Gallery 4: Freed to Fight

PRE-VIEWING ACTIVITIES

  • Revisit the key understandings from the previous galleries by listing key vocabulary and asking students to define the topics in their own words. These terms can be drawn from the key understanding and vocabulary sections in each gallery and could include: The Border Protection Corps, Nazi–Soviet non-aggression pact, Sovietisation, Deportation, Katyń massacres. Ask students to share their definitions and gauge areas that may need to be clarified based on class responses.
  • Be given a brief outline of what happened in Eastern Poland in 1939–1941.
  • It may also be helpful for students to complete a short web search on Stalin to answer the following questions:
    1. Who was Joseph Stalin and what were his key political beliefs?
    2. What part did he play in World War Two?

KEY CONCEPTS

  • ‘Amnesty’ for the innocent (1941)
  • Polish armed forces in USSR (1941–1942)
  • Polish 2nd corps (1943–1945)

KEY VOCABULARY

  • Operation Barbarossa
  • Polish 2nd corps
  • Amnesty
  • Evacuation
  • Allied
  • POW
  • Exile
  • Gulag

4a: ‘Amnesty’ for the innocent (1941)

Activities

  1. Listen to Jadwiga’s story and answer the following questions:
    • In her testimony Jadwiga refers to a pact between the Germans and the Soviets breaking down. What was the name of this pact?
    • Jadwiga lists several reasons that the German Blitzkrieg is advancing through the lands that were formerly Eastern Poland, now occupied by the Soviets. What are these?
    • Why did the Poles held captive in the USSR find hope in the German attack?
    • Describe the conditions that Jadwiga and her family were forced to live in in Kazakhstan.
    • What was the name of the General charged with leading the Polish army that was raised in the USSR? Where would the troops for this army come from?
    • Why were the Polish people indignant that the Soviet government granted them amnesty?
    • How many Polish citizens were forcibly evicted from their homeland to the Soviet Union?
    • After March 1943 Stalin refused to let Polish people who were still in the USSR leave. How many were repatriated after World War Two?
  2. Use the photo references, information from the facts section and Jadwiga’s story to write a series of diary entries from the point of view of a Polish child in exile in the USSR. The entries do not need to be consecutive but should give information about day to day activities, difficulties and the young person’s hopes for the future.
  3. Choose one of the testimonies to listen to. As you listen to the testimony take notes on the dates, places and facts discussed as well as your personal responses to the information being presented. Use your notes to complete a 200-word reflective writing piece. If possible, share your work with a student who has focused on a different testimony. Compare the stories and discuss your responses. Use the following table to help you organise your notes.
  4. Use the information on the Facts page and the first two maps in the maps section to describe what happened during Operation Barbarossa.
  5. Create a visual representation of the events in Operation Barbarossa by drawing a map. Your map should include a border, orientation, a legend, a title, scale and source (source refers to where you have sourced the blank map from).

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4b: Polish Armed Forces in USSR (1941–1942)

Activities

Listen to Jadwiga’s story, read the facts section and examine the other information in this section before attempting the following questions:

  1. Create a flowchart that clearly shows the stages involved in recruiting and moving out the Polish Army in the East to Persia. Include:
    • The names of the recruitment centres
    • Stalin’s involvement
    • Details of the numerous phases of transportation and evacuation
  2. Describe the condition of the soldiers and civilians who arrived to sign up in the newly formed Polish army.
  3. By March 1942 Jadwiga is in Central Asia where there are several gathering points for the Polish Army. Locate these points on a map:
    • Samarkand
    • Kermine
    • Ashkhabad
    • Istaravshan and Djalalabad
    • Tashkent
    • Jangi Jul
  4. Why are the conditions in the army camps so intolerable?
  5. Many Polish exiles are turned away from recruitment centres and redirected to work in collective farms. Imagine you are one of the people turned away and write a letter to a relative telling them of your situation.
  6. Imagine you are Jadwiga or another soldier on the journey from Krasnovodsk to Persia. Write a diary entry that describes the journey and your arrival in Persia.

