How One Maharaja Helped Save the Lives of 640 Polish Children and Women During World War II

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How One Maharaja Helped Save the Lives of 640 Polish Children and Women During World War II

by Anandita Jumdeabout a year ago

During World War II, an Indian king set up a home away from home for Polish refugees and orphans: a Little Poland in India. His efforts saved the lives of more than 640 women and children.

The ravages of the Second World War left Poland a shadow of the country it once was. The nation was torn apart by destructive forces, its people held captive in concentration camps and countless of its children left orphans.

Overcoming grave obstacles and challenges, hundreds of Polish children (and women) managed to escape the dire circumstances in their country. Contradictory reports exist on how the kids planned their escape. However, it is known that they were turned away from every country they approached for help.

When their ship docked in Mumbai, the British governor too refused them entry. Maharaja Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja of Nawanagar, who had heard of the plight of the refugees, sought to help them and pressurized the British government to allow the refugees to disembark. Frustrated by the lack of empathy and the unwillingness of the government to act, the Maharaja ordered the ship to dock at Rosi port in his province. Thus began the story of Little Poland in India.

On disembarking, the Maharaja warmly welcomed the Polish women and children, saying “Do not consider yourself orphans. You are now Nawnagaris and I am Bapu, father of all the people of Nawanagar, so also yours.”






SOURCE: YOUTUBE
The children were set up in tented accommodations, while the Maharaja set about building the Balachadi camp, located near his summer palace and 25 km away from the capital city of Jamnagar. Facing severe objections from the British government for taking in foreign refugees, the Maharaja proudly claimed they were part of his family, even going so far as to provide the government with adoption certificates for them! “Our father politically adopted them,” the king’s daughter Harshad Kumari, told Outlook Magazine.

Read also: An Awesome History Of The Lost Indian City That Traded With Romans

The Maharaja took many personal risks to ensure that more than 640 women and children found a safe haven in Balachadi. He didn’t just provide the Polish citizens with the bare necessities either, but went to great lengths to ensure that Balachadi became a home away from home for these people.

Mr Wieslaw Stypula, a Polish survivor, remembers the Maharaja’s concern for their eating habits, “When we arrived at the camp, the Maharaja gave a party but he did not know what we children liked to eat… Despite being hungry, we didn’t like to eat at all. Bapu saw this and said ‘Don’t worry, I will fix this.’ He brought seven young cooks for us from Goa!”

Recalls another survivor, Mrs Jadwiga Tomaszek, “We never liked the spinach that was cooked in the camp and so we decided to have a spinach strike. When Bapu heard of this, he immediately ordered the cooks not to make spinach anymore.”






SOURCE: YOUTUBE
Mr Jerzy Tomaszek, a member of the ‘Survivors of Balachadi’ (as they fondly refer to themselves) says, “I met Jadwiga (his wife) in Balachadi camp. I loved her since the age of 15 but married her at the age of 78. We perhaps need to thank Maharaja Jam Saheb for our meeting.”

Mr Jan Bielecki, yet another ‘Survivor of Balachadi, remarked:

“If not for the Maharaja, we would have been in trouble…. I still do not understand that in spite of being a true patriotic Polish, one part of my soul still misses India and thus does not make me fully comfortable in Poland, as I feel that India is still my home too.”






SOURCE: YOUTUBE
Their fond memories of the camp and the Maharaja are evidence that the four years they spent under his care were life-changing and memorable.

Read also: TBI Specials: The Welcome Shores Of Nargol – A History Of The Parsi Community In India

When asked about his decision to house the Polish kids, the Maharaja is believed to have told Polska, a weekly Polish magazine:

“Maybe there, in the beautiful hills beside the seashore, the children will be able to recover their health and to forget the ordeal they went through…. I sympathise with the Polish nation and its relentless struggle against oppression.”

