Polish Children of Pahiatua

In the first months of World War II, Poles were displaced from their native sides and taken to distant corners of Soviet Russia. Resettled to small villages, they were engaged in forced labor. They lived in kolkhozes deprived of basic conveniences and livelihoods, without the possibility of returning to the country. Under the agreement of General Władysław Sikorski and Ivan Mayski of July 30, 1941, Poles could return to Poland or voluntarily leave the USSR and seek refuge outside of Russia. This is how a long journey of thousands of Poles began in search of a way to a new home.

The Siberians who left the USSR were accompanied by General Anders’ army evacuating from Russia. Thousands of Poles went to the Middle East. They had to look for food and shelter on their own. In the port of Pahlavi, in the north of Persia, on the initiative of the Red Cross, a camp was set up, where the Poles could find medical and financial help. Healthy persons were redirected to Tehran and Isfahan. There, schools for children and youth were opened, and scouting teams were established. The authorities organized Polish children’s trips to historic Isfahan buildings, provided visits to traditional baths and pool classes. Children, exhausted by nightmare of war and exile, were to be provided at least a scrap of a normal childhood in the Middle East.

It is estimated that from 1942, 20,000 Polish children left the Soviet Union. They were transported as far as possible from the outbreak of war and were sent to Mexico, Lebanon, Tanzania and India in transports organized by the Polish government in exile and Allied authorities. 733 Polish children were also sent to Pahiatua in New Zealand.


Stanisław Manterys
Nadzieja Chodubska

Dioniza Choroś

Wanda Pelc-Ellis

Bożena Terlecka

Adela Jesionowicz-Meriilees

Józef Zawada

Stefania Sondej-Zawada

Marek Powierza