They Were Told Not to Share Their Story
Our website and online museum will attempt to recover the voices of hundreds of thousands of Poles arrested by the Soviets after Russia had invaded and occupied eastern Poland in 1939 while the Soviet regime was in alliance with Nazi Germany. Thousands were executed; many more were deported from their homes in horrible conditions to forced labor camps and collective farms where more died from hunger, illness and maltreatment. Some of the Polish slave laborers managed to leave the Soviet Union in 1942 after Stalin had released them following Hitler’s attack on Russia. They became refugees in the West, but their story still could not be told. The U.S. administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, eager to preserve its military alliance with Stalin, used propaganda and disinformation in press releases and Voice of America radio broadcasts to paint a deceptive picture of Polish soldiers and civilians evacuated from Russia. After the war the vast majority of refugees chose not to return to Soviet-dominated communist-ruled Poland where would risk imprisonment and persecution. The effects of Soviet and Western wartime and post-war propaganda and censorship can be seen even today. Our mission is to bring to light the real story of Poland’s silenced refugees from Russia.
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