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Polish Orphan Refugee sent to New Zealand

26 Feb 2020 #1
Hi, I know this is a long shot, but does anyone have any idea how I can get more information about my grandmother or her family. Her name was Mieczyslawa Bak, and she came to New Zealand as a child refugee on the 1st November 1944. She was from Poplawy, Poland, near Lviv in Ukraine. Her parents were Jozef, a farmer, and I believe her mother's name was Katarzyna nee Czopor. She had a sister Zyta, but I am unsure if she was her real sister. Its has been extremely difficult to find any information at all, so any help would be appreciated.
mafketis 37 | 10,828
26 Feb 2020 #2
Her name was Mieczyslawa Bak

You probably already know this, but just in case, the Polish letters will also be useful in searching records...

He name was probably Mieczysława Bąk.... (Bak is not a common last name, Bąk, pronounced "bohnk" is far more common... )

Jozef is Józef in Polish and Czopor and Czopór are both names...

Your best bet is probably trying to find Polish organizations that might have records in the Popławy or Lviv area... most Polish people from around that area would have been resettled in what is now western Poland (so finding them would not be easy at all) but there still are some Poles around there...
kaprys 3 | 2,242
27 Feb 2020 #3
Do you know her story? How come she ended in New Zealand before the end of the war? What had happened to her parents? Had they been to a gulag or something?
OP jaimeek
27 Feb 2020 #4

She was one of 733 Polish children sent to New Zealand as refugees. This group came from the Poles who were liberated from the USSR in 1941 and made their way south.

After the war they were supposed to be returned to Poland and reunited with their surviving families, but the many of the victims of the Katyn Massacre were the family members of these children. In addition, when WW2 ended and Poland came under Stalin's rule, most of the children accepted the NZ governments offer to become NZ citizens.

I'm not sure how her parents died - I'm not even sure if she knew herself how they had died. Unfortunately she passed away when she was only 38 when my dad was young, hence why we don't have a lot of information.
kaprys 3 | 2,242
28 Feb 2020 #5
Never heard of this story before. God bless New Zealand.
Try starting with the documents over there. Checked what information you can gather in NZ.
Then you can look for more information in Europe. But as I suspected it was in the USSR so gathering information might be tricky.
OP jaimeek
29 Feb 2020 #6
Yes I would actually be very surprised if there is anything in Europe to find at all, but worth a shot! Thank you for your advice
Zelutu - | 7
23 Sep 2020 #7
Hi @jaimeek
It's a surprise for You.

Story of your grandmother is amaizing. Our grandmothers used to live pretty closed to each other, just 80 km.
I agree with kaprys, first you should try to find as much as possible in NZ. Then you may do research in Poland and Ukraine. You've got the most important information which are needed to reconstruct the history of your family in Europe, that is the rough place of origin and period of time (the place is more important).

1) First step is to find the precise place in order to know where to search for sources. There were 23 settlemants of Popławy in interwar Poland. Two of them are situated pretty close to the town of Lwow. I suppose that it was one village consisting of two parts and sometimes divided between different administrative unites. These are:

1 a) Popławy (kolonia) in the county of Podhajce
1 b) Popławy (osada) in the county of Podhajce

2) Second step is to determined church administrative affiliation in order to find vital books which contain records of baptizms, marriages and burials.
2 a) Popławy (kolonia) is an affiliate of the roman catholic parish church in Białokiernica since 1911 (previously part of the parish of Podhajce), diocese of Lwow

2 b) Popławy (osada) is an affiliate of the roman catholic parish church in Podhajce, diocese of Lwow

3, 4, 5) Next steps are to determined basic state administrative affiliations (in order to find some censuses, tax, school, military registers, testaments, family house, parcel, land, cadastral maps, land books etc.).

3a) the village of Popławy (kolonia) belonged to the gmina of Michałówka in the county of Podhajce in the province (województwo) of Tarnopol

3b) the village of Popławy (osada) belonged to the gmina of Nowosiółka in the county of Podhajce in the province (województwo) of Tarnopol

4a, b) Courts: at the beginning there was the powiatowy court of Podhajce then the grodzki court of Podhajce subservient to the okręgowy court of Brzeżany

5a, b) Notary in Podhajce

The roman catholic vital books (of baptizms) of Popławy (I suppose it regards to the both Popławy kolonia and Popławy osada) are kept in the Registry Office of the Capital City of Warsaw. III Department of Registration of Marital Status and Books of Zabużański, period 1875 - 1935, 1936 - 1945.

One book of baptizms of the village from 1937 is in the archive of E. Baziak in Krakow

Researching these books and hoply finding there the birth certificate of your grandmother you would confirm that this is the right village of Popławy (although consisted of two parts). The books are not digitalized as they are still under personal data protection. You can reseach them by yourself coming to Warsaw with your and your mother birth certificate (you have to prove that Mieczysława Bąk is your grandmother) or hire someone.

When you confirm it you can make further research. Sources are in Ukraine and Poland, in state archives and libraries. Some of them can be also in museums and scientific institutions, or even still in use in offices (like 170 years old cadastral maps for God sake).

Usually histories of the families from this region can be traced back to the middle of the 18 c. It's usually possible to find the house or the place where it used to stand and other information. It might be more difficult (according to me but I might be wrong, you never know in genealogy) to find your living relatives if they were resettled from Popławy.

This's contact to me:

Best regards

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