Uncovering a cover up

Polish President honours Iranian filmmaker


Uncovering a cover up
by Ryszard Antolak

Iranian film director Khosrow Sinai has been awarded the prestigious “Knights Cross of the Order of Merit of the Polish Republic”. At a ceremony earlier this year (June 10th) in the Polish capital, the country’s president Lech Kaczynski bestowed the honour on the Iranian filmmaker in recognition of his services to the Polish Nation, and in particular for his documentary “The Lost Requiem”, made in 1982.

Also honoured were five Iranian citizens of Polish descent, survivors of the “Polish Exodus” living in Iran. They are: Fatemeh Fazelishahir, Maria Bajdan, Fatemeh Wandeh Vashi, Eleonora Barska and Helena Stelmach. Each was awarded the Siberian Cross.

The Lost Requiem tells the story of the war-time arrival in Iran of hundreds of thousands of Poles released from Soviet labour camps of Siberia. During the two months of April and August 1942, ships crammed with emaciated men, women and children arrived daily at the Caspian port of Anzali. Their condition was desperate.

Within weeks of their arrival, thousands had died from malnutrition, malaria and typhus. The healthy young men were evacuated immediately to Syria and Lebanon to aid the allied forces against Hitler. The rest (mostly women and children) remained in Iranian refugee camps for up to three years before being evacuated to camps in East Africa, New Zealand and India.

But a significant proportion decided to stay in Iran for good, and their stories are recounted in Sinai’s documentary “The Lost Requiem”.

Such a ceremony in the Polish capital would have been unthinkable just twenty years ago. Until as recently as 1989, it was forbidden to refer to the Polish Exodus in the Russian-dominated Polish media. In the West, things were scarcely better.

The British and US governments, who had secretly betrayed their ally Poland to the Soviets at the Tehran Conference in 1943, continued to collude together for almost 50 years to cover up (or obfuscate) knowledge of the events. Almost alone among international filmmakers, Sinai laboured to bring the matter to the public domain.

It was an uphill struggle, however. Even today, the film is not on general release and is available only on DVDs distributed privately.

The medal of the Order of Merit is a five-armed red and white cross emblazoned with a Polish eagle and suspended from a dark blue ribbon.


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Thank you for this

by MH (not verified) on

Thank you for this informative article.



by ahvazi on


Thank you for the article.

Darius Kadivar


by Darius Kadivar on

Wow Ryszard This is Such a great thing. I admire Khosrow Sinai's work and efforts to keep this part of our history alive and show what is scanadolously overlooked by todays leadership in Iran and that is the reality of the Holocaust and the generosity of Iranians during WWII towards the Jewish refugees who came from Poland and Russia to Iran. The famous story of the "Children of Tehran" is a further proof of the great ties between Iranians and the Polish people in general.

Bravo Mr. Sinai.