By Steven Fletcher
The Evening Post
Nottingham, England, UK
24 December 2002
The Evening Post is to reunite a Nottingham pensioner with the Ukrainian
sister he has not seen for more than 60 years. Here, Pawlo Korol tells
STEVEN FLETCHER how he feels about being together again with his
Pawlo Korol was just a boy when the Nazis took him away from his family in
1941. The 14-year-old wasn't even allowed to say goodbye to them before he
was transported to Germany to work in slave labour camps.
When the war ended and the camps were liberated, he joined the flood of
refugees sweeping across Europe. Unwilling to return to Stalin's Soviet
Union, he spent two years in Italy before arriving in Nottingham, unable to
speak a word of English.
He took a job as a farm labourer in Langar and met and married Peggy, his
wife of more than 50 years.
As the years passed - and the German empire in Eastern Europe crumbled -
Pawlo was forever thinking of the beloved parents, brother and sister he had
When he tried to contact them after the war he received no replies to his
letters. He assumed, given Hitler's bloody legacy in the Ukraine, that they
Norman Watkins, who is married to Pawlo's daughter, Lindy, was the catalyst
for finding the pensioner's family.
From his home in Perth, Australia, Norman found an American firm - run by a
Ukrainian woman - which specialised in tracing estranged relatives.
Months later, Pawlo received the call he had always dreamed of but never
dared believe would become reality.
His sister Maria was alive.
He and Peggy, 72, wanted to make the long trip to the village of Lozy - on
the border of Ukraine and Poland - to meet Maria and her family as soon as
But Government red tape stood in the way of Pawlo fulfilling his dream of
once again seeing Maria, the only survivor from his immediate family.
For Pawlo, who settled in Britain in 1947, had failed to apply for full
British citizenship during his time here.
The naturalisation process would, said the Home Office, take about a year.
The news was a massive blow to Pawlo, 76.
He suffers from asthma and realised time was not on his side. There was no
guarantee that by the autumn of 2003, he would be healthy enough to make the
trip to Ukraine - not one of the most hospitable of climates for a poorly
But weeks after the Post highlighted Pawlo's case in September, Labour MP
Graham Allan and East Midlands MEP Phillip Whitehead stepped in to help
ensure Pawlo's dream was fulfilled.
After their intervention, the Home Office agreed to speed up his passport
application - and he was eligible to travel.
However, the harsh Ukrainian winter means this emotional reunion must be put
on hold until the spring - but it is still months earlier than he would have
managed if Pawlo's passport application had gone through the usual channels.
And the Post is paying for Pawlo to fly to Ukraine for the reunion.
The news is the perfect Christmas gift for Pawlo. He and his wife are now
planning the trip from the warmth of their Bestwood home.
"There is no way we can go before April or May," said Pawlo.
"The weather there is atrocious at the moment, and with my asthma it is
inevitable we will have to wait a little bit longer.
"The winters are very harsh there, terrible. They have had a lot of snow,
and it is about two feet deep at the moment."
But the excitement is building for Pawlo, who has been overwhelmed by the
public support he has received.
"For years I thought they were dead, then I heard Maria was alive... I
couldn't believe it. I can't wait to finally get there. We have had so much
help to get the passport, from the Evening Post, Graham Allen and Phillip
Whitehead. Everyone has been brilliant," says Pawlo.
"Since the story went in the Post, people have been stopping us and wishing
"I've waited a long time for this but it has all been worth it. I was
waiting for the postman every morning to see if he would bring the
"When I was in Germany I never celebrated Christmas. But this year I'll be
having a drink or two at Christmas to celebrate.
"I am so excited about seeing them."
Post editor Graham Glen said he was delighted the paper could pay for
Pawlo's flight home.
"It's an extraordinary event to have a family reunited after more than 60
years and we are privileged to be able to help this to happen and to share
the good news with so many of our readers," he said.
Pawlo is bracing himself for the emotional impact of the trip to Lozy, a
village on the border with Poland.
"Since all this happened I have been remembering a lot more about Ukraine
and even the language is coming back to me, although we have been using a
translator for the letters to my sister Maria.
"I've got so many memories locked up here," he says, pointing towards his
"In my mind I can see my village. It is a beautiful place. There is a
massive lake, and the school and a big church. I remember all that.
"I desperately want to find out what happened to my brother, Petro. All I
know is that he was shot by the Germans, but I don't know anything more than
that. I also know the family had to move from Lozy and away from all their
friends at one point.
"I am looking forward to going back to Lozy. There are so many things to see
and people to meet, including Maria's daughter and her family."
The journey will represent a heartwarming end to Pawlo's enforced travels
across Europe. His wife said finding out her sister-in-law was alive had
been a joyful, tearful, experience for everyone.
"Pawlo has sent and received eight or nine letters so far and he is in tears
when he reads them. It has all been very emotional for him. He always wanted
to know what had happened. It was a mystery for them as well - this young
man had been taken away from them and they never thought they were going to
see him again. They didn't know if he was dead or alive."
"We've been sending the family and the children some food parcels through
the post. The first contained chocolates and a few luxuries. The second has
biscuits and the third has tea and coffee and some socks.
"It's one thing sending gifts, but now we can't wait to see them in person."
And MP Graham Allen praised the Evening Post for raising awareness of the
"Sometimes, a bit of intervention from an MP can help push things along and
I was very happy to assist Mr Korol.
"It has been such a long wait for him and now, after all these years, he is
finally going to see his sister again.
"He was a very deserving case and the fact that justice has been done is a
great credit to the Evening Post for pursuing it."
"It is brilliant news that the Post will pay for the flight and I'm sure it
will be the icing on Pawlo's Christmas cake," he added.
Nottingham, England, UK