Art And Culture

Plight of Poles in WWII Photos

The photos depict the horror that the Poles suffered while fleeing their war-ravaged country, but flickers of hope for the future are apparent on their faces
 One of the exhibited photos  One of the exhibited photos

Forlorn looks and much dignity portrayed in 85 stunning photographs exhibited after 75 years for the first time, absorbed viewers during the opening ceremony of a unique photo exhibition on the WWII Polish refugees in Iran at the White Gallery of Tehran’s Sa’dabad Complex on Friday.

A collection of 82 portraits, in groups or individual, captured by the Iranian photographer Abolqasem Jala, (reproduced from negatives labeled Poles 1942-44), poignantly reveal the horror the Poles suffered to flee the war, death and destruction on their arduous journey to Iran. Flickers of hope for the future are somehow fused into each captured shot.

Titled ‘Born in Independent Poland, Lahestaniha, Children of Isfahan After 75 Years Back in Iran’, the Tehran exhibit is open until October 31 while a similar show promoted by Isfahan Museum will open in Isfahan October 10 and run through November 23.

The Poles, camped in Qazvin, Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad and Ahwaz, were basically children, soldiers, citizens and women, released from scattered camps around the former Soviet Union, making the perilous journey mostly by boat through the Caspian Sea landing at Bandar Anzali and some by land via Turkmenistan.

Some 120,000 Poles desperate to reach safety were granted hospitality by the Iranians, and although many perished and were buried in Iran, as Tehran’s Catholic cemeteries bear proof, many soon mixed with the locals and won their empathy, support, healthcare and sufficient courage and valor in their search for new homelands.

Polish-Iranian friendship has endured after 75 years manifest in joint cultural events promoted by the two nations.

The latest event is organized under the auspices of Anna Duda from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, an affiliate of Poland’s Ministry of Culture and Parissa Damandan, Iranian photographer and historian who discovered the photographs while doing research in Isfahan.

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