The Maharaja’s gesture went on to inspire many others to open their hearts and homes to the innocent victims of war, not just in India but across the world. His act of generosity is clearly still remembered in Poland, where he was posthumously award the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit by the President. Poland has also named the Maharaja the Honorary Patron of the popular Warsaw Bednarska High School. In 2013, the Government of Poland inaugurated the ‘Good Maharaja Square’ in Warsaw.

The Maharaja’s actions are more noteworthy still given that while the world was at war, India was fighting an important battle of its own – one of self determination, against the backdrop of severe famine and drought.






SOURCE: YOUTUBE
As historian Anuradha Bhattacharya once remarked “There is no denying that Jam Saheb’s generosity is unparalleled. It was the cornerstone for other Polish people to get sanctuary in India. That they found refuge here also, speaks volumes about the national movement, which was not xenophobic, and about the Indian people who showed no antagonism to the presence of the Polish children in a year of severe drought and famine.”
 

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Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


"Good Maharaja's Square" in Warsaw, Poland, was named after Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji in recognition for his help to Polish refugees during the World War II
Lieutenant-General H H Maharaja Jam Saheb Sri Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja GCSI GCIE (18 September 1895 – 3 February 1966) was a British Indian Army officer and Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar from 1933 to 1948, succeeding his uncle, the famed cricketerRanjitsinhji and he was the Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes (1933-1944).



Contents
[1Early life and military career


Early life and military career[edit]
Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji was born at Sarodar on 18 September 1895, nephew of the famed cricketer K.S. Ranjitsinhji. He was educated at Rajkumar College, Rajkot, in Saurashtra, then at Malvern College and University College London.

Commissioned as second lieutenant in the British Army in 1919, Digvijaysinhji enjoyed a military career for over two decades.[1] Attached to the 125th Rajput Infantry in 1920, he served with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, subsequently receiving a promotion to Lieutenant in 1921.[2] He then served with the Waziristan Field Force from 1922 to 1924; after a promotion to captain in 1929, he retired from the army in 1931.[3] However, he would continue to receive honorary promotions in the Indian Army until 1947, ending with the rank of lieutenant-general.

Two years later, Digvijaysinhji succeeded his uncle, who had adopted him as his heir. From 1939 until his demise, he was the longest serving President of Governing Council of The Rajkumar College, Rajkot.

Maharaja Jam Sahib[edit]
Upon the passing of his uncle, Digvijaysinhji became Maharaja Jam Sahib in 1933, continuing his uncle's policies of development and public service. Knighted in 1935, Sir Digvijaysinhji joined the Chamber of Princes, leading it as president from 1937 to 1944. Upholding the cricketing tradition of his uncle, he served as President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India in 1937–1938 and was a member of several prominent sporting clubs. He had previously played a single first-class match during the 1933–34 season, captaining Western India against the MCC during its tour of India and Ceylon.[4] He scored 0 and 6 in his two innings, in what was also the only first-class match played by his brother, Pratapsinhji.[5] During the Second World War, Sir Digvijaysinhji served on the Imperial War Cabinet and the National Defense Council, along with the Pacific War Council.


Taking the salute on visiting HMS Nelson in Scotland, September 1942
In 1942 he established Polish Children Camp in Jamnagar-Balachadi for refugee Polish children who were brought out of the USSR during World War II. It existed until 1945, when it was closed and the children were transferred to Valivade, a quarter of a city Kolhapur.[6][7][8] The camp site today is part of 300 acre campus of the Sainik School, Balachadi.[9] The Jamsaheb Digvijay Singh Jadeja School in Warsaw was established to honor this legacy.[10] In 2016, 50 years after Jam Saheb's death, Poland's Parliament unanimously adopted a special resolution honoring Jam Saheb Digvijay Sinhji for his aid to Polish children refugees during WWII.[11][12]

After an independence of India, he signed the Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India on 15 August 1947. He merged Nawanagar into the United State of Kathiawar the following year, serving as its Rajpramukh until the Government of India abolished the post in 1956.

