Poland's Daughter


War and Exile, 1939-1948

Katyn, Enigma, and Bletchley Park

I am somewhat addicted to Robert Harris. Enigma is his take on the Polish, later British, and finally American effort to break the German military code, based on its fabulous cypher machine. (Code breaking is a never ending process: you have to do it anew every day.) The main characters include a mentally unstable Englishman, a Polish refugee of mixed loyalty, a genial but rather nasty American, and a young woman who may or may not be dead. The Katyn massacres of Polish officers and civilian leaders plays a central though well-disguised role in the plot, which in true Robert Harris fashion doesn't become clear until the very final pages. I read it as an e-book, but weirdly Amazon doesn't seem to have it, and neither does Barnes & Noble.

A Death in the Forest

When I was researching the Katyn Forest massacres, I came across the "Findings" of the 82nd Congress, which in 1951-1952 investigated that wartime atrocity, which the Russians had blamed on the Germans. The United States and Britain swallowed the lie, because the Soviet Red Army was an essential ally in the effort to liberate Europe from German occupation. All this changed with the Berlin Blockade, the Korean War, and the onset of the Cold War that would dominate the world's politics and geography for nearly half a century. I published those findings as an e-book in 2011, and have now edited and expanded them under the title A Death in the Forest. See it an Amazon stores worldwide. It is also available at Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.

Poland's Daughter

Poland's Daughter The Second World War -- the worst thing that ever happened. It started in September 1939, with Hitler's Wehrmacht invading Poland from the west, while Stalin's Red Army stormed in from the east. Among their victims was a five-year-old named Basia Deszberg. The Russians shot her father and brother in the Katyn Forest, then loaded Basia, her sister, and her mother into a cattle car for a horrific three-week journey to the steppes of Kazakhstan, there to survive as best they could. Over the next eight years, they would escape through Persia, Lebanon, and Egypt to find safe haven in England.

Meanwhile I grew up in a United States mired by the Great Depression. Europe's agony was America's windfall! I went from hardscrabble poverty to a college degree and a fellowship that took me to the English university where Basia was also a student. This is the story of our meeting, our travels, and our parting. "It's an extraordinary book, highly original, gripping, at once full of joy and of sorrow" (Cosmopolitan Review).

From Amazon as an e-book for the Kindle reader and as a Createspace paperback.

Files about Poland's wartime agony

Stalin's order to shoot 22,000 Polish prisoners
An American eyewitness to the Katyn exhumations
Operation Unthinkable: Churchill's plan to push the Red Army back to the prewar border
A voice from the grave at Bykovnia

Some background reading

Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 (Stephen Kotkin, 2014)
Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination (Stephen Fritz, 2011)
The Eagle Unbowed (Halik Kochanski, 2012) and Isaac's Army (Matthew Brzezinski, 2012)
Stalin's General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov (Geoffrey Roberts, 2012)
Exile and Identity: Polish Women in the Soviet Union during World War II (Katherine Jolluck, 2002)
The Russian Origins of the First World War (Sean McMeekin, 2012)
The Inhuman Land (Joseph Czapski, 1987)
The Polish Deportees of World War II (Tadeusz Piotrowski, ed., 2007)
George Kennan: An American Life (John Gaddis, 2011)
When God Looked the Other Way (Wesley Adamczyk, 2004)
Revolution From Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia (Jan Gross, 2002)
Katyn: A Crime Without Punishment (Cienciala et al, 2007)
A Concise History of Poland (Lukowski & Zawadzki, 2006)
Bloody Foreigners: Poles in Britain (Robert Winder)
The Gulag Archipelago (Aleksandr Solzhenitsym, 1973-1974)
Summit at Teheran: The Untold Story (Keith Eubank, 1985)
The Dark Side of the Moon (Zoe Zajdlerowa and T.S. Eliot, 1947)
Poland 1939: The Birth of Blitzkrieg (Steven Zaloga, 2002)
The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia (Tzouliadis, 2008)

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