Julie met Frank Pleszak at Polish Heritage Day back in May, and was fascinated to hear about the hidden histories he has uncovered, whilst researching his father’s experiences as a Polish refugee in the Second World War. Here he talks about his family, his research and his ongoing relationship with his father’s land.
I was born in Manchester and have lived and worked here all my life. I’m proud to be a Mancunian. I love it when people ask me where I’m from and I can say Manchester.
But my surname clearly isn’t local. My mum was from Salford but my dad, who died in 1994, was Polish. He never spoke much about his early life, I know he’d fought in Italy at the famous battle of Monte Cassino but it wasn’t until after his death that I began to think about why he was here in Manchester, why he’d been in Italy, and why he hadn’t gone back home to Poland after the war. I had no idea of the monumental series of events, together with World War Two, that had created me a Mancunian.
At the house my dad lived in until his arrest in 1939
We celebrated Polish Heritage Day on Saturday. Julie Devonald (our Project Manager) reflects on the experience.
I was delighted to support Eva Szegidewicz and the Kresy Family Polish WWII History Group, hosting celebrations for the UK’s first ever Polish Heritage Day here at Manchester Central Library. This annual celebration has been established by the Polish ambassador to the UK, as a way for the 980,000 Poles living the Britain to celebrate and share their rich heritage with the rest of the country. Continue reading
Whilst doing research in the library for Holocaust Memorial Day a coffee-table book of black and white photos caught my eye: Besa: Muslims who saved Jews in World War II.
There are many stories of non-Jewish families risking their own lives to save those of Jews during the Second World War; those now honoured by the State of Israel as the ‘Righteous among the Nations’. Besa tells the remarkable story of a small contingent of Albanian Muslims who rescued Jews during the German occupation of their country in 1943-44 – a story that, because of Albania’s own troubled recent history, has only now come to light.