Representative at International Organisations[edit]
Divijaysinhji represented India as a delegate at the first session of the League of Nations in 1920.[13] He was also the Deputy Leader of the Indian delegation to the UN, and chaired both the UN Administration Tribunal and the UN Negotiating Committee on Korean Rehabilitation following the Korean War.

Personal[edit]
On 7 March 1935 at Sirohi, Sir Digvijaysinhji married Maharajkumari Baiji Raj Shri Kanchan Kunverba Sahiba (1910–1994), second daughter of Maharajadhiraj Maharao Sri Sir Sarup Ram Singhji Bahadur, the Maharao of Sirohi. She took the name of Her Highness Deoriji Maharani Shri Gulab Kunverba Sahiba, and the couple had one son and three daughters.

Death[edit]
After a reign of 33 years, Sir Digvijaysinhji died in Bombay on 3 February 1966, aged 70. He was succeeded by his only son, Shatrusalyasinhji, who was a first-class cricketer for Saurashtra.

Titles[edit]
  • 1895–1913: Rajkumar Sri Digvijaysinhji Jawansinhji Jadeja
  • 1913–1919: Yuvaraja Sri Divijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja
  • 1919–1921: 2nd Lieutenant Yuvaraja Sri Divijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja
  • 1921–1929: Lieutenant Yuvaraja Sri Divijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja
  • 1929–1933: Captain Yuvaraja Sri Divijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja
  • 1933–1935: Captain His Highness Maharaja Jam Sri Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar
  • 1935–1936: Captain His Highness Maharaja Jam Sri Sir Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, KCSI
  • 15 February-23 September 1936: Major His Highness Maharaja Jam Sri Sir Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, KCSI
  • 23 September 1936 – 1939: Lieutenant-Colonel His Highness Maharaja Jam Sri Sir Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, KCSI
  • 1939–1942: Lieutenant-Colonel His Highness Maharaja Jam Sri Sir Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, GCIE, KCSI
  • 1942–1947: Colonel His Highness Maharaja Jam Sri Sir Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, GCIE, KCSI
  • 1947–1966: Lieutenant-General His Highness Maharaja Jam Sri Sir Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, GCSI, GCIE
[14]

Honours[edit]
(ribbon bar, as it would look today)


 

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A Maharaja in Warsaw
JAYARAJ MANEPALLI
APRIL 28, 2012 16:40 IST
UPDATED: APRIL 28, 2012 17:35 IST

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  • Why was a school in Poland named after Jamsaheb Digvijay Singh Jadeja, who once ruled Nawanagar? Jayaraj Manepalli has the story.
    At first glance, it looks like any school in Warsaw, Poland. Children playing outside, the buzz in the corridors, the gentle aroma of snacks shared by students, and teachers hurrying to their classrooms — a typical school scene.

    However, once inside the building, one is transported to different surroundings. Numerous pictures of Indian monuments and landscape, wall graffiti depicting classical dance and rangoli, dozens of handicrafts and decoration items, Tibetan Thangka paintings, classrooms with bright motifs and paintings, pictures of Indian gods and goddesses adorning the walls of the school office makes one wonder whether one is still in Warsaw.

    Walking through the schools on Bednarska and Raszynska streets is like a trip to an Indian museum. The reason for the special emphasis on India and its culture goes back to an important phase of Polish history prior to World War II. The legacy of the kindness shown by an Indian ruler decades ago continues in this school — thousands of kilometres away from India.

    How did a ruler so far away earn the respect and honour of the school and is still remembered today? The Friends of India Education Foundation that runs this school named it after Jamsaheb Digvijay Singh Jadeja, the former ruler of the princely state of Nawanagar, as a tribute to his love and kindness shown to Polish refugees in the 1940s. Digvijay Singh was known to have learnt much about Polish history and culture from his Polish neighbours during his stay with his uncle in Switzerland in the 1920s.

