A family torn apart by the Second World War has been reunited after a saga that crossed four continents.

Retired council worker Maria Nawara had nearly given up hope of tracing Polish relatives after 13 years of spending her holidays trawling through records across Europe.

But then the Red Cross found her long-lost aunt Stanislawa, by now 92, in Toronto, Canada.

The 66-year-old and her sister Elzbieta, flew from their homes in the UK to meet Stanislawa at an emotional family reunion.

Maria said: “It is unbelievable. When we met I was a bit nervous but after a day with them I felt as if I had always known them. I just felt we belonged together.

The saga began in 1940 when Maria’s parents Jan, then 26, and Jozefa, 21, and other Poles were kicked out of their homes by the Nazis, herded on to cattle trains and sent to Russia.

The couple and other family members ended up in a Siberian labour camp. But by 1942 Jan was fighting in Italy with the British at Monte Cassino, while Jozefa was in a camp in East Africa.

Their son Tadeusz died in an epidemic. After the war Jan and Jozefa settled in Britain, where Maria and Elzbieta were born, but lost contact with Polish relatives.

When Jozefa, then a widow, died in 2002 Maria found a box of old pictures, including her aunt’s 1939 wedding photo.



She decided then to begin her search. In 2008 Maria, from Worcester, contacted the Red Cross which traced Stanislawa after years of “tirelessly” searching.



Maria said: “My aunt is very old but remembers everything.

“She remembers my father riding horses, how they used to go singing around the houses and him playing violin at weddings.

“Just to learn what their lives were like pre-war means a lot.”