Sunday, 9 March 2014

To Bonegilla from Somewhere

To Bonegilla from Somewhere by Wanda Skowronska
Connor Court Publishing, Ballarat, 2013

This book is the story of the authors parents, Bogdan Skowronski from Poland and Valerie Klucnieka from Latvia.  Like thousands of other Displaced Persons from eastern Europe these people lived for several years in camps before immigrating to Australia. 

The book recounts something of how Bonegilla came to be, of what life was like for those who passed through.  Bonegilla being the largest immigration camp in Australia later WWII.  Three quarters of the book focuses on the background of Bogdan and Valerie and the years previous to WWII.  The political environment that forced them to leave their homes. 

Wanda provides great detail of what Bonegilla was like, which gives the reader a clear picture in one’s mind. 

‘In each block there was a mess hall, kitchen, pit toilets and supervisors office.  Each of the huts held about 26 people, dormitory style, and each person was allocated linen and grey woollen blankets as well as crockery and cutlery and a cup.  The centre’s facilities eventually included a large hospital, three churches, a movie theatre, library, primary school, canteen, butcher, barber, police station and three banks’.  p. 199

Wanda’s parents met and married in Bonegilla, she was born there and spent the first few years of her life there, until 1957.  She records her memories of Bonegilla in the book including some family photographs.  The book ends as the family moves out of the camp.
The history and details that the book covers is impressive and certainly gives you a great idea of what life was like in Europe and passing through the camp.  I would certainly recommend this book f or someone wanting to know about this period. 

Wanda talks about her book on youtube

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