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A journey into the Archives

    As Diana Forster and Josef Butler explain in this interview, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from Poland during the Second World War. They left – or were forcibly expelled – for a variety of reasons, and their journeys took them in many different directions. As a result of the changing dynamics of the war and Britain’s past colonial activities, thousands ended up settling in the UK, including many in Fife where the University of St Andrews is based.

    We are grateful to both the University of St Andrews and Imperial War Museums for sharing some materials from their collections which complement the story told by Diana Forster’s new artwork ‘Somewhere to Stay‘. Our aim in curating these items is not to offer a comprehensive account of Polish exile history during and after the war; we leave that to the experts, some of whose publications you can find outlined here. Instead, we have picked out a small sample of photographs and oral testimony to sit alongside and enlarge the family history that Diana Foster’s artwork narrates. As with all the media on our website, we hope that these images, objects and accounts offer valuable insights into the variety of experiences that forced migrants face, struggle with and find solutions to, whether Polish or Syrian or Yemeni or Congolese or any other nationality, past and present.