Memoirs of Poland's citizens deported to the Soviet Union during WW II
The following review have been kindly donated by Andrzej Jaroszyński, lecturer of the Catholic University of Lublin, a former diplomat. He is preparing a book on images of Poland and Poles in post-war British fiction. Any sugestions concerning the list and the topic of the forthcoming publication would appreciated at email@example.com
This is one of a few available lists of memoirs dealing with deportations from Poland to the Soviet Union during WW II. It shows the fulfillment of one of the basic missions of Poles in post-war free world, and in particular, in Great Britain, that is, to tell the West about losses, suffering and consequences of the Soviet treatment of Polish nationals. The list includes classic examples of political books as well as a variety of memoirs and personal accounts and also those told by family members on the basis of documents and stories presented by the witnesses. The list also covers accounts of Polish Jews - citizens of the Republic of Poland. The list also includes selected titles published outside of Great Britain.
The other recommended bibliographical source is: http://www.derekcrowe.com
Władysław Anders, An Army in Exile, Macmillan, 1949
Anders’ Army was the informal yet common name of the Polish Armed Forces in the East in the 1941–42 period, in recognition of its commander Władysław Anders. The army was created in the Soviet Union but in March 1942, based on the British-Soviet-Polish understanding, it was evacuated from the Soviet Union and made its way through Iran to Palestine. There it passed under British command and provided the bulk of the units and troops of the Polish II Corps, which fought in the Italian Campaign
Stanislaw Kot, Conversations with the Kremlin and Dispatches from Russia. Oxford: University Press, 1963
Stanislaw Kot arrived as the new Polish ambassador in Moscow in September 1941. His task was to rescue the Polish exiles, help the Command of the Polish Army and watch over the Soviet Government’s fulfillment of the Polish-Soviet treaty. He left his mission in July 1942. The book is a collection of conversations with the Soviet high officials, including Stalin, and diplomatic correspondence with the Polish authorities in London.
Zbigniew Stypulkowski, Invitation to Moscow. Preface by H.R. Trevor-Roper, London: Thames and Hudson, 1951
Zbigniew Stypułkowski (1904 – 1979) was a Polish lawyer and politician, Member of the Council of National Unity. In 1944 he took part in the Warsaw Uprising. In March 1945 he was arrested by the NKVD and brought to Moscow. After 3 months of brutal interrogations, he was sentenced to 4 months in prison in a staged trial of 16 leaders of the Polish Underground State held by the Soviet Union in Moscow. In August he came back to Poland. Fearing arrest, he escaped from Poland in November 1945. The arrest, imprisonment, and trial of Polish leaders are described in his 1951 book Invitation to Moscow.
Classic memoirs by distinguished personalities
Walter Ciszek with Daniel L. Flaherty, With God in Russia: The Inspiring Classic Account of a Catholic Priest’s Twenty-Three Years in Soviet Prisons and Labor Camps, Doubleday, 1964
Walter Ciszek with Daniel I. Flahery, >He Leadeth Me: An Extraordinary Testament of Faith, New York: Image, 1973
Walter Joseph Ciszek, (1904-84) S.J. was a Polish-American Jesuit priest who conducted clandestine missionary work in the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1963. He was eventually arrested by the Soviets as a spy and spent 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and labour camps, and was called “the Priest of the Gulag”. He was released and returned to the United States in 1963. Since 1990, Fr. Ciszek has been under investigation by the Roman Catholic Church for canonization. His current title is Servant of God.
In With God in Russia, Ciszek chronicles his daily life as a prisoner, the labor he endured in the mines and on construction gangs, his participation in a major gulag uprising, his unwavering faith in God, and his firm devotion to his vows and vocation. Enduring brutal conditions, Ciszek risked his life to offer spiritual guidance to fellow prisoners who could easily have exposed him for their own gains.
He Leadeth Me is a deeply personal story of one man’s spiritual odyssey and the unflagging faith which enables him to survive the ordeal that wrenched his body and spirit to near collapse. Despite the harsh conditions, loneliness, and pain, that he discovered an inner serenity upon which he was able to draw amidst the “arrogance of evil” that surrounded him, and to dedicate his life to God in a way few discover
Józef Czapski, Inhuman Land, London: Chatto & Windus, 1951, New York Review Books, 2018 with a new translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones and an introduction by Timothy Snyder
Józef Czapski (1896–1993), a painter and writer, was mobilized as a reserve officer, captured by the Germans and handed over to the Soviets as a prisoner of war; Czapski described his experiences in the Soviet Union in several books: Memories of Starobilsk, Inhuman Land and Lost Time Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp.
While Inhuman Land has become a classic example of gulag literature, it may not strictly be gulag literature after all. Its author had not been to one, though he did spend two years in various Soviet internment camps and escaped death by sheer luck. Józef Czapski’s book is first and foremost an account of his investigation into the fate of his fellow soldiers and prisoners of war taken hostage by the Soviets following their attack on Poland on 17th September 1939.
