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Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944 Richard C. Lukas Hippocrene Books 2 Revised edition

31st August 2012 History Books 30 Comments

Hitler hated Poles only slightly less than Jews; exterminating Poles and other Slavs was part of the Nazi master-plan. During the German occupation, three million Gentile Poles (and as many Polish Jews) were killed by mass executions, starvation or in labor camps; there were 2000 extermination and labor camps in Poland for Jews and Gentiles alike. One million non-Jewish Poles were deported in cattle cars to Germany and elsewhere; Polish children were sent to the Reich, where it was determined whether they were suitable for “Germanization” or should be slaughtered. This eloquent, gripping account of the Nazis’ systematic genocide of Poles, and of the Polish resistance movement, written by a professor at Tennessee Technological University, is exhaustively researched and fills gaps in our knowledge. Lukas disputes Holocaust historians who have portrayed Poles as anti-Semites who did little to help the Jews with evidence that Poles of all classes gave assistance to persecuted Jews. To explain the hostility between Gentiles and Jews in the Polish underground, he cites Jews’ close ties to the Communist movement. His arguments will provoke debate, and his important study deserves wide attention. January
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Though many nations were forced to endure Nazi tyranny during World War II, nowhere was its fury more devastating than in Poland. Poland suffered more than six million casualities and witnessed the decimation of Europe’s largest national Jewish community. Even if it does not fully convey the immense suffering experienced by Poles, Garlinski’s book does represent a solid chronicle of Poland’s heroic struggle against the Nazis. Drawing heavily on sources belonging to the Polish government-in-exile in London, the narrative clearly stresses key political, military, and diplomatic events in a concise, objective fashion. Though himself a London exile, Garlinski exhibits little bitterness toward the Western powers, who gradually withdrew their support for the exiles. Lukas’s book, a much more specialized treatment of the Polish tragedy, never fails to convey the continual horrors inflicted on a nation under Nazi rule. Central to the work is the assertion that the Holocaust in Poland was not confined to Jews but was a systematic atrocity designed to destroy the entire Polish nation. The book is a product of exhaustive research and contains excellent analyses of the relationship of Poland’s Jewish and Gentile communities, the development of the resistance, the exile leadership, and the Warsaw uprisings. Lukas is highly critical of earlier works dealing with the topic and continually rejects the claim that Polish Gentiles were rabid anti-Semites. This is a superior work which, along with Garlinski, is suitable for all academic libraries. Joseph W. Constance, Jr., Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

The revised edition includes a short history of ZEGOTA, the underground government organisation working to save the Jews, and an annotated listing of many Poles executed by the Germans for trying to shelter and save Jews.

Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944

When God Looked the Other Way: An Odyssey of War, Exile, and Redemption

In May of 1940, 25,000 Polish Army officers were led into the Katyn Forest in eastern Poland by their Red Army captors and executed. Adamczyk’s father was one of them. In this finely wrought memoir of loss and survival, Adamczyk tells his family’s story against the backdrop of a little known chapter of WWII—the forced exile of thousands of Poles by the Soviet government in the opening weeks of the war. Adamczyk’s upper-middle-class family was taken at gunpoint and sent on a harrowing 3,000-mile journey to the barren wastes of Kazakhstan. Life in Stalin’s U.S.S.R. was a horror—there was little food, clothing or shelter for the downtrodden natives, let alone for the refugees flooding the area. The family survived through the sheer will and constant ingenuity of the author’s mother, who guided the family in an escape from the U.S.S.R. to British-occupied Iran and, exhausted from her efforts, died. Adamczyk’s language is earthy, intense and moving. In addition to the strong portraits of his family, Adamczyk fills the book with unforgettable characters from their odyssey—brutal Red Army soldiers; desperately impoverished yet generous Kazakhs; and the clean, well-dressed Americans. With this work, Adamczyk has brought illumination and honor to the families of the thousands who suffered the same terrible fate.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Often overlooked in accounts of World War II is the Soviet Union’s quiet yet brutal campaign against Polish citizens, a campaign that included, we now know, war crimes for which the Soviet and Russian governments only recently admitted culpability. Standing in the shadow of the Holocaust, this episode of European history is often overlooked. Wesley Adamczyk’s gripping memoir, When God Looked the Other Way, now gives voice to the hundreds of thousands of victims of Soviet barbarism.

