The recent upsurge in interest in sexual abuse of children caused me to reflect on an old friend, Krystyna Ost, who died a few years ago and would have been a vociferous contributor to the current debate.
I say an old friend and that is, and isn’t true, as I only met Krystyna once, the rest of my dealings with her were by telephone and the odd e-mail/letter. I first became aware of her when she supported my petition (calling for a register of freemasons in the judiciary) to the Scottish Parliament in 2000.
She joined a small but eclectic mix of supporters; a belted Earl, Lord, Lord Lieutenant, 3 ministers, a Carmel of nuns, Iain Banks the author, The Muslim Party of Great Britain and various concerned individuals motivated to fight injustice and unfairness. The last class was certainly were Krystyna belonged.
And the young Krystyna Gluszkiewicz from Poland, who would later marry Emanuel Ost, certainly knew about injustice. Deported with her mother by the Russians to labour in the gulags of Siberia in 1940 was only the start of many years of hardship. Her only brother and father left behind were assumed dead and she survived the war with her mother to begin the long trek home which they decided would not be in Poland but in Great Britain.
Walking from Siberia, she made her way home and then across Europe with only the occasional lift on goods trains testified to Krystyna’s indefatigable spirit and protecting her mother in the process says much about her decency and loyalty.
Settling with her mother in Perth, Scotland, she met and married her Polish soldier husband (a lawyer before the war) and her life seemed to be complete when she had a child, was reunited with her, thought to be dead, brother (buried in the rubble of a chemist shop in the Warsaw ghetto) on a visit to Poland in the 1960s. Krystina seemed to have found contentment.
Later however she became aware of suspected sexual abuse within her family and set about putting her suspicions to the test. This proved too much even for the redoubtable Krystyna and where Hitler’s Nazis and Stalin’s gulags had failed the bureaucracy of Scotland’s lawyers and parliamentarians succeeded.
Her efforts however are chronicled in parliament LINK and with Dr John Beloff an academic specialising in parapsychology who had encouraged her to produce a manuscript of a book for him.
The news that Graeme Pearson MSP is calling for a review of historic sexual abuse allegations would have been welcome by Krystyna LINK
This is was a subject close to her heart and one about which she had this article published in The Scotsman: