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
Do not blame Poland and Poles for the Holocaust. It’s untrue, wrong and akin to hate speech. I struggle to comprehend the vehemence of so many people to blame Poland for the Holocaust and for concentration camps built in occupied Poland by Germany. Clearly, a review of Polish history is in order. Think of Henry Zguda, and thousands like him, who were beaten, starved, or worse, in German concentration camps like Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Then imagine someone telling Henry Zguda to his face he hadn’t suffered as much as others, and most of Poland collaborated with the Germans. That Poland should pay for its role in the Holocaust. It happened. And he never forgot it. Such is the seemingly worldwide insistence and conviction to blame Poland for the Holocaust, including the government of Israel. Consider the following.
Meet Donna Urbikas, author of My Sister’s Mother: A Memoir of War, Exile, and Stalin’s Siberia. Urbikas’ book is the true story of her mother Janina’s and sister Mira’s eviction from their small, family farm in eastern Poland by the Russians during World War II. Far less has been written about the devastating acts committed against Poles during World War II by the Russians under Józef Stalin. I read the book shortly after it came out in 2016, and consider it an important addition to my growing library on Polish history and memoirs. Continue reading