Adamczyk was a young Polish boy when he was deported with his mother and siblings from their comfortable home in Luck to Soviet Siberia in May of 1940. His father, a Polish Army officer, was taken prisoner by the Red Army and eventually became one of the victims of the Katyn massacre, in which tens of thousands of Polish officers were slain at the hands of the Soviet secret police. The family’s separation and deportation in 1940 marked the beginning of a ten-year odyssey in which the family endured fierce living conditions, meager food rations, chronic displacement, and rampant disease, first in the Soviet Union and then in Iran, where Adamczyk’s mother succumbed to exhaustion after mounting a harrowing escape from the Soviets. Wandering from country to country and living in refugee camps and the homes of strangers, Adamczyk struggled to survive and maintain his dignity amid the horrors of war.

When God Looked the Other Way is 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. Unflinching and poignant, When God Looked the Other Way will stand as a testament to the trials of a family during wartime and an intimate chronicle of episodes yet to receive their historical due.

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, author of Europe: A History and Rising 44: The Battle for Warsaw

A finely wrought memoir of loss and survival.Publishers Weekly

Adamczyks unpretentious prose is well-suited to capture that truly awful reality. Andrew Wachtel, Chicago Tribune Books

Mr. Adamczyk writes heartfelt, straightforward prose. . . . This book sheds light on more than one forgotten episode of history.Gordon Haber, New York Sun

One of the most remarkable World War II sagas I have ever read. It is history with a human face.Andrew Beichman, Washington Times

When God Looked the Other Way: An Odyssey of War, Exile, and Redemption

  • 30 responses to "Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944 Richard C. Lukas Hippocrene Books 2 Revised edition"

  • JohnInMedia
    3:14 on August 31st, 2012
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    Very few people are aware of the fact that 3 million Polish gentiles were murdered by the Germans during World War II. And most of these were not involved in anti-German activity at all. Clergy and intellectuals were murdered in disproportionate numbers. Lukas documents this and many other facts in painstaking detail. The book is a must for those interested in the FULL story of the Holocaust.

  • Start Web
    4:23 on August 31st, 2012
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    It must have taken a lot of courage for the author to write this book, to dig up the memories. For a family to maintain their dignity and will to survive in such horrendous circumstances is awesome, inspiring. This is really a story about love and the power of the human spirit to overcome all odds.

  • Andy Webbed
    5:31 on August 31st, 2012
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    after the recent controversy regarding the village of Jedwabno in Poland this book begins to show the true sign of the common thread approach between Jewish resistance and the Polish underground. The author leaves no holds barred in this book. He specifically tells both sides of the story. While Jedwabno may have been a tragic item the true tragedy is one of the Polish nation be it Jewish or Polish those individuals that gave their lives in the fight against nazism is remembered in the book. One should rad this account before reading the one-sided view of mr gross and his Jedwabno. There were 100′s of Jebwabnos on both sides which at least this author had the courage and common sense to point out.

  • Melania Ogen
    6:19 on August 31st, 2012
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    While most people are familiar with the Nazi Holocaust perpetrated against the Jews in Europe in the Second World War, fewer people are aware that Hitler’s homicidal policies extended to the Polish people, as well. Author Richard C. Lukas does an excellent job depicting the nature of the German occupation of Poland in 1939-1944, which resulted in the death of over 3 million Polish citizens who were not Jews. For example, many readers will be surprised to find that the first mass executions committed by the Nazis during the war were against Polish intellectuals and clergy in late 1939 and that the first victims gassed at Auschwitz were Polish civilians. The author also puts a great deal of effort into examining the state of Polish-Jewish relations under the German occupation, as well as the development of the Polish resistance. Overall, this book should help to ameliorate some of the erroneous historiography that has evolved over the years about the Holocaust and lead to a more nuanced view of that catastrophic event.

