For me it’s personal 🇺🇦

Some of you may know already that I identify as White British with Polish heritage, (my surname is Polish, it was inherited from my Grandpa who was born in a town now called ‘Lviv’ in 1918 which was then in Poland.) The more eagle eyed readers may read the name ‘Lviv’ and correctly be questioning if it is still in Poland today as there has been a lot of media coverage in recent days from a place in Ukraine with the same name. 

Well, you are right to question it, it is now in Ukraine, my Grandpa told us that when he was born, ‘Lviv’ was in Poland so he considered himself Polish but then during the Second World War as the borders of countries changed, it became part of Ukraine. 

My Grandpa’s journey and therefore my Polish heritage is something I am incredibly proud of, he escaped a labour camp during the Second World War, fought for the Polish Paratroopers at the Battle of Arnhem alongside the allied forces and then moved to Manchester in 1945. He spoke both Polish and Russian fluently as his native languages before learning German and English as a result of the war.

But today and this week, I find myself in a position I am struggling to find the words to explain. Whilst I have always considered myself Polish in part like my Grandpa, after he left his hometown he never returned. There were many reasons for that, most of which he never wanted to disclose to his family and unfortunately, as he died when I was five years old, I never had the chance to ask him myself.

There is so much about his life and his journey that remains unanswered for me and it is something that troubles me. 

I have always wanted to know more. I am unaware if I have any blood relatives from his side of the family beyond his children in the UK then me and my daughter. He had very limited contact after the war as it was very hard to stay in touch then. 

All I do know is that, if I do, there is a strong possibility they would live in and around Lviv today, which is now in Ukraine. 

We have all seen on the news the horrific and un-provoked attack on the country and its people that has happened over recent days. 

And whilst I may not know if I have family there or who they might be, I have always had a desire to travel to Lviv, when my daughter is old enough to come with me, to hopefully, through the increased digitisation of records, trace both my Grandpa’s journey from leaving his home to arriving in Manchester and also find out what happened to his family and the Marycz family more widely after he left. 

So that leaves me not knowing how to feel, how to feel about the place my Grandpa once called ‘home’, a place where his family lived and may still live today. I just feel numb. I feel a strange sense of loss. A unidentifiable anxiety and unknown. I don’t know if I am right to feel that way or not, but it is how I feel.

All I do know for sure is this, as someone who speaks out against oppression of communities around the world on a regular basis, this is no different. It is the attempted oppression of millions of innocent people. The suppression of a democracy and the people’s right to choose.

If we allow the actions of another power hungry, empire obsessed dictator, who harbours visions of recreating the past, to go unpunished, then history shows us that the outcome will be far worse. 

It is time to learn from history and ensure we do not make the same mistakes again so that our children do not look back on us right now and think ‘what if?’ and then, maybe, just maybe one day, my daughter and I can go and try and trace my family and see where my Grandpa once called ‘home.’

1 thought on “For me it’s personal 🇺🇦

  1. Angelica Celinska

    This is such a personal account and take on what’s happening right now, thank you for being so honest – it really does bring to focus the fact that this is so huge and we all have a part to play. It must be so hard reflecting on and observing what’s happening from the stance that you have. But this reflection coupled with sharing it and speaking out as you are is key to you being ok and to raising awareness too ❤

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