We are on the brink of losing all remaining untold first-person accounts. Any remaining survivors were likely quite young in 1939. Henry Zguda had just celebrated his twenty-second birthday in July 1939. If he was alive today, he would be 102 years old. His story survives because the universe knocked on my door and I said yes based solely on sheer instinct. It remains one of the best decisions of my life. What can you do if you know of someone with a story? Continue reading
Who remembers the Warsaw Uprising? No, I am not referring to the much better known Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that began in April 1943. The Warsaw Uprising began on August 1, 1944 as a heroic but ill-fated last stand against the occupying Nazis by Poles still living in Warsaw. The Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa; AK) predicted that Soviet forces gathered across the east bank of the Vistula River would move in and assist the Poles in defeating Germany and liberating Warsaw. The Soviets did nothing but watch and gave no assistance to the Poles. By the time the valiant battle ended, an estimated 180,000 Poles (estimates range from 166,000-200,000,) primarily civilians, died in the effort. The death count includes an estimated 17,000 Polish Jews still in hiding or fighting with the Home Army. The Nazis subsequently bombed most of what remained in Warsaw. Any survivors were sent to concentration camps. Continue reading
Honoring Polish veterans of World War II takes on both the role of memorializing the sacrifices of these men and women, and educating others about what the Polish military endured and sacrificed. Today, I consider myself pretty self-educated on the Polish experience during WWII and include a lot of that history in my book. But, I can always learn more and will never know everything. If I lived near a strong Polonia community as in Buffalo, New York, where I recently visited and was so warmly welcomed, I am sure I would have grown up knowing far more. Continue reading
I can say remember the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Yet I ask myself, why don’t more people know about the Warsaw Uprising that began on August 1, 1944 and lasted for 63 days. Nearly 200,000 Poles were killed. Like most Americans without a Polish connection or proximity to a strong Polish community, I had never heard of or read about the Warsaw Uprising before meeting Henry Zguda and studying Poland. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 yes, but not the Polish Warsaw Uprising that came a year later. I have several theories that may explain.