National Meeting of Families of Second World War POWs - report

Once again, we have met in a group of the descendants of soldiers who were taken prisoner by the Germans and the Soviets during the Second World War. The venue for the meeting was the Łambinowice seat of the Museum.

The event aroused a lot of unexpected interest – the spacious conference hall managed to accommodate all who came, as it was especially arranged in this way so the participants could sit at around tables and create micro-environments focused on particular POW camps in which their fathers and grandfathers were held. The numerous presence of relatives of prisoners-of-war held in stalags, including Lamsdorf, was encouraging. It is important, because as far as we know, and what was confirmed during conversations with our guests, the Second World War knowledge about POW camps, and especially stalags, is marginal.

The meeting was opened by the Museum Director, Dr. Violetta Rezler-Wasielewska, who recalled the idea behind it and thanked the event's partners: ‘League of POW Remembrance’ Network and the Katyń Museum, whose representative, Dr. Bartłomiej Bydoń, as the second speaker, referred to the gathering: "You are the memory".

A lecture delivered by Dr. Piotr Stanek, head of the CMJW's Research Department, gave a popular scienc accent to it, in which he rose the issue of variety and reliability of currently available historical sources on the subject of Polish soldiers' captivity. This was followed by two panels: 'A Museum of Many Possibilities. The history of a certain collection' and 'My father. A portrait from Memory'. The first pane delved into various contexts of the CMJW's cooperation with the families of former POWs, and included Krzysztof Toczek's donation held up as an example, while during the second discussion several speakers shared their family stories. A touching and inspiring moment were the speeches of those who decided to donate their POW memorabilia to the Museum. Reflections were expressed on our open-air exhibition 'Place with a Scar', which participants visited before sitting down again at the tables to exchange information about their own experiences in discovering POW stories.

Lively conversations, which did not quiet down even on the coach returning to Opole, are proof that our annual meetings are needed.

We would like to thank you for your participation, and those who decided to give us their family.

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