    Forgotten Holocaust consists of seven chapters, beginning with a discussion of the German occupation of Poland. This section details German atrocities against the Poles from A to Z, including street-executions, round-ups, kidnappings, etc. The author also makes the point about how troubling it was for this deeply Catholic country to have their pleas ignored by the pro-German pope in Rome (although the author goes easy on Pope Pius XII – easier than he deserves). In the end, 22 percent of Poland’s population died during the German occupation – the greatest percentage loss of any nation in the Second World War. The second chapter covers the Polish Government in Exile and the origins of the underground resistance. Although this chapter is short, it tells a great deal about the internal politics that affected the evolution of the Polish resistance – insights which are usually lacking from other histories that prevent a more homogenized appearance. Chapter three deals with military operations conducted by the underground. One number that I hadn’t seen elsewhere was the large number of resistance fighters eliminated in 1942-44 by the Gestapo – upwards of 60,000. Chapter four covers civilian resistance and collaboration (or lack of). The author notes that unlike the German occupation in Western countries, the Germans made no effort to create a collaborationist government in Poland.

    Chapters five and six cover the relationship of Poles and Jews during the German occupation. The author strives to fight against the common mis-conception (aided by Steve Spielberg in Schindler’s List) that the Polish Government was anti-Semitic and that Poles routinely collaborated with the Germans to annihilate the Jews. In this regard, the author is fairly successful in disputing these slanderous characterizations of Polish collaboration with the Holocaust, but he tends to go off the deep end in trying to refute every charge of anti-Semitism leveled against Poles in the Second World War. Clearly, there were cases where individuals Poles made statements or conducted acts that were inimical to Jewish interests (the author also notes the reverse as well, such as Polish Jews who joined the Anders Army to escape the Soviet Union and then deserted as soon as they reached Palestine). Furthermore, there is also little doubt that Polish Catholicism was reluctant to cooperate with Polish Jews who were openly sympathetic with Communism, viewing them as the vanguard of Soviet imperialism. The charges and counter-charges get a bit tedious in these sections and at best, the issue is left unresolved.

    The final chapter covers the Warsaw Uprising. Although not a blow-by-blow account, there was some interesting material herein about weapons stockpiles held by the Home Army, as well as some insight into the German leadership. Overall, this book adds to our understanding of the Second World War in Eastern Europe and should contribute to correcting some of the broad generalizations which have obscured the truth about Nazi extermination policies.

  • Carlos Molina
    8:06 on August 31st, 2012
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    This second edition of the book contains new chapters. One of them contains a list of Polish gentiles, murdered by the German occupants, while attempting to assist Jews (Poland was one of the only countries where the death penalty was handed out by the Nazis to anyone who gave the slightest assistance to the Jews). Of course, this list is but a drop in the bucket: The actual number of Polish gentiles strongly assisting Polish Jews, but caught and slain by the Germans for helping Jews, is estimated to be as high as 50,000.

    The second new chapter is a discussion of Zegota: A clandestine Polish underground organization for assisting Jews. At its height, it consisted of tens of thousands of Polish gentiles in German-occupied Warsaw alone–all working under the threat of death if caught.

    Lukas also discusses Polish collaboration with the Nazis, but shows that, contrary to much popular Holocaust material, this level of collaboration was much smaller than those of most other German-occupied European nations, and was also dwarfed by the number of Poles who assisted the Jews.

    Earlier, Lukas documents how 3 million Polish gentiles were murdered by the Germans during World War II. This is very rarely mentioned in most Holocaust materials. Also included is discussion of the cultural genocide of Poland: the systematic, barbaric German practice of systematically destroying visible traces of Polish culture (monuments, libraries, museums, etc.). If you are one raised on the belief that only Jews suffered in the hands of the Nazis, you are in for a shock when you read this excellent book.

