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Transcript of questions arising from webinar 22 May with answers

Who were "families of settlers"?
The “settlers” or “Osadnik’s” were the over 10,000 soldiers who were awarded land in the Kresy following their participation in the 1920 Polish Soviet war. Their families were their wives, children and maybe even parents. They were amongst the first to be deported ion 10th February 1940.

Are the arrows in the map accurate? In other words, for example, did families in the Wilno area end up in the east of the SU?
The arrows on the map of Prisons and Special settlements are indicative. It would be best to use the IPN Indeks or deportation trains list to get a more accurate view of deportation routes. 

Does anyone know if there will be any special Polish-related events in Uzbekistan in 2022? We are hoping to visit them but the Polish Embassy has not responded to our request for information.
We don’t have this information, but maybe you could try the Kresy Family Facebook group.  There are over 1,000 members from all over the world and you may get an answer there.
Another potential contact would be the Świetlica Polska, which is the website of Poles in Uzbekistan: Or their Facebook page: The text is in Russian, but you could use Google translate to find out more information and possibly contact members of the community there. 
There is also a similar Facebook group for Poles in Kazakhstan:
Do let us know how you get on with your fascinating trip!

Would that web site show Polish conscripts as well?
The Polish military archives contain records of many service personnel, both regular and reserve forces. Best to do a search to see if the record you are looking for is included.

My grandfather was an engineer working in Lwow in 1914 when he went to war. He was captured and spent ww1 in Siberia. Unfortunately he died of typhus on the way home while fighting with the White Russians. He isn’t listed when I search in the link you first mentioned. Any thoughts where I should start?
Lwów was in the Austrian Hungarian Empire in 1914 and it’s likely that your grandfather served in the Austrian army, alongside many other Poles from Lwów. You could enquire about his military records at the Austrian State archives:
It may also worth looking in the Austrian newspaper archive:
The FamilySearch site has links to Lwów church books. (You need to create a free account, before you can search).
Finally Lwów Łyczakowski cemetery records are available here:

Re Polish Army records did you say there is a link on your website?
Yes, Polish Army records are linked from the pre-WWII records section:

My grandfather was a forester.  The nearest train station to my family's village was probably Swisloczy and on 10th Feb the train apparently ended in czelabinsk.  My grandfather worked in a gold mine but I don't know where.  Does a list of people who worked in these gold mines exist?
Sadly we are not aware of records being published for Chelyabinsk Oblast. 
The deportations trains list indicates that there was a 10th February 1940 train from Świsłocz (Svislač) to Kysztym (Kyshtym), Chelyabinsk Oblast. 
This site shows some early photographs of gold mining in the area:  
Kołyma was another notorious area of gold mines, known for its harshness and ill treatment of slave labour.  General Anders devoted a whole chapter “Kołyma means death” in his book “Army In Exile”. See also:

RE: Maps. My grandad told my mum that before they were deported, the Germans came, hung around for a few days, then left. Then a few days after the Germans left, the Russians came in and then he and his family were deported from their home. Do you know of any way, we may be able to pinpoint this area on a map? 
The area around Lwów was first invaded by the Germans and later by the Soviets. Maybe this is where your grandfather came from? You can read more about this in the Roger Moorhouse book “First to Fight”.

Is there a way to establish which Polish Characters need to be used because I only have the English ways of writing and I know some letters are interchangeable? 
These are the unique Polish characters you need to use on the IPN Indeks database.
 If you need help in working out the correct Polish spelling of a surname, please share it with us on Facebook or and we’ll try and help.  Or try installing a Polish keyboard.  This site will help with Windows 10, Iphone and Ipad -
For Apple Macs -

I struggle to find my father and uncle on deportation records.  They were Ukrainians living in Volyn.  They were arrested and sentenced to time in Siberia.  Should I be looking at different deportation records?
The IPN Indeks database holds many names of the deported from Wolyń (Volyn). If you share the name with us on Facebook or and we’ll try and help.

My father was a novice monk at Niepokolanow monastery. When Germans invaded, Maximilian Kolbe asked the novices to make their way home. My father was captured by the Russians and deported to Siberia. I understand that religious people were treated harshly and separated. Is this correct? How will I find which camp he was at? He was one of those who joined Anders' army and joined the British army in North Africa.
The Soviets had a policy of crushing religious life, so religious people were treated more harshly. The IPN Indeks database holds many names of the deported. You should also obtain your fathers military records from the UK MoD. Details are on our website; If you need help , do contact us on Facebook or

Would all those from one village be transported to the same gulag
Very often many from the same village or settlement would be deported at the same time and loaded onto a train bound for the same end station. The deportees would be unloaded on route or maybe after the destination station they would be taken to different settlements in the area. So it’s possible that they were deported to the same special settlement, or maybe in the same rough area.