    The school has a unique form of functioning. It has a constitution, the executive, judiciary and legislature comprising students, parents and teachers that administer the “school republic” in a democratic manner. The school today has different premises for primary, secondary and International Baccalaureate (IB) sections spread across the city. Interestingly, Digvijay Singh was declared the patron saint of this school after the school community consisting of parents, students and teachers conducted a referendum in June 1999 and overwhelmingly approved the move.

    The many wars

    During the years preceding World War II, a huge number of Poles were taken away by the Red Army to work at the Soviet-run labour camps in remote parts of North-Eastern USSR and Siberia. When Hitler's army invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the USSR announced a general amnesty leading to the release of Polish exiles from labour camps. This was also done with a view to encourage forming a Polish Army unit to fight the German army that was fast advancing into the USSR.

    Thus began a great exodus — from the cold parts of the Soviet Union to warmer southern regions of Central Asia. The long and arduous journey stretched over hundreds of kilometres. It was a test of human endurance and suffering in the most difficult situations. Many travellers lost their loved ones en route owing to the cold, hunger, malnutrition and dehydration. The journey stretched across many lands and transit points — Ashkhabad in Turkmenistan, Mashhad, Isfahan and Tehran in Iran, Afghanistan, Quetta, Zahedau and Karachi in present day Pakistan and to India's western coast.

    The first batch of the 500 severely malnourished and exhausted orphans had a surprise welcome, when they arrived in Nawanagar, from the Maharaja himself. “Don't consider yourselves orphans. You are now Nawanagaris and I am Bapu, the father of all Nawanagaris, including yourselves,” he said. Digvijay Singh was the Chancellor of the Council of Princes and member of the Imperial War Cabinet in British India (1939-1945) who opened his province to Polish refugees threatened with annihilation. He knew the officials of the Polish government in exile that operated from London owing to his position in the Imperial War Cabinet.

    Kind heart

    Digvijay Singh not only welcomed the refugees, but also ensured that they had special accommodation, schools, medical facilities and opportunities for rest and recuperation at Balachadi, near Jamnagar. Singh also opened a camp at Chela and involved the rulers of Patiala and Baroda, with whom he had a good rapport in the Chamber of Princes, to help the refugees. Business houses like Tata and other individuals raised over Rs. 6,00,000 between 1942 -1945 (a huge amount in those days) to maintain the first batch of 500 refugees.

    Other camps were also set up at Balachadi, Valivade (Kolhapur), Bandra (Mumbai) and Panchgani. Singh coordinated with the Polish Government in exile and took steps to impart education in Polish language apart from arranging for catholic priests to follow the religious mores of the refugees. Between 1942 and 1948, about 20,000 refugees stayed and transited through the then undivided India for a duration ranging from six months to six years. About 6,000 of them were granted war-duration domicile that stretched till March 1948, according to Prof. Anuradha Bhattacharya, whose doctoral thesis submitted to the University of Pune in 2006 documents the comprehensive history of Polish Refugees in India.

    After the World War II and the recognition of Poland's government by Great Britain, the refugees were asked to return to Poland. However, many chose to be repatriated to the UK, the US, Australia and other Commonwealth nations while just a few returned to Poland. Today, many of the survivors still recall with emotion and tears, the Maharaja's personal send-off at the railway station.

    The School's principal, Krystyna Starcewska, says that this incident from history is remembered with respect and gratefulness, and had become a part of the school's own legacy.

    Right custodians

    Maria Krzyszt of Byrski, former Ambassador of Poland to India from 1993 to 1996and a professor of Indian Studies, opined that naming the school after the Maharaja was a better option as the “students of such a school would be the custodians of the valuable history.”

    Poland had recently honoured the king posthumously by presenting the “Commanders Cross of the Order of the Merit of the Polish Republic,” (Order Zasługi Rzeczy pospolitej Polskiej). This is given to civilians and foreigners for contributing to good foreign relations between Poland and other countries. There is also a proposal pending with the city authorities to name a square in Warsaw after the king and setting up a special plaque describing the history of his connection to Poland.