  • Chris Christie
    11:15 on August 31st, 2012
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    This is one of the best books written on WW2 and the Cold War, written from the perspective of a 7 year-old boy. A combination of Anne Frank’s Diary and Gulag Archipeligo. Will make you laugh and cry. Raises many thought-provoking issues with superbly chosen words.

  • Matthew James
    14:37 on August 31st, 2012
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    Anyone with half a brain might wonder why the Nazis are still minced to pieces in all media 60 years after the war’s end, while the Soviets, with 70 years of blood on their hands, have passed quietly out of their Communist terrorism without any great international trials or severe criticisms by the Western media. Is it because the leftists still believe that “true Communism” has yet to be attempted? Well, perhaps, there are such fringe lunatics still around (in the Frisco and NYC areas).

    No, the real answer lies in the deadly dealings of the Allies in WWII, in cooperating with Stalin in the Lend-lease supply of materiel, and in not condemning the murders, exile, and starvation of the Poles before Germany attacked Russia. In our all-out effort to defeat the Nazis, the USA and England cooperated in suppressing the knowledge of the 5,000 Polish officers and Polish civilians shot and buried by the Soviets in 1939, when they invaded and took over Eastern Poland. This famous massacre in the Katyn Forest was for years blamed on Hitler, when the Germans had not yet been in that side of Poland. Only when Gorbachev came to power was the murder order signed by Stalin made public – but Roosevelt knew, as did Churchill.

    This remarkable book takes us into the frightening world Wiesiu Adamczck, a seven-year-old boy when his father, then 47, was taken away and killed in Katyn Forest, unbeknownst to his family – Wiesiu’s mother, older sister and brother. They are all packed up on trains and sent to Kazakistan, as members of a bourgeois oppresser class, they must be punished according to Soviet logic.

    The writer, now a man in his 70′s, is an excellent wordsmith, who doesn’t stint in telling what Russian and Polish expressions mean. He dwells on his own family, his own people and the terrible consequences of the Communist regime for the people of the USSR, for the Poles, and for all nations which fell to its avarice and terror after WWII. His incredible adventures, if you want to call them that, in surviving such a deportation through the Eastern republics of the chaotic war years, into Persia and finally to England, then the USA, is a ten-year journey of incredible hardship, hunger, cold and homelessness. His mother dies, and the truth about the father is known at the end of years of hoping against hope.

    What Hollywood or the BBC could do with this material! The story of the Soviet empire and all its disgusting inhumanity should be aired out thoroughly, even more so than the Nazis’ philosophy. If it should take root again, woe betide the planet and the millions to be starved in the future.

    This book should be mandatory reading in the US high schools, as many students will never know that non-Jewish-descended EUropeans also suffered dreadful consequences during the war.

    A skewered history is often a false one, and that is slowly happening throughout the US media, in omitting the Communist side of the horrendous torture and killing from 1917-onwards.

    Well, this book will make it clear: FDR knew it, as he knew that Pearl Harbor was to be bombed.

  • He's a PUSSY!
    15:26 on August 31st, 2012
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    This 200+ page book is certainly worth reading and having it in one’s own personal library for future reference. There are not enough books written about the WWII experience of Gentile Poles under German occupation. The Polish nation was targeted for annihilation. Much is written about the Jewish people’s suffering
    and not enough about the suffering of the Christian Poles. Who suffered more is not the issue……. both went through terrifying experiences !!!

    I highly recommend this book especially for all those who have a short attention span or are short on time particularly in today’s hectic times.

  • Steve's Liver
    16:04 on August 31st, 2012
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    A very factual book about the Holocaust in Poland and the atrocities that both the Polish Jews and Gentiles suffered. This book is very well laid out and all comments are linked to sources of information.
    This would be an ideal book for anyone studying the history of WW2 in Europe.
    Some of the content is very distressing to read but in my opinion it’s a topic that should never be forgotten.

