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Polish Passage to Iran

A forgotten story of the exodus of refugees during World War II lies buried in a cemetery in a poor neighbourhood in south Tehran. The Doulab cemetery contains rows of Polish graves where hundreds of refugees fleeing war-torn Europe are buried.
 
Following the invasion of Poland by the Soviet and German armies in 1939, thousands of Poles were sent off to Russian prison camps in Siberia. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Joseph Stalin freed the Polish prisoners so that they could join a Polish army being formed by the Allies which was to assemble in Iran. In a matter of months hundreds of thousands of these released Polish prisoners, including women and children, were allowed to enter Iran from Russia via the Caspian port of Anzali, then called Bandar Pahlavi.
 
Within weeks of their arrival in Iran, thousands had died from malnutrition and disease. The men who survived volunteered for the new Polish army but the remainder, mainly women and children who had nowhere else to go, remained in Iran. Most of them eventually emigrated to other parts of the world but some stayed and settled in Iran, where a few may be still be living.
 
“The Lost Requiem” by the Iranian filmmaker, Khosrow Sinai, tells the story of the Polish exodus and the plight of these refugees in wartime Iran. Sinai says that on a visit to Doulab cemetery in Tehran in 1970 he saw the Polish graves and was inspired to find out more and to make a documentary about the Polish refugees. It took him twelve years to complete the film during which he had to track down and interview the surviving Poles in Iran and other countries as far away as New Zealand.
 
In this multimedia report, Khosrow Sinai tells the moving story of the Polish exodus to Iran and the refugees whose lives were so dramatically transformed.



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- Anonymous، 2014/03/10
My Mother grandmother and Aunt with her 2 children were all refuges arriving in Teheran, they always spoke with warmth and kindness that they encounted there. My Aunt went to join the women's Polish army and my mother was hospitalized for 2 years after her ordeal in Siberia. However my grandmother and my 2 cousins died in teheran and are buried in Doulab cemetary,wish to express our gratatude to all the people there who had received them so warmly and making there journey to God a bit better.l Thank you.
- Andrzej, UK، 2010/11/07
My father arrived in Iran as a 14 year old from Siberia with his elder brother and mother, his father having "disappeared" at the hands of the NKVD. My grandmother did not survive the hardships of Siberia and is buried in Tehran. One day I would like to visit her grave to pay my respects. Thank you to the people of Iran for caring and remembering.
- Ligia Vluggen، 2010/04/13
My mother is Paulina Dybka, and her two sisters ,Stefania and Anna were there, in Iran.
They were sent on to a boat to New Zealand.
Our Family in New Zealand would like to say thank you for saving their lives. Cheers
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JadidOnline: Dear Ligia, Thank you so much for your comment. We'd be very grateful if you could send your mother's and aunts' pictures and recollections about Iran to be published.
- Sylvia، 2009/11/14
I am so moved by this film about this forgotton story of the 2nd World War. My parents in law were both in Siberia then Persia. Mother in law went on to Tanzania & father in law into the Polish Army. They met in Bradford, England & are both still alive. Are you aware of the Polish retirement home in Devon - Ilford Park. I am sure there are many there with memories of this time, however, like my parents in law they may not wish to remember.

- Ramona، 2009/09/17
I'm very pleased that you're covering this story. My Polish mother-in-law was exiled to Siberia where she suffered greatly. So when she arrived at Anzali, and greeted by hospitable Iranians, it seemed like paradise.
- Adrian، 2009/08/26
My father survived a year in a Soviet gulag, but lost his father and brother there. He arrived in Iran in barely alive, but thankfully the British determined he could survive, and accepted him in the Polish army they were forming. Like most, he went to Palestine, but then was accepted for pilot training in England, shortly before his batallion took part in the Allied invasion of Italy. This probably saved his life (again) since most of of his batallion died at Monte Cassino.
He married our mother in England, and they immigrated here to Canada after the war. Dad died in 2006. RIP.
- Urszula، 2009/08/04
My mother and grandmother (who lived to the age of 98) were among these refugees. From there they were transfered to live in tents in India for quite a long time until the Stefan Batory arrived to transport them to San Francisco, from where they made their way by rail to Buffalo, where my 90 year old mother is still alive to this day!
Thank you very much for this film. I very much need to see it.
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JadidOnline: Dear Urszula, Thank you so much for your comment. We'd be very grateful if you could send your mother's pictures and recollections about Iran to be published.
- Anonymous، 2009/07/22
Many thanks...
- Papillon، 2009/07/01
thanks for this. I am very interested in it as both my parents were part
of this story. My father and mother's families were among the refugees
who were sent to Siberia and then made their way to Teheran. From there my mother was transferred to India and my father made his way to
Palestine.
I must see if I can get hold of this film!
So thank you again!
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