Finding my absent father

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This thesis explores aspects of post-war Polish migration that have largely been ignored to date through a hybrid memoir-biography-history and exegesis to tell the story of the reconstruction of the life of my absent father, Antoni Jagielski - a Roman Catholic, Polish resistance fighter and World War II concentration camp survivor. From documents, letters and photographs found in an unexpectedly inherited family flat on a research trip to Poland and additional information about my father’s life gathered from archives in Auschwitz, Gusen, Mauthausen, the Polish Underground Movement Study Trust and the Polish Institute in London, I developed a chronology of his secret life and concluded that he was a reluctant migrant to Australia in 1955. My father’s story provides a counter balance to the existing weight of migration memory in mainstream Australian culture and highlights facets of Polish immigration and the often-forgotten stories of migrants who were to leave Australia and return ‘home’. This memory work of constructing and documenting the life of my father, brings together intergenerational memory and transnational historical discourse within a broader narrative of war, exile and migration. It is the story of one family amongst millions whose lives were fractured by World War II.
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