Star Tracks: Monday, May 16, 2016 42 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Kanye West Says Kim Kardashian Not Posting Nude Selfies 'Would Be Like Adele Not Singing'
- Read the Cover Story: George Turns 3: The Preschool Prince!
- Ansel Elgort First Released EDM Music Under a Pseudonym Because He Didn't Want to 'Use My Name to Book Gigs'
- Zayn Malik on How Gigi Hadid Helps Him Overcome His Self-Doubt: 'She's Super Intelligent, I Think That's Why It Works'
- FROM EW: Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks Reunite in Trailer for Her Directorial Debut Ithaca
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- January 18, 1982
- Vol. 17
- No. 2
A Polish Defector Leaves Home and Family Behind, but Finds a Warm Welcome in Canada
The decision that changed his life came Dec. 15. Zukowski was asked to fly to Vancouver as part of a routine replacement crew for the Polish fishing trawler Manta. Zukowski accepted the assignment—and decided that he would defect (as had many other Polish sailors). "I told my 71-year-old mother I might never see her again," Zukowski recalls. "My wife and I realize it may be a very long time before we're together again. But I know it was right to defect."
Zukowski is one of 80 or so Polish seamen who have requested asylum in Vancouver, where the 15,000 members of the city's Polish community are giving them food and shelter while they face an uncertain future. Those like Zukowski who left Poland after martial law was declared are technically deserters from the military and could face execution if they returned. (A civilian, Zukowski was required to sign a document giving him temporary military status before flying to Vancouver.) None of the defectors are able to communicate with their families—and, for now, any thoughts of bringing wives and children to freedom are pipe dreams. "We are all afraid," Zukowski admits. "We are all under mental strain. But we could not help our families by staying in Poland. Here we can hope."
The Canadian government has done what it can to ease the plight of Zukowski and others like him, granting temporary visas and work permits soon after the seamen defect. But their major emotional support in this crisis has come from people like Kirstejn and Maria Christensen of Vancouver, who have taken five of the refugees into their home. Kirstejn, 48, is a Danish-born carpenter. His wife, Maria, a 51-year-old nurse's aide, is a native of Poland. "When I heard the news about what was happening in my country, I knew I had to do something," Maria says. "I feel for my people. I feel for these poor men." The Christensens have translated their feelings into action. "I fixed Christmas Eve dinner for 30 people," Maria says. "There was more food on the table than these men had seen in months. But all the while the men were eating, we knew they were thinking of their poor families stuck in Poland." Maria's understanding came from her own experiences with the Polish underground during World War II and later in a German concentration camp: "I was born in Poland. I suffered there. I know how these men are suffering now."
The burden of feeding and caring for five extra mouths is no easy matter for Maria. She has to combine the added chores with her regular six-nights-a-week job in a home for the elderly. But she has seven grown children from a previous marriage and regards the seamen simply as new additions to her family: "I treat them like sons." For Maria it is not so much politics as caring for countrymen in need. "These men have given me a new purpose in life," she declares. "When they arrived my life changed. I forgot my aches and pains. I feel so much more alive helping them."
The port of Vancouver is starting to fill up now with Polish vessels. Canadian workers plan to honor requests from Solidarity members on board not to refuel the trawlers or pilot them out of the harbor for the long voyage home. Frequently, members of the Polish community come down to the docks to demonstrate in support of their marooned countrymen. "Solidarity is not dead here," declares Stasia Malczynski of the city's Polish radio station. "We still fight for its goals. Maybe we can help those in Poland who are too scared, too alone to believe in the possibility of freedom."
For the moment, at least, Wladyslaw Zukowski is also scared—and almost alone. He looks gaunt and pale from worry, and he spends his days in Canada listlessly watching a television whose language he barely understands, trying to improve his halting English in order to find a job. His wife does not know what has happened to him, and, he admits, "I am very afraid for my marriage."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!