Conversation with authors of ‘March, march, Batory’ Barbara Caillot and Aleksandra Karkowska
Tuesday, October 25 at 7 PM ET
Consulate General of the Republic of Poland
Jan Karski Corner, 233 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016
By Barbara Caillot and Aleksandra Karkowska
Translation by Monika Zaleska and Sean Gasper Bye
The MS Batory enchanted us. The legendary ocean liner, the ambassador of Polish culture, the “Lucky Ship,” the one-of-a-kind social salon. For thirty-three years it sailed under the Polish ensign; it made 222 regular ocean crossings transporting over 270,000 passengers.
For many of these people it was a one-way voyage—a voyage into emigration, the voyage of a lifetime. Some left forever, some only for a little while to earn money, or until “this” was over—the war, or communism. Still others remained “by chance.” Each had a different reason, each had their own story.
We decided to find the people who crossed the Batory’s gangplank. We managed to speak with over fifty Batorypassengers as well as crew members. Today they live in Warsaw, Gdynia, Sopot, and Podhale, but also in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, New York, Chicago, California, and Florida. They shared their memories, impressions, secrets, and photographs.
A voyage on the Batory was time spent only in expectation of the promised land. Memories of the voyage still rouse strong emotions. Eleven days, 3,198 nautical miles, and your whole life changes. Balls, dances, refined food, elegance, luxury.
It was often their first time at sea. A grand experience. The strange sensation of unsteady ground beneath your feet.
The ship’s rocking, storms, waves.
No possibility of escape, time for contemplation, time as a gift.
The horizon was soothing.
They didn’t know what was in store.
They arrived. . .
Focus your eyes, smell the aroma of Western cologne and oranges, hear the wailing sirens of the tugboats pulling the ship out of port. In a moment the waves will set it to rocking.
Barbara Caillot and Aleksandra Karkowska
Aleksandra Karkowska and Barbara Caillot are passionate about travel, photographs and books. They are community activists. They merge their passions with their talents to capture stories lingering inside people’s minds, to reawaken precious memories and to pass them on to others. They both believe that, in the modern world, learning about his/ her roots allows a person to be active mindfully and creatively.
In 2015 Aleksandra and Barbara launched the Oryginały publishing house. They are the authors of the books Banany z cukru pudru (Bananas made of powdered sugar) (2015), Na Giewont się patrzy (Mount Giewont is there to be looked at) (2016) and Mewa na patyku (A seagull on a stick) (2019), and of a series of interactive booklets, which include Babciu! Dziadku! Proszę opowiedz mi! (Granny! Grandpa! Please tell me your story!). They have also written Marsz, marsz BATORY (March, march, BATORY. Stories of the grand Polish ocean liner) and B jak Batory (B as in Batory.)