I was deeply touched after reading the book writtenby Professor Hyodo Nagao.
He has given us this great chance to know a story (The Siberia Children) that was lost in history.
The story started just after World War 1. In Siberia there were morethan
100,000 Polish people
who could not return to Poland. Their life wasvery hard.
They were very cold and sick, with little food. It was especially terriblefor
the children whose
parents had died. The Polish adults in Siberia thought,"It is okay if we die here without ever
going back to Poland. But we mustsend these children back to Poland". They organized a relief
group that worked to find support for the suffering children. They tried to ask Europe and
Americafor support so that the children could be sent back to Poland. But no onehelped them.
Finally they asked Japan. A leader arrived in Japan and visited the Japanesegovernment
them to help the Polish children in Siberia. The Japanesegovernment listened to them very
carefully and decided to accept their request.Only for seventeen days! Two weeks later the
Japanese sent a ship to Siberia.A total of 765 Polish children came to Japan. They found the
Japanese at that time were so very kind and warmhearted.
Many people - doctors, students, barbers and others - worked for thechildren's
volunteers. People sent money and many comfortingthings to the children. The children
were able to get better and finallybecame ready to return to Poland. When they left Japan
on a Japanese ship,the children said in Japanese, "ARIGATO (thank you), SAYONARA
(good-bye)" and sung KIMIGAYO (the Japanese national anthem) again and again.
The Japanese had made woolen clothes for the children (because the Japanesewere
Poland would be cold), and put bananas and sweets and soon into the children's pockets.
Though the children could go back to Poland at last, it was hard for the Japanese and
children to say good-bye to each other.
After that, another war started, so people forgot this wonderful heartwarmingstory.
story was lost in history for a long time. But in 1993, Mr. Hyodoarrived in Poland as the
Japanese ambassador. He heard the story in Warsawand he thought that maybe some
the Siberia children were still alive, thoughold. So he tried to find them. And he did. He
invited seven of the Siberian children to the embassy in Warsaw. Of course they were
more than 80 years old. One of them came with a grandchild. One of them came in a
wheelchair. One old lady, when she came into the embassy, said, "I really wanted to
comehere even if it meant I had to crawl. I've been wanting to visit Japan againand
wanting to say 'Thank you' to the Japanese. But I haven't been able todo it, so had
given up. Then I got the invitation card from the Japaneseembassy. My friend said to
me that the embassy is a part of its country,Japan. That meant I would be able to visit
Japan and to say thank you tothe Japanes! e. Today, my dream has come true. I have
nothing more to wishfor." After saying that, she cried. Ambassador Hyodo and the other
people there all cried too. The Siberia Children, after coming back to Poland, have never
forgotten the great warmheartedness of the Japanese. They showed Mr.Hyodo some
Japanese presents (OMAMORI, SENSU, etc.) that they had kept for more than seventy
This photo is of some of the Siberia Children when they had just come back
One of the Siberian Children had kept it for 75 years and gave it to Ambassador Hyodo
when she met him.
Mr. Hyodo thought the story was over.
But in 1995 a terrible earthquake occurred in Kobe, Japan. Many Kobechildren
parents in that earthquake. The Polish thought,"This is the time for us to return a favor
to Japan." So Polandinvited children from Kobe to visit Poland for a summer holiday.
On theKobe children's last day in Poland, the Siberian children were also invitedto the
embassy to meet with the Kobe children. The Siberian children presentedred roses to
the Kobe children. The Siberian childen said, `At last we could return a favor to the Japanese.`
by: Mieko Kageyama ( POLJA/ POLAND SIMIN KORYUTOMO NO KAI ) 2003/12/23
POLJA chairman, Professor Jablonski, told me the following. (His father was one of
the Siberian children, too.)
"Many Polish children were suffering in Siberia.All of them wanted
to go back to Poland.
The children who went to Japan werevery lucky.
My father and his brother were too old to be selected (my father was around
14 years old).
They had to get back all by themselves.It took two years for them to get back to Poland.
They walked, went by horse,by ship, by whatever they could use. And they were forced three
times to be members of the Red Army and three times to be members of the Whites,
working on farms and in factories."
An amazing story.
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