Justice4Poland

Connecting true geography and detailed unfolding of wide variety of crimes perpetrated by German/Ukrainian Nazis and communist Soviet Union on the Polish nation.

A Forgotten Odyssey


Polish film-maker determined to expose wartime persecution

 

  “Forgotten Odyssey” is a 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, decades 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.

The temperament and Polish roots of Jagna Wright, who has died from breast cancer aged 56, fuelled her passion for filling in some of the missing pages of modern history. She did this by devoting the last 15 years of her life to making two revelatory documentary films, without any previous experience in the medium.

The first sprang from her determination to make the world understand and remember the terrible fate of 1.7 million Poles deported by the Soviet regime in 1940 to the Siberian gulags and exile. Jagna first came across this buried chapter when she arrived in London from Poland after getting married in 1977. She learnt of it through the testimony of her aunt, who had been based in Britain as a member of the Polish exile community since the second world war; like many of her fellow Poles, her aunt was afraid to return home because she knew she would be persecuted by the new regime for having once belonged to the anti-communist Polish home army, the wartime resistance movement.

Jagna completed her film on this subject, A Forgotten Odyssey, in 1999. Her effort was rewarded when in September 2001 the History Channel UK transmitted the production, as did a further 15 television stations around the world, ensuring that it was seen in Canada, the US, Japan, Denmark and many European countries, including Poland. Viewings at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and Imperial War Museum in London followed.

This success came out of incredible determination and stubbornness. Jagna, a personal friend, had often consulted me, a professional film-maker, on how to interest television stations in the subject. She was relentless in her endeavour and refused to give up, despite many rejections.

In 1992 she bought a camera, taught herself the craft and started recording the testimonies of the dwindling witnesses to the Siberian genocide. Around 20% of those deported were Jewish; of the 1.7 million total, it is estimated that around 400,000 survived. Jagna teamed up with a fellow Pole, Aneta Naszynska, a professional editor, and working for two years in their spare time with no financial or professional backers, they produced a harrowing documentary.

Then began the struggle to have the film shown. Jagna campaigned with passion and style. She made endless approaches to the media and organised countless screenings at her home. The atmosphere at these gatherings was always stimulating, and lively debates would continue into the small hours.

For many of her friends, both Polish and British, hers became a new home, a place where Polish history and culture were cultivated. She also created a cottage industry, making copies of her film and sending them personally to anyone who was interested. She made no money, but earned the respect of many.

As time moved on, Aneta and Jagna’s efforts met with success. Together, they were invited to tour the US to show the film. Interest mushroomed, and the Kresy-Syberia website and user group came into being, Kresy being a name for the regions on Poland’s eastern borders.

In 2002, Jagna was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

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More here:   https://www.theguardian.com/news/2007/aug/29/guardianobituaries.filmnews

 

 

 

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This entry was posted on October 29, 2016 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .

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