Author: Katarzyna Litak, M.D.
MS Batory, a renowned Polish ocean liner, was launched in Gdynia in 1936. The ship derived its name from Stefan Batory,, one of Poland's influential kings from the sixteenth century. Designed by leading Polish artists of the time, Batory became an iconic vessel that symbolized Polish emigration.
During World War II, Batory underwent a transformation into a warship and played a significant role in the "Norway Campaign." Additionally, she became instrumental in transporting 480 British children to the safety of Australia. Following the war, Batory resumed her service as a transatlantic liner. However, during the Cold War, the American government closed the ports of New Jersey to Batory after discovering spies aboard the ship. In 1957, the ship was allowed to return to North America, this time to Canada, where she facilitated the transport of thousands of Polish emigrants. After 33 years of continuous service, Batory retired in 1969. In 1971, she embarked on her final journey to Hong Kong, where she was dismantled and sold as scrap metal. Throughout her lifetime, Batory completed over 200 ocean crossings and carried more than 270,000 passengers. The legend of this iconic ship continues to endure.
In 2019, the book "Marsz, Marsz Batory" by Barbara Caillot and Aleksandra Karkowska was published. It features a Polish-language account supplemented with a brief English synopsis. The authors embarked on a quest to trace passengers and crew members in Poland and North America. They conducted oral history interviews with approximately 40 passengers and ten crew members, with the oldest interviewees being 99 years old. Through their meticulous research and firsthand accounts, Caillot and Karkowska preserve the memories and legacy of MS Batory, ensuring that the story of this remarkable ship lives on.
The 2020 authors' visit to Minnesota was canceled because of the coronavirus epidemic. Barbara Caillot and Aleksandra Karkowska hope to reschedule the US tour to inform people about the legendary transatlantic ship MS Batory, which for over 30 years transported immigrants to the US. Stay tuned for book discussions, author meetings more events on our website and social media. If you wish to learn more, visit us at the Landmark Center in St. Paul on March 5th from 2-4 PM.