Memories constitute some of the most fascinating documents of their time. They register the most intimate experiences and often gain the quality of a confession. It is from this quality that memories draw their ultimate value, even though often they cannot pretend to be historically objective.

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Stanislaw Rusiniak

Maria Buczek

Valdie Cham

John Potaski - the first known Polish settler

Eugeniusz Czyżewski

Helen Schloetzer

Anonymous - I will return when Poland is free

Mr Karpowicz

Krystyna Popczyk

Aniela Radoś

Eugenia Choińska

Janina Kamińska

Krystyna Gruba

Mrs Czyżewska

Regina Michnicka

Romuald Prokop

Anonymous - Pope gave us blessing

Introduction continued

The recollections of the Polish migrants, who came to Australia in a huge migration wave of some 65,000 people between 1947 and 1954, are as varied as life itself. They speak of misery, sadness and disappointment with their Promised Land. At the same time they express hope for a better life in a world without Nazi concentration camps and the communist regime. The stories contained in this book illustrate Poles’ deep-rooted devotion to the religion and traditions of their ancestors and commitment to upholding the values and customs they brought with them from their homeland. Authors of these stories command our respect for their ingenuity, perseverance and determination in overcoming the most difficult of obstacles.

The narratives of their life stories speak for themselves.

This book wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation and dedication of the authors: Eugenia Choińska, Krystyna Gruba, Janina Kamińska, Regina Michnicka, Krystyna Popczyk, Romuald Prokop, Aniela Radoś, Helena Schloetzer and Wiesław Fiedler. Most of them are today in their eighties but remain active in the field of community work, which has won them the appreciation of the Australian authorities. Their lifetime efforts deserve our respect and thanks.

Monika Wiench

Prayer to Our Lady Mother of Emigrants - author unknown

Our Lady - Mother of Emigrants
Our hope - reach out to us
Our Lady Mother of Emigrants
We entrust to you the hearts which are lost

The editor of this collection utilized two sources. Firstly, and to a smaller extent, the stories were drawn from a record created many years ago at the request of Fr Waldemar Szczepaniak. Some of them are anonymous or tell of people who are no longer with us, such as Mr Czyżewski, Mr Karpowicz and Mrs Czyżewska. However, they could not be omitted in this work.

Secondly, stories were collected by the editor in the course of interviews recorded in 2005 and edited with careful adherence to the interviewees’ authentic style and historical detail.