    Starczewska says that the legacy of kindness experienced in India continues. The school provides free education to the children of refugees in Poland from Chechnya, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Tibet and African countries.
 

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A Reunion for War Survivors Who Escaped to India
BY NARESH FERNANDES JULY 29, 2013 4:15 AM July 29, 2013 4:15 am
Photo

Jam Saheb, center, with Polish children, in Jamnagar, Gujarat, in 1944.Credit Courtesy of Tadeusz Dobrostanski in "The Second Homeland" book by Anuradha Bhattacharjee published by SAGE publications.

On August 3, Franek Herzog, 82, will travel from Hebron in Connecticut to Orchard Lake in Michigan for a two-day reunion with a group of Polish war survivors. Mr. Herzog and his 18 friends will spend some of their time together recalling the arduous, improbable journeys they made seven decades ago from their war-torn homes in Poland to the erstwhile Indian princely state of Nawanagar, which provided an oasis for approximately 1,000 Polish children for four years until the hostilities ceased.

Nawanagar was a small princely state near the Arabian Sea coast in what is now the western Indian state of Gujarat.


India and Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijaysinghji created “a peaceful haven during the troubled years of the World War II and after” for hundreds of Polish orphans, Mr. Herzog said in an e-mail. He arrived in India in 1942, just short of his 11th birthday. “I will never forget that and will be ever grateful,” he added.

India as a whole was “very friendly and congenial,” Sister Jacinta, a Catholic nun who teaches philosophy at Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania, said in an e-mail. She said that she had especially fond memories of the Nawanagar ruler’s “beautiful palace on the seashore near our Balachadi camp’, as also of her Indian physician, Doctor Ashani, who learned to speak Polish to be able to communicate with the children.

The settlement in Balachadi, in Gujarat, was only one of the many places in which World War II refugees found shelter in India. As a British colony, hundreds of thousands of displaced people from across the world made their way through the country during the conflict. They included Jewish people from Central Europe, many of whom were in transit to Palestine or the United States. But some Maltese, Balkan and Anglo-Burmese refugees stayed for considerably longer periods of time in camps near Bharatpur, Coimbatore and Nainital.

Among the most unlikely groups to find shelter in India were an estimated 20,000 Polish people, who had an especially tortuous time getting to India. Many of them had been exiled from their homes in 1940, shortly after the invasion of their country by the Nazis was followed by the Soviet Union occupying eastern Poland, ostensibly to protect Belarusians and Ukrainians living there. But starting from April, 1940, the Soviets killed an estimated 18,000 Polish army officers and professionals in an event that has come to be known as the Katyn Forest massacre, after the region in Russia in which the executions were conducted.

The families of these men, and other Polish civilians from the eastern Kresy region, mainly Christian, were en masse deported to gulags in Siberia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. However, after the Nazis attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, Moscow joined the war on the side of the Allies. A Polish army was raised in the Soviet Union and families of soldiers in the labor camps were allowed to make their way out of the country. Since Poland it was under Nazi occupation, they couldn’t return to their homes and had to find new destinations.

The dispossessed included Mr. Herzog, who had been exiled to Kazakhstan with his mother and two brothers after the war broke out because his father was an army officer. Mr. Herzog’s mother died in a gulag shortly after the German attack on the Soviet Union, while his father is thought to have been killed in the Katyn Forest. Mr Herzog’s older brother signed up for the Polish forces, while the two younger siblings made their way to Ashkabad, in Turkmenistan. It was a staging point for convoys of Polish children, most of them sick and malnourished, to make their way overland to India, through the territory then known as Persia.

Photo

A group of Polish boys in Bandra in Mumbai, Maharashtra, in 1942.Credit From the Franek Herzog collection in "The Second Homeland" book by Anuradha Bhattacharjee, published by SAGE Publications.
In April, 1942, after a month’s journey, the children arrived at a temporary home by the seaside in the Mumbai suburb of Bandra. “The first thing we did after coming to the house was to have a god meal,” Mr. Herzog recalled. “After the meal, we went to the bathroom to take showers…What a luxury!”