  • Matt Gibbons
    17:12 on August 31st, 2012
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    Recent scholarship on Poland’s suffering during the war has opened eyes on the Warsaw Uprising of 1944(not the earlier Ghetto uprising of 1943) and has illuminated the destruction of Poland brought on by the Nazis. The Nazi racial theory applied to Slavs led them to be used as slaves and treated as meat by the German conquerors. Poland was treated a cow for milking, as hundreds of thousands of Germans entered Poland to administer and colonize it, it being the first nation to be ‘liberated’ for German ‘labenstraum’. Here we get a story of the ‘holocaust’ of the non-Jewish Poles and perhaps this is where the helpful aspect of this book collides with the its other bizarre appeal. Many Holocaust deniers cite this book in order to prove that The Holocaust is being used to only show Jewish suffering while the ‘real’ holocaust of other non-Jews is covered up in histiography. Hence the name ‘Forgotten Holocaust”. However logically if the suffering of the Poles needs to be brough out of the dustbin of history and brought out alongside the Holocaust then why compare it to the Holocaust. The suffering of the Poles is not a ‘fogotten Holocaust’ rather it is another massive war crime that should be addressed in history and presented alongside the holocaust to show that the Nazis target other groups for destruction, if not extermination.

    The Polish experience was different then the Jewish one. Polich Jews were destroyed, Poles were slaughtered in large numbers. However we have in the case of Poland a double tragedy when one realizes that hundreds of thousands of Poles were deported by the Communist Soviets between 1939 and 1941. In the end POlish borders were moved westward while Soviet Ukraine and Beylorussia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad took over swaths of eastern Poland. Polish minorities such as the Germans were removed from Poland in 1945. Much of the 1939-1945 Polish history remains to be uncovered, such as resistance units, and the uprising of the Home Army and the suppression by the Soviets. This book begins down that path, however as a use to Holocaust deniers or those who want to see Jewish suffering relegated to the side it also presents a helpful tool, and that is tragic.

    Seth J. Frantzman

  • I got /
    19:10 on August 31st, 2012
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    I am sitting here struggling to find the words to begin to express my love for this book. I have just spent the past twenty-six hours not putting this book down. Now, I don’t know if it is the fact that my family had delt with these similar circumstances and moved to the same area of Chicago, but i have never felt so connected/transported to individuals in a book as I did with this one.

    The ugliness of reality balanced with hope, faith, and love render this reader, at least, speechless. I can only thank Mr. Adamczyk for a glimpse of what my family had found to difficult, with good reason, to talk about. This book has left me with a greater understanding of World War II, the atrocities of a Communist rule, and a deeper appreciation of my Polish faith and heritage.

    This book reflects the resilience of the human spirit even in the most devistating of circumstances and stands as an inspiration to reflect on the freedom we too often take for granted.


  • Derek Jones
    22:01 on August 31st, 2012
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    Simply stated, this book reiterates everything my grandpa told me about the Russians’ way of life and their mentality brought on by the deceitful communist system full of oppression and anti-western propaganda. Read and you will begin to fathom the injustice inflicted upon the peoples, both Polish and Russian. It will take generations to undo the damage.

  • DJ Roomba
    0:30 on September 1st, 2012
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    Most popular Holocaust-education materials only mention Jews as victims of the German Nazis. Or, if hard-pressed, homosexuals will also be included. Lukas’ excellent book shows how Poles suffered and died under the German occupation of Poland. Hans Frank later admitted that most Poles thus killed were not killed because they were resisting the Germans, but were in fact killed for the sole reason that they had been Poles.

  • Luna Thevenin
    4:50 on September 1st, 2012
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    Lukas put a new spin on the word anti-Semitism as he methodically & factually moves the reader through generational facts and fiction – ultimately revealing the utterly complicated psychological and physical aspects of the Holocaust. The “Poles” were not the only bystanders – if indeed they were bystanders; and the Jews were not the only victims. Deep within his explanations of history, he makes the reader understand the true misunderstandings of “survival guilt” – and the detrimental effects that occur to perpetuate hatred & blame when misundestandings are allowed to turn into truths. This book is a MUST READ for anyone with an open-mind who wants truth – and anyone willing to trade blame for understanding.

