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Stanisław Manterys

Stanisław Manterys, fot. Paweł Wyszomirski

Stanisław Manterys was born on 7 December 1935 in Zarogów, Poland. He was the youngest of six children of Serafin and Celestyna Manterys. When he was 2 years old, Stanisław and his family moved to Podlipie in the Podolia region in search of greener pastures. In early 1940, the Manterys family were transported deep into Siberia, to Yagshordin in the Komi Soviet Republic. Stanisław’s father was forced to work under extremely harsh conditions as a lumberjack. After the Sikorski-Mayski accord of 30 July 1941, the Manterys family was released from the labour camp. They made their way to Uzbekistan. There, finally succumbing to typhus and exhaustion, Stanisław’s parents met their end. In March 1942 Stanisław and his four sisters were taken in by the Polish Army led by gen. Anders and evacuated from the USSR to Iran, where they remained until August 1944, living in the Isfahan Polish Children’s Centre. His four older sisters - Rozalia, Krystyna, Anna, and Stefania - were all placed in different facilities around Isfahan. During his stay in Iran, Stanisław went to school and began his recuperation under more peaceful conditions.

In 1944, 773 Polish orphans and their caretakers left Iran on board the USS General Randall transport. Polish children were to be granted asylum under the aid for Polish refugees offered by the government of New Zealand. Stanisław and his sisters arrived on 1 November 1944 on board the USS General Randall. The whole group was placed in the Polish Children’s Camp near the town of Pahiatua. Stanisław attended a Polish school. The siblings remained in New Zealand for the remainder of the war, but after it ended, they did not return to Poland due the its uncertain geo-political situation and poor economic circumstances of their distant relatives residing there.

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In New Zealand, Stanisław graduated high-school and enrolled into Wellington University to study law. In the end however, he didn’t finish the course, opting instead to pursue economics in Auckland. Afterwards, he started working as an accountant. Also in New Zealand, Stanisław met his future wife - Halina Polaczuk, with whom he has three kids: Marek, Alina, and Adam. The Manterys household cultivated the Polish language, and Stanisław and Halina’s children all attended the Polish Saturday School. After moving back to Wellington, Stefan did charity work for the Polish Association therein. He was the superintendent of the Polish Saturday School. He organised camping trips for Polish youths born in New Zealand. He actively supported the Polish pastoral ministry. He was an active member of the Polish Association in Wellington.

Between 1994 and 2001 Stefan and his wife lived in Warsaw, where he was an independent financial and management advisor to Polish joint stock companies with foreign capital. He trained young accounting staff in the, previously unknown in Poland, practices of the free market. He acted as an intermediary between foreign investors and Polish employees. After returning to New Zealand he took active part in the 60th Polish Children Reunion Committee to commemorate their arrival in New Zealand, where he was a co-author of the book about Polish Children from Pahiatua. After the success of the English version, he led the works of the team translating it into Polish. The Polish edition was entitled “Dwie ojczyzny – Polskie dzieci w Nowej Zelandii”.

Today, Mr and Mrs Manterys live in New Zealand. Stanisław does pro bono work translating books and articles on the experiences of Polish child refugees.

Interview conducted by Iwona Demska on 3 June 2016 in Gdańsk.

interview excerpts
10th February 1940
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Life in the exile
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Little sparrow
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Faith in coming back home
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"I will never foget that"
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Cruise to Pahlevi
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Third homeland: Iran
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