My name is Stanley Opalka and I am a survivor of the “Holocaust of the East.” I wrote Escape from Russia to bring more awareness to the plight of some two million Polish victims who were deported to Siberia during World War II1 by Russia.
After I arrived in the United States in 1946, I became a social studies teacher and taught high school and college students for more than 30 years. While I was successful in relating my story and perspective on the events surrounding the “Holocaust of the East,” I felt compelled to reach a wider audience. It is my opinion many Americans, especially young people, need to know about this systematic genocide so it will never happen again.
I wrote Escape from Russia and had it printed in English and in Polish. Copies are distributed in Poland and the United States. In 2005, my book was awarded a commendation from the Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology in recognition of its social and historical merits. In promoting the book, I have given several presentations throughout New York and North Carolina in which I describe how I, as a seven year old boy, was arrested by the Soviet Secret Police and deported2 in 1940 along with my family. We were sent to a Siberian labor camp to die.
During my public speaking engagements, members of the audience have often suggested the book be read by high school students. With this in mind, I have edited the book for classroom use and added historical notes and references relevant to World War II.
The compelling struggle between world powers between 1939 and 1945 are the framework for my personal struggle to survive the brutality of Russian communism. It is my hope readers of my book understand the role Soviet communism played as both an ally and aggressor. It is said history is told by the victors. I was among the lucky few who made it out of Siberia and remains alive to tell my story.