My dad and his sisters told me that many of the letters they sent back to Poland didn't arrive, presumably censored. Do we know if these are still in files in Russia, and if so, how we might access or retrieve them?

We are not aware of any such letters being in archives, but who knows?

Are there any medical records of individuals from the hospitals and camps in Persia / Pahlevi / Teheran
No records of individuals but an interesting article is here

The War Diaries of QAIMNS Acting Principle Matron Lieutenant Colonel Hughes where she describes the care of former Prisoner of War Polish refugees from Russia who had many illnesses and diseases such as typhus, dysentery, malaria, tuberculosis and frostbite at the Indian Hospital in Tehran.
​A personal experience is described here

Did they list those who died on the deportation trains?   
We are not aware of any lists showing the deaths on the deportation trains. Only mention we have seen is in memoirs written by the deported. Deaths at special settlements are shown on the IPN Indeks database.

My father fled to Moscow when the nazi’s invaded - he lived in Lodz.  He was later arrested, tortured and sent to “Siberia” - how can I find out where he was for 11 months until he was released?
Your father may be listed in the Memorial list of repressed. The database is in Russian.

Can you briefly comment on your interesting outreach to e.g. the Jewish & Ukrainian communities?  Appreciate there’s no time for details, but as we know, it wasn’t just ethnic Poles who were deported.
Kresy Family WWII History group promotes the history and experiences of Polish citizens, regardless of race and religion, from Kresy (the Eastern Borderlands of Poland). Whilst most of our members are of Polish origin, we also help members from other communities, who experienced the same deportations.

Is there a list of prisoners at each Siberian camp?  I am unable to locate where my family was taken and where they lived prior to deportation
If the camp is listed on the IPN Indeks, then it is possible to obtain a list of all who were deported to that camp. If you need help, do contact us on Facebook or

My mum ended up in Palestine and joined up with SMO. how can I get more information about this organisation etc
There is some information on SMO on our site:

My father’s family was taken June 20 1941 from Swislocz parish, but my father’s Hoover memoir says that his father, my grandfather, was arrested rather than deported, so I’ve had trouble finding any info on his fate. He did survive, and was repatriated 12 years afterward. Any help on how to trace persons who were (repatriated).
It sounds like your grandfather was arrested for some activity and imprisoned. The family are likely to have been deported as a "dangerous" family, but not actually charged like your grandfather. Maybe it’s possible to obtain records of your grandfather's arrest and trial from the local Belarus records office? There are genealogy groups for Belarus, who may be able to provide local help? eg
If you have access to a Russian speaker, it may be worth searching the Memorial archives, which have more information than IPN:

My grandfather was imprisoned in Kola.  Is there a list of exactly where he was a prisoner and what his job was while there?  How long was he there?  How often were they exchanged between camps?
You should try using the IPN Indeks to see if he’s listed. Otherwise there may be records or memoirs of other prisoners from that region which could give you a view of his likely experience.

Hi I have a problem where I can't be sure of the surname.  My grandfather changed his name and tried to hide the family name so connections could not be made to him.  I have tried various names and can't trace any records from the websites.  I know the area where they were taken from.  Will that help me to try and find information?  My mother and aunts who were taken with my grandfather are all dead and no one can remember the name they used.
This is a problem. Maybe you will need to try and search all the archives using each of the names he used?

My family Wojturski were sent to Western Siberia. Dad was forester. Their camp was called Yuzneyy but I have never been to find the deportation point. They were arrested in Oryzkowce.
Is the home village actually called Oryszkowce? If so, a deportation train left Kopyczynce in April 1940 arriving in Suuk-Bulak, Semipalatynska. Oryszkowce is just 6km from Kopyczunce. Maybe this is the route followed by your family?

Can you speak to the deportations from the western part of German occupied Poland. eg. Lipno ?
The Soviets deported people from the Eastern part of pre-war Poland. During WWII citizens fled east from the advancing German army in the west. Some of these refugees were later deported by the Soviets mainly during the June 1940 deportations.  

When the amnesty happened does anyone know if specific routes were taken from each camp to Persia?
The deportees took whichever route they could to the newly forming Polish army. There is no specific route followed, but much of the journeys would have been covered by rail. If you look at one of the soviet railway maps, this may show the likely routes followed by your family.

Many thanks for all the information; I will start searching & if not luck (as has been the case to date), is there someone specific to contact for help & advice?
If you need help with your research, do contact us on Facebook or

Where can I find information on the gulags and their occupants?
Best starting point is the IPN Indeks, which was covered at the start of the webinar.

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