Memories of Starobielsk: Essays Between Art and History. Introduction by Irena Grudzińska - Gross, New York Review Books, 2020
Interned with thousands of Polish officers in the Soviet prisoner-of-war camp at Starobielsk in September 1939, Józef Czapski was one of a very small number to survive the massacre in the forest of Katyń in April 1940. Memories of Starobielsk portrays these doomed men, some with the detail of a finished portrait, others in vivid sketches that mingle intimacy with respect, as Czapski describes their struggle to remain human under hopeless circumstances.
Gustaw Herling-Grudziński, A World Apart: Imprisonment in a Soviet Labour Camp during World War II, Oxford University Press, 1987, 1st publ. Heinemann, 1951
A World Apart is likely the most famous Polish account about gulags in world literature. It’s also one of the most poignant artistic testimonies about the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Written in London in 1951, the book tells the story of a Polish citizen who, based on a false accusation, is sentenced to a 10-year sentence in a labour camp in Yertsevo, not far from Arkhangelsk, in the European part of northern Russia.
Aleksander Wat, foreword by Czesław Miłosz, My Century. The Odyssey of a Polish Intellectual, New York: W.W. Norton, 1988
My Century may not be typical gulag literature. However, in many ways, this long and fascinating book offers one of the best explorations of the history of the 20th century, especially with regard to the nature of its totalitarian regimes, with gulags and prisons as their key element. This book-length conversation with poet and writer Aleksander Wat, conducted and recorded by Czesław Miłosz in 1965 in California and then Paris, basically covers a big chunk of Wat’s amazingly rich but also tragic life. This is a translation of the 1977 Polish edition.
Stanisław Swianiewicz, In the Shadow of Katyń, Borealis Pub., 2002
As a scholar and an officer, he was captured by the Soviets in September 1939. In April 1940 he was brought to the vicinity of the Katyn Forest. Before the war professor Swianiewicz was researching the economies of totalitarian countries and his expert knowledge of German economy caught the interest of his Soviet captors. He was recalled from the Katyn Forest to Moscow where he was interrogated and sentenced to forced labour. His survival of death from starvation and exhaustion and subsequent escape from the claws of the NKVD makes for fascinating reading. After having regained his freedom in August 1942, he joined the Polish army under British command in the Middle East.
Wesley Adamczyk, When God Looked the Other Way: An Odyssey of War, Exile, and Redemption, Chicago University Press, 2004
It a memoir of a boyhood lived in unspeakable circumstances, a book that not only illuminates one of the darkest periods of European history but also traces the loss of innocence and the fight against despair that took root in one young boy. It is also a book that offers a stark picture of the unforgiving nature of Communism and its champions.
“Adamczyk recounts the story of his own wartime childhood with exemplary precision and immense emotional sensitivity, presenting the ordeal of one family with the clarity and insight of a skilled novelist. . . . I have read many descriptions of the Siberian odyssey and of other forgotten wartime episodes. But none of them is more informative, more moving, or more beautifully written than When God Looked the Other Way.”—From the Foreword by Norman Davies.
Edward Buc, Vorkuta, London: Constable, 1976
Account of author’s experiences in Vorkuta labour camp complex in Soviet Arctic, 1945-53, and later in other camps in Siberia. Buc was a member of the Polish Resistance, Armia Krajowa (Home Army), arrested by the Soviets when he was aged 19, and deported for 13 years to the Vorkuta camps. There he became a leader of the prisoners’ strike. Repatriated to Poland in 1958 he was imprisoned. In 1971 Buc escaped to Sweden and then settled in Canada. He returned to Poland in 2013 and was rehabilitated.
Alick Dowling, Janek - A Story of Survival, Ringpress Books, 1989
The author of the book, Alick Dowling, was married to the sister of Janek’s wife. The book is divided into three parts. Parts I and III are written in the third person. They focus on Polish history prior to the 2nd World War and on events during it. Part II describes Janek’s experience of being taken prisoner by the Soviets and his eventual release from Russia. This part is written in the first person.
Yitzkhok Edison (Erlichson), My Four Years in Soviet Russia, translated from Yiddish. Academic Studies Press, 2013
In 1939, Yitzkhak Erlichson, a nineteen-year-old Jew, fled the German occupation for the Soviet Union, where he spent the next four years in prison and labour camps. Though Erlichson had hoped to find justice and brotherhood in Russia, he was arrested as an “English spy” immediately after his arrival there. When he attempted to join the Polish army that was forming in the Soviet Union he was turned away because he was Jewish. After the war, he returned to Poland and discovered that none of his family had survived the Holocaust.
Alicja Edwards, And God Was Our Witness, AuthorHouse, 2013
Author’s Note: I was only sixteen when my family and I were pulled away from our home and country. For the last 17 years I have been writing a story or rather memoirs of my family’s imprisonment in the Soviet Union during World War II. We were forcibly taken from our home in the eastern part of Poland to Kazakhstan, where we were condemned to slave labor in the year of 1940. Over the three agonizing years we faced mistreatment and degradation, sickness, hunger and death, till our release from bondage and fight to freedom across the Caspian Sea to Iran, where I met my husband, an American Army lieutenant
Helena Edwards (formerly Czuprin); Virginia Lown, Days of Aloes, Sandpiper Press, 1992
A true story written by a remarkable woman who survived in extremely harrowing circumstances trying to protect her family in a Soviet labour camp and to survive in the most extreme conditions.
