Seeds in the Storm
In August 1939 Stanislaw Dabrowski was a 19 year old accounting student working part time in his family bakery business in Lwów, Poland. Within a few weeks the Germans had occupied half of Poland and the Soviet Union invaded the rest, including Lwów. The family discovered the reality of life in comrade Stalin’s empire: destitution, arrest, imprisonment, beatings, show trials on false charges, deportation to slave labour camps and executions. After enduring months of slave labour in the gold mines of Kolyma in Siberia, Stanislaw was among the small percentage to survive: in 1941 Germany invaded the Soviet Union and Polish prisoners were released to join a Polish army to fight the Germans. He fought in the battle of Monte Cassino in Italy after which he met his wife, a veteran of the Warsaw uprising. Following the end of the war they moved to Britain and from there they migrated to New Zealand to join other family members who had been sent out in 1944. Initially, Stanislaw worked in a car assembly factory in Petone, but upon deciding to resume accounting studies, got a job in the Department of Industries and Commerce in Wellington, the boss of which was the notorious Moscow-aligned William Sutch. After years of no promotion, Stanislaw decided to change employers and went to the Totalisator Agency Board or TAB, eventually working his way to the top position of General Manager. The story of the Dabrowski family, scattered by the storm of war, eventually establishing new roots on the other side of the world, is both fascinating and inspiring.
Editor’s Note “These memoirs were recorded in interviews with Stanislaw over a number of sessions between 2006 and 2009. I have supplemented the text with notes adding extra information about the background of the events from different sources. The first draft of this book was read and checked by Stanislaw before his death on 23 August 209. Combatant veterans of World War II are now rapidly reaching the ends of their lives and it is important that their recollections and stories be recorded for posterity while it is still possible.” - Geoffrey Churchman