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Jerzy Tomaszek

History of Tomaszek family
Jerzy Tomaszek

Jerzy Tomaszek was born on 6th January 1928 in Stanisławów near Lviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine). His father, Stanisław Tomaszek, was a doctor and a renowned social activist. After the invasion of the Red Army on Poland he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in a labour camp as a counter-revolutionist. Several months later Jerzy Tomaszek and his sister, Iwona Świętochowska, their mother and grandmother were transported deep into the Soviet Union. They lived and worked in the kolkhozes in Pieszczanka and Presnogorkowka.

After the announcement on signing the Sikorski-Mayski agreement Jerzy’s mother, Zofia, decided to escape from her exile. After having reached Turkmenistan with her children, she decided to temporarily leave her children at the orphanage so that they could safely survive the war turmoil. In the meanwhile, she worked as a medical assistant at the front. The siblings, after having crossed the deserts of Iran and the harbours of Iraq, found shelter in India in a settlement for Polish orphans built by Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijaysinhji in Balachadi. After several months of being apart, her mother joined them. Soon later the Tomaszek family moved to a refugee camps in Africa in Kondoa, Kidugali and Tangier. They returned to Poland in 1947 and settled in Bytom.

Jerzy Tomaszek graduated from the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice. He designed laboratory facilities for the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, the Szczecin University of Technology and the Carbon Chemistry Institute in Zabrze. He was a member of the “Solidarity” and a councilman in Bytom.

He was awarded the Silver Cross of Merit and the Medal of the 40th Anniversary of People's Poland.

Interviewed by Olga Blumczyńska in December 2014 in Warsaw.

interview excerpts
A miracle en route East
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Father's death on the way to the labor camp
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Baptism in freight wagon
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Everyday life in kolkhoz
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Escaping the USSR
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Polish orphanage over the Indian Ocean
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