The extraordinary journey of the Polish refugees and the circumstances that allowed them to find homes in India are the subject of The Second Homeland, a recent book by Anuradha Bhattacharjee, a scholar at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi. “India, though not sovereign at the time and not at all prosperous, became the first country in the world to accept and offer war-duration at her own cost to the hapless Polish population rendered homeless and subsequently stateless,” she said. The publication of her book has prompted the Michigan reunion.

Established in 1933, the energetic Polish Consulate in Mumbai had been arranging for Jewish refugees to travel to India since Nazi persecution had intensified. The consulate had raised awareness about the desperate situation in Poland – and funds for its displaced people, Ms Bhattacharjee noted. Though the Indian National Congress had criticized the British government for drawing India into the conflict without seeking the consent of its residents, the heads of several Indian princely states generously support the war effort. Especially enthusiastic was the ruler of Nawanagar, in the Kathiawar peninsula, Jam Saheb Digvijaysinghji, a member of the Imperial War Council. Learning about the plight of the Polish children in the gulags from Ignacy Jan Padrewski, the pianist who was the head of Poland’s government in exile in London, Digvijaysinghji offered to host some of them in his state.

After a three-month stay in Bandra, during which the Polish orphans were nursed back to health and given basic English lessons, Mr. Herzog and his companions left for more permanent quarters in the Nawanagar village of Balachadi. They were housed in spacious barracks, and at its peak, the camp held 600 children, aged from 2 to 17. Other inmates would pass through on their way to sanatoriums to be treated for persistent diseases or to institutions for higher education.

The approximately 100 Polish adults who accompanied the children to Balachadi made sure that they did not miss out on their education. “Overall, we were lucky,” Mr. Herzog wrote in a memoir reproduced partially in The Second Homeland. “We had good and dedicated guardians. Some wanted to substitute for our lost parents.” Among the problems camp administrators faced, he recalled, was how to prepare food acceptable for Polish palates from Indian ingredients.

Photo

A group of Polish refugees in Balachadi, Gujarat, in 1945.Credit From the Franek Herzog collection in "The Second Homeland" book by Anuradha Bhattacharjee, published by SAGE Publications.
But life in the camp was also filled with adventures, such as “sneaking out at night for a swim in the sea, jumping headfirst from 25 feet into deep water wells hewed in rock, running barefoot across fields chasing peacocks, where stepping on a cobra or a scorpion was possible, or climbing trees and swinging on lianas pretending we were Tarzan.” On Sundays, there was ballroom dancing around a crank-up gramophone. The children occasionally mounted shows of Polish national dances that the Jam Saheb attended, most often giving them gifts of Rs 501 or Rs 1,001. His guests were intrigued by the inclusion of the odd rupee until he explained that it was for good luck.

For Mr. Herzog’s friend, Sister Jacinta, the most vivid memories of the sojourn included a meeting with Mahatma Gandhi in Panchgani, where she was being treated for tuberculosis. The Mahatma told the Polish children that while India welcomed them and wished them well, it would eventually be necessary to find them a “more secure environment”. Added Sister Jacinta, “We parted with a handshake and friendly well wishes – never to be forgotten!”

In 1943, work started on a camp in Valivade, in Kolhapur, another princely state, that was intended to provide war-time domicile for 5,000 Polish older people, women and children from the Soviet Union. It was designed to be “a Polish village on an Indian riverbank”, Ms Bhatacharjee said. Transit centers were also constructed in Karachi. Some of the older Polish orphans from Balachadi were moved to Kolhapur, Mr. Herzog among them. He threw himself into the scouting unit there, and took several weekend hikes, including one to Panhala, a fort associated with Shivaji.

