The whirlwind of Polish history forced many people to move abroad and start their lives over in a different reality, often losing touch with their relatives in Poland. Decades or even centuries later their descendants decide to explore their family history. They want to learn as much as possible about the lives of their Polish ancestors, find places where their Polish family used to live, visit cemeteries where their family members are buried or even meet their living relatives. In order to achieve that it is best to contact a professional researcher based in Poland, fluent in speaking Polish, who will be able to explore the history of your family for you.
This kind of genealogical research often ends in success. Sometimes people even manage to find their Polish relatives and establish new bonds. Each and every story is different, fascinating, full of emotions for all the people who are involved. But is it always possible to discover the story of your ancestors in Poland?
There are a number of factors which make genealogical research in Poland difficult. To start off you need to collect as much data about your Polish ancestors as possible. Names of people and places, photos, documents, anything that could help. The first difficulty can be found already at this stage. Many Polish toponyms and names have been misspelled by non-native speakers, sometimes in a manner that does not allow the researcher to figure out what the original word had been.
What makes genealogical research in Poland difficult is also the complicated Polish history. Some places that used to be located in Poland are not Polish anymore, because the Polish borders have changed a few times throughout history. After World War II Poland lost a big part of its territory in the East and gained land in the West, which means that some former Polish towns and cities nowadays are located for example in Lithuania or Ukraine.
For a long time the Polish territory was occupied by different countries, which means that all official documents were produced in a different language than Polish. Learning about your Polish ancestors may therefore require a good knowledge of German or Russian. What is more, many documents were lost or destroyed during World War II, making it impossible to make the story of your Polish family complete.
Still, trying to track your roots in Poland is an unforgettable experience and it is worth the effort. You may learn fascinating things and meet incredible people on the way. So go ahead, open those old albums at your parents’ house, listen to all the stories they can tell you, collect as many pieces of the puzzle as you can and let a professional researcher help you put them together and fill in the missing ones. And once it is done, get on a plane and visit Poland to discover the story of your Polish family in person.