Sunday, May 22, 2011

One Photo That Says Much: Lucja Siemienowski Adams and Her Two Babies, Slonim, 1939

It's a lovely photo, isn't it? Anyone, anywhere, immediately enters the heart of the photo, and identifies: A family. A home. A mother's love. The future in the babies' eyes. Tradition in the homestead. You can almost step into the photo. As welcome guest, you enjoy the hospitality of this loving family. Through lace curtains, a cool glass in your hand, you watch butterflies flit through the garden, and tell, and hear long, old, stories.

Lucja Siemienowski Adams wrote this caption beneath her photo: "Two babies, Henryk and Danuta – 1939 in Slonim, northeastern Poland before World War II started and our region was invaded by the Russians. My husband was arrested and deported to a forced labor camp in Kolyma in far northeastern Russia in November, 1939. My mother-in-law, the two children and I were deported in a cattle transport train to a hard labor camp in Siberia in February 1940."

I asked permission to share the photo here. Lucja responded, "It is fine to share my pictures. I only have a couple from that time, since we had to leave mostly everything behind when we were deported."

Kolyma may not be familiar to the reader. In fact, the name "Kolyma" should be as well known, and as notorious, as Auschwitz.

"Bieganski" exposes stereotypical images of Brute Polaks pervasive in Western culture, and analyzes why the Brute Polak image is so central to Western thought today. The photo, above, and the story behind it, does much of the same hard work. It shows human beings. It tells the truth.
Caption beneath this photo: 

Uganda, Africa at our Polish refugee settlement in Koia, close to Kampala near Lake Victoria - sometime between 1943 and 1947.

Caption beneath this photo: 
Me in Uganda in the mid 1940's. I had learned English and was now an elementary school teacher where both the Polish refugee children and the natives attended school.

These are just a few of Lucja's photos. Hers is just one story. Please learn more. 


  1. Danusha, thanks for the pictures. Especially the first one. More people need to know about what happened.

  2. Thank you, Danusha, for highlighting this part of my Mother's life. She, my father, sister, brother, grandmother, and 2 aunts lived through unimaginable horrors during their deportation and subsequent escape from Siberia during World War II. They were a part of the small fraction of Poles who managed to survive the inhumane conditions, hunger, diseases, and bitter elements. Either afraid or unable to return to their homes in Poland, most found themselves starting new lives in Iran, India, Africa, England, Mexico, Argentina, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the United States. Homes lost, lives changed forever.....

  3. I have heard bit and pieces of Batcha's story, this is the fist time I have seen any of the photo. Truly inspiring.

  4. Thanks for posting this Danusha, I have a book called "From the Steppes to the Savannah" by Barbara Porajska.

    It tells what happens after Stalin invaded Poland. The blurb on the back starts like this:

    "Father missing, their possessions stolen or confiscated, the family, along with thousands more, were bundled on to a train and shipped like cattle deep into Soviet Central Asia. For over two appalling years, staying alive was all they could hope for..."

    Stalin is still an official "good guy" in the WW2 narrative. Which does at least go to show that "the world" has no problem with mass murder as such.

    Were there any rescuers from the terror of the Stalin regime? And has even one of his willing executioners been brought to trial, let alone convicted of anything?

    1. Sue, I have read your book and it is mesmerizing. I am recommending it to anyone who wants to hear the story of the deportations.

  5. Dziękuję bardzo za piękne wspomnienia. Dzięki takim ludziom jak Wasza Mama nasze przeżycia przejdą do historii i na długo pozostaną w ludzkiej pamięci. Jestem z Wami w tych trudnych Chwilach


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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