Suzanna Eibuszyc, Memory is our Home: Loss and Remembering: Three Generations in Poland and Russia 1917-1960s, Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag, 2015
It is a biographical memoir based on the diaries of Roma Talasiewicz-Eibuszyc, who grew up in Warsaw before and during World War I and who, after escaping the atrocities of World War II, was able to survive in the vast territories of Soviet Russia and Uzbekistan. Translated by her own daughter, interweaving her own recollections as her family made a new life in the shadows of the Holocaust in Communist Poland after the war and into the late 1960s.
Antoni Ekart, Vanished without Trace. The Story of Seven Years in Soviet Russia, London: Max Parrish, 1954
Author Antoni Ekart was a Polish Jew. He describes his experiences after the 1939 German- Soviet conquest of Poland, and his ensuing deportation into the interior of the USSR. As the author writes: There are many such truths which people refuse to accept unless they have themselves been eyewitnesses, simply because they are beyond the limits of the ordinary person’s imagination.
Ursula Flicker, Ursula’s Story: Bialystock, Siberia, Melbourne, Caulfield South, Vic.: Makor Jewish Community Library, 2011
Ursula grew up in luxury in Bialystok. Then the Russians took over the city. The family was deported as “enemies of the state” to Siberia moving from Bijsk to Altejskoje Sielo in the Altai Mountains. After the war they returned to Poland. After a year in Sweden, Ursula and her mother came to Melbourne.
Maria Hadow, Paying Guest in Siberia, Harvill Press, 1959
Maria Hadow's husband, an army officer, is shot by the Soviets. In April 1940 she and her mother are deported to Kazakhstan. They survived harsh conditions and are released in September 1942, and after a long journey they took off from Russia to Persia. The next day the Russians closed the frontier and stopped the evacuation of the Poles.
Edward Herzbaum, Lost Between Worlds. A World War II Journey of Survival, Matador /Troubador Publishing, 2010
Edward Herzbaum, born in 1920 to Polish Jewish parents, was educated in Poland. During WWII he was arrested and escaped from both the Germans and Russians and then fought in the Polish Army. In 1946 he settled in the UK and became an architect. He died in 1967.
Lost Between Worlds is based on a journal written between 1940 and 1945 when Edward H Herzbaum was in his twenties. The journal had been lying in a suitcase for 65 years until it was discovered and translated. The book spans a period of history from the German invasion of Poland in 1939 to the end of the Italian Campaign in 1945. It recounts how Edward was arrested and interned by the Germans but escaped. and then was arrested by the Russians and deported to a Gulag. After Germany’s attack on Russia, Edward and the other Polish prisoners were released to join a newly-formed Polish army, under British command, eventually fighting in the Italian Campaign.
Eugenia Huntington, The Unsettled Account: An Autobiography, London: Severn House, 1986
When her husband, a Polish officer, became a war prisoner of the Soviets in 1939, the author, daughter of a Russian White Guard officer, was deported to Siberia. From a comfortable environment she was plunged into a struggle for survival. Huntingdon’s account of the mental and physical hardships endured in a freezing climate among hostile natives is tempered with appreciation of the band of escaping women with whom she threw in her lot. Although the body of the author’s husband was later found in the mass grave of victims of the Katyn massacre, Huntingdon’s story is free of self-pity. Remarried, she lived in England
John Geller, Prisoner‐doctor in Russia, Through Darkness to Dawn,London: Veritas Foundation, 1989
Michael Giedroyc, Crater’s Edge, A Family’s Epic Journey Through Wartime Russia, with a preface by Norman Davies, London: Bene Fatum Publishing, 2010
Born into an aristocratic family in what is today Belarus, and after an extraordinary 5 years of survival against the odds, Michal Giedroyc built a successful post-war career as an international aircraft designer, industrial consultant, and finally settling in Oxford as an academic.
In September 1939, as a 10 year-old boy, Michal Giedroyc watched the Russian security police seize his home in Eastern Poland. His father, a senator and judge, was imprisoned while his mother, with Michal and his two sisters were left for themselves on the streets of the local town. Later they were transported in cattle trucks to the wastes of Soviet Siberia. “Eighteen months of deprivation and hunger on a collective farm brought them to the brink of extinction. Michal’s mother and her children set off on a second grueling journey that would take them across Central Asia to Persia, the Middle East, and finally England.
Jerzy Gliksman, Tell the West. An Account of the Experience as a Slave Laborer in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, New York: 1948
Born 1902 in Warsaw and a law student in Warsaw and Paris, Jerzy Gliksman became active in the Bund’s youth organization eventually becoming a member of the Bund’s Central Committee. His brother Viktor, also a Bundist, was arrested and executed by the Soviet authorities in 1939; Jerzy was also arrested and imprisoned by the Soviet authorities. He immigrated to the United States in 1946, where he died in 1958.
This fascinating book, one of the first of its kind, tells of the awful, inhuman Gulag system in the USSR which was widely unknown beyond the “Iron Curtain”.
