November 11 Marks 100 Years of Polish Independence after Poland disappeared off the map of Europe for 123 years. In 1795 the countries of Russia, Prussia, and Austria conspired against Poland and maneuvered to essentially conquer the country and divide Poland amongst themselves. Veterans Day in the United States, Armistice Day in the UK, and Polish Independence Day are all celebrated on November 11, as the date World War I ended, on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. For more information follow this link for my 2016 post on Polish Independence Day. It includes a link to a fun video of the TV show Jeopardy!
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.
Polish women sent as forced labor to Nazi Germany during World War II is an under-reported war crime inflicted against Polish civilians by Germany. Germans considered Poles to be untermenschen or subhuman, only suitable for slave labor to the superior German race. Until I encountered the book Wearing the Letter P: Polish Women as Forced Laborers in Nazi Germany, 1939-1945 by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab (Hippocrene Books 2016) I had no idea of this facet of World War II. An estimated 1.7 million civilians were forced into slave labor and sent to Germany, the majority of them young women. Continue reading