An author has published a heartfelt account of his family’s fight for survival under Tsarist and Soviet rule after 12 years of research.
Kenneth Fedzin released In Search of Staszewski earlier this year.
He was initially inspired to trace his great grandfather Kazimierz Staszewski’s history during the 1863 Uprising because of intriguing family folklore passed down through generations.
But it also charts his father Jan Fedzin’s six-year escape from totalitarianism during WWII, when he was made to leave his native Poland and was placed in a Siberian labour camp – something Kenneth only discovered after his father had died.
Kenneth, 61, said: “It started out as just research and the idea of a book came afterwards.
“I thought it was a story that needed to be told and not to be forgotten. I wanted to keep that message alive and to pass it on.”
As part of his research, Kenneth travelled in 2005 and 2007 to Ukraine, where the eastern border of Poland once was and where his father grew up.
He also corresponded with people the Hoover Institution in America and from as far as Warsaw, Australia, Kenya, Nairobi.
Now retired, Kenneth wrote the book while he was still working as a social housing surveyor.
“Finishing it was such a proud moment,” he said. “There were times when I was waiting three years for a reply from the Warsaw archives. At times like that I thought I was never going to get it finished.”
Once he was able to leave the labour camp Kenneth’s father served with the Polish Armed Forces, nicknamed Anders’ Army, and fought in the famous Battle of Monte Cassino.
When the war ended, Jan came with hundreds of other Polish people to Dewsbury.
Kenneth, who lives in Clarke Street, Dewsbury, said: “At the time, people thought ‘Why are they coming here?’ There was not a cat in hell’s chance they were going to go back.”
Jan then worked at William Crabtree’s woollen mill – where the book starts.
Kenneth released his first book, Robinson Riley, in 2010.
In Search of Staszewski can be bought from Dawson’s Bookstall at Dewsbury Market, major book stores and online. Kenneth will be signing copies at Dawson’s on Saturday August 16.