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Looking for info on wartime Polish community in Manchuria

arelis Activity: 2 / 7
Joined: 11 Apr 2016 ♂
 
19 Dec 2016  #1

Hi all, I'd really appreciate it if anyone had some info on what life was like for the Polish community in Manchuria (Manchukuo) during the Second World War, as well as what happened to them after 1945.

I know that during the war Poland and Japan had some good relations (despite declaration of war in 1941 from Polish govt. in exile) and that some Polish spies cooperated with Japanese, even under Manchukuo passports. I also found this website (ipgs.us/iwonad/artdirectory/polcolmanchuria.html) but it's mostly about pre-WW2. I saw another site (scienceinpoland.pap.pl/en/news/news,16635,poles-and-the-history-of-manchurian-harbin.html) which says that the Henryk Sienkiewicz school remained open until 1944, so that leads me to believe there were still Poles living there at the time and that Japanese allowed them to go about their lives without imprisoning or deporting them, so I suspect Poles were not considered enemy aliens by Japan?

But I'd really like to learn some solid info, such as how were Poles viewed and treated by Japanese authorities (for example were they seen as neutrals? or stateless after German/Soviet invasion?). Also, what happened to Poles still in Manchuria after the Second World War? The website I linked said they were there until 1949 (when Communist Chinese victory in the civil war forced them to leave) but did they mostly go back to Poland, or were there any that didn't want to live under Communism and instead managed to go to other countries?

jon357 Activity: 53 / 10,844
Joined: 15 Mar 2012 ♂
 
19 Dec 2016  #2

so that leads me to believe there were still Poles living there at the time and that Japanese allowed them to go about their lives without imprisoning or deporting them

There were certainly plenty of Poles in Japanese internment camps during the war.
OP arelis Activity: 2 / 7
Joined: 11 Apr 2016 ♂
 
19 Dec 2016  #3

Jon, do you have a source for that? I've never heard of Polish people in Asia being interned by the Japanese, unless they were citizens of enemy nations like US or Britain.
jon357 Activity: 53 / 10,844
Joined: 15 Mar 2012 ♂
 
19 Dec 2016  #4

You can probably find it online, perhaps on Wikipedia. Some of the camps have their internees listed by nationality and I remember being surprised at the number of Poles in one of the camps. Many though not all were clergy and religious including a lot of nuns.
OP arelis Activity: 2 / 7
Joined: 11 Apr 2016 ♂
 
19 Dec 2016  #5

Do you mean the Oyama Inn in Kumamoto? (seen near the bottom of this page) mansell.com/pow_resources/camplists/fukuoka/fuk_01_fukuoka/fukuoka_01/CivCamps.html

There were Poles there (a total of 48 from that source I linked, and labeled as mostly clergy/nuns). I'm not sure if the Oyama Inn was meant as a permanent internment place or a deportation point like for example the Manpei Hotel in Nagano which held Axis and neutral citizens (for example the Oyama Inn where Poles were held also had citizens of Axis nations, like Germans and Italians, and neutral citizens like Spaniards). In any case, I've definitely never read of Poles being placed in any kind of prisoner camps like enemy citizens (e.g. Brits, Americans, Dutch, etc.) during the war.

As for wikipedia as a source, I haven't yet been able to verify from a book or such, but it claims in its list of declarations of war ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declarations_of_war_during_World_War_II ) that Japan rejected Poland's declaration in 1941, which would seem to mean (if it's true) that they did not regard Poles as enemies, unless they were holding some citizenship of another nation which was considered an enemy of Japan...
jon357 Activity: 53 / 10,844
Joined: 15 Mar 2012 ♂
 
19 Dec 2016  #6

As I remember it was outside the Japanese home islands, one of the larger and better known camps.
OP arelis Activity: 2 / 7
Joined: 11 Apr 2016 ♂
 
