Speaking for the powerless and the forgotten.
Supported by Free Media Online, the Silenced Refugees website and online museum will attempt to recover the voices of hundreds of thousands of Poles and members of many other nationalities arrested by the Soviets after Russia had invaded and occupied eastern Poland in 1939 while the Soviet regime was in alliance with Nazi Germany.
Thousands were executed; many more were deported from their homes in horrible conditions to forced labor camps and collective farms where more died from hunger, illness, and maltreatment. Some of the Polish slave laborers managed to leave the Soviet Union in 1942 after Stalin had released them following Hitler’s attack on Russia. They became refugees in the West, but their stories still could not be told.
The U.S. administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, eager to preserve its military alliance with Stalin, used propaganda and disinformation in press releases and Voice of America radio broadcasts to paint a deceptive picture of Polish soldiers and civilians evacuated from Russia. After the war, the vast majority of refugees chose not to return to Soviet-dominated communist-ruled Poland where they would risk imprisonment and persecution. The effects of Soviet and Western wartime and post-war propaganda and censorship can be seen even today. Our mission is to bring to light the real story of Poland’s silenced refugees from Russia.