Walenty Jabłoński, doctor and an exile in Siberia, is dead
We are sad to learn of the death of Walenty Jabłoński, an exile in Siberia, participant of the Union of Siberian Exiles in Białystok. He was deported to a kolkhoz in Kazakhstan in 1952, where he was saved from starvation and death by Tassybaj Abdikarimow.
Walenty Jabłoński (born in 1930 in Kozłowicze near Grodno, today Kazlovichy in Belarus) came from a wealthy family who owned 55 hectares of land. For this reason, the Jabłońskis faced repression from both the Soviets and the Germans. After 1944, the Jabłońskis continued to live in their family home, which was located on the border of the Soviet Union. Walenty's father was arrested by the NKVD in 1948, and his trial began only in 1951. He was exiled to Siberia, and the Soviets deported the rest of the family to southern Kazakhstan in 1952. At the time, Walenty Jabłoński was a student of medicine at the university in Vitebsk, where he was arrested on 17 April 1952 and put on a transport heading east. They arrived at the kolkhoz in Kazakhstan, near the present-day border with Uzbekistan, at the beginning of May. Then began the back-breaking labor.
The Jabłoński family found themselves in an especially difficult situation: they neither had sufficient food nor any items necessary for life. A 14-year-old Kazakh named Tassybay Abdikarimov came to their rescue. Although the boy's situation was no better, he shared food with the desperate family and helped to take care of the sick Walenty. With his help, the Jabłoński family survived the atrocious conditions and lived to see the amnesty. Some of them returned to Poland in 1956. Tassybay continued to tend to the graves of Walenty's father and siblings, as well as the graves of other Poles who were ultimately unable to return to their homes.
Tassybay Abdikarimov and Walenty Jabłoński had the opportunity to meet again in Warsaw in 2019, when, at the initiative of the Pilecki Institute, Tassybay was awarded the Virtus et Fraternitas medal by Polish President Andrzej Duda. The medal is given as a symbol of memory and thanks to those who aided Polish citizens and who voluntarily protect the memory of Poles who did not survive the war or their forced deportation.
Walenty Jabłoński provided academic information about the Soviet deportations of Poles from the Grodno region in the 1950s. In 2013, he initiated and co-organized an expedition of members of the Union of Siberian Exiles to Kazakhstan to search for the graves of deportees. Thanks to him, Polish burial sites were given crosses and the places where the exiles lived were marked with commemorative plaques. He was the winner of the Honorary "Witness to History" Award in Białystok in 2017.