OBITUARY: by John BallantyneNews Weekly
Polish-Australian Stan Gotowicz a man of many parts
, June 9, 2007
Stanislaw "Stasiu" Gotowicz OAM
(January 19, 1926 - April 24, 2007)Leader of South Australia's Polish community, author, NCC supporterStan Gotowicz was only 13 when Hitler's forces invaded his country, Poland, in September 1939. Stan was in the capital, Warsaw, at the time, and remembered vividly escorting his older sister Stefania and her two baby boys across a bridge over the river Vistula while the bridge was under heavy German bombardment. Both infants tragically perished later in the war.
Stan remained in Nazi-occupied Poland and played his part as a freedom-fighter in the tragic abortive Warsaw Rising of 1944. He was captured by the Germans, but managed to escape.
|Stanislaw Gotowicz OAM|
At the war's end, with his homeland now under Soviet communist occupation, Stan managed to migrate to the West, finding refuge in a displaced persons' camp.
He recounted this part of his life and his subsequent embarkation for Australia in his part-autobiographical novel, Bittersweet Bread
In this book, Stan succeeded in chronicling what many tens of thousands of European migrants experienced after the war when they embarked for a strange continent on the other side of the world to start a new life. To many children of post-war migrants, Stan's book came as a real revelation.
On arriving in South Australia, Stan initially worked on a farm in Pinaroo. Later he worked for many years in an Adelaide civil engineering office where he was well loved by his work colleagues.
Stan emerged as leader of South Australia's Polish community and was the driving force behind raising funds to build the Dom Polski Centre - a cherished corner of Old Europe in the city of Adelaide.
Stan and his associates chose, in the 1970s, to erect a monument to the many thousands of Polish officers massacred in 1940 by the Soviet secret police in Katyn Forest and other localities in the USSR. However, the then Don Dunstan Labor Government, tried unsuccessfully to stop the monument going ahead for fear it would offend Moscow.
Stan realised a further dream when he teamed up with world-renowned pianist, Lance Dossor (1916-2005), to put on, as part of the Adelaide Fesitval of Arts, a series of biennial world-class pianoforte competitions at the Dom Polski Centre. The first one was held in March 1976.
Stan was a strong supporter of the National Civic Council.
He was not only a community leader and impresario, but also author of a number of books, both in his native Polish and in his second language, English. Two years ago he published a novel, Despite the Barking Dogs
(2005)* - a page-turning, unputdownable, epic story set in war-torn Europe and post-war Australia.
Every Anzac Day, Stan would march proudly with other Polish ex-servicemen. He was decorated with Polish service medals for his war service, and with the Order of Australia for his outstanding contributions to the Polish community.
Stan was predeceased by his older sister Stefania and his younger brother Stefan. He is survived by his widow, Stephanie.- written by John Ballantyne.
* Stan Gotowicz's novel Despite the Barking Dogs is available from News Weekly Books for AUD$24.95.