New POSK Exhibition on Poles in Exile During WWII

Hearts of Freedom tells of a Polish school in occupied France

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February 12, 2024

An exhibition is to be held at the POSK centre on King Street in Hammersmith which tells the story of a group on Poles in exile during the second world war.

Heart of Freedoms runs from 17 February to 8 March and charts the role of a Polish school in occupied France.

It reveals a tale of bravery centred around an inspirational 60-year-old professor.

Polish refugees set up a school in Villard-de-Lans, in the French Alps, between 1940 and 1946, assisted by the Polish government in exile in London, in defiance of the Nazis. It was the only free Polish school in occupied Europe.

The Cyprian Norwid Polish School taught Polish soldiers and others who had managed to escape from Poland, as well as children of Polish origin already living in France.

The exhibition tells the story of the school as a bastion of resistance to the Nazis from its origins to its final days, celebrating the students and teachers who made it possible, many of whom have descendants living in the UK today.

It includes a documentary, directed by French/Polish film-maker Rafael Lewandowski, called Out of the Limelight, focusing on school principal Zygmunt Zaleski, a literary historian who battled to preserve Polish culture. Extracts from his work are read by the Polish actor, Wojciech Pszoniak.

The exhibition is free and is open every day until 8 March in the POSK gallery at 238-246 King Street, W6 0RF.

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