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Tadeusz (Ted) KROL

Part 6 of 6

Memories and an Overview by George Krol


During the Second World War, the population of Poland decreased from 35 million to 24 million persons. The war resulted in six million Polish casualties, almost evenly divided between Polish Christian and Jewish ethnicities.  Poland had the highest percentage (17%) of its population killed during WWII of any single nation in the world. This death toll can be attributed not only to military casualties and the brutal extermination of Polish Jewish citizens by the Nazis, but also to the German and Russian slaying of Polish Christian citizens who resisted the invasion and occupation of Poland. Our family and hundreds of thousands of other Polish citizens were deported by Soviet Russia to forced labor camps in Siberia and by Nazi Germany to forced labor camps in Germany. Joanna Krol’s father died in a German forced labor camp and the Piotrowski family (Barbara Krol’s family) were deported to Germany.

Our family was fortunate to be deported to southern Siberia during June of 1941, unlike hundreds of thousands of other Polish people who were deported to northern Siberia during 1940 and 1941.  We are also thankful that our father was not among the thousands of Polish regular and non-commissioned officers who were  executed by the Russian NKVD, forerunners of the KGB. Our father was expelled to Siberia apart from us, and we didn’t know where he had been imprisoned. We have to thank God that our father miraculously learned of the sovkhoz labor farm to where we had been confined. Divine providence also guided his arrival to our forced labor farm on Christmas Eve of 1941. He stayed with us until our mother delivered our brother Stasiu. Then he left to join the Polish army being formed in Russia in order to obtain the permit necessary for our own departure from Russia. Formation of the Polish army in Russia and our departure from Russia was enabled by the fact that Russia sought to marshal every potential military resource it had to confront the sudden German invasion of Russia in 1941.

Consequently, Russia was initially receptive to the release of Polish soldiers who survived their deportation to Siberia because these soldiers could be formed into a Polish army to help fight Germany. Under pressure, Russia agreed to release the families of those Polish soldiers. Our father was able to obtain the travel permit that was required for our exit from Siberia during the late summer of 1942, just before Russia terminated this agreement.  We were the only family in our forced labor collective farm that was able to leave Siberia. Many Polish people were forced to remain in Siberia until 1953 when Stalin died.

Most Polish people who were able to leave Russia traveled to Iran and stayed there several years. Since our mother was the head cook of the Polish refugees’ hospital in Tehran, we ate well, and we had relatively good accommodations adjacent to the hospital.  However, our time in Iran was saddened by the loss of our baby brother Stasiu who died from whopping cough. Fortunately, I recovered from my own whopping cough infection and was able to start my elementary school education in Tehran. In general, Iran was generous and kind to thousands of Polish refugees and recently when John contacted the Polish embassy in Tehran to inquire about the grave of our brother Stasiu, he received a photo of Stasiu’s headstone. The picture shows that the grave site is being maintained and is in good condition.

We were also fortunate that our father was able to join the unit of the Polish army that was allowed to leave Russia to fight Germany in North Africa. As a result, he was able to visit us in Lebanon where we were relocated after our stay in Iran. Most of the Polish people who left Russia and stayed in Iran went to countries like India and African nations that were part of the British Empire.  However, we were more fortunate because Lebanon has a great climate and the Lebanese welcomed several thousand Polish refugees to honor the Polish cavalry unit that joined the Turkish army when Poland was occupied by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.  This cavalry unit helped to restore peace in Lebanon during bloody confrontations between Christians and Moslems. I believe that the Lebanese people remembered this history and as a result were very kind to Polish refugees.

We stayed in Lebanon for nearly three years in a small town called Ghazir, which is close to the Mediterranean Sea. I still remember many walks to the beach and the fruit that grew wild on my path to the beach. In Ghazir, we rented a nice room in a large house that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea.  Some Lebanese people, like shopkeepers, learned some Polish and we learned some Arabic. I still remember how to ask, “what time is it?” in Arabic, and I remember some Arabic numbers. People in Ghazir allowed the Polish community to use their church for Polish Mass and their school for Polish classes. I still remember that every morning before we started our classwork we would sing a Polish religious morning song. The message of this song can be summarized as follows.

