The St. Catharines, Ontario, branch is one of the newer ones, the founding meeting having taken place on November 22, 1964 at the Polish-Canadian Club.
The Charter was received on February 6, 1965 at a ceremony attended by the colour parties of four Ontario branches: Brantford, Hamilton, Guelph and London. The national president of the Association, Mr. Mieczyslaw Sadowski presented Mr. Franciszek Telega with the Charter. Present at the ceremony were also representatives of local and provincial governments, among them Mr. B. Welch, MPP, who had a good knowledge of Polish history and culture; his speech was well received. This was followed by a banquet attended by over 200 people.
Among the activities in the first year, the branch participated in Soldier's Day events in Buffalo, N.Y. and laid wreaths on soldiers' graves in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Most of these Niagara graves date back to 1918-19 when a training camp existed nearby for Canadians and Americans of Polish ancestry who were preparing to enter the Polish war for independence during and after World War One. The volunteers were nick-named Haller's Blue Army on account of their commanding general and the colour of their uniforms (French Army discards). Most of the deaths represented at the cemetery were due to the Spanish Flu influenza epidemic. (Still to this day there is an annual pilgrimage to honour and remember these men, led by the local branch of the Canadian Polish Congress - www.hallersarmy.com or www.polishheritage.ca)
The colours were presented to the branch at a banquet held on the premises of Polish branch #558 of the Royal Canadian Legion. Mr. Mieczyslaw Sadowski, Mrs. Constance Telega, Mr. Z. Wojtas, Mrs, Janina Ziemianin, Mr. W. Denega and Mrs. Maria Niedojadlo stood as godparents. (The colours were lost to a fire in 1983 and replaced in 1993.)
In 1967 the branch moved its 80 members into a newly purchased building at 85 Haynes Avenue. The building had two large halls; each could seat over 200 people. But it needed to be renovated and branch members did the work themselves.
In May of 1969, the branch hosted the National Convention of the Association.
In 1970 the branch hosted a meeting with Commodore Wronski, director of the Gen. W. Sikorski Institute and Museum, London, England, whose lecture about the Institute was accompanied by a film. He was deeply moved when branch members presented him the original ensign of the destroyer "Slazak" which he commanded during the war.
Aside from typical Association events and fund-raising activities, the branch also organized events of a pro-independence character. In 1974, branch members met with Mr. Franciszek Wilk, the leader of the Polish Peasants' Party and the chairman of the National Council of the Polish government-in-exile.
Two years later, the President of the Polish government-in-exile, Mr. Kazimierz Sabbat and his wife visited the branch. Branch #27 had established a tradition of travelling with their guests to visit the military cemetery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Therefore, the combatants accompanied Mr. Sabbat to the cemetery and from there they went to Niagara Falls. A banquet was held in honour of the President to which the branch invited representatives of communities whose native countries had lost their freedom to the Soviet Union: Lithuania, Latvia, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, and Hungary. Mr. Sabbat was the keynote speaker. Later he decorated a number of combatants with the Gold Cross of Merit and National Treasury medals. The branch and its members deserved this recognition as they had built up a solid asset base and raised a tremendous sum of funds over the years, regularly donating to charities and various causes. For example, it donated $1,500.00 towards renovations of a local library during St. Catharine's centennial year.
The prestige and importance of the branch was underscored again by the visit of the Prime Minister of the Polish government-in-exile, Mr. Edward Szczepanik, accompanied by Mr. Jan Litynski, the Canadian delegate of the government-in-exile; Mr. Mieczyslaw Szczecinski, deputy to the Canadian delegate and the delegate for the province of Ontario; and the national president of the Association, Mr. Janusz Bucko. The meeting took place in the Combatants' Hall where the Prime Minister was welcomed by Mr. Janusz Zelichowski, branch president, Mr. Zelichowski reaffirmed the combatants' loyalty to the government-in-exile, which they considered as the only legal government.
Other important visitors to the branch include General S. Kopanski (1971), Bishop W. Rubin (1975) and Col. M. Gutowski, 1st Armoured Division (1994).