  • Bobmendon
    5:14 on September 1st, 2012
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    This book is a first person account of Wies3aw Adamczyk and his family’s struggle to survive their deportation to the Soviet Union which finally gives voice to the hundreds of thousands of victims of Soviet barbarism. It deals with the Soviet Union’s quiet yet brutal campaign against Polish citizens, a campaign that included, we now know, war crimes for which the Soviet and Russian governments only recently admitted culpability. The nature of this first person narrative brings a vivid reality to learning survival in the workers’ paradise, where collective farmers are forced to steal slop from pigs, and people lack the basic necessities of life – like food. It is one thing to read about the mass arrests and deportations of Poles in histories, it is quite another to have a human face put on this travesty.
    Wies3aw was six years old when the Nazis and Soviets divided Poland in September 1939 -one of several partitions and divisions that have plagued Poland over the centuries. His father, Jan, had been an officer in the Polish army and was a prosperous financier when Soviet troops took over eastern Poland, at which point Jan rejoined the Polish army and was captured. His family received letters stating that he was safe in a prison camp. These abruptly stopped. Because the family was prosperous, it defined them in Soviet eyes as enemies of the people; their bank accounts were seized and they were designated by the NKVD for expulsion to the Soviet Union. After a horrendous train ride of many hours where they had to relieve themselves in a communal bucket and during which they were fed what I estimated could not have been much more than 300 (disgusting) calories per day. The Polish refugees ran out of food and hoped to re-supply during rest stops but they soon discovered that the locals had nothing to trade and that many approached the incoming train to beg for food themselves. The family began a nomadic existence through the Soviet empire, moving from one impoverished and hostile place to another. The accounts of their struggles, as well as the description of grinding poverty and deprivation is truly stunning. All through their exile they dreamed of reuniting with Jan, but unbeknownst to them, he was among the twenty thousand plus Polish POWs murdered by Josef Stalin’s men in the Katyn massacres of 1940.
    Wies3aw’s mother, like others, had baked bread in which she hid family jewelry and had sewn gold coins and jewelry into the lining and hems of clothing. This helped the family survive the deprivations of a collective Kazakh farm, where they shared a small hut. They moved from place to place, but hunger accompanied them at every turn. Years of starvation followed and life in the workers’ paradise was characterized by hunger, humiliation, disease, and ever present fear as NKVD and party officials created a culture of intimidation and deceit. The Soviets who were expert at bullying millions into submission, could not provide even the most basic elements of hygiene, and the family lived in filth and stench for years.
    When the Soviet Union was attacked by Germany, in June 1941, Polish POWs were released from prison camps and set up an army headed by General W3adys3aw Anders – my godfather. The Kremlin, knowing how the Poles hated them, did not want an autonomous military force on its soil. And, Anders, who was no fool, refused to let himself be persuaded to fight with the Russian army under Soviet command, took his army and as many civilians as possible under the protection of this army which assembled in Soviet Turkmenistan and left the Soviet Union via Iran, Iraq, and Palestine to fight under the British High Command in the Middle East. Since Wies3aw’s brother Jurek enlisted to serve in Anders’s army, his mother and siblings joined the exodus and escaped to Iran. Like my own grandparents, Wies3aw’s mother, although having survived the privations of her exile, died of the terrible effects of these privations and died. She and my grandparents are buried in Tehran.
    The family emigrates to the U.K. after the war, where they are treated poorly, but at least they are free. Wies3aw eventually is brought to the U.S. by an aunt (his father’s sister who had emigrated many years before) and settles in Chicago. He has survived to see the Katyn massacres finally exposed as being perpetuated by the Soviets and he lays a marker at the place of his father’s murder.
    So – this is a harrowing but illuminating account that had great meaning for me. My father’s family was exiled to the Soviet paradise in 1939 as well and this story could have been theirs. My grandmother (and mother) also hoarded their jewelry and hid it to barter for food and to survive during the war. This book certainly explained a lot in terms of my mother’s life long obsession with making certain that I had gold charm bracelets – in case of war.
    My father never told me what happened in 1939, although he wrote some memoirs. I knew only the basic facts. This makes me angry and sad – I suppose he was trying to spare me the details. In a sense I understand because Adamczyk’s book was not necessarily easy reading. But it is so important for those left behind to know these things and to understand and be proud of those who struggled against all odds.
    The book is very well written and compellingly so. The author vividly paints a sensuous and immediate picture of deprivation. He also describes his family well and the characters, if we can call them that, are well and fully developed. This was a pleasant surprise as I did not know what to expect. English is not the author’s first language – and he is a chemist (not a profession that I associate with good narrative!)
    I would have given it 5 stars but I think that I could have done without the jingoism and extreme Polish nationalism that infuses his telling. I find it hard to believe that life in Poland was wonderful prior to 1939, that Poles are wonderful, intelligent, that Polish culture is wonderful. I am a Pole and I know that we are people like any other, perhaps more courageous and stubborn than most – because we have had to be – but human nevertheless. Of course, he was remembering a Poland that he idealized from the memories of a 7 year old child, so I suspect he can be forgiven for this. My father did the same.
    I also could have done without the “redemption” part at the end which was a bit maudlin. Adamczyk finds his faith again and opines that there is a God, and he was watching over him and saved him. Oh please. Why didn’t he “save” others then. Adamczyk was lucky and reslilient. Of course, this is somewhat unfair as I am an atheist and any talk of a deity that intervenes and inserts itself on behalf of some people and not others always tends to make me impatient.

