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Rosalie Borschtsch

Interview conducted by Elisabeth Edwards for research for the Orange Migration Heritage Project, with Rosalie Borschtsch.


Rosalie was 16 years old in 1943 when she was deported from her native Ukraine to Poland, where she was put in a camp and ordered to work on railway construction.

Rosalie and her husband Wasyl came to Australia by Ship. Rosalie spent a year at the Parkes migrant camp, while Wasyl was working at the Emmco plant in Orange and living in 'Tent City' adjacent to the factory.


'They gave me three days to get ready. My brother took me on a horse-drawn sledge to Krenica railway station. There was a lot of us. Two boys from my village put salt in their eyes so they would cry but they had to go. They took us to another town, Nowy Sancz, then to Kracow, Poland'. From there she was taken to Spikowicz, where she lived in a camp previously housing Jewish people.

'There were hundreds of girls in one barrack. We were there for four months. I was working with pick and shovel, building railways. We'd have to carry 15 metre lines as a group, under the supervision of a man. One girl lost a finger. There were about 500 women from Russia, the Ukraine and Poland, of all ages'.

Rosalie and another girl, Helen, escaped from the camp and took trains to Munich, where Helen had two sisters.

'I put a scarf on my bed, put all my gear in the scarf and put the four corners together - two skirts, one suit and a few blouses. I also had a travelling rug, boots and lighter shoes. They gave us clogs to work in'.

After many adventures, they arrived in Munich, where they were assisted by a Polish man, who took them to Grinwald, must outside the City where Helen's sisters were living. Helen's sister found Rosalie and Helen some work in a restaurant in Grinwald, run by a Ukrainian man. When the war ended in 1945, their boss asked them to stay on, as American soldiers had taken over the restaurant for accommodation and he needed help.

Rosalie met her husband Wasyl, also from the Ukraine, when he came to the restaurant for soup and bread, as he did not have a ration card. 'We got engaged. I went with him to private accommodation in Munich and we got married in a civil ceremony in 1946 and Irene was born in 1947. We had friends in the same position. We wanted to go somewhere - America and Canada don't want kids, only single or married without kids. We never knew anything about Australia.'

'We went to Augsburg for medical checks and were three weeks there. We left our accommodation and went to a camp in Germany to prepare to go on a train to Italy. We were in Italy for three weeks because our daughter was not well. It was at Bagnoli, close to Naples. They sailed to Australia on the 'General Ballou'. At first there were only 600 of us but then they told us we had to go to Greece and Syria to pick up people, so there were over 1000.'

Rosalie spent a year at the Parkes migrant camp, while Wasyl was working at the Emmco plant in Orange and living in 'Tent City' adjacent to the factory. Rent for the tent was 15 shillings a week between two men. Later Rosalie and Wasyl shared a house with another Ukrainian family, who lived in Tynan Street.

Wasyl was made redundant a number of times from the Emmco plant and later worked for the PMG and for a farmer, although he returned to Emmco later. Rosalie worked in the laundry at Bloomfield Hospital.