SOME NAMES ASSOCIATED WITH BRANCH # 27
Janusz Bucko (President, 1970-73, 78-79, 1982-83, 1994-96)
Stanislaw Glab (President, 1977)
Edward Jadwiszczak (President 1976)
Stanislaw and Helena Kaminski
Bronislaw and Jadwiga Klucznik
Stefan and Krystyna Koziarski
Jozef and Stefania Majkut
Jan Kazimierz Misiura
Boleslaw Opiola (platoon leader, Military Police, 2nd Corps)
Antoni Rusinski (President, 1968-69)
Mieczyslaw and Zofia Styczynski
Leon Szukis (President, 1974-75)
Father Jakub Szwarc
Mrs. Constance Telega
Franciszek Telega (President, 1964-67)
Feliks Tomkiewicz (September Campaign veteran)
Irena and Jozef Werynski
Henryk Wronski (President, 1989-90)
Maria and Michal Zamerski
Janusz Zelichowski (President, 1980-81, 1988, 1991-93)
Mrs. Janina Ziemianin
Annette and Marcin Zolnierczyk
First Executive - Youth Section (1972)
Profile: Franciszek Telega
Mr. Telega was a non-commissioned officer in the Polish Army in Lwow prior to the war. He fought in the September Campaign and later in the 2nd Corps with the 3rd Carpathian Anti-Aircraft Regiment. One of the branch's most active members, he was also active in the affairs of the Niagara branch of the Canadian Polish Congress. He passed away in 1985.
Port Colbourne resident Marian (Mike) Gawiak testified as a witness at the American congressional Katyn hearings. His testimony was given on February 5, 1952, in Washington, D.C.. The hearings were authorized by Congress on September 18, 1951. It was the first large scale attempt by the Western powers to determine guilt in the Katyn executions. By this time, the Cold War was in full swing and the U.N. was fighting communists in Korea. The proceedings were known in full as the Hearings Before the Select Committee to Conduct an Investigation of the Facts, Evidence and Circumstances of the Katyn Forest Massacre, Eighty-Second Congress, Second Session, on Investigation of the Murder of Thousands of Polish Officers in the Katyn Forest Near Smolensk, Russia.
The Soviets, who had thought that they had gotten away with it, were, to say the least, disturbed that the matter was being re-investigated. In their official responses to news of the impending investigation both the Soviet and Polish governments made it clear that the matter was "insulting."
A summary of Mr. Gawiak's testimony, in part, follows (edited for clarity).
Marian Gawiak, a resident of Port Colborne, Ontario was born in Krakow (Cracow) and was attending officer's school at the time of the outbreak of World War Two at Voremahoest in eastern Poland. He was an officer cadet, 19 years of age. The location was 100-150 miles south and east of Warsaw, near Lwow.
"We didn't see any action at the beginning of the war. When the Germans were moving eastwards through Poland we were preparing ourselves at the military camp in case they encroached on us further. As everybody knows, the war was too fast for the Polish troops. On the 15th of September German troops were very near our city."
Gawiak's unit fought in the battle of Wojemy-Wolynski.
"We didn't have a chance against the Germans. We kept fighting for 14 or 15 hours without a rest. I was in the artillery. Once our commander realized that there was no use fighting against the Germans because their forces were too powerful compared to ours he ordered us to demobilize and return to our homes."
The Gawiak family home was about 15 miles from the Russian border. Marian's 67 year-old father, mother and sister were at home at that time, There were also about 15 refugees from western Poland staying with them (mostly the wives of officers). Marian's father was very wealthy, owning some 4,000 aces of forest land near Wlodzimierz Wolynski.
"We found out right away, by radio, that the Soviets attacked us from behind (from the east). I started on my way home on September 18, arriving on the 19th at 5 o'clock in the morning. I rode 45 miles and walked the rest of the way home. On the way, I changed my clothes from military to civilian. I was stopped by Russians and investigated. Fortunately I could speak Ukrainian. I didn't tell them much. I just told them where I came from, that I was going on my way home. I managed somehow - I didn't go through big towns or villages, mostly through the country and bush.
"The territory was all occupied by Russia. I heard it myself on the way home - usually when they occupied a town they had meetings and an NKVD officer stood up on a car or truck and talking to the public, naturally big propaganda. Mostly they were telling us that we were now free (freed from the grip of capitalists and fascists). At the same time they were arresting all military men, especially officers. Also they arrested all men working for the government.
"I realized that I can't live at home because sooner or later we would be captured and taken to Russia. I told my father, 'we have to get the women out.' At that time we had two cars, but I didn't like the idea of going by car because we would be captured quickly. So we got four wagons, and I told the women to get dressed plain, not fancy, to get the children and collect all the valuable things like jewelry, and so on. I packed them and sent them to Zdobunov, with the intention that they should get to the other side of the German front."
The senators were curious why, if the Polish army was at war with the Germans but not with the Soviets, everyone was fleeing towards the Germans. Mr Gawiak answered:
""If you knew the Russians like I do you would flee, too."
While in Kozielsk camp he found out by letters that they had gotten through. His father had decided not to go with the women as men would arouse suspicion. Only the drivers accompanied the women.
Marian and his father headed off on foot in the same general direction, to Zdobunov, although their intention was to escape to Rumania. They were caught by Russian troops only 15 miles into their journey at the village of Dorscczuwka on the 19th of September. They were then shipped to the city of Ostrow, arriving at approximately 5 p.m. on September 22. They were investigated at the NKVD headquarters which had been set up in a former Polish border guard post. They were first stripped of all clothing, including shoes and stockings, save for their shorts (underpants).
"They asked us many questions. 'Are you a capitalist?' 'Do you own property?' If our answers did not comply with their theory, then they would beat us. They hit us in the face with their fists. If that didn't work, they used sticks, usually they hit you on the back, where your kidneys are. I still had marks on my back a month after. The beatings happened practically every week."
Father and son were kept in separate, individual cells in the same prison, formerly a Polish prison.
"In the cell we didn't have anything, just the floor and the walls. Like I told you before, we had only shorts. The weather was getting cold. In the morning we used to get a bowl of boiled water. That is all. At noon they gave us a small bowl, they called it soup, with 400 grams of dark rye bread. At night they gave us water again. That is all. In the single cell I was for 3 weeks, and I'm telling you it was really cold.
"Three or four times during my stay in this prison I was interrogated. I had no contact with my father during our stay in the prison. I found out later that he was interrogated too. After 3 weeks they transferred me to a public cell. There were 65 men in that room. I was in that cell for 1 week. I was called for investigation about 3 days before I left Ostrow Prison. I was told that they would give me my clothes back and the things I had with me before, if I answered the questions (they way that they wanted me to). I did not and so was beaten by two Russian soldiers until I lost consciousness.
"It was a high ranking NKVD officer, perhaps a major or colonel, who was questioning me. He sat behind a desk and asked me to sit down. He gave to me a cigarette. I didn't smoke at that time. He was very polite to me. Before, when I was alone in the cell, I was investigated twice a week, mostly at night. At night, usually between 1 and 2 a.m., for the simple reason that they figure if they wake you up you are half asleep and you don't know what you are doing. They will scare you and you will tell them what they want.
"Upon leaving Ostrow Prison, I was given pants and a jacket, still no shoes. We were then shipped by truck to a town that was a Russian military camp some 15 miles inside Russia, Szypytowka. About 200 of us from the Ostrow prison arrived there on October 20. They were all mixed. Practically everyone who owned land in the Ostrow district was there, police forces, military men, soldiers and officers. At Szypytowka we found around 8,000 Polish officers and privates in that camp. We were held for 3 weeks in very poor accommodations. It used to be old barracks of the Red Army. No bed or anything, just the concrete floor and the walls. We were all together, civilians with officers, with privates.
"They fed us what you call here a hot meal once a day around noon. By 'meal' I mean the soup, with potatoes and barley or something like that. To get the food you have to have your own dish. Like myself and my father, we didn't have that. I could not find anything for a period of a day or two. Then I found a rusted old can and cleaned it up with sand, polished it. To get the rust off because you couldn't get it off with your hands. I fixed one bowl for my father, one for myself. Usually we spent time in the lines directed to the kitchen. You go through and they would pour you some soup in the bowl with a spoon. They had the system, you couldn`t go twice to repeat and get some more soup, because usually they divided the children and men on one side, a line of soldiers. You get your food and go to the other side.
"On approximately November 7 we were shipped out of this camp by freight train from Szypytowka through Kiev, to Poltava, to Starobelsk. In my boxcar there were 75 men. We couldn`t all sit down. They stopped the train on the tracks across the camp. They didn`t tell us to get off the cars. They kept us for 6 or 7 hours, and they moved again. This was six or seven hundred miles from the old camp, and around 8 days on the train. From Starobelsk we proceeded to Kozielsk, near Katyn. We learned later that they first took us to Starobelsk because they didn`t know that the camp had been filled. Then they transferred us to Kozielsk. From the day we started the trip (at Szypytowka) we were 19 days in the car, arriving at Kozielsk around the 26th of November, 1939.
"Kozielsk was a monastery. They had there four churches. They placed us in a church. I was in block No. 5. There were 600 men. In Kozielsk there were a total of a little over 5,000. I stayed there all winter and was shipped out in the spring, around May, to Pavlischev Bor camp.
"When we arrived at Kozielsk everybody went through an examination. They took everybody`s pictures, side, front and the other side, profile. They took us all for fingerprints, for every man in the camp, and they had the records of all the men in the camp.
"About 2 weeks after we arrived in Kozielsk I was called at 1 o`clock in the morning to headquarters for investigation. When I got into the room there were two NKVD officers. They were very nice to me in the beginning. They fed me coffee, the first coffee since I left Poland, and cigarettes. They started to work on me telling me that I am a young fellow, my whole life is ahead of me, and what do I think about communism. I told them what I think. So I was beaten. I couldn`t walk to my barracks.
"During the interrogation the method was as follows: First, they were very pleasant and friendly, and they asked me questions and they suggested that I be converted to communism. When I answered that I had no interest in political matters because I am a soldier, the interrogator`s attitude changed considerably. He pounded the desk with his fist and assured me that sooner or later he would get me to make certain admissions. Later he calmed down and tried another method. He knew that I had my family in Poland. He asked me if I loved my family. I told him 'Yes.' Do I want to improve their welfare? I said 'Yes.' He then assured me that he would do everything possible to improve their living conditions if I would subscribe to their political views. Naturally I realized that these were lies. They were just tricks that he was using to get me converted.
"His behavior again changed radically. He jumped from his chair. He struck me upon the left and right side of the face. I fell to my knees. At the same time I realized there were two other Russian soldiers in back of me, and I was afraid to move. He asked me again if I have decided to give him a definite answer. I said 'No,' and he waved to the other two soldiers. And the routine beating began.
"First they struck me in the sensitive spots, kidneys, twisting of the arms, and similar tactics. Later I was carried out of this building. They didn't take me to the barracks. They carried me to a special barracks, punitive barracks, in which I got to know or became acquainted with their modern and new tactics of torture. When I regained consciousness they took me to an unheated cell, to a cell which was lower than I am (low ceiling height). I had to remain stooped during my entire stay there. I could not sit because the cell was filled with water up to my knees and the refuse of those who had preceded me to this room. They kept me in this room 24 hours. When I came out I couldn't either move my legs or my arms. They returned me to my own barracks. And they left me alone. They applied those procedures predominantly to the younger people.
"I weighed 180 pounds when I was first taken prisoner. I lost quite a bit of weight by this time.
"I was living, as I told you before, with 500 men in a church. We had tiers of bunks in ours, nine, one on top of the other, nine high. We called them towers. We climbed that by ladder. I realized that my father was getting weak, so I decided to manage to work in the kitchen. To steal some food. It took me pretty near a week from the time I went to peeling potatoes and so on until I got in the Kitchen and started to be second cook. At the time I was cook we had sanitary inspections made by a Russian doctor. She was a woman, around 20 to 25 years old.
"At that time I was speaking quite good Russian. During the inspections I had the feeling that that girl wanted to tell me something. During my contact with this woman doctor I felt that she took a liking toward me, and I wanted to find out what was happening to the people being removed from this camp. It was our opinion that the camp was being subdivided into smaller camps or that the prisoners were being sent to farms. Transports of 150- 200 men were leaving daily, beginning in March, 1940, although a few men were taken away earlier, including my father.
"My father was taken with only three men at the beginning of December, 1939. I found out later that he was moved to another camp, Ostashkov.
"One day, while the woman doctor was making her inspection it developed that there was no one else around except she and I. When I asked her why I was not being shipped out she told me that I ought to be happy and satisfied that I was not being removed from this camp in the early transports. I asked her why but did not get an answer. I asked her where the others were being shipped but she only replied 'I can't tell you.' When I asked if they were being shipped to farms, she said 'I doubt it.'
"I can give you an almost verbatim conversation between her and myself. When we began our conversations I realized that something was happening as far as we prisoners were concerned. I asked her 'Why aren't they removing me?' She answered that she cannot give me the reason. I then asked her if I ought to leave in the early transports, but there was no control as to how you could get on these transports. Her reply was 'You are very lucky; you were born under a lucky star that you are not being removed now.' I asked her why. I received no reply. She replied in circles, giving me no direct answer.
"There was no separation of officers from enlisted men or civilians but the camp was separated into two subdivisions, and each of the two subdivisions had officers from general down to sergeants. It also had civilians. The transports were also mixed up, but they usually had a list of the names. Kozielsk was 100-150 miles from the town of Smolensk, which was 15 miles from Katyn Forest. There was one Polish woman in the camp, a pilot.
"We were very much concerned about what was the reason for removing us from these camps in such small groups. We new from experience that every transport leaving the camp went through a very rigid inspection. The procedure was as follows: A Bolshevik officer would come along with a list of names. He would go from barrack to barrack and call out names from this list. In 15 minutes every one was to be ready to respond to the call. When he completed calling out these names the entire group on that list was then assembled in a special building. We had no contact with this group once it went into this building. Those who left were never heard from again.
"The main accusation against us by the Bolsheviks, was that we are white, that we are in the capitalistic world. White means democratic. They accused us of conspiring to start the war of 1920, and they accused each of us, including myself, of spying. They would accuse one of one thing and the other of another thing, but the main point was that we are opposed to communism. All of the Poles at Kozielsk went through the same kind of experience. The interrogations went on regularly every week. From our side the Russians met with tremendous resistance to their efforts.
"Of our camp of 5,000, 172 were spared. I was transferred in the first part of May, 1940. We were taken from Kozielsk through Smolensk, where we stopped for about 6 hours, and we arrived at Pavlishev Bor. There was no one there upon our arrival, although there had been previously.
"Later in Pavlishev Bor we discussed the matter widely. After we arrived from Pavlishev Bor to Gryazovets after determining and becoming convinced that the others had just disappeared, We had contact through the mails with families in Poland of these men. There were many inquiries from the wives and mothers of these men. From the persistent inquiries we concluded that these men had either been executed or that they had completely disappeared.
"Later in Gryazovets we concluded, after determining that these other soldiers had disappeared or had been killed, he reason for our survival was that the Russians wanted to have proof by permitting us to survive. We discussed this matter frequently among ourselves, and we came to the conclusion that sooner or later there will be an investigation by the Western Powers or Red Cross, and it was our theory that anticipating this investigation they decided to preserve at least some of us.
"We were at Pavishev Bor for about a month and a half. We received a small transport from Ostrashkov. Among those men was my father. I met him again. There were only about 30 or 35. From there they shipped us to Gryazovets, in a transport of 300. We stayed there until war broke out between Russia and Germany (June, 1941). We were then freed and went down south to join the Polish Army in Russia.
The Committee was then interested in the dress of the officers at Kozielsk. Was their clothing consistent with what the exhumed officers at Katyn were wearing?
"At Kozielsk all of the army officers were dressed in their regular army uniforms and overcoats. The boots were in good condition because we didn't use them. The description of the exhumed bodies at Katyn fits the description of those soldiers as they were taken away from that camp exactly.
"In the camp we didn't use our boots. We realized that maybe we were stuck there for a long period. I am talking now about precautions. We had something like wooden shoes instead of using our own military shoes. I had them too. We used to use wooden shoes or rags or something like that. If we could save our uniforms we were proud. Everybody was proud of his army uniform. We didn't wear them. That is the reason at the time of the transport started we had everything in very good condition. You see, we figured we were going out of the camp, and we had to be dressed up like soldiers."
The Committee queried Mr. Gawiak about Russian assertions that they knew nothing of the missing men. Mr. Gawiak explained that in fact, the Russians knew everything about everyone.
"They had all the records of each man who was in the camp. I saw my records. It was a file that high (indicating the thickness of the file). They had all the details, where I came from, what I was doing, what my father did, and so on. I saw a pile of these records, for all of the prisoners."
The files contained all information, including photograph and fingerprints. The Committee next wanted to understand how much letter writing occurred with friends and relatives outside the camp. They were interested in knowing if there was evidence that letters stopped flowing out of the camps in April, 1940. Mr. Gawiak explained that letters going out of the camp bore a return address of Moscow, Box 1.
Mr. Gawiak then testified that at Pavlishev Bor he had met men brought in from other camps, about 30 from Ostashkov and 120-130 from Starobelsk. According to the men from these other camps, Ostashkov held some 6,000 men and Starobelsk some three to four thousand. Both groups of survivors had indicated to the Kozielsk survivors that the exact same scenario, of men being transported away in small groups and never being heard from again, occurred at both those camps as well.
Mr. Gawiak was then asked an interesting question. In light of the fact that both his mother and sister were murdered by the Germans (in 1944, as he was to find out later), did he hate the Germans far worse than he hates the Russians? His reply:
"I hate them just the same, both."
Mr. Gawiak was then asked his opinion of two Poles who had been in the camps. The first, W. Jan Fertik, a cadet friend of Mr. Gawiak, and the second, Lt. Col. Prokop, both survivors of Kozielsk. Mr. Gawiak described them both as "Good patriots."
He was then asked if knew of any "Poles who became traitors to the Communist cause, who are now in high position in the Polish Government, who knew of the crime committed at Katyn and are therefore, accomplices." Mr. Gawiak named two, pilot and navigator Wicherkiewicz, whom he met at Szypktowka and was gradually converted to Communism, and is now a General of Aviation, and Colonel Berling. (A third person, Fider Kiecz, was mentioned but not identified.)
"There are others, but they don't have any high position."
Returning to the topic of transports:
"We were shipped usually in prison cars. That was from Pavlishev Bor to Gryazovets. But before we got to Pavlishev Bor camp, from the train station, we were transported by trucks. And I remember clear, when we got off the train, we were packed in to stand very close to each other just like sardines in the cars.
"They ordered us to mount these trucks, the platforms of these trucks, in an upright position, standing very close, one to the other, and we were standing in the trucks, one right next to the other, so that you couldn`t even put a pin in between the men, they were packed in that tight in the truck. Then they closed the gate, the back gate, of the truck. Two of the Russian guards stood on top of the cab of the truck, and we were given an order to sit down.
"It is easy to see how packed we were when this order came. We virtually were sitting on each other's laps in the truck. This trip in this condition took 4 to 5 hours. On my legs was sitting Polish pianist Jrzybowski (he is in Poland now and I hear that he is a Communist sympathizer).
"When we arrived at Pavlishev Bor, they ordered us to dismount from the truck. They opened the back gate of the truck and ordered us to dismount. It was impossible to do. We were all stiff. We couldn't move our legs or our hands after this trip."
Returning to the topic of why a small group of men was spared from execution, the Committee continues to ask Mr. Gawiak for possible reasons.
"Naturally, there was a great deal of debate amongst us as to why we were being retained, and there were many among us who felt that the Russians had planned to send us through a schooling, a training course, in order to convert us to communism.
"Such a course was never given to me but, like I told the men before, Fider Kiecz and General Berling and a few others (maybe 4 or 5) went to Moscow directly. And they came back to our camp in Gryazovets about 5 or 6 months later altogether changed. In my view, they left the camp strictly patriots, but when they came back they were communists. They started forming Communist clubs or cells in the camp.
"Among the survivors there was one general, and if I remember there were 3 or 4 colonels, and gradually down, also some civilians from high office.
"From Gryazovets, about 2 weeks after the start of the German invasion of Russia, we were transferred south to Totskoye. My father was with me. That was a big transport. At that time there were about 1,500 at Gryazovets. When we had arrived there initially, our transport from Pavlishev Bor consisted of about 400. Three months later they attached another transport of about 1,800 soldiers from Estonia and Latvia. Then, there were two transports to Totskoye, about 95% were officers.
"One week after the Polish-Russian agreement, in August, 1941, General Anders visited our Gryazovets camp. There was a review there and a parade and a reception for the general, and he informed us that we were going to be transferred to Tockoye, and there we would be organized into a Polish army. From that moment, we all began registering.
"A rough guess would be that twelve or thirteen hundred officers were at Gryazovets at that time.
" As soon as we regained our freedom while still at Gryazovets, we all began compiling lists of names of people who were with us at the various camps in which we were interned. That was on the orders of our high command, and also on our own initiative.
"Having carried on communications with relatives of some of our friends in Poland, we knew that these men were not in Poland. This was before the Germans invaded Russia. Each of our units compiled as complete a list as it could, and these lists were then forwarded to our high command.
"As far as I recall, these lists were then forwarded to the Russian Government. We received answers while at Totskoye, that the Russian Government had no knowledge of the whereabouts of these officers. There were rumors that some of these officers were transferred to the St. Joseph Islands.
"They took us from Totskoye during the winter (1941-42) to Uzbekistan. We remained there several months. We were then transferred to Persia and from Persia through Iraq to Palestine. In Palestine, we received further training in the English methods of warfare. From there we were transferred to Egypt, as Polish units, and from Egypt to Italy. We remained in Italy until the end of the war, and I came to Canada directly from Italy."
The Committee then asked Mr. Gawiak if he had made up his mind as to who committed the mass murders at Katyn Forest.
Mr. Gawiak's final statement to the Committee:
"I am very deeply moved with the attitude and the action and the undertaking of this committee. I have been waiting for this moment for 10 years, and I am certain that just as some day we will get satisfaction, by the same token the people in this country at last will understand what Russia is."