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This story begins in April 1940, when Józef Wierciński, an accountant from a hospital in Choroszcz near Bialystok, is deported to Kazakhstan by the Soviets. There he will be a slave laborer for nearly two years.

Two years later, when due to Stalin's "amnesty" for Polish citizens arises a chance to leave the Soviet Union with the forming Anders Army, Józef does not qualify to be a soldier. Severely beaten by Soviet officers at the time, he never recovered. So he joins the thousands of civilians who are being evacuated "with Anders" to the Middle East: women, children and men just like him, unable to fight.

On the way he meets Alina Srzedzińska, who also experienced the nightmare of Siberia. They fall in love. They are married, surrounded by other Polish refugees, in... Mexico. How did they get there?

The year is 1942. General Władysław Sikorski is looking for places where civilians evacuated from the Soviet Union could find safe shelter. The US is refusing to accept Polish refugees, but there is a suggestion that Mexico could provide help...

December 28, 1942, General Sikorski arrives on an American plane in Mexico, where he is received by President Manuel genera Vila Camacho. After two days of negotiations, the Mexican government announces that it has agreed to accept 5 thousand Poles evacuated "from the USSR".

Polish refugees - eventually 1,500 of them - reached America by ship and then were taken to the city of Leon in Mexico by train. There, on the platform decorated with Polish and Mexican flags, a welcoming committee with the mayor at the helm waited. The orchestra played "Mazurek D Skiegobrowski".

These people, since they were driven out of their homes, had been despised. And here they were being treated as guests to whom hearts and homes are opened. They regained their dignity.

A settlement 10 km from the city of Leon was chosen as the place of the Poles' residence. Santa Rosa was a colony, a farm type, with a church, a mill, land, and houses for the Poles. It became a self-sufficient Polish settlement, with schools where the children continued their education, workshops where older children were able to learn a trade, medical facilities, farm lad where the Poles raised their own food sources, as well as sporting facilities.

There was a well-developed cultural life as well. Plays were put on, concerts, demonstrations of folk dances, poetry readings, etc. Scouting dominating the lives of the children – it taught them teamwork, and allowed them to visit various sites across Mexico.

The Wierciński’s have two children in Mexico - Bogdan and Janina. At the end of the war years, while the family is planning emigration to the United States,, Joseph passes away.  Staying in Mexico had prolonged his life anyway and he managed to become a husband and a father.

His 24-year-old widow, Alina, finds out that her family found each other after the war in Poland. On the last transport from Mexico - via the United State and Germany, she manages to return to Poland with her children.

Alina started a new life and married again (to Joseph Matias). She says little about her first husband.

But Mexico is remembered in the family with great sentiment. Bogdan, who left Santa Rosa as a four-year-old, has many fond memories. "We will go there someday" - the family keep telling themselves. And they did eventually go, to find their grandfather’s grave.

Source: Sybir Museum Facebook post

Translated here from the original Polish

Copyright: Wiercinski family

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