My father left home at the end of
August 1939 to fight for Poland – I was six months old then. Eight years later, a man in “khaki and black
beret” appeared in my life; my mother said he was my - daddy.
He was a military
man and, in his eyes, I could neither stand up straight, nor squat or walk properly.
We moved from one resettlement camp in the UK to another and lived our separate
ways: he toiled on building sites to keep our family in daily bread, I “toiled” at my studies.
Sadly, my father
died at the age of sixty-six, much too soon for me to put my arm around him and
ask about the War. What could I know about war, about GULAG, about life in lagiers in Ponoi, or Workuta, Uhta or
Abez? Or about the impact on man’s mind of years of war and suffering?
ambiguous relationship between me and my father
must have weighed on my mind for, many years later, I set out “In the Footsteps
of Our Fathers” trailing the path fate had led him and so many other Polish
fathers. I was looking for my missing “Daddy” and after ten years of searching
for his footprints in Stalin’s evil empire, I am beginning to “understand” and
regret that it is now fifty years too late to ask him and listen to his story.