Silence is a three-hander exploring the inter-generational effects that the Soviety war has had on Polish families. What holds families together? What tears them apart? What’s brewing in the silences?
1996. London. It’s Ewa’s birthday. Her daughter Anna is coming home from university with a secret to share but Maria has some news of her own. As wartime memories of Siberia resurface, old steps are retraced to uncover the secrets of the past and a Polish heritage that unites and divides them.
Nicola Werenowska’s funny and fascinating new play hurtles between Warsaw and London over two decades and three generations of a Polish/British family.
In post-war England, ambitious journalist Stephen Underwood (Alex Pettyfer) comes across a disturbing spate of suicides by Polish soldiers. Sensing a story, his first port of call is Colonel Janusz Pietrowski, a Liaison Officer for the resettlement of Polish troops under British command but the meeting with Pietrowski leaves Stephen unsettled, and from here his investigation escalates as he finds himself embroiled in a dangerous, multi-layered conspiracy concerning the execution of 22,000 Polish military and civilians by Stalin’s secret police.
The Last Witness is a story that is also very personal to director Piotr Szkopiak, whose mother Emilia was deported to Siberia by the Soviets in 1940. Emilia left the Soviet Union in 1942 and settled in England in 1947, where still she resides today. Her father and Szkopiak’s grandfather, Wojciech Stanisław Wójcik, was executed in the Katyn Massacre.
The film will be available on DVD & Digital on 27th August (you can order from: http://amzn.eu/2bwsrgc).
On 7th September, an exhibition marking 100 years of the Polish Air Force will open at POSK London. It will tell of the Polish contribution to the Allied victory in the Second World War and include private collection items, such as a pilot's uniform and model aeroplanes. Organised by the Polish Airmen's Association UK. #PAF100
Directed by BAFTA Award Nominee Piotr Szkopiak, The Last Witness is a political thriller based on the harrowing true events of the Katyn Massacre in Spring 1940, starring Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike, I am Number Four), Michael Gambon (Harry Potter franchise, King of Thieves) and Talulah Riley (Westworld).
Forthcoming Events 2018
Friday, 7 September 19:00 - THE LAST WITNESS
A special screening at POSK, Hammersmith London. Reservations from 020 8741 0474. Entrance by voluntary donation at the door to the Polish Library.
7 - 13 September 2018 - On General Cinema Release
7 - 19 September 2018
100 years of the Polish Air Force Exhibition
8 September 2018
9th Anniversary of the Unveiling
of the Polish Forces War Memorial
National Memorial Arboretum
12 -20 October Nicola Werenowska's play Silence
Mercury Theatre, Colchester
The performances of the play #Silence start on 12 October at the Mercury Theatre Colchester with a 10-day run.
More information about the national tour with dates and venues are now available.
Listen to recent radio broadcasts
Syrena Songs - BBC World Service available on Iplayer
Broadcast on 5 August - Monica Whitlock tells Syrena Record's story and travels to Warsaw to hear from a new generation of musicians recreating Syrena's sound. Syrena Records was created in 1904. It sold millions of discs to new audiences hungry for shellac delights - opera singers, cantors, political humour and Yiddish theatre. Success allowed founder JuliuszFeigenbaum to invest in state of the art recording technology. By the time independent Poland was reborn in 1918 Syrena was well placed to shape the sound of a new nation.
Hot tango and jazz were performed by superb musicians and singers, mostly Jewish, mostly of a generation breaking away from the old world and facing the new. Adam Aston, Hanka Ordonka, Henryk Wars, Micheslaw Fogg and others cut disc after disc before playing in the elite nightclubs of Warsaw. Some 14,000 records by artists at the top of their game. Outpourings of Yiddish tango, slinky foxtrots, romantic ballads. Records in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish. Songs such as The Last Sunday and Donna Clara went international.
In 1939, invasion and war ended Syrena and the Polish nation. Its factory and archives destroyed, its artists murdered or scattered in exile. But there was one last tune to play. Henryk Wars, former musical director at Syrena, formed an orchestra that became the soundtrack of Poles in exile and in military uniform. From Tehran to Palestine to the fortress of Monte Cassino, those musicians and singers that had once been the heart of Syrena now played songs of a lost nation, creating the anthemic Red Poppies of Monte Cassino.
Available on repeat on BBC Iplayer radio - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cswk4h available until 4 September.
A Helping of History - Broadcast on North Manchester FM but available online
Broadcast on Tuesday 7 August - Ann Siburuth is interviewed about the Resettlement Camps in North Manchester and tells of the story of the people of wartime Kresy.
Still Here: A Polish Odyssey - BBC Radio 4 available on Iplayer
Broadcast on 6 and 8 August - Jane Rogoyska meets Polish people who were exiled to Siberia as children by Stalin and their descendants. The changing winds of war took them from Siberia and Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan, Persia (now Iran) and onto India or Africa - then to Britain. They thought that Britain was another stopping point on their odyssey home to Eastern Poland but they and their descendants are still here. With the participation of Kresy Family members.
Available on repeat from BBC Iplayer radio - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bd7zj4. Expiry date TBA.
We are very pleased and excited to be able to inform you that we have new offices in London. Our new address is
Ilford House, 133-135 Oxford Street, London W1D 2HY, UK
We have a big space on the 1st Floor with some very nice rooms, an open plan area and even some furniture.
Helen Bitner's book 'A Song For Kresy' is available now
Kresy Family Polish WWII History Group
acknowledges and thanks
the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London, the Polonia Aid Foundation Trust, Forever Manchester and Kresy Family members
for their financial support of our projects.
Commemorations start at 2.00 pm with speeches, prayers, National Anthems and wreath laying service. This is a very special annual event for all Polish people both young and old living in the UK to pay their respects to fellow countrymen and women who fought and lost their lives during WW2 and who never returned to see their beloved Poland again.
Please make a big effort to attend and show your support. It is a very moving and memorable event and one that should not be missed. Organised by Fundacja SPK.
The National Memorial Arboretum official site
The Polish Forces War Memorial official site
Hurricane (Squadron 303) is the story of a group of brave Poles who fought in the skies over England in WW2, not just to keep Great Britain free from the Nazis, but also to keep alive the very idea of their own country, which had existed in its modern form for barely twenty years before it was crushed between the opposing jaws of Germany and Russia. Equipped with the almost-obsolete Hurricane and (with some initial reluctance) given RAF blue uniforms, while they fought, Poland lived.
© Kresy Family
Our material is not to be copied or used in any way without the specific permission of Kresy Family Polish WWII History Group.
For help and advice, please refer to our contact page.
Please note that we have no connection with the Kresy-Siberia Foundation.