  • Quit whining
    10:33 on September 1st, 2012
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    This book is exactly what it advertises – a history of Poland while under German occupation. After years of hearing only about the anti-Semitism of Poles, and their willingness to coldly turn in their Jewish neighbors, it is refreshing to read of what the majority of the country took part in. The tales of Polish resistance are truly remarkable and valuable for anyone interested in the truth of WWII.

    Lukas never makes an attempt to minimize the Jewish experience in this book; he only brings attention to the fact that five million non-Jews were also exterminated, and for Hitler, as soon as Europe was free of Jews, the Slavs were next. I found it a very valuable, scholarly read.

  • Ian Webber
    11:53 on September 1st, 2012
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    Not one American in 100 knows about the martyrdom of the Polish nation, particularly those Poles who found themselves under Soviet domination.This book is but a hint of the horrors endured by countless Poles for almost 50 years The graves of innumerable victims dot every corner of the former Soviet Union. Nationals of Jewish heritage were not the only victims of the inhumanity of the conquering Germans or Soviets.

    Descriptions of Soviet life and “culture”were enlightening and so true, and the horrors of God-forsaken places like Katyn, where the author’s father was killed, cry to the heavens for vengeance. What incredible subject matter for movies ! Would that more such accounts appear on the American book market.The story of the Polish Armed Forces and their contribution to the Allied victory is waiting for a passionate producer/director. And a film depicting Mr. Adamczyk’s story would be
    a worthwhile and noble undertaking.

  • Julie Williams
    15:14 on September 1st, 2012
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    Interesting book. I learned a lot. Still, I thought the author was a bit apologist for the Poles’ role in the Holocaust.

  • Ross Harrison
    16:46 on September 1st, 2012
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    Rarely does one find an engrossing, spell binding, non-fiction book, but I couldn’t put it down. Excellent lesson on WWII for all generations to remember. It is an entertaining and informative story about the power of hope – and the will of man to survive.

  • Myrtle
    17:53 on September 1st, 2012
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    I have been reading Holocaust literature since the 1950s. Regarding Poland, much has concentrated on the sufferings of Polish Jews but has glossed over the suffering of the Christian Poles. Additionally, the Christian Poles have been depicted in some literature as being as generally antisemitic as the Nazis. This book shines a different light on this tragic era. It is written from a Christian Polish perspective, which seems unobjectionable as there has been a plethora of literature written from a Jewish