PoloniaMusic.com is promoting Myra Dziama's documentary film: "Childhood DENIED"(Odebrane Dzieciństwo)
The film is about the estimated 1.7 million Poles - including 380,000 children - who were deported to Soviet Russia during World War II. Tragically the majority of the children did not survive, yet some found refuge and hope in countries such as Canada, the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom.
Fr. Lucjan Królikowski, OFMConv, became famous as a priest and guardian of Polish war orphaned children from refugee camps in Africa. He was awarded with the Commander Cross for his great merits for the independence of Poland, for work toward democratic changes and his social accomplishments to benefit the country.
Fr. Lucjan was born in 1919, in Nowe Kramsko, near Zielona Gora, Poland. In 1934 he entered the Franciscan Minor Seminary in Niepokalanow, where he began his novitiate in the Franciscan Order four years later. He started to study philosophy in Lwow, but in 1940 he was arrested by the NKVD and deported to Archangelsk in Siberia, where he cut trees of the "Taiga" forest.
After the so-called "liberation" of Polish prisoners of war, he joined the Polish Army and completed Artillery School for Cadet Officers in Kyrgyzstan. With the Polish Army he served in Persia and Iraq. Later in Lebanon he resumed his theological studies and in 1946 was ordained to the priesthood in Beirut. He returned to General Anders’ Army and served as a chaplain in Egypt. After the demobilization of the army he began work in the Polish Refugee Camp in Tengeru, Tanzania.
In 1949, when Great Britain planned to close down the refugee camps in Africa, he took about 150 Polish children from the orphanage and sailed to Italy. After a series of unexpected events, they found themselves in Germany, from where they sailed to Canada. In Montreal, in the Province of Quebec, Fr. Lucjan placed the orphans in schools and cared for them until their adolescence. The story of his life can be found in his biography, "Stolen Childhood: A Saga of Polish War Children." This book was reprinted four times, including three in the Polish language.
The Franciscan friar served Polish immigrants in Canada until 1966. For 32 years (1966-1998) he worked for the Polish-American Radio Program "The Father Justin Rosary Hour" in Athol Springs, NY. Presently he ministers in the St. Stanislaus Basilica in Chicopee, MA. He regularly meets with his orphans twice a year at the so-called "African Reunions" in Montreal and Toronto.
Also interviewed in the film is Dr. Lynne Taylor, a professor of history at the University of Waterloo and the author of "The Polish Children of Tengeru: The Dramatic Story of Their Long Journey to Canada, 1941-49".
On May 7, 2006, Fr. Lucjan celebrated the 60th anniversary of his priesthood. More than 30 of his orphans came to Chicopee, MA, to be with their Father. On that day the mayor of Chicopee proclaimed May 7, 2006 as "Father Lucjan Krolikowski Day in Chicopee, MA." People call Fr. Lucjan an unusual man and priest, who was a prisoner of war, exile, solider, chaplain, refugee, guardian of orphaned war children, teacher, writer, linguist, radio speaker and diplomat.
More about the documentary and the life of Fr. Lucjan Królikowski can be found at:
Fr. Lucjan Królikowski, OFMConv, was awarded The Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. The Order was presented on Independence Day by Lech Kaczynski, President of the Republic of Poland, in Warsaw on November 11, 2007. Father Królikowski is interviewed extensively in the film.
What a terrific example of how to bring the living story of people in crisis out of a bunch of old papers. You can feel the heat of Africa, the cold of Canada and the terror created by the Soviets. Taylor reconstructs the story of these children with level-headed empathy, from the night they were rounded up by the Soviet secret police and sent east in box cars, through their escapes into India and Africa and their trials as political pawns in the Cold War in Europe and final sanctuary in Canada.
These children weren't central to the history of the 1940s, but their peripheral story reveals the global reach of the hardship and displacement caused by the Second World War and the unrelenting fear unleashed by Stalin.