Janka Goldberger, Stalin’s Little Guest, London: J. Lunzer, 1988
The true story of a Polish-Jewish family’s flight from wartime Cracow and deportation to
Siberia, described through the innocent eyes of 11-year-old Janka.
Danuta Grey, Footprints in the Snow and Sand: A Story of Eastern Poland in the Wake of the
Soviet Occupation in 1939, Arena Books, 2015
Danuta Gray was born in Poland but brought up and educated in Britain. She has had several short stories published is also the author of The Land of Greenstone Water, and The Chill from Siberia, to which Footprints in the Snow and Sand forms a sequel.
This is the personal story of the author's early childhood and that of her family leading up to and following the Soviet invasion of Eastern Poland in September 1939. After the Soviet occupation, Frank and Helen (the author's parents) and their two children were arrested the entire family as "enemies of the Soviet Union," they were taken on a harrowing six-week journey to a Siberian gulag. In the camp they were maltreated and forced into heavy labour. In July 1941 Stalin declared an amnesty for the Poles and they were released. They walked for six months throughout a harsh winter. The family had survived by the time they reached Krasnovodsk in 1942. From there they were taken to Pahlavi in Teheran, and finally to Karachi in India.
Klaus Hergt, Exiled to Siberia: A Polish Child’s WWII Journey, with a forward by Tadeusz Piotrowski, 2000
That day, September 1, 1939, literally “out of the blue,” a carefree and protected childhood came to an end, and Hank, a ten-year-old boy, was propelled onto a road of sorrow and deprivation, and toward years of foreign exile.
Anna and Norbert Kant, Extermination: Killing Poles in Stalin's Empire, UNICORN Publishing Studio, 1991
Anna and Norbert Kant, together with their two young children, fled east to escape capture by the Germans. In Lwów the NKVD put them on board a cattle-truck which took them to the Siberian Taiga. After 16 months there the Kants and the other Poles set out to find the Polish Army. They travelled to Kazakhstan where Norbert was offered the position of Trustee of the Polish Embassy. Norbert didn't leave his diplomatic position after General Anders' Polish army left the Soviet Union for Persia. He was arrested and interrogated by the NKVD but finally set free and was united with his wife and children.
Zdzisława Krystyna Kawecka, Journey Without a Ticket - To England Through Siberia, Self- Published, Nottingham, 1989
Author’s Note: “There was the promise I made to a dying woman far away in snow-bound Yermak, and despite the pressures of the new and demanding challenge of life for a Pole in post-war Britain, the compulsion to honour that promise never left me. When later, many of my English friends and acquaintances asked repeatedly, why, how, and by what means I came to Britain, the need to answer these questions reinforced the urge for me to tell my story in print. Accordingly, in the late 1950s I set about the task of writing this book. It took me three months to write and thirty years to publish. I decided to have the book printed and published in a self-publishing limited edition. There are very few of us left who are still able to recall those dark days and “tell the World”.
K.S. Karol, Solik: Life in the Soviet Union, Pluto Press, 1987
K.S. Karol (1924 - 2014) is the pseudonym of the Polish born foreign affairs journalist Karol Kewes. He was a naturalised Frenchman. He wrote primarily about left-wing politics.
Solik focuses on the author's enforced stay in the Soviet Union where he escaped in 1939, after fighting in the September campaign, and was deported to Siberia. He was then released and after some time joined the Red Army. At the end of the war he was able to reach Great Britain and then France where he started to work for the French press.
Raya Klinbail, Fight of the Swallows, Austin Macauley Publishers, 2017, 362 p.
Rosa and Dan escape the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Poland feeing to inland Russia. Through their eyes, and subsequently through Nina’s, their daughter, we are taken on a journey across Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Siberia, Poland and ultimately to Australia.
Jerzy Kmiecik, A Boy in the Gulag Quartet Books, 1983
Sixteen when he was captured by the Russians in the first month of the Second World War, Jerzy Kmiecik spent three years in the greatest slave empire the world has ever seen. Unlike a million of his fellow countrymen, he escaped. ‘It took me three years to reach my destination in Britain, and in the process I travelled some 33,000 miles. I started my journey a boy and finished it as a man. The going was often hard but reaching freedom was worth that and more”. On 1st of April 1942 his arrival in Persia meant that after nearly three years of captivity he was finally free. It would however be 15 years before Stanislaw would see his family again.
Stefan Knapp, The Square Sun, London Museum Press, 1956
The author, born in 1921, was arrested in 1940 and after long interrogation was sentenced into five years of hard labour. He was forced to work near the White Sea and after the amnesty joined the Polish Army. He was then trained as a pilot and served in the 318 Polish Squadron of RAF. His story of his enslavement in the Soviet Union is one of the first testimonies.
