A Forgotten Odyssey

This site is connected to ‘A Forgotten Odyssey’, a recent documentary film by Jagna Wright and Aneta Naszynska. It deals with the forgotten tragedy of 1.7 million Polish citizens of various faiths and ethnicities (Polish, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish) deported from eastern Poland (Kresy) in 1940-42 to special labour camps in Siberia, Kazakhstan and Soviet Asia. Some 120,000 of these escaped through Persia in 1942 as soldiers of Anders Army and their families – and eventually made their way to the West because their pre-war homeland was consigned by the Allies to remain under the hated Soviet regime.

The circumstances of their odyssey and the tragic history of the Polish citizens under Soviet occupation during the war was hushed up by the Allies during the war to protect the reputation of the Soviet Union, an important ally in the war against the Nazis. After years of courageous suffering, followed by heroic efforts fighting at the side of the Allies in Africa, Italy and Europe, the staunchly anti-communist Polish soldiers were prevented from even participating in the Allied victory celebrations.

Unfortunately, it is only now, 60 years later and when the survivors are old and many have died, that this tragic story is being rediscovered and publicised by the descendants of the survivors. If this site can play a small role in that effort, it will have been an important achievement.

17 September 1939 – 17 September 2001
Written and directed by Jagna Wright (2000)
Produced by Jagna Wright and Aneta Naszynska
Edited by Aneta Naszynska
Music Sebastian Krajewski
52 minutes
In English and Polish with English subtitles
Sponsor: This site requires donations to remain active. If you are sympathetic to our cause please contact us. Our sole sponsor is a UK based company who create birthday cakes, cupcakes and occasion cakes for events. Please visit their website.

London-based Jagna Wright’s film, ‘A Forgotten Odyssey’, is the story – as told by the survivors – of what happened after the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September 1939 under the Nazi-Soviet Friendship Treaty.

These are the stories of the survivors of the forced Soviet annexation of eastern Poland, when entire towns and communities were brutally deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan to Soviet forced labour camps. By the time the Nazis attacked their Soviet allies in 1941, perhaps half of the labour camp inmates had died from disease, starvation, and the harsh labour conditions. Because the Soviets were brought into the anti-Nazi Alliance, the remaining survivors were given an amnesty and many made their way across the vast and foreboding Soviet landscape to join the freed Polish Army being formed in the south. This army became a key element of the Allied forces in the European South-East, and was evacuated though Iran to join the battle with the Nazis in Africa and Italy.

However, despite the defeat of the Nazis, Poland’s Soviet enemies ended the war on the side of the victors. The 110,000 citizens and soldiers who had escaped from Soviet Russia went on to be refugees from a pre-war Poland who could never return home to their former homeland, which was left in Soviet Communist hands after the war. Their Forgotten Odyssey never reached its destination, and they remained a people in exile throughout the world.