Poland comes to the aid of Indian students escaping Ukraine: Reflecting on the Indian Maharaja’s act of saving Polish children during World War II.
As Indian students seek refuge in Poland while fleeing Ukraine, the nation has vowed to extend its support. This gesture serves as a poignant reminder of the past, when Jamsaheb Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, the former ruler of the princely state of Nawangar, provided sanctuary to hundreds of Polish children during the harrowing times of World War II.
Maharaja Jam Sahib of Jamnagar: A Heroic Beacon of Hope for 650 Polish Children during World War II
In the annals of history, there are certain individuals whose extraordinary acts of kindness and courage shine like beacons amidst the darkness of war. One such luminary was Maharaja Jam Sahib of Jamnagar, a princely state in British India during the tumultuous years of World War II. The great Maharaja’s heartwarming efforts in aiding 650 Polish children fleeing the ravages of war have left an indelible mark on the pages of history, exemplifying the virtues of compassion, selflessness, and humanity.
Maharaja Jam Sahib of Jamnagar: A Philanthropic Ruler everyone of us should know. so that our next generation gets a new role model
Born as Maharaja Shri Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja in 1907, Jam Sahib ascended to the throne of Jamnagar at the tender age of two after the demise of his father. Despite the challenges of being a young ruler, he displayed remarkable wisdom and vision throughout his reign. Not only was he an astute diplomat, but he also prioritized the welfare of his people above all else.
The Outbreak of World War II

As World War II engulfed Europe and the world, millions were displaced, and countless lives were shattered. Among those affected were 650 Polish children, who had lost their families and were facing an uncertain future in the Soviet Union. The plight of these young souls caught the attention of Jam Sahib, who was deeply moved by their suffering.

The Extraordinary Rescue Mission

In 1942, the Maharaja embarked on an extraordinary rescue mission that would go down in history. He offered a helping hand to these displaced children, inviting them to seek refuge in his princely state of Jamnagar. Despite the risks and challenges posed by the ongoing war, he was determined to offer a safe haven to these young souls.

The Journey to Jamnagar

The journey from the Soviet Union to India was long and arduous for the Polish children. Traveling through war-torn regions and navigating political complexities, they finally arrived in Jamnagar in 1942. Jam Sahib and his administration had meticulously prepared for their arrival, ensuring that the children would find a caring and nurturing environment.

Welcoming the Polish Children

Upon their arrival, the Maharaja personally welcomed the Polish children with open arms and a compassionate heart. He ensured that they were provided with food, clothing, and shelter. Recognizing the trauma they had endured, Jam Sahib took a personal interest in their well-being and made it his mission to heal their emotional wounds.

Education and Upbringing

Understanding the importance of education and a stable upbringing, the Maharaja established schools and facilities to educate and care for Polish children. He wanted them to have access to the best opportunities, and through his efforts, they were able to receive an education and rebuild their lives with hope and purpose.

Cultural Exchange and Integration

Beyond providing for their basic needs, Maharaja Jam Sahib fostered a sense of belonging and cultural exchange between the Polish children and the local community. Despite linguistic and cultural differences, he encouraged the integration of Polish children into Jamnagar’s society, promoting an atmosphere of harmony and understanding.

Legacy and Impact

Maharaja Jam Sahib’s benevolent act of rescuing and supporting 650 Polish children during World War II left an enduring legacy. The children, who came to be known as the “Jam Sahib’s children,” grew up to lead successful lives and made significant contributions in various fields. Many of them later returned to Poland, carrying with them fond memories of their time in Jamnagar and the unwavering compassion of Maharaja Jam Sahib.


Maharaja Jam Sahib of Jamnagar stands tall as a shining example of humanity’s capacity for compassion and generosity, especially during the darkest hours of history. His noble efforts in rescuing and providing for 650 Polish children during World War II remind us of the power of empathy and the difference that one individual can make in the lives of many. Maharaja Jam Sahib’s legacy continues to inspire generations, encouraging us to extend a helping hand to those in need and reaffirming the belief that even in the face of adversity, compassion can triumph over hatred and despair.

The arduous journey spanned numerous lands and transit points, with European and Asian countries turning away the refugees seeking shelter. Eventually, they arrived in India and reached the port of Bombay, where even the British Governor refused them entry.

However, Maharaja Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja of Nawanagar heard of their plight and resolved to help. He exerted pressure on the British government to allow the refugees to disembark. Growing frustrated by the lack of empathy and government inaction, the Maharaja took matters into his own hands and directed the ship to dock at Rosi port in his province, marking the beginning of the tale of “Little Poland in India.”

In 1941, after arriving in Gujarat, the Maharaja arranged for the refugees to stay in camps at Balachadi, a village in Jamnagar. Beyond providing them with food and shelter, concerted efforts were made to foster their education and preserve Polish culture and traditions.
The Maharaja showed great compassion towards the children, telling them, “You may not have your parents, but I am your father now.” In return, the children affectionately called him “our Bapu” (father).
During their nine-year stay in Jamnagar, lasting throughout World War II, the refugees received excellent care, with the Maharaja personally visiting the camps to ensure their well-being. As the war ended and Poland’s government gained recognition from Great Britain, the refugees were offered the option to return to Poland. However, many chose repatriation to the UK, the US, Australia, and other Commonwealth nations, while only a few decided to return to their homeland.
The Maharaja took significant personal risks to provide a safe haven in Balachadi, Gujarat, for more than 640 women and children. In recognition of his selfless humanitarian efforts, Maharaja Jam Saheb was honored with the President’s Medal, Poland’s highest award.
Several noteworthy instances highlight the enduring legacy of Maharaja Digvijaysinhji in Poland. Notably, a square in Warsaw was named after him as a tribute. In 2012, a charming park located in the city’s southwest area of Ochota was dedicated as ‘the Square of the Good Maharaja,’ commemorating his benevolent spirit.
Moreover, a monument was erected in honor of the kind-hearted Maharaja, serving as a testament to his selfless actions. In recognition of his remarkable humanitarian efforts, he was posthumously awarded the esteemed Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
Remarkably, in 2018, approximately 76 years after the events during World War II, six individuals, now in their 90s, revisited the place in Gujarat where Maharaja Digvijaysinhji provided them with shelter and protection. This heartwarming reunion serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring impact the Maharaja had on these refugees’ lives.

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