Polish YMCA In WWII
The Polish YMCA attached to the Polish Army in Palestine and Egypt served Polish soldiers as well as schools for Polish refugee children (who started to arrive to the region from the USSR in 1942): for the soldiers, it provided social and cultural programs at YMCA centers; for the schools – popularly known as “Junak” schools – located in various towns and villages in Palestine and Egypt and attended by approximately 3,500 students – the YMCA reached out with cultural programs and material support. It also published an outstanding cultural publication for young adults titled “Junak” (available at the Fronczak Room Collection at SUNY Buffalo State College).
This Polish YMCA moved into Italy and established centers just back of the fighting front as Polish forces joined other Allied forces in the invasion of Italy. By the end of 1945, the Polish YMCA in Italy had a staff of 116 and served soldiers and Polish refugees in various Italian cities. It also had large publishing program devoted Polish literature.
The headquarters of the Polish YMCA during WWII was in Great Britain. It had branches in various countries including five sub-Saharan countries where concentrations of Polish refugees were located. The funding for the Polish YMCA during WWII was provided by British, American, and Polish sources.