Stanley J Kowalski and Alexandra Kowalski Everist, No Place to Call Home - The Memories of a Polish Survivor of the Soviet Gulag, JimSam Inc, USA, 2009
The book relates the experiences of a 19-year-old Pole who is captured by the Soviets at the beginning of World War II and sent to a Siberian concentration camp in Kolyma. It is a story that is largely forgotten in most history books today. Each prison and gulag Stanley is sent is no place to call home. In order to survive the un-survivable, the prisoners must work in collaboration with each other. On 1st of April 1942 his arrival in Persia meant that after nearly three years of captivity he was finally free. It would however be 15 years before Stanislaw would see his family again. Stanislaw (Stanley) Kowalski died in 2013 aged 92.
Eugene Krajewski, Straws in the Wind, London: Cromwell Publishers, 2001.
This is a personal account of events as viewed first-hand by the author as he moves through childhood into adulthood. Many moments of horror and depravation were seen as fascinating adventures through the eyes of the author as a child. In his book the author displays no sense of grievance, anguish or even hatred for the Russian nation that was the cause of his misfortune. Instead of seeking vengeance, he acknowledges that most of the people involved were also the victims of the system.
Michael Krupa, Shallow Graves in Siberia, Birlinn General, 2004
Michael Krupa was born in Rudnik, near Krakow. He was trained to be a Jesuit before joining the Polish cavalry in 1937. After his extraordinary exploits during the Second World War he moved to Britain and settled in West Yorkshire.
Krupa survived Hitler’s invasion but was arrested in Soviet-occupied eastern Poland and accused of spying. After enduring torture in Moscow’s notorious Lubianka prison, he was sentenced to ten years’ corrective labour and deported to the Pechora Gulag. Krupa managed to escape and, in the chaos following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, made one of the most extraordinary journeys of the war - from Siberia to safety in Afghanistan. His strength and resilience enabled him to survive in the face of appalling brutality and cruelty. Luck and the kindness of strangers helped him complete his epic journey to freedom.
Richard Lysakowski, Siberian Odyssey: The Song of the Cornucopia, Vantage Press, 1990
During the night of 14 March 1940 the Soviet Secret Police (NKVD) banged on the door of Richard Lysakowski’s family home. He was interrogated for months and then sentenced to eight years hard labour in subarctic Siberia. He was be evacuated with the Anders Army on one of the last transports to Persia. Richard served in the RAF for more than 4 years as a radio operator then as an instructor. After the war he started a new life in the United States. He died in 2010.
Julius Margolin, Journey into the Land of the Zeks and Back: A Memoir of the Gulag, with a foreword by Timothy Snyder and an introduction by Katherine R. Jolluck, Oxford University Press, 2020
The book offers a powerful, first-person account of one of the most shocking chapters of the violent twentieth century. Julius Margolin, a Pinsk-born Jewish philosopher and writer living in Palestine who was in Poland on family matters. Opening with the outbreak of World War II in Poland, Margolin relates its devastating impact on the Jews and his arrest and imprisonment in the Gulag system. During his incarceration from 1940 to 1945, he nearly died from starvation and overwork but was able to return to Western Europe and rejoin his family in Palestine. This translation is the first English-language edition of this classic work, originally written in Russian in 1947 and published in an abridged French version in 1949.
Danuta Morgan As far as I Can Remember, Xlibris Corporation, 2014
It is the true story of a young girl of ten forcefully removed from her home and country, Poland, during the Second World War, her experiences as she struggled to survive with her mother and brother in the harsh conditions of Southern Siberia. While her father and brother rejoined the newly freed Polish Army to fight for the Allies, she and her mother travelled through Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran to reach safety. Her mother died in Teheran leaving her to find her way alone to Palestine where she was educated and reunited with her father who then took her to resettle in England and finally to Australia.
Bronisław Młynarski, The 79th Survivor, Foreword by Arthur Rubinstein, Bachman and Turner, 1976
Born in 1899, Son of the composer and conductor of the Warsaw Opera Emil Mlynarski, brother-in-law of Artur Rubinstein, fought in the Polish-Soviet war. He was one of only 79 officers who survived Camp Starobyelsk. Hence the name of the book The 79th Survivor. Mlynarski's account of Camp Starobyelsk stops before the liquidation of the camp began in April 1940. His wife Doris Kenyon-Mlynarski said: "... Every time he talked or wrote of his massacred friends he would scream in his sleep at night. "He died in the USA in 1971
Urszula Muskus, The Long Bridge - Out of the Gulags, SandStone Press, 2010
Urszula Muskus (1903-1972) spent eighteen years as a prisoner in the Gulag Archipelago. Gradually travelling eastwards on long train journeys into Siberia she was first separated from her husband and later from her two children. Before being finally freed she entered into a state of ‘eternal exile’ at Krasnoyarsk, the Long Bridge of the title. She survived and was eventually reunited with her family in England. Her story has been translated and pieced together from the many fragments she left behind. It comes from a generous spirit who looked on the world with a uniquely accurate and unselfpitying eye.
Halina Ogonowska-Coates, Krystyna's Story, Wellington, NZ: Bridget Williams Books, 1995
Krystyna is brought up on a farm in eastern Poland. The Second World War tears her life, her family and her country apart. Having survived forced deportation to the Soviet Union and several years in a Siberian labour camp, she becomes one of the 'Polish children' brought to New Zealand. The book is constructed from oral history: Krystyna is one or all of the women that author Halina Ogonowska-Coates interviewed - women who were among the 'Polish children', girls who grew up into New Zealand women but who always retained their memories of a Polish childhood and a European war.