When World War II ended in 1945, the Soviet Union refused to recognize Poland’s pre-conflict eastern boundaries. As a result, many Polish people found themselves stranded in a new country. Several of the Polish people in India scrambled to find other homes. In 1947, as residents of the Indian camps were beginning to join relatives in the UK and the US, Mr. Herzog was still in Valivade and had strong memories of Indian Independence day. “There was jubilation everywhere,” he wrote. “We too celebrated it in the camp since it was the day of the Feast of Our Lady on the Vistula.”

Sister Jacinta left India that year to study in the U.S. She was 16. Two years later, she became a nun in the Congregation of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters. In November 1947, after five years in India, Mr. Herzog boarded the troop ship Empire Brent in Mumbai, to join his brothers in the UK. He became an electrical engineer and, 21 years later, moved to the US to work. While some of the refugees who moved to the UK formed the Association of Poles in India to keep their memories of India alive, the meeting at Orchard Lake on Aug 3 is the first time their companions who live in the US will be reuniting. They will join a thanksgiving mass, and eat meals with kielbasa and potato pierogi on the menu. Said Mr. Herzog, “I have a few friends from the Balachadi Camp in US, England, Australia and Poland. But as the years march on, there are fewer and fewer of us. So if you want more information you would have to hurry.”

Naresh Fernandes is the author of “Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age.” He works for Scroll.in, a digital daily that will be launched shortly.

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'Good Maharaja' of Jamnagar remembered in Polish parliament
In a rare gesture, the Polish parliament unanimously passed a resolution to pay homage to the memory of late Jam Saheb Digvijay Sinhji on the occasion of the 50th death anniversary of the Jam Saheb (ruler) who during World War II had provided shelter to 5,000 Polish orphans in his princely state in India.

By Surender Bhutani
The Indian Diaspora
Mar 13, 2016





The board outside the main gate of a school in Warsaw mentioning the school named after the Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijay Sinhji . ( Photo courtesy: The Hindu)
Warsaw: In a rare gesture, the Polish parliament unanimously passed a resolution to pay homage to the memory of late Jam Saheb Digvijay Sinhji on the occasion of the 50th death anniversary of the Jam Saheb (ruler) who during World War II had provided shelter to 5,000 Polish orphans in his princely state in India.

In a resolution the parliament said,"February 3 marked the 50th death anniversary of Jam Saheb Digvijay Sinhji, a man who had freely and objectively helped over thousands of Polish children that were evacuated from the Soviet Union after 24 December 1941."

A few year years ago, in the Wola district of the Polish capital, the statue of Jam Saheb was erected to commemorate his memory in a square known as Good Maharaja. Both Indian Ambassador Ajay Bisaria and the Mayor of Wola placed wreathes on the monument.

"What the Polish Parliament has done today is a remarkable gesture on its part. Traditionally and historically both India and Poland share a common human value system.Our understanding towards each other is gaining grounds by each day passing. The recent visit of the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland to India to participate 'Make In India' in Mumbai has cemented our relationship," said Bisaria.

Two years ago, India and Poland had co-produced a film "Children of Jamnagar" to acknowledge the contribution made by Jamsaheb which was released at the Rashtapati Bhavan in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee. The film was directed by Anu Radha and Sumit Osmand Shaw.

Also known as “A LITTLE POLAND IN INDIA”, it is the true and heart-warming story of the then Jam Saheb Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja of Nawanagar, nephew of famous Indian cricketer Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji of the Jadeja clan, a princely state in the Kathiawar Peninsula, off Gujarat, where human compassion is customary since generations.

During World War II, about 1000 Polish children from war-torn, occupied Poland and Soviet prison camps in Stalin’s Siberia travelled all the way to India, where Jam Sahib took personal risks to make arrangements at a time when the world was at war and India was struggling for its independence. He built a camp for them in a place called Balachadi beside his summer palace, 25 km from his capital city Jamnagar, and made them feel at home.

This film has been shown on Polish TV channels many a time.
 

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God bless my land who has not only nurtured billions of sons of her own,but many from foreign lands too.

God bless the holy soul of Great Maharaja Digvijaysinhji who gave refuge to needy women and their children and took great care of them.
 

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