When the morning sun is rising, all creatures sing praises to God. And man, who was given more than any other creature, why should he not praise God as well.  Many creatures that fell asleep yesterday did not wake up today. But we did, and this is another reason why we should praise God as well.

It was this song that made a connection for me with my sister, Danka, when she was unable to speak following a stroke. During a visit to the nursing care center where Danka resided, I asked her if she remembered singing that song in Lebanon. She responded with a tear drop and nodded her head. 

I also remember a young Polish priest in Ghazir who, at the end of his sermon, asked the children who were present to play hide-and-seek with him after the Mass. By a rather unusual coincidence, I met the same priest about fifty years later in the United States.  His name was Father Lucjan Krolikowski. After his ordination and service in Lebanon he was asked to take care of several hundred orphaned Polish children in Africa. After the war was over, the communist Polish government requested that these children be delivered to Poland. However, these children lost their parents and didn’t wish to go to a Poland that was dominated by Russia after the war. Consequently, Father Krolikowski managed to send these children first to Italy and Germany and then on to Canada.


These children were so grateful to Father Krolikowski that they thought of him as their father and were contact with him as long as he lived. Father Krolikowski wrote three books in Polish, which have been translated to English These books pertain to his faith and his experiences during his deportation to Siberia from his studies at a Polish seminary. They speak of his experiences when he was in Africa taking care of these orphans.One of Lucjan Krolikowski’s books is entitled, "Stolen Childhood, A Saga of Polish War Children".


I visited Father Krolikowski many times until the day he died, when he was 100 years old. I learned from Father Krolikowski that before the Second World War started, Germany tried to convince Poland to attack Russia with Germany. Hitler made several such proposals. Since Poland rejected Hitler’s proposition, Germany then made a secretive pact with Russia to jointly attack Poland. Russia eagerly accepted this plan because Germany offered Russia the eastern part of Poland. Consequently, when the war started, Poland was attacked by Germany and Russia simultaneously. 


George (Jerzy) Krol

Enfield, Connecticut, November 2020





The coronavirus pandemic, especially during the fall and winter of 2020, has given me a good deal of time to reflect on our family, its history, and even our genealogy. The starting point for each of these reflections has been the memoir that my brother, Ted, completed in 2000. Since then, later conversations with Ted and George, several book and memoir sources, and the internet, have provided me with a wealth of detailed information on the places and events that Ted first wrote about. It has given me a better and richer perspective.

Our father, Fortunat Krol, was a career soldier in the Polish Army, assigned to supervise small border outposts along Poland’s border with Russia. There he met a local girl from Rakow. Fortunat and Stanislawa Kosowicz began their married life on December 26, 1928 in Rakow, Poland. Fortunat’s career was not one that would lead him to accumulate a fortune. But at that time on the Polish frontier, it was a vital job that also could provide his family with a steady income. Although a few members of her extended family had braved the unknown and emigrated to the United States, nearly all of Stanislawa’s immediate family continued to live in that area. This included her parents, her siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. There is much to be said for a family support system. In late 1928, they must have started their family with all the hope and optimism that all newlyweds share.

Eleven years later, their lives, and those of millions of other people, took a very drastic turn. Fortunat was captured and briefly held in a Soviet POW camp. Following his release, and now in Soviet-occupied Poland, he was under regular interrogation by the Soviet NKVD who sought information from him about any anti-Soviet activities or discussion that he was aware of. In June 1941, our family was labeled as undesirable elements in this Soviet territory. Fortunat was re-arrested and sent to a prison camp. A pregnant Stanislawa and her three young children were put in a boxcar on a train, and along with thousands of other undesirables, were deported and conscripted for labor at a collective farm in Siberia. It was only Nazi Germany’s attack on Soviet Russia, which ultimately led to their “amnesty” and release from Russia in September 1942. They entered Iran as refugees. Our brother, Stasiu, died of pertussis in Iran when he was barely ten months old.

Fortunat fought with the Polish Army II Corps at Monte Cassino in Italy and was later based in Egypt. Ted attended cadet school in Palestine, while Stanislawa, Danka, and George continued as refugees relocated from Iran to Lebanon. In 1947, all five Krol family members joined thousands of other displaced persons (DPs) in England. They were assigned to live in one of many Quonset huts that had been vacated at a former US Army Air Force base. I was born there in 1949.

In the late 1940s, a good deal political debate went on in the US Congress over whether any of the millions of persons displaced by WWII should be allowed to enter the US as immigrants. It took until 1950 for a quota of 18,000 immigrants in the category of Polish soldiers then residing in the British Isles to be granted admission, again as displaced persons. Our parents, Danka, George, and I arrived in New York City on the RMS Queen Elizabeth in late October 1951. On the Queen Elizabeth’s manifest, we were classified as being “Stateless.” Gradually, we all learned the English language, to varying degrees, and adopted American customs, while keeping many Polish traditions. We did accede to anglicize the Polish spelling of our name from the original Król to Krol. However, Mother continued to add the accent mark over the “o” in all her written communication and insisted  on that original spelling for Father’s headstone.

History and fate had given our family different classifications over the years. We have been categorized as undesirable elements, deportees, conscripted laborers, refugees, displaced persons, and stateless immigrants. Our own family’s history should give us a bit of empathy for the millions of other families, to this date, who have had similar circumstances and classifications as they seek a better life for themselves.

Our family grew. Ted and Barbara Piotrowska were married in June 1960 at St. Theresa’s Church. George and Joasia Fabryczewska were married in March 1962, also at St. Theresa’s Church. Linda Sue Wright and I were married on the evening of January 2, 1971 at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Ogdensburg, in the middle of a snowstorm. We have often been reminded of those weather conditions by my siblings who travelled to our wedding.

Our mother had always stressed the importance of study and good grades leading to a good education and fulfillment in life. George took that lesson to heart by continuing his studies at Rutgers University, culminating in 1968 with his Doctorate Degree in Physical Chemistry. Linda and I continued our post-graduate education in 1977, while we worked in the Buffalo area, by completing the requirements for a master’s degree in our respective fields from the University of Buffalo.

Fortunat and Stanislawa’s four children who survived WWII, provided them with eleven grandchildren, nineteen great-grandchildren, and at the end of 2020, eleven great-great-grandchildren.


But vital members of our family have also passed on. After Father’s death in 1956, Mother continued as the family matriarch, much as she had through the war years, until her passing in July 1970. I was home that month on summer break between my junior and senior year at Clarkson College. On the evening of her death, Ted and I consoled each other. At some point he voiced the concern, “Now, who will keep the family together?” Ted answered his own question by reaching out and communicating with his siblings and their families on a regular basis, and to our many cousins in the US and in Europe.

We were shocked by Ted Kolacz’s death at Christmastime of 1993. He was beloved by all of us, especially the children.

Sadly, Ted, the eldest Krol sibling, passed in June 2014. With him passed our strongest connection to the memory of our family’s roots in Poland and its experiences during the years of WWII. For the forty-four years following our mother’s death, Ted relished his role as family elder.

Not long afterwards, our dear sister, Danka passed in October 2015. The Kolacz family residence had often been an oasis for me during my growing years when I needed a break from my own household. In later years, Danka and Ted were like grandparents to my own children.

It's up to the rest of us, the descendants of Fortunat and Stanislawa Krol, to know and appreciate our family heritage while we make the most of our own lives in the United States.


John (Jan) Krol, Waddington, New York,December 2020   


Copyright: Krol family


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