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Jozefa (nee Drapala) Maslanka was born on June 12, 1928, in Wola Korybutowiecka, Wołyń province, Poland, to parents Wawrzyniec and Karolina. She was living in in these eastern borderlands of pre-WW2 Poland in 1939, when the Russians invaded Poland, two weeks after the Germans had attacked from the west.;


At the tender age of 12, she was forcibly taken from her home by the Russians, along with her parents and her brothers Mieczyslaw and Tadeusz, and forced onto cattle cars bound for Siberian labour camps. Her family were slave labourers at the work camp for nearly 2 years.


Thanks to the Sikorski- Majewski agreement, her family was released from the work camp in the fall of 1941. Jozefa was carried along with waves of other Polish exiles, at times separated from her parents and siblings, as they journeyed south to reach the Polish army that was being formed by General Anders. Her father joined the Polish 2nd Corps, while she and her mother and siblings were evacuated to the Middle East. Her mother and brother Mieczyslaw joined the Red Cross in Pachlevi, Iran, while Jozefa remained in an orphanage in Russia. Eventually, she was reunited with her mother, and the pair made their way to Tehran to locate Tadeusz, who had been hospitalized there due to tuberculosis.


 Jozefa received her grade school education at various displaced persons camps: Tehran (1942-1943), Ahvaz (1943-1944), and Nazareth (1944-1946), where she joined the School for Young Women Volunteers.


The Drapala family were reunited in England after the war, and Jozefa completed her education at the Foxley Camp before being discharged in 1948. Her father and brother Tadeusz had previously signed up for a 2-year work contract in Manitoba, and the rest of the family travelled there under the family re-unification plan.


The Drapala family arrived in Quebec in 1948 and travelled by rail to Winnipeg. Jozefa remained in Winnipeg for the rest of her life.  Jozefa married Jan Maslanka in Winnipeg on October 4, 1952. Jan had served as a Sapper in the Polish 2nd Corps in the Italian Campaign.


Jozefa died in Winnipeg on November 14, 2016, almost 7,500 km away from her birth home in Wołyń, Poland.



Source: Ogniwo Polish Museum Archives

Jozefa, age 17, in Nazareth

Jozefa Maslanka

Copyright: Maslanka family

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