Rev. Msgr Zdzislaw Peszkowski,Memoirs of a Prisoner of War in Kozielsk, Polish Katyn Foundation, Warsaw 1993
Zdzisław Peszkowski (1918 –2007) was a Polish Roman Catholic priest and one of a small group of Polish army officers who managed to survive the 1940 Katyn massacre. Peszkowski was a leading advocate and chaplain for the Federation of Katyn Families which works with survivors of the Katyn massacre and their families.
The book is the detailed account of Fr. Peszkowski's life in Kozielsk. Additionally there is a listing of 432 of those selected to servive from the three camps by the NKVD.
Tadeusz Piotrowski, Vengeance of the Swallows: Memoir of a Polish Family’s Ordeal Under Soviet Aggression, Ukrainian Ethnic Cleansing and Nazi Enslavement, and Their Emigration to America, 1994
Based on his early memories and interviews, reconstructs the tribulations of Piotrowski and his family in Poland during World War II. He was born in 1940 just after the Nazi and Soviet invasions, and emigrated to the US in 1950,
Frank Pleszak, Two Years in a Gulag: The True Wartime Story of a Polish Peasant Exiled to Siberia Amberley Publishing, 2013
At the onset of the Second World War, Frank Pleszak’s father Mikołaj, aged nineteen, was forcibly removed from his family in Poland by the Soviet secret police and exiled to the harshest of the Siberian labour camps. After his father’s death, Frank began researching Mikołaj’s early life. Frank has followed his father’s footsteps on a journey of 40,000 kilometers, through far-away places, a journey through despair, fear, hope and disappointment. This true story provides a valuable insight into not only Mikołaj’s life-story but the history of a whole Polish nation.
Barbara Porajska, From the Steppes to the Savanah, London: Hodder & Staughton, 1990
In 1939, Barbara Porajska was 9 years old, living in Eastern Poland with her family. Theirs was a comfortable life. Then, in September they were forcibly removed from their home and deported into the interior of Soviet Russia. This direct, simple and moving account of the hardships and deprivation they survived, courage and human kindness endured against the systematic cruelty of Stalin’s Russia until, reunited as a family, they were able to leave the Soviet Union for a new life in a refugee village hacked out of the forests of Uganda.
Zev Rotblat, Zev Born in Central Siberia: a child of the Holocaust, Caulfield South, Vic.: Makor Jewish Community Library, 2019
Zev Rotblat’s parents fled Poland in 1939 and ended in Siberia. Zev arrived in October 1942. The family returned to Poland in 1945 and lived in Łódź. Zev writes in detail about life in Siberia. In 1958 Zev and the family migrated to Australia.
Nadia Seluga, Far From My Home, Never To Return: A Polish Child’s WWII Memoir,Martin Sisters Publishing, 2012
It is a first-person account chronicling the dire peril and adversity endured and suffered by one of these Polish families through the eyes of a young Nadia Bogdaniec, who was only eight years old when the Soviets first arrived in her village in 1939. Nadia and her family were deported in 1940 by the Soviets from their idyllic life in Polesie to work and starve in the Soviet labor camps. They were lucky to finally manage to escape from the labor camps in Siberia. They travelled through central Asia and Iran and eventually made it to the British Dominion of East Africa in Uganda, where they lived for a few years before finally moving back to the Western world sometime after the end of WWII.
Salomon W. Slowes, ed. by Władysław T. Bartoszewski, The Road to Katyń. A Soldier’s Story, Oxford: Basil Blackwell - Institute of Jewish Studies, 1992
Salomon Slowes was a Jewish officer in the Polish army who formed part of the group taken prisoner by the Soviets in September 1939. As one of the 448 survivors of the Kozielsk camp analyses the question of the massacre against the background of his own experience, the massacre which, “by miracle and blind fate”, he survived.
Telesfor Sobierajski, Red Snow - A Young Pole’s Epic Search for his Family in Stalinist Russia, London: Pen & Sword Books Ltd., Leo Cooper; 1996
This is a unique personal story of the horrors of Stalin”s invasion of Poland, through the eyes of 14 year old Telesfor Sobierajski. He tells of his epic journey across Siberia in search of his family and their flight from Stalinist Russia.
Donna Solecka Urbikas My Sister’s Mother: A Memoir of War, Exile, and Stalin’s Siberia, University of Wisconsin Press, 2019
Donna (Danuta) Solecka Urbikas was born in Coventry, England, and immigrated with her parents and sister to Chicago in 1952. She is a writer, realtor, and community volunteer.
