Believing that the past never dies, or even her own, Toronto attorney Marsha Fawbert has developed a deep curiosity about the experiences of her Polish stepmother and father, Wanda and Casey Sordikowski, during World War II.
The couple were reticent about their wartime experiences, not even discussing them with their children. After the deaths of Wanda and Casey, Fouvier decides to reconstruct their history and embark on an extensive research project.
Ha Wanda war It’s an interesting account of what I learned.
Born in the 1920s, Wanda and Casey grew up in Poland (they met only after immigrating to Canada in 1947).
Their lives are turned upside down by World War II, during which Poland is brutally invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
As Faubert wrote, “Wanda and Casey escaped terrible treatment and loss at the hands of Poland’s enemies.”
Wanda is conscripted by the Nazis for forced labor in Germany, while Casey is deported to Siberia by the Soviets for the same purpose.
After Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Soviets granted amnesty to Polish forced laborers. Casey joined the Polish Army, eventually seeing combat with the Allies in Italy.
At the end of the war, Wanda and Casey will participate in resettlement projects for Poles in Canada.
The scheme that brought Wanda to Canada was particularly controversial.
French-Canadian businessman and MP Ludger Dion offered to recruit 100 young Polish women from displaced persons camps in Europe to work in his textile mill in St Georges, Kew. One of the chosen was Wanda.
The plan was implemented, but it was criticized a lot in Parliament and in the media. Women were said to be paid pennies; Their terms of employment effectively made them indentured servants.
Wanda and several of her friends left Quebec for Kitchener, Ont. , which has had a large Polish community since the mid-19th century. There she met Casey, who had come to Canada under a program designed to settle young Poles and ex-soldiers as farm labourers.
Wanda and Casey instinctively understood each other’s war experience. “What better way to settle in a new world than with someone who shares their roots and understands their past, someone who speaks the same language, and whose culture, food and religion are familiar?” says Faubert. »
Wanda and Casey adjusted well to Canadian life, became citizens and raised two sons.
By telling the stories of his in-laws, Faubert humanized the suffering and tragedy of the Polish war. It evokes the nightmarish conditions of Nazi and Soviet occupation. His readable story evokes the universal themes of memory, silence, freedom, justice and forgiveness: it is a book full of meaning.
Graeme Foer is a writer from Winnipeg.
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