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4c: Polish 2nd Corps (1943–1945)

Activities

  • Read the fact sheet for this gallery. What percentage of Polish 2nd Corps came from Poland’s pre-war Kresy or Eastern Borderlands? Where else were the troops from?
  • What was the role women played in the Polish Women’s Auxiliary Corps?
  • The Polish 2nd Corps took part in three major Italian campaigns – the Battle of Monte Cassino, the Battle of Ancona and the Battle of Bologna. Choose one of these battles to research in more detail. Present your findings as a PowerPoint or in essay form and include the following information:
    1. The date of the battle
    2. Where the battle occurred
    3. What was the objective of the battle?
    4. Who were the major participants?
    5. What method of warfare was used?
    6. How many people died or were wounded in the battle?
    7. What was the outcome of the battle? (Who won, who lost?)
    8. What was the overall significance of the battle in the war?
    9. What role did the Polish 2nd corps take in the battle?
  • Complete a source analysis for one of the photographs, documents or testimonies in this gallery using the questions below as a guide (NB: You may not be able to answer all of the questions for your chosen source; just do your best with the information you have available to you):
    • What is it? (include if it is a primary or secondary source)
    • What does it show? (be descriptive and use the knowledge you have gained in this Gallery to help you)
    • When was the source written/produced/made?
    • Who wrote/produced it?
    • Why was it written or produced?
    • How was it written or produced?
    • What was the context?

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Extension Activities

  1. Consider the quote from Tadeusz Piotrowski: ‘As for what happened to those who never got out, god only knows.’ Use the internet (including the Kresy-Siberia website) to research and write a report on what happened to Polish citizens who were unable to leave the Soviet Union in 1942.
  2. Use Google Maps to create a visual representation of the key events described in this Gallery.
  3. Complete a 600-word research assignment on General Władysław Anders that details his early life, military career, imprisonment and life after the war. Include images and relevant quotes.
  4. The testimonies in Room 4C are in Polish; choose one and translate it into English.

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Quiz

  1. Which battle was the last combat action of the Polish 2nd Corps?
    1. The Battle of Monte Cassino
    2. The Battle of Ancona
    3. The Battle of Bologna
    4. Polish 2nd Corps (Drugi Korpus Wojska Polskiego)
  2. Stalin provided provisions and weapons for the reformed Polish army. True/False?
  3. General Władysław Anders was the commander of the Polish 2nd Corps. True/False?
  4. The Battle of Monte Cassino:
    1. Was a major victory for the Polish 2nd Corps
    2. Opened the road to Rome
    3. Was one of the most difficult and bloodiest battles of World War Two
    4. All of the above
  5. Of the 1–2 million Polish citizens who were deported to USSR, a total of approximately __________________ were evacuated to Persia, in two waves in March/April and then August 1942.
    1. 250,000
    2. 720,000
    3. 116,000
    4. 60,000
  6. By March 1942 the Polish Army consisted of over 80,000 military and 35,000 civilians. They were surviving on rations suitable for:
    1. 100,000
    2. 30,000
    3. 50,000
    4. 75,000
  7. ‘Operation Barbarossa’ was the codename given to Germany’s invasion of Soviet occupied territories in 1941. True/False?
  8. The Nazi–Soviet pact of 1939 became obsolete when:
    1. The German army invaded territories that the Russians had laid claim to
    2. The Soviets redirected the whole country towards the total war effort
    3. The Russians laid claim to the Baltic States, Ukraine and Belarus
  9. The ‘Amnesty’ of July 1941 led to the evacuation of approximately 116,000 Polish military and civilians to:
    1. Iran
    2. Uzbekistan
    3. Moscow
  10. In March 1943 hundreds of thousands of Poles were still in the USSR but Stalin refused to let them leave. True/False?