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The Polish consulate in Bombay at the time had launched a drive to raise awareness in India about Jewish refugees, and had been arranging for their travel to India during the Holocaust.
A group of about 1,000 Polish children departed for India in 1942 from Siberia, where, lost and orphaned in the midst of death and destruction caused by WWII, they had been shifted after the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland.
“Little Poland in India” is the product of a joint Indo-Polish collaboration, and is the first documentary film based on the lives of WWII survivors who were given protection in India by the Jam Sahib.
The film was jointly produced by Doordashan (India’s state TV channel), the Government of Gujarat and the National Audio-Visual Institute and Polish TV.
Depending on where they had relatives, some of the children left for the UK, others returned to Poland,” she explained.
Those who returned to Poland even formed an association called “Poles in India.” Both the Jews and Catholics, housed in the camps, became very attached to India, and often reminisce in their sunset years in other countries about that crucial phase of their lives there.
Poland has shown its gratitude to the Maharaja in various forms.
Warsaw has a “Good Maharaja Square” named after the Maharaja.
Though India was in the midst of an independence struggle against colonial British rule and faced a famine, the “Jam Sahib” (a nickname stemming from the words for “king” and “owner”), as Maharaja Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja of Nawanagar was affectionately called, stepped in to help in the dire situation.
“I was having a conversation a few years back with then-Indian ambassador to Poland, Monika Kapil Mohta, who asked me, ‘Why don’t you do this interesting story about an Indian Maharaja protecting Polish children? Seized by the idea, Radha began researching the subject.
“Having worked with cable television earlier, I had learned the ropes of the trade.
this was a rare opportunity which has never been granted to an outsider before,” she noted.
Radha reveals that she is making a commercial film about the second camp in Valivade in the state of Maharashtra.