Olivia (swanwhite) wrote in little_details,

Experience of Polish refugees coming to/settling in 1940s America

I wrote an earlier post about a noir I'm writing set in NYC in 1947. Today I'm looking for specific information for two of my characters, a brother and sister from Poland who flee to the US during WW II. While I've been able to find out a lot about the Polish communities in New York at the time, it's all been about immigration in the 1800/1900s, and I've found almost nothing about what it would have been like in the 30s and 40s.

Escape from Poland

My plot at this point is that the siblings escaped either on the eve of the Nazi invasion or within days of it happening. (Their plan was for their parents to follow, but it didn't work, leaving brother and sister to navigate war torn Europe alone, while the rest of the family remains unreachable in Poland.) How realistic is the timing of their escape? What path would they have taken from Poland to the US? How long would that likely have taken?
Experience in USA
After fleeing Europe, the siblings settle in New York city. They can read and write basic English, but have no contacts in America. The brother, a musician, eventually joins a club band, and the sister works in a munitions factory.
I know that the number of European immigrants per country per year was limited, but I've been unable to find the number of Poles allowed in at the time. How difficult would it have been for them to enter America once they'd arrived? Would they have been allowed to become citizens? If so, what would that process have been like? Would the brother have been allowed to fight in the US army during the war? What other service could he have been involved in?
What kind of hostility would they have been met with upon arriving in America? Was there the same kind of strong racial hatred of Poles in America that existed in Europe? Would they have been encouraged to keep their Polish identitees, or would they have been pressured to assimilate in order to find work etc?
Post-War Contacts with Poland
The major storyline takes place in 1947 by which time Poland was under Soviet control. How hostile was US/Soviet interaction at this point? Could the siblings have freely travelled into and/or contacted people in Poland to locate their family or would the Iron Curtain have blocked them out? And if not, when would they have had a shot at making contact again?

Thank you so much! Your answers were great help last time.
Tags: 1930-1939, 1940-1949, poland (misc), poland: history, usa: history: world war ii

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