19 Dec 2016  #7

Ah, well I haven't seen anything like that. It would be helpful if you could provide a source for it. Regarding Poles outside the home islands, this source (ipgs.us/iwonad/artdirectory/polcolmanchuria.html) says that in 1942 there was a registration taken by a Polish organisation in Manchukuo to see who wanted to leave for Poland, and that 80% of Poles there elected to do so (however they were unable to until after the Chinese civil war). I haven't seen much evidence that Poles were interned in Manchukuo though, unless it was right near the end of the war. For example the wikipedia page about the Henryk Sienkiewicz gymnazium in Harbin says that the Japanese only closed it in 1944, so the Polish community had been allowed to operate it up to that point:

pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimnazjum_im._Henryka_Sienkiewicza_w_Harbinie
jon357 Activity: 53 / 10,844
Joined: 15 Mar 2012 ♂
 
19 Dec 2016  #8

a source

Only Internet, so not really a source. You should be able to find something to read about online; the history of the camps is fairly well documented.
OP arelis Activity: 2 / 7
Joined: 11 Apr 2016 ♂
 
19 Dec 2016  #9

I have been trying to find info, that's why I started this topic. :)
So far, I haven't seen any Poles listed as interned by Japan, either in Japan itself or other parts of the empire, with the exception of those held at the Oyama Inn. I'd be thankful if anyone knew otherwise, though, and had some sources on the topic. All sources I've found so far (such as the ones on Manchukuo I mentioned above) seem to indicate that for most of the war Polish communities still existed in Japanese territory and ran their schools and whatnot as before, albeit with some wartime restrictions on things like rationing and freedom of travel.

In the book Między Warszawą A Tokio. Polsko-Japońska Współpraca Wywiadowcza 1904-1944 by Kuromiya Hiroaki and Andrzej Pepłoński and the book From Information to Intrigue. Studies in Secret Service Based on the Swedish Experience, 1939-1945 by C.G McKay, it seems that despite Poland's declaration of war, Polish and Japanese intelligence agents continued to cooperate in Europe, and that Japanese authorities actually protected Polish agents from falling in to German hands (e.g. Michał Rybikowski was allowed out to operate out of the Japanese intelligence station in Stockholm.) Some agents (like Rybikowski) were even issued with Manchukuo passes under aliases to disguise them from German authorities.

I don't know though how any of that cooperation in Europe translated over to Japanese treatment of Poles in Asia. That's what I'm trying to figure out, and again from what I've read so far I've been seeing mixed views (on the one hand, Poles being allowed to operate schools and community organisations in Manchukuo until 1944, and on the other hand Poles interned at an inn in Japan alongside neutral and Axis citizens).
jon357 Activity: 53 / 10,844
Joined: 15 Mar 2012 ♂
 
19 Dec 2016  #10

I just had a look and couldn't see anything. All I remember is reading (probably online) about a camp and there was quite a detailed breakdown of sexes and nationalities. Plenty of Polish there, including clergy and religious - in fact I think they almost outnumbered British in that particular camp which was what struck me at the time. It wasn't the Oyama Inn Camp though; as I remember it was somewhere around the Straits Settlements.
OP arelis Activity: 2 / 7
Joined: 11 Apr 2016 ♂
 
20 Dec 2016  #11

I found this link about internees in the Philippines. It has a few Polish names (e.g. Czeslaw J. Wolf or Willy J. Wawrzkiewicz) but they appear to be merely American citizens of Polish descent or Poles who took Filipino citizenship, rather than just Polish citizens. We need to be careful when checking lists of internees, because many Americans (who would definitely be considered enemy citizens by Japan) can have Polish names.

click on 'civilians' at the bottom:
battlingbastardsbataan.com/bob1.htm
OP arelis Activity: 2 / 7
Joined: 11 Apr 2016 ♂
 
20 Dec 2016  #12

Also, one thing I just noticed about the Poles interned at Oyama Inn is that they (along with the Germans, Italians, etc.) are only listed as being interned right at the end of the war, sometime between January to August 1945. There is no mention of Poles being interned there earlier. I know that Axis citizens (as well as stateless or neutrals like Jewish refugees) were allowed to reside in Japan for most of the war, so the fact that there were still at least 48 Polish nationals in Japan by 1945 to be interned (and the fact that they were held alongside former Axis and neutrals) leads me to suspect that, prior to this date, they had also been allowed to live in Japan without imprisonment.



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