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Film to chronicle Polish WWII refugees in India

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 18.07.2012 13:43
A Polish-Indian co-production is set to explore the legacy of thousands of Polish children who were given refuge in India during the Second World War.

The Maharaja of Nawanagar with Polish orphans, Jamnagar: photo - CSPA

The documentary project sees a partnership between the public television networks of both countries, in Poland's case TVP, and in India's Doordarshan.

The most fabled example of Indian aid to Poland during World Wat II centres around the former Maharaja of Nawanagar.

He was the first Indian to offer refuge to Poles who had been released from Soviet captivity following an amnesty declared by Moscow in 1941.

Over 500 orphans were given refuge on the maharaja's land in buildings adjoining his summer palace in the village of Balachadi.

Technically, the maharaja's state – like over 500 other Indian principalities – was independent from the vast territories of British-ruled India.

However, the maharaja was a member of Winston Churchill's Imperial War Cabinet, and he coordinated the action in cooperation with British authorities and delegates of the London-based Polish government-in-exile.

A much larger refugee camp of over 5000 Poles, mainly women and children, was opened at Valivade in the princely state of Kolhapur. The site was suggested by the British, during a regency period following the death of the local maharaja.

The legacy of Polish refugees in India was taboo during the post-war period of communist rule in Poland, as it was connected with the fates of several hundred thousand Poles who were deported to Siberia by the Soviet regime during World War II.

However, this year, the Warsaw-based Poland-Asia Research Center (CSPA) successfully campaigned for a square in the capital to be named after the Maharaja of Nawanagar.

Owing to problems that many have in pronouncing the maharaja's full name - Jam Sri Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja - it has been decided that the plaza will simply be called the Square of the Good Maharaja. (nh)

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