Ex Malvern College student saved hundreds of lives in Second World War - The Worcester Observer

Ex Malvern College student saved hundreds of lives in Second World War

Worcester Editorial 25th Feb, 2024   0

THE REMARKABLE untold story of a former Malvern College student dubbed the ‘Indian Oskar Schindler’, who saved the lives of hundreds of Polish youngsters during the Second World War, is being penned by the school’s former teacher.

The selfless acts of Indian national Jam Sahib, Sir Digvijaysinhji Jadeja, the Maharaja of Nawanagar, saved around 1,000 Polish children during the war.

The Maharaja, who was a pupil at Malvern between 1910 and 1915, took in an initial 500 refugees before opening his palace to many more when other nations were unwilling to offer shelter.

His actions, almost unknown beyond his native India, are outlined in a book currently being written by former Malvern College teacher and Housemaster Andrew Murtagh.

Andrew is writing the book on behalf of a friend, whose mother was one of the children the Maharaja saved.

The 75-year-old said: “The book tells the extraordinary life story of my friend’s Polish mother, Bronislawa Piotrowska.

“My friend started telling me stories about her mother which were really intriguing and when I heard what had happened to her, I thought the story had to be told.”

Aged just 10, Bronislawa was bundled into a cattle truck to endure a horrific, three-week journey to a Russian prison in Siberia.

Many did not survive the journey while many more died in the forced labour camps.

When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union and Stalin joined the Allies, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill insisted all Polish prisoners be released.

The refugees made their way to British-controlled Palestine, yet when they got there, no one seemed to want them.

That was until the Maharaja, who died in 1966 aged 70, offered to take in 500 orphans and care for them, giving them shelter, peace, security, clothing and proper education.

After the war, Bronislawa and her father, who had fought for the Polish Army, came to Britain and gained citizenship, where she died in her 80s.

Andrew added: “His story has flown under the radar and the college has remained unaware of his humanitarian deeds – until now.

“It is an amazing story which has blown me away.”

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