SIBERIAN EXILES CROSS
by Kelly Mills and Emma Conroy
Our nana, Anna Aitken (nee Zazulak), one of the Polish children of Pahiatua and one of five sisters, came to New Zealand in 1944 and made New Zealand her home. Sadly, she had passed away before the Siberian Cross was made available and therefore could not personally receive her own medal.
Our journey began in late 2011, when we started the process of applying for the Siberian Cross on her behalf. We were a non-Polish speaking/writing family, but the application form had to be written in Polish, so we were very thankful to everyone who helped with this process.
The form was then sent off to the Polish Embassy in Wellington, which sent the application to Poland for processing. The family was thrilled to receive a phone call to say that the application had been accepted and that the ceremony would take place.
On 3rd March 2013, Anna Aitken’s family (and other receivers of medals) had a ceremony hosted by the Polish Heritage Trust Museum where all the medals were conferred by John Roy-Wojciechowski, who was Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland at the time. The Siberian Cross medal was received on behalf of Anna by her daughter, Julie. It was a very proud and emotional moment for Anna’s family that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
The Siberian Exiles Cross, the Krzyż Zesłańców Sybiru, was established by the Polish government in 2003 to recognise and commemorate the sufferings of Polish citizens removed by the Soviets to northern Russia, Siberia, and Kazakhstan between 1939 and 1956 who were still alive in January 2004.
If a member of the APA knows of someone who would qualify, we will help them with their application.