Indian Hope in Refugee Crisis

Poland's Maharaja Saviour

Poland’s Maharaja Saviour

“This is a history of Poland, but also a history of each rescued child,” said PM Beata Szydło during the opening ceremony of the unique exhibition entitled Passage to India. Polish camps in Balachadi and Valivade 1941/1948. The Polish Prime Minister thanked the organisers and emphasised that Poland respects freedom, tolerance and helping the needy because Polish history has not been easy. The exhibition, put together by the Polish History Museum, presents the story of thousands of Polish civilians, including children, who were freed under the Soviet amnesty in 1941 and together with the army of General Anders were evacuated from the Soviet Union to Iran and then to India. 6,000 of the 40,000 Polish people imprisoned in the USSR lived in the Indian camps of Balachadi and Valivade under the care of the Polish government-in-exile. United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Cristina Gallach highlighted the fact that Polish refugee children received a new home thanks to Maharaja Jam Saheb Sri Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji of Nawangar State who provided the initial funding for an orphanage in Balachadi. Gallach said that the Maharaja’s act should be an inspiration to us all. The impressive Passage to India exhibition includes photos of the kolkhoz in Ammala, members of Anders’ Army released from the Soviet gulags and starving orphans. There are also maps showing the route Anders’ Army took through the USSR to the Middle East, pictures of refugees from Avhaz in Iran, a refugee train at Valivade station as well as photos of the everyday life of refugees in the camps of Balachadi and Valivade. One of the honorary guests at the exhibition was Henry Bobotek who lived in Balachadi camp in India. He thankfully only spent one year there because his mother managed to get to America where he joined her after the war.


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