My Sister’s Mother is a family memoir set against the backdrop of forced evictions and deportations of Poles to forced labour camps in frozen Siberia. The core theme focuses on motherhood, the relationship between a mother and her daughter, and how far a woman will go to survive and protect her child. Then, the story transitions into the epilogue of war for thousands of Poles: life in a displaced persons camp and growing up with inherited trauma and the challenges common to first-generation Polish immigrants
Artur Spindler, Outwitting Hitler, Surviving Stalin: The Story of Artur Spindler. Kensington, N.S.W.: University of New South Wales Press, 1997
Memoirs of a Jewish electrician from Tarnow (b. 1917) who survived by passing as a Pole. He and his wife worked for the Germans while Arthur was secretly active in the Polish Resistance. His involvement with the Armia Krajowa led to his receiving a military decoration. After liberation, Spindler was imprisoned for three years by the Russians as a Polish nationalist. Eventually he was reunited with his wife, the only member of his family left alive. They emigrated to Australia
Josef Tarnowski with Raymond Raszkowski Ross, Walking with Shadows, London: Glen Murray, 2009
Walking with Shadows is a book of exile and odyssey: the incredible and moving story of Josef Tarnowski, a young Polish freedom-fighter who survived the frozen hell of the war-time Soviet Gulag, in Vorkuta, and travelled half-way round the globe to join the Free Polish Forces in Scotland. He became a paratrooper and fought through the bloody slaughter of Arnhem, then a soldier-policeman among the ruins of the Third Reich, a 'displaced person' struggling to build a new life in post-war Britain and a successful electronics engineer whose pioneering work took him round the world again, and back to Poland, in very different circumstances.
Danuta Teczarowska, Deportation into the Unknown, Braunton, Devon: Merlin Books Ltd, 1985
Richard Lysakowski Siberian Odyssey: The Song of the Cornucopia, Vantage Press, 1990.
During the night of 14 March 1940 the Soviet Secret Police (NKVD) banged on the door of Richard Lysakowski’s family home. He was was interrogated for months and then sentenced to eight years hard labour in subarctic Siberia. He was be evacuated with the Anders Army on one of the last transports to Persia. Richard served in the RAF for more than 4 years as a radio operator then as an instructor. After the war he started a new life in the United States. He died in 2010.
Eugenia Wasilewska, The Silver Madonna - The Oddyssey, George Allen and Unwin, 1970
Eugenia and her brother were arrested by the Soviets in 1940 and transported into Kazakhstan where they found accomodation with a Russian family. She escaped with a friend and after incredible events finally reached Warsaw where she was reunited with her father. Sometimelater, holding her silver Madonna and praying the baby would survive, she gave birth to her daughter.
Stefan Waydenfeld, The Ice Road - An Epic Journey From Stalinist Labour Camps To Freedom, Mainstream Publishing, 1999. Republished in 2010 by Aquila Polonica.
The Ice Road is the gripping story of young Stefan Waydenfeld and his family, deported by cattle car in 1940 to the frozen wastes of the Russian arctic north. Stefan with his father, a medical doctor, and mother, a scientist were first taken to the Siberian forest and then due to the amnesty travelled via Samarkand to the Caspian Sea to get by boat to Persia, They were finally free of the Soviet Union. The book remains a classic memoir of the times.
Thaddeus Wittlin, Time Stopped at 6:30. The Katyn Forest Massacre, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1965
The author was a poet and prose writer. When World War II began in 1939 he joined the Polish armed forces and soon found himself in Russian captivity. Freed, Tadeusz Wittlin travelled across Russia to join the Polish Army being formed at Buzuluk in the Southern Ural Mountain region. He knew many of the men murdered in the Katyn Forest, and now retells the story of their imprisonment at Ostashkov, Kozelsk and Starobelsk. After the war he worked for Radio Free Europe and the US Information Agency in Paris before emigrating to the United States where initially he was translator and writer for Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. In 1959 he became editor at the United States Information agency's Polish language publication Ameryka (America Illustrated).
Witlin published a set of sketches about his two years spent seeing Russia the hard way, as a prisoner there and in Siberia, in A Reluctant Traveler in Russia, New York: Rinehart, 1952
Fred Virski, My Life in the Red Army, New York: Macmillan, 2019
My Life in the Red Army chronicles 19-year old Polish citizen Fred Virski’s experiences as a soldier drafted into the Soviet military in 1938. Virski describes the hardships and his tense interactions with officers of the NKVD. He is wounded twice; earns a Medal of Valor; witnesses atrocities committed by both the Germans and the Soviets; is branded a deserter. He eventually makes his way back to his native Poland. The events described here could have happened, but for them all to happen to one single soldier belies credibility.
Garri S. Urban, Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead. The True Story of One Man's Struggle for Survival in Stalinist's Russia, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1980
This is the true and striking story by a Jewish doctor of his struggle for survival when caught in 1939 between the evils of Nazi Germany and Stalin's Russia. After facing death from frontier patrols, a firing squad and torture, Urban arrives at a position of considerable power in Soviet society in a medical post. These fascinating memoirs give a rare glimpse of the Soviet Union in wartime, particularly into the exotic life of the Moscow elite. Compassionate to the sick, defiant to authority, Garri S. Urban courageously insisted on his own way, even in the face of death
Kazimierz Zamorski, Kolyma. Gold and Forced Labour in the USRR, Washington, DC: Foundation for Foreign Affairs, 1949
Kazimierz Zamorski, wartime pen name of Silverster Mora (12914-2006), was arrested in 1939 by the NKVD and spent three years in the Soviet Union, joined the Anders Army and co-authored a book on Soviet judical administration. His 1949 Kolyma was one of the first and few competent sources on Kolyma available at that time. In the years 1952-1979 he worked at the Polish Section of Radio Free Europe in Munich.
