head of the family being Maxim and his wife Anne. After living for about two years in the camp they were, like several other families there, relocated to a railway-owned house at the western end of Flint Street. The Stubans, who had two sons, John and Peter, left Wyalkatchem either in 1955 or perhaps 1956, after deciding to depart WA to settle in Mt Druitt, near Sydney. Because efforts to contact them proved unsuccessful nothing can be said of their years after departing Wyalkatchem.


The head of the Szczesny family was Stefan, who was accompanied to Wyalkatchem by his wife, Stanislawa, and son, Wieslaw, later known as Joe, who was born in Emmerich, Germany, in March 1946. Although Stanislawa hailed from northern Poland, from the village of Skepe, near Bydgoszcz, she spent the war years in Warsaw where she had been working when war broke out. She survived the August/September 1944 Warsaw Uprising during which some 200,000 Polish civilians and partisans perished. The collapse of that patriotic rebellion resulted in the city’s entire surviving population being removed to outer towns and villages and camps. [35] Stefan, who was from a farming background, was born in Grondy-Lodz, so hailed from Central or what was often referred to as Congress Poland. The family reached Wyalkatchem two years after the town’s initial intake of migrants, in late 1952, just as the camp was seeing its first residents steadily relocating into houses within the town.

Stefan hailed from the southern Polish city of Czestochowa and had served in the Polish Army at the time of the outbreak of the war, so was captured and interned once Poland was defeated in September/October 1939. He was therefore a POW during all of the war was interned and even worked in that capacity in the Cologne region of the Third Reich. The Szczesnys reached Australia aboard the Skaugum in July 1950 and were initially settled in Northam. Stefan then worked in a glass works in Perth, so away from his family and later at Mundaring on the actual weir, also away from his wife and son who remained in Northam. Shortly after he was transferred to work on the Wellington Dam site construction near Collie which meant he acquired rudimentary family quarters so was able to take his wife and son out of Northam. In 1952 he moved to Wyalkatchem to work for the WAGR, and thus lived in the railway camp, remaining there until 1958 when the family transferred to Midland, then known as Midland Junction, and worked in the WAGR workshops until retirement. [36]

Joe had attended De La Salle College in Midland until third year and completed his secondary studies at Governor Stirling High School. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force and began studying engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and was to complete those qualifications at the WA Institute of Technology. This qualified him for a career in the state’s engineering mining and mineral processing sector. He is married and has a son and daughter.


The Vanblitterswyk family reached Wyalkatchem in 1951, having departed newly independent Indonesia for Australia in 1948, the year that Tony Vanblitterswyk was demobilized from the Dutch Army. The family initially settled in the town at the eastern end of Wilson Street since Tony was employed by the Wyalkatchem Farmers Co-operative Store. After about two years in that position the family moved to Benjaberring, 12-kilometres west of Wyalkatchem, where he managed the Benjaberring Farmers’ Co-operative Company Store. Walter Harper, a leading personality in WA’s rural affairs and co-operative movement after the Great War, officially opened the store in October 1925. Although the store was destroyed by fire in 1952 local farmers resolved to rebuild it and Tony was appointed its manager.

The Benjaberring Farmers’ Co-op burned to the ground on Sunday, 7 September 1952. The Fire Brigade saved only the storeroom and the fuel, which was stored nearby. Then the Co-op Company decided to rebuild the store and continue in business, which they did until 1969. [37]

Unlike her husband who was a Dutch national and serviceman, Orrie Vanblitterswyk was an Australian. The couple had met in Casino, New South Wales, in June 1944, where Tony was stationed with the Dutch Army as it was gearing up to return to Japanese-occupied Netherlands East Indies (NEI). With the fall of the (NEI to Japanese Imperial Forces in early 1942 he was to be eventually directed to Australia as part of the build-up of Dutch forces near this former colony to help retake it at the opportune moment and in the meantime assist America and Australian forces in the common task of thwarting Imperial Japan’s southern drive that initially aimed at occupying New Zealand, after which Australia would also have been cut off from west coast USA.

Tony’s journey to Wyalkatchem from Holland commenced in early 1940 and was to be even more circuitous than that made by most of the Eastern Europeans who reached the town via either Hitler’s Reich or Stalin’s Soviet Union at about the same time. Just prior to the outbreak of war in Western Europe in the spring of 1940 following Adolf Hitler’s surprise invasion of the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway, and France, Tony, as a member of a 50-strong specialist military training unit, was dispatched by sea to the West Indies. His unit’s duties on the various Dutch Caribbean island possessions included the training of local militia and guard units to help prevent likely German landing parties that it was believed could easily have reached these possessions by U-boat. Some of these island possessions had significant oil-storage and other strategic facilities so were seen as potential targets. After nearly four years in this region Tony’s unit was relocated by American troop carrier to the Panama Canal Zone where it was joined by 600 extra Dutch troops who had been based in the Central American Dutch colony of Surinam. This joint force was then shipped across the Pacific to eastern Australia, which it reached in June 1944. Tony and most of this force’s members were based in Casino and it was here that he met his future Australian-born wife, Orrie.

In Casino some of the recently trans-shipped troops commenced training as irregular or guerrilla fighters since it was intended to land them behind Japanese lines. However, due to a recurring pneumonia Tony was hospitalised in Brisbane after which he was reassigned to military administrative duties. Like most other Dutch servicemen stationed in wartime Australia at the cessation of hostilities he, and his wife, were relocated to the NEI. For a time the family lived in Batavia, (now Jakarta) followed by a short stint in Bandung. Some time before the NEI gained independence from Holland in 1949 to become Indonesia the couple decided to return to Australia and eventually opted for Wyalkatchem and later nearby Benjaberring. The years between late 1945 and 1948 saw the emergence of an indigenous insurgency, which the Dutch were to unsuccessfully combat in much the same way that Indonesian forces were to combat a similar insurgency in the 1990s and afterwards in Indonesia’s north-western Aceh province on the island of Sumatra.

In 1945 it was back to Indonesia to face yet another long period of hostilities with the uprising under Soekarno. Hostilities like that are actually worse than straight war because it is hard to distinguish friend from foe. [38]

Tony was a man who placed great emphasis on physical fitness. He coached sporting teams, was an umpire, and secretary of the Wyalkatchem Trotting Club. [39]

Vlahos Brothers

Two Greek related families named Vlahos arrived in WA from the Greek island of Corfu, lived in the camp from about 1954 until no later than 1957, perhaps only 1956.

Matteos who was married to Victoria headed the first of these families. They had a daughter, Vaso. The second was headed George, Matteos’ brother. George’s wife was Aristia and she and George had followed Matteos to Wyalkatchem. Both Matteos and George worked on the railway.

Both families left for Perth after less than four years in the town, with Matteos moving to Bellevue, east of Midland, where he owned a general store into the 1960s, after which he and Victoria returned to Corfu. George followed his brother to Bellevue where he managed a fish and chip shop for many years. [40]


the island of Sumatra
The Wyrzykowskis – Stanislaw (Stan) and Gertrude – were unusual in the sense that unlike the others to reach the town in 1950 or soon after they had come via Adelaide not Fremantle. Both reached South Australia either in 1948 or 1949 and soon afterwards opted to come to WA. They were certainly in Wyalkatchem by 1951 because their son, Edward, was born in the town’s district hospital that year.

Stan, who was born in September 1923, so was four years his wife’s senior, was to become the leading hand of Wyalkatchem’s railway repair team from that year until 1961 when the family emigrated once again; this time to the United States. Although Edward does not know the ship his parents reached Adelaide on, or the towns or cities they hailed from in Poland, he was able to recall a number of pertinent background facts from the war and immediate post-war years in relation to his parents. Edward said:

At the age of 16 my father was picked up of the street in a small town near Warsaw by the German Army. He was placed on to a farm where he farmed German land. However, since he was not very good at this he was forced to work in a coal mine. When the war ended he was placed into a camp for displaced people and this was where he met my mother who had followed her sister, Ellie, to Germany from Poland. [41]

According to Edward, his aunt Ellie had married an officer in the Polish Army and both couples quickly decided that they would venture out of Europe with the Wyrzykowskis opting for Australia while the others were accepted by the United States. However, the parting was something the Wyrzykowskis came to regret and after nearly a decade decided they would re-unite.

On reaching the United States the family settled in Chicago near their relatives, where Stan worked for Inland Steel’s Transportation Division. Because Edward had moved to southern Florida, where he was to later manage a club, his parents followed him after his father had retired in 1983. Edward had two sons, Eddie and Eric, from his first marriage. He re-married Maribeth in 1989 and they settled in Boynton Beach, Florida. His mother passed away in January 1990. Stan died in June 2001.

Because the Chorza-Purkhardts and Wyrzykowskis were close friends in Wyalkatchem they maintained contact on reaching North America and in the late 1960s the latter family drove to Montreal to meet the Chorza-Purkhardts.

· Zuglian

The Zuglian family reached Wyalkatchem in 1956, having spent the previous six years in nearby Trayning. Like several other of the town’s migrant families the Zuglians had reached Australia aboard the Dundalk Bay, therefore arrived in Fremantle on 29 March 1950.

Franciszek (Frank) Zuglian and his wife, Michalina (nee Krystal) hailed from the village of Zadwórze, (pronounced ZAD-VOO-ZE), 33 kilometres east of Lwow, a major south-eastern Polish city at the time now the urban centre of Lviv in Western Ukraine as a result of the area, Eastern Galicia, being re-annexed by the Soviet Union in 1944 as it had earlier been in September 1939, then with the concurrence of the Hitler Government. Before the war the area was known as Tarnopol province. Both the Zuglians were therefore, technically speaking, Soviet citizens for the period 17 September 1939 until June 1941 when the Wehrmacht reached this area. The Zuglian and Krystal families knew each other well and their children were to marry in February 1941, just four months before Zadwórze, with the rest of this segment of pre-war Poland, was occupied by German forces.

As with so many other Wyalkatchem migrants the Zuglians’ journey to Australia began with the ordeal of a lapanka. This description is by their daughter, Danuta (Dee) Hutchison:

One black day a friend of the Zuglians ran to their house and told Michalina that her husband had been picked up on the street by German soldiers while on his way to work and had been taken to the railway station to be transported to Germany. At the time the occupying troops were looking for young healthy people to become workers in civil and military projects. Michalina rushed to the spot where her husband had been picked up and was herself caught and pressed into the same working party. She tried to tell the soldiers she had a three month old son [Adam] at home but she couldn’t convince them to let her go. She was taken to the station where she was assured they would be returned in two weeks. Hundreds of people were being loaded into boxcars and purely by chance the couple were re-united. [42]

Their second son, Frank, was born in occupied Germany in 1945 while Dee was also born in Germany, in 1946. Unlike most of the other Polish families to reach Wyalkatchem the Zuglians had thus been separated from a child in the hiatus of a lapanka. Here they were therefore somewhat similar to Helena Poprzeczna who had been separated from her daughter, Zofia, in early December 1942 in the course of Globocnik’s ethnic cleansing of the Zamosc Lands. In the case of the Zuglians this situation was not to be remedied until 1961 when Adam, then aged nearly 20-years, reached Australia. The drawn-out moves to effect this re-union involved both the Australian and International Red Cross.

In November 1950 a third son, Stan, was born in Northam, and their second daughter, Elizabeth was born in 1960. Both Frank and Dee had been born in Hohenfels, in occupied Germany. After the collapse of the Reich the Zuglians were to live in Hohenfels where, in 1938, the Wehrmacht had established a sizeable training area near the town, which is approximately 65 kilometres south-west of Grafenwoehr, and about 86kms from the border with the Czech Republic. During the war years Hohenfels had also been the venue of a prisoner-of-war camp that held Polish, Yugoslav, Russian, British and American combatants. All its survivors were liberated in April 1945. Since this facility had not been damaged it was transformed into a processing station for Displaced Persons. Soon after the Zuglians left it in late 1949 US military forces expanded the training area to over 40,000 acres, and American units began training there.

Adam married and had three children and is living in Adelaide. Frank also married and settled in Perth where he was employed by Boral Transport. Dee married Wyalkatchem farmer, Bob Hutchison. They had three children and five grand-children and are farming at Booralaming. Stan married and settled in Esperance. He has two children and works for Primarys, while Elizabeth, mother of three, settled with her husband in Northam.

Zadwórze The “Polish Thermopylae”[43]

In 1921, one year after the war between newly-emerged Poland and the Soviet Union ended, the Zuglians’ home village had 327 homesteads and 2183 residents. Of these 1402 were Ruthenians (Ukrainians); 697 were Poles, 78 were Jews, four were Germans and one was of unknown nationality. A decade later the village had 453 homestead and a total population of 2820, a rise of nearly 650. Although we do not know the population in 1939, the year that war broke out and the Soviet Union annexed the region, it was probably about 3500. By WA standards Zadwórze was therefore a sizeable township even in 1921. [44]

Zadwórze, however, has a special place in modern Polish military and political history and is sometimes referred to as the “Polish Thermopylae”, after the 480 BC clash between 300 Spartans and much stronger Persian force. Even though all 300 Spartans were to perish the Persians lost their will to fight in the face of their foe’s fighting abilities and withdrew from the battle.

The Battle of Zadwórze was fought on 17 August 1920, as part of the Polish-Bolshevik War that took place the same year. Most of the fighting occurred near Zadwórze’s railway station where about 200 Poles perished defending the village against the numerically stronger Bolshevik forces advancing towards nearby Lwow. The battle lasted 24 hours and was to witness the complete destruction of the defending Polish force. The defeat, however, gained precious time that was crucial in the eventual Polish victory over the Bolsheviks in the pivotal Battle of Warsaw.

The Soviet forces had attacked Poland from both the north-east - through a belt below East Prussia – as well as from the south-east, where they intended to push through Zadwórze. towards the much bigger prize of Lwow, then on to Zamosc and Lublin before the two forces met up to advance on the capital Warsaw. The next stage for the Soviet or Red Army of Workers and Peasants (to give it its full title) was to move further westwards to bring about the bolshevisation of Europe.

The north-eastern force was led by General Shimon Naveh Tukhachevsky, who was later murdered by Josef Stalin, while the south-eastern force was led by Aleksander Il’ich Egorov. Interestingly, Stalin was a political commissar within the south-eastern or Egorov force. [45] To the good fortune of the Poles these two attacking armies, for a variety of reasons, never managed to properly co-ordinate their drive upon Warsaw. In addition Polish cryptographers had cracked the secret Soviet codes so they knew a great deal about the advance and the problems both Soviet forces were having. One of these problems was caused by a string of otherwise minor blocking actions effected by the Poles such as at Zadwórze. Clearly every day counted. Another crucial battle that came soon after Zadwórze’s defenders had perished was the Battle of Komarow, which is just to the east of Zamosc and south of the village of Skierbieszow where the Polish Uhlans defeated and scattered the Red Army’s formidable cavalry force led by Semen Mikhailovich Budenny, who was serving under Egerov.

This clash between the Polish Uhlans and Budenny’s mounted army was to be the last old-style European cavalry charge in history. A similar claim is often made in relation to the charge by the British and the Australian Light Horsemen units at the village of Bir Saba on the northern edge of the Sinai Desert in today’s Israel, against Turkish and German units but this occurred three years – in October 1917 - before Uhlan and Budenny clash. Because both attacking Soviet armies failed to come together on Warsaw’s outskirts as intended Polish military planners were able to counter-attack the Tukhachevsky Army’s left or southern flank from the Wieprz River area, in what is known as the Battle of Warsaw.

This Polish attack plus smaller blocking actions like at Zadwórze and victories like at Komorow were crucial to the successful outcome of Battle for Warsaw.

The reason the Red Army moved against Warsaw was to spread Bolshevism into Poland, after which it was intended to do likewise across the remainder of central and western Europe. In other words, the Soviet “Red Revolution” that had broken out in St Petersburg in 1917 and spread by revolutionaries like Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky across the former Czarist Russia and Ukraine, was to be extended into Poland, in the first instance, and then the rest of Europe. It was not until 1944-45 that Poland was finally bolshevised, and that was done by Lenin’s successor, Stalin. The Zadwórze defence therefore played an important if only minor role in delaying Poland’s bolshevization by a quarter of a century. Although the defence of Zadwórze is not highlighted in English language accounts of the period it was crucial in the failure of the Red Army’s drive to spread Bolshevism in 1920.

When the Red Army finally regrouped after occupying Zadwórze to recommence its march on Warsaw from the south-east, it was too late and the Battle of Warsaw had ended with the Red Army’s complete defeat. During World War II Zadwórze witnessed more loss of life, this time, primarily, because of massacres of villagers by the pro-Berlin and fascist Ukrainian Nationalists terror units that fought under the name, Ukrainska Povstanska Armiia, (UPA, Ukrainian Insurgent Army). For example, April 1944 witnessed the murder of 11 people by UPA units. Several homesteads were also burned. In the following month a unit of UPA’s Sluzhba Bezpeky murdered three more. The county in which Zadwórze was situated, Przemyslany, saw the murder of about 1500 people during this anti-Polish terrorist phase, while some 25,000 people perished across adjacent Tarnopol Province at UPA’s hands. [46]

[1] Weale, Adrian; Renegades: Hitler’s Englishmen. (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), London. 1994. p. 100.

[2] Ibid. pp. 100-101.

[3] Author’s telephone interview and email communication with John Bajkowski, September 2004.

[4] International Refugee Organization Group Resettlement to Australia Nominal Roll of Emigrants Departing from Bagnoli Camp, Italy, on S/S Dundalk Bay Sailing from Naples on 4 March. [1950]. Hereafter, “IRO/Dundalk Bay”. pp. 44-45.

[5] Author’s telephone interview and email communication with John Bajkowski, September 2004.

[6] Ibid.

[7] According to Helena Poprzeczna, Jan Baluch had regularly visited her village of Skierbieszow during the late 1930s as a trader. For a time he attended monthly and seasonal fairs. The two remembered each other when they met aboard the Dundalk Bay soon after departing Naples in early March 1945. Jan Baluch traded in brick-a-brack and religious items. “IRO/Dundalk Bay”. p. 34.

[8] Author’s telephone interview and email communication with Leslie Purkhardt, May 2005.

[9] Ibid.

[10] The area around Lwow was traditionally known as Eastern Galicia during most of the 19th century and until 1918 was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which meant that the administrative strata tended to be Austrian officials. However, even before the 19th century this area had had a small German minority. People of German origin had settled here, as in other parts of Poland, many centuries earlier with all gradually being Polonized, in much the same way as Poles migrating to Australia after the war were Australianised. According to Paul Robert Magocsi, in his book, History of Ukraine, the nationality composition of Galicia in 1910 was: Poles, 3.63 million; Ukrainians, 3.42 million; Jews, 872,000; and Germans 65,000. We cannot, however, be sure if Jozef Purkhardt and his family were included by Austro-Hungarian census officials in the 65,000 German category. What we can be sure of, however, is that Nazi and/or wartime German military officials were seeking out all who could be so classified and this happened in his case, probably because of the distinct or non-Polish surname.

[11] Tadeusz Piotrowski; Poland’s Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947. (McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers), Jefferson. 1998. p. 83.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid. p. 84.

[14] Author’s telephone interview and email communication with Leslie Purkhardt, May 2005.

[15] Wladyslaw Sikorski was both the Prime Minister and Defence Minister of the Polish Government in London while Ivan Maisky was the Soviet Ambassador to London. Sikorski played an important fighting role in the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 on both the north-eastern and south-eastern fronts.

[16] Anne Applebaum; Gulag – A History. (Penguin Books), London, New York, Camberwell. 2003. See especially pp. 407-409.

[17] Ibid. p. 407.

[18] Ibid. pp. 408-09.

[19] The General Langfitt Story – Polish Refugees Recount their experiences of Exile, Dispersal and Resettlement. Allbrook, Maryon & Cattalini, Helen. (Australian Government Publication Service), Canberra, 1995. See also: Skwarko, K. The Story of 733 Polish Children who Grew up in New Zealand. (Wellington). 1974. and, Krolikowski, Lucjan, OFM. Conv. Stolen Children: A Saga of Polish War Children. (Buffalo, New York). 1983.

[20] Ibid. Allbrook & Cattalini. p. 83.

[21] The author wishes to thank Gladys Wilson of Wyalkatchem and John Wilson formerly of Wyalkatchem and now of Padbury for advising of Rozalia decision to settle in Sydney. None of those who knew her and her family in Africa and later in Western Australia were able to cast light on where she chose to subsequently live.

[22] Kenneth MacKenzie (Translator); Adam Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz. (Polish and English Text). The Polish Cultural Foundation. London 1986. p. 2. The Australian reader may find it puzzling that a Polish patriotic epic poem should open with a present day neighbouring country being identified. This is explained by the fact that the Poland Mickiewicz was writing about was then part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, so a union like that which exists between England and Scotland and England and Wales.

[23] Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Vol. III, (Published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.) p. 71.

[24] Author’s telephone interview and email communication with Monika Peterson, May 2005.

[25] “IRO/Dundalk Bay”. p. 10. (See also: Tadeusz Piotrowski; Poland’s Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947. (McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers), Jefferson. 1998. Especially Chapter 7. pp. 177-258. There is also Piotrowski’s edited study: Genocide and Rescue in Wolyn: Recollections of the Ukrainian Nationalist Ethnic Cleansing Campaign Against the Poles During World War II. (McFarland & Company. Inc. Publishers. Jefferson. North Carolina and London. 2000.)

[26] Author’s telephone interview with and email communication with Peter Piekarczyk, May 2005.

[27] For a published account of Helena Poprzeczna’s wartime experiences see the author’s: Hitler’s Man in the East, Odilo Globocnik. (McFarland Publishers), Jefferson, North Carolina. 2004. pp. 244-255. This is, in fact, a biography of SS-Polizeiführer Odilo Globocnik. The brief section on Helena Poprzeczna (nee Krepinska) was included in Chapter XI, “The Fate of Four Victims”, because Globocnik was responsible for the murder of nearly two million people, most of them Jews, men, women and children, under the top secret Hitler-Himmler Aktion Reinhardt program which Globocnik headed. It was felt that a description of several individual ordeals would be helpful in casting light upon aspects of Globocnik’s harsh and murderous SS demographic policies. “IRO/Dundalk Bay”. p. 22.

[28] For a German and Polish language outline of this crucially important research centres organizational structure and staff see Czeslaw Madajczyk’s edited, Zamojszczyzna – Sonderlaboratorium SS – Zbior documentów polskich i niemieckich z okresu okupacji hitlerowskiej. Vol. II. (Ludowa Spóldzielnia Wydawnicza). 1997. pp. 289-293.

[29] Author’s interview with Helena Poprzeczna, August 2004.

[30] Author’s telephone interview with Robert Plowicz, August 2004. “IRO/Dundalk Bay”. p. 11.

