S: Zofia's Story
BC: Zofia would never go back to Poland. She is very happy in Australia.
FC: Zofia's Story A World War 2 Refugee | Zofia
1: Zofia was born in 1925 in the Ukraine (which was at the time part of Russia.) Her husband Michal was born in Poland.
2: Her father had been quite well off and owned some land, but when the Communists took over Russia they took everything from the family to share with all the people. The Communists believed that everyone should be the same and so Zofia’s family became as poor as the rest of the people.
3: And so they moved to Poland to live. She didn't have much education. She went to school a little, but when it snowed she had no shoes, so she stayed home for months at a time.
4: World War 2 began when Zofia was 14 years old. The Germans, led by Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland and took a lot of the young people back to Germany to work on farms. 700,000 Polish people went to work on farms. Zofia was 16 when she went. Farm labour was hard work and you had to be very strong.
5: She spent a few years working on the farm and one day met her husband to be, Michal. He had been in the Polish army fighting the Germans but was captured, kept in a prison camp for 18 months then sent to do farm labour as well.
7: Zofia and Michal were married and their two sons were born in Germany.
8: But it was too dangerous for them to go back to Poland yet, so they decided to escape. | Now they were World War 2 refugees or displaced persons. They did not have a country to live in where they would be safe.
9: SS Castel Bianco took the family to Australia
10: How did you feel about coming to Australia? | What was it like on board the ship? | What did you eat on the ship? | What did you have to leave behind? | How long did it take to travel to Australia?
11: At first we lived in a hostel at Bonagilla. Then we lived in a caravan until Michal built a house for us. | Where did you live?
12: What was it like adapting to a new culture? | How did you learn the language? | What were the biggest differences?
13: The boys went to school at St Thomas Aquinas and then St Josephs College.
15: The children learned the Australian way of life.
16: Their two sons . . . | Life is good!
17: . . grew up as Australians | The Australian way
18: What do they like about Australia? This is a much richer country. They had good jobs and earned enough money to live well. They bought a car. They built and owned a house. Their children could go to good Catholic schools. Better opportunities for their sons. They felt safe.
19: What did they find difficult? They had to learn a new language. They left their friends and family behind. Different food. Australians found their name hard to say.