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WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE / Agata Blaszczyk

Or about the emigration today

Agata Błaszczyk


The last two weeks appear to have been packed with events around migration to Great Britain.

On Friday 22 February 2013, “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?, a live show and the world’s biggest family history event, gathered under one roof professionals and amateurs exploring their past. This year the event revolved around immigration and migration. East European countries were represented by Kresy-Syberia, an organization which promotes and supports research, remembrance and recognition of the struggles of Polish citizens in the Eastern Borderlands and in exile during the Second World War.

The Polish community is often seen as one of the UK’s newest ethnic minorities, but less well known are the 250,000 Polish citizens that came to call the country home just after the Second World War. They are the parents and grandparents of hundreds of thousands of Britons today who arrived here by chance, having found themselves forced into slave labour by Stalin in 1939 and deported to Siberia. Unable to return to Poland after the war, the displaced Poles were allowed by the British government to settle successfully all over the UK.

During this event, Agata Blaszczyk-Sawyer explored the subject of the Polish citizens resettled in the UK and talked about the Polish Resettlement Camps, where the Polish troops and their families found temporary accommodation after the war.



On the same day in Manchester, representatives of Polish cultural and educational institutions discussed the future of the Polish migration archives in the UK. Participants highlighted difficulties associated with the organization and digitalization of the existing documentation and emphasized a need to collaborate on this subject more tightly. The workshop entitled “Archiving the History of Polish Exile in Great Britain” was organized by Ewa Ochman, a lecturer in East European Studies at the University of Manchester.


In addition, on 28 February 2013, the Polish Embassy in London organized a viewing of a short documentary “The Journey of a Polish Migrant” which recounted the story of homeless Polish migrants in the UK. For all the viewers gathered in the Polish Embassy, this document proved to be an alarming signal of rising homelessness and drug and alcohol addiction among recent migrants arriving from Eastern Europe. The screening followed a discussion on the above mentioned topic, which involved representatives of British charities cooperating with Polish organizations, both aiming to help migrants caught in a trap of homelessness.


Finally, a week ago, on Tuesday, 5 March 2013, the Jagiellonian University Polish Research Centre in London, in cooperation with the Polish University Abroad and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London, organized a lecture delivered by Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, on “The Role of Research Universities in the Global World”.
Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, examined the roles that universities had played historically and how they have changed in the 21st century. Professor Borysiewicz is one of the country’s most respected medical researchers and a leading physician. He was a major figure in the development of the cervical cancer vaccine. He is also the son of Polish parents who were captured in eastern Poland at the outbreak of the Second World War and spent two years in Siberia.
In 1947, they shared the fate of thousands of Polish political refugees who were offered resettlement in the UK.





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