[31] It is not possible to be certain in which of these camps he was held during the war since a handwritten note presented to Paul de Pierres says it was Stalag VIA while Walter Roszak’s identification, dated 26 October 1940, says it was Stalag VID, which is probably the case. However, both may well be correct since POWs were moved between such compounds over the course of the nearly six year long war. Stalag VID was located in Dortmund, Germany, and was opened in October 1939. It was closed in 1945 (the month of its closure is not known but it must have been before May). Stalag VIA, on the other hand, was at Hemer, was opened in September 1939 and closed in April 1945. Roszak could have been detained in either or both. But whichever he was held in he would have been required to work, just like German and Italian PWs in Western Australia were required to.

[32] Author’s telephone interview and written communication with Klaas Schuilling, September 2004.

[33] Author’s telephone interview with Victor Saveljevs, October 2004.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Norman Davies; Rising ’44: ‘The Battle for Warsaw’. (Macmillan). London. 2003.

[36] Author’s telephone interview with Joe Szczesny, August 2004. “IRO/Skaugum. p. 27.

[37] John Rice; Op. Cit. 1993. p. 344.

[38] Letter from Tony Vanblitterswyk to Paul de Pierres, October 1986.

[39] Author’s telephone interview with Orrie Vanblitterswyk, August, 2004.

[40] Author’s telephone interview with Joe Szczesny, August, 2004. The Szczesny family, because it had relocated to live in Midland. intermittently met the Vlahos families who were living and working in nearby Bellevue during the 1960s.

[41] Author’s telephone interview and email communication with Maribeth Wyrzykowski, August 2005.

[42] Communication to author by Dee Hutchison, 2004.

[43] The author is grateful to Adelaide historian Krzysztof Lada of Flinders University for directing his attention to the Battle of Zadwórze and for providing the basic information about this pivotal if relatively minor engagement. Mr Lada obtained this information from a series of Polish secondary sources and from several web sites, which have not been specifically sourced here but can be cited by simply printing the village’s name – Zadwórze - into Google.

[44] Source: Henryk Komanski, Szczepan Siekierka, Ludobójstwo dokonane na ludnosci polskiej przez nacjonalistów ukrainskich na Polakach w województwie tarnopolskim 1939-1946, Wroclaw: Wydawnictwo Nortom, 2004, p. 307.

[45] One of the best surveys of these and other Bolshevik military leaders is Harold Shukman’s (Ed.) volume, Stalin’s Generals. (A Pheonix Giant paperback), London. 1993. There is also William J. Spahr’s Stalin’s Lieutenants – A Study of Command under Duress. (Presidio Press), California. 1997. (Although Zadwórze fails to rate a mention in any of the biographical accounts in Shukman’s edition there is what is best described as probably a tangential reference to it and the difficulties encountered in the attack on Lwow. The author of the biography of Budenny, Viktor Anfilov, writes at page 59: “. . . Egerov was commander and Stalin was a member of the war council. It [the Soviet force] attacked the butt of the Polish forces grouped at Kiev and Odessa, broke through the enemy front and raced forward 140 kilometres. The advance continued but the possibilities gradually dried up. There was a hitch near Lvov. Stubborn but fruitless battles in the south-west continued.” [Emphasis added]. The so-called “hitch near Lvov” almost certainly refers to, amongst other things, the dogged Polish defence of Zadwórze without this village actually being named. Afilov’s reference to the “south-west” alludes to the region around Lwow (Poland’s Tarnopol Province) from the then Soviet standpoint. This area was in the south-west if viewed from Moscow’s perspective, but was in south-eastern Poland, which is the standpoint I have adopted in the text above. It is worth noting that Afilov was a graduate of the USSR’s Frunze Military Academy and General Staff Academy and served at the front from 1941-45. Between 1957 and 1964 he conducted research at the General Staff Military History Department where he was a senior lecturer until 1970. Between 1962 and 1989 he wrote four books on the Soviet-German or Hitler-Stalin War of 1941-45. For a military historian to have even made the briefest of references in what is only an eight page biographical sketch of Budenny’s military career shows recognition of the Battle of Zadwórze.) Henryk Komanski; Op. Cit. p. 310.

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