Kazimierz Zarod, Inside Stalin's Gulag, Lewes, Sussex (UK): Book Guild Publishing, 1990
This is a personal memoir from a Polish civil servant who survived the Soviet gulag. Writing nearly 40 years later, Zarod recounts his flight, aged 28, from Warsaw, his arrest by the Red Army in Ternopil and subsequent incarceration in Labour Corrective Camps 21 and 17 in the Arctic Siberia. He arrived in Persia in 1942 and went on to serve in the Royal Air Force and the UK Ministry of Defence.
A chapter from this book is published as “A Day in Labor Corrective Camp No. 21,” in: Gulag Voices. An Anthology edited by Anne Applebaum, New Heaven and London: Yale University Press, 2011
Olgierd Zawisza in collaboration with Geffen Pauline Felix, Across burning frontiers New York: Roy 1943; Rpt Literary Licensing, 2013
Collections of personal narratives
Eliyana R. Adler, Survival on the Margins. Polish Jewish Refugees in the Wartime Soviet Union Harvard University Press, 2020
In Survival on the Margins, Eliyana Adler, a professor of history and Jewish studies at Pennsylvania State University, drawing on hundreds of first hand accounts, describes journeys that took about 200,000 Polish Jews who were fleeing the Nazis or had been arrested and deported into the interior of the Soviet Union.
Elma Dangerfield, Beyond the Urals. (The Persecution and Deportation of Over a Million Polish Citizens from Eastern Poland by the Soviet Authorities During Their First Occupation There from September 1939 Till June 1941.) [With Plates.], Preface by Rebecca West London: British League for European Freedom,1946
Collection of testimonies of Polish deportees (including their letters) freed in 1942.
Irena Grudzinska-Gross, Jan Tomasz Gross (eds.), War Through Children’s Eyes: the Soviet occupation of Poland and the deportations, 1939-41 Stanford, Ca.,: Hoover Institution Press, 1981
It is a collection of 120 personal narratives translated and selected from compositions written by the students of Polish schools run by the Anders Army. What makes these documents unique is the perception of these witnesses: a child’s eye view of events no adult would consider worth mentioning. In simple language, filled with misspellings and grammatical errors, the children recorded their experiences, and sometimes their surprisingly mature understanding, of the invasion and the Soviet occupation, the deportations eastward, and life in the work camps and kolkhozes..
Katherine R. Jolluck, Exile and Identity: Polish Women in the Soviet Union During World War II, The University of Pittsburgh Press:, 2002
A collection of personal narratives of Polish women deported to the USSR during the WWII.
Tadeusz Piotrowski, ed. The Polish Deportees of World War II: Recollections of Removal to
the Soviet Union and Dispersal Throughout the World, McFarland and Co.2004
This is the story of that brutal Soviet ethnic cleansing campaign told in the words of some of the survivors. It is an unforgettable human drama of excruciating martyrdom in the Gulag. Survivors also tell the story of events after the amnesty. Details are also given on the non- European countries that extended a helping hand to the exiles in their hour of need.
Tadeusz Piotrowski, ed., Genocide And Rescue In Wolyn: Recollections of The Ukrainian Nationalist Ethnic Cleansing Campaign Against The Poles During World War II, 2000
After the Soviet and Nazi incursions in 1939 and 1941, the people of Southeast Poland underwent a third and even more terrible ordeal when they were subjected to mass genocide by the Ukrainian Nationalists.
Nina Smenda, Janusz Smenda eds., Unforgettable Memories – Memoirs of Polish Exiles in the Soviet Union, 1940–1942, Perth, Western Australia: Polish Siberian Group (WA), 1996
Zoe Zajdlerowa, Dark Side of the Moon, Harvester Wheatsheaf, Edited by John Coutouvidis and Thomas Lane, 1989. First published anonymously in 1946.
Zoe Zajdlerowa was the daughter of a Protestant minister in Ireland. She married a Pole, Aleksander Zajdler, in the 1930s and lived with him in Poland. She escaped from Soviet occupied Poland and arrived in England in 1940. She was separated from her husband during the escape and never saw him again.
”For Soviet concentration camps, see the excellent collection of reports by Polish survivors published under the title The Dark Side of the Moon” (Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism)
Aleksandra Ziółkowska-Boehm, The Polish Experience through World War II: A Better Day Has Not Come, Lexington Books, 2011
Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm is an independent scholar and the author of twenty-three books, including The Roots Are Polish.
Ziolkowska-Boehm reveals the difficulties of these women and children when, having lost their husbands and fathers, their travails take them through Siberia, Persia, India, and then Africa, New Zealand or Mexico. Ziolkowska-Boehm recounts the experiences of individuals through personal interviews, letters, and other surviving documents. Placed squarely in historical context, these incredible stories reveal the experiences of the Polish people up through the Second World War.
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