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Untold stories are heard in Buffalo

DISPLAYS AND SPEAKERS at WNED Studios in Buffalo addressed the untold stories of Poles who survived World War II. MORE PICTURES IN THE OCTOBER PHOTO GALLERY
DISPLAYS AND SPEAKERS at WNED Studios in Buffalo addressed the untold stories of Poles who survived World War II. MORE PICTURES IN THE OCTOBER PHOTO GALLERY at AmPolEagle.com

Michelle Fritz

Sept. 1 marked the 70th anniversary of the beginning of Word War II. The Polish Legacy Project in Buffalo, a project conceived by descendants of Polish war survivors, has been working diligently since last February to make sure the battles their parents’ faced during the war will never be forgotten.

Untold Stories Come Alive,” an international conference organized by the Polish Legacy Project began Sat., Oct. 3 at WNED studios in Buffalo. The first day of the two-day affair attracted over 200 people with some traveling into Buffalo from as far away as California.

Untold stories come alive

One of the highlights of the conference was a panel of World War II survivors who were given the opportunity to share their varied experiences during the war. Henry K. Scigala fought in important battles such as Monte Cassino, Krystyna Pienkowska was deported as a young girl by the Soviets, Julia Swacha Senko had suffered in a Nazi labor camp, Stanislaw Markut survived military and labor camps, and Zdzislaw Goralski fought during the Warsaw Uprising.

Honorable Judge Carl A. Bucki served as moderator as these panelists gave guests the chance to hear stories that have been untold for far too long. Pienkowska shared her experience of deportation to Kazakhstan when she was only a little girl. She described her time displaced from her home as lacking anything of real life. She couldn’t remember seeing any animals during her entire deportation in Kazakhstan and she said the hunger was unbearable. “I don’t know how we lived,” she said.

Markut described the strength of his family and friends on the long trip to Siberia. He remembered that the majority of them held out initially because they were strong. He said it wasn’t until the long trip through Kazakhstan that more Poles began to die. Scigala told of his experiences fighting many of the major World War II battles in the Polish Army such as in Palestine, Egypt and finally in Italy where he fought in the Battle of Monte Cassino and was wounded. He said, “If we didn’t have the will to live than we would die.”Pienkowska said, “Thank God to my mother that I survived. She said to me, ‘You are a Pole, just remember that.’” She remembered going to school under Russian control and her mother giving her the advice: “Learn the language of your enemy, but never forget who you are.”

The panelists summed up the session agreeing that people can learn from their stories and they expressed how painful it is watching the violence of war continue today. Goralski said, “When I was 19 I joined the war because when you’re attacked by the enemy you fight back…. All the wars since then have not been justified reasons to send our children, grandchildren away… for what cause?” Several listeners applauded in agreement.

It seemed when time had concluded and the survivors had to wind up their stories, there was still so much more that they wanted to share.

Andrew Golebiowski, Polish Legacy Project founder, said, “This is just the first event in working to document Polish survivors of WWII.” next up for the project is plans for a documentary, conferences, a virtual museum, a traveling museum and finally and most importantly a curriculum for the classroom because that’s where the information would matter the most, for the future generation, Golebiowski said…

More, including photos at http://AmPolEagle.com