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Hero image for The Story of Seven-Hundred Polish Children

The Story of Seven-Hundred Polish Children

Television (Full Length) – 1967

This 1967 documentary tells the story of 734 Polish children who were adopted by New Zealand in 1944 as WWII refugees. Moving interviews, filmed 20 years later, document their harrowing exodus from Poland: via Siberian labour camps, malnutrition and death, to being greeted by PM Peter Fraser on arrival in NZ. From traumatic beginnings the film chronicles new lives (as builders, doctors, educators, and mothers) and ends with a family beach picnic. Made for television, this was one of the last productions directed by pioneering woman filmmaker Kathleen O'Brien.

We lived mostly on bread and water but there was never enough. And I remember my mother slicing bread making sure that each of us got exact share so we wouldn't fight between ourselves. I used to dream about having enough bread.
– Polish survivor, on life in the Siberian labour camps

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