‘Notes from my Polish Childhood’

There are various reasons why I decided to write an account of my early life in Poland, up to the moment of departure to the UK and I happily teamed up with the SPP for the second time.

This recent work is a sort of sequel to the book I published with the SPP in 2018, “Palestine Diaries of a Polish Schoolgirl”, in which I translated my mother’s wartime diaries. She wrote them as a student in a school for Polish girls in Nazareth, Palestine, after her rescue from deportation to Kazakhstan in the early 1940s. Her diaries ended in spring of 1948, on her return to Poland, when she became a university student and met her future husband.

In the course of my time in the UK I became aware how different my life is  to the one I remembered from Poland under the Communist regime of the 1950s and 1960s. This recent book recalls the high and low points of life behind the Iron Curtain in one of the least politically conformist countries of the Soviet controlled Eastern Europe.

It recounts how the family members were faced with many restrictions in their daily lives but managed to avoid the worst excesses of the repressive regime. Despite many limitations, my brother and I managed to flourish and were not held back by a hostile political environment until our adult lives.

I qualified as a medical doctor in the summer of 1977. In theory the diploma with distinction which I received (awarded to only eleven out of 200 students in my year) gave me the right to apply for a further Doctorate degree, a PhD, and the right to a training position in the teaching hospital of my choice.

Here I quote from the book:  …‘Sadly, the reality turned out to be something completely different. Despite my glowing achievements, the doors to the best teaching hospitals weren’t open for me. There were two principal reasons for this outcome. I didn’t have any personal or family connections with the body of esteemed professors from the medical school. Moreover, I wasn’t a member of the Communist party (known as PZPR, Polish United Workers’ Party) or even of the Socialist Students’ organisation. Deep in my heart I detested those political bodies.

I felt that I became a kind of ‘persona non grata’, a person not particularly welcomed in certain influential circles. These were the days of a flourishing nepotism of the type; ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’.

Without access to and support from an influential person one was left with second-rate choices. Without the ‘palm oil’ of a bribe, it was often impossible to obtain certain things or secure the attention of somebody in a position of power’…

       After the fall of the Communist regime in 1990, and over the passing years, life changed dramatically for better in Poland. I was not able to experience it at the first hand as I emigrated to the UK in 1978. However, I believe my early life story deserved to be told as a remembrance of the bygone era.

By Isabella Moore

‘Notes from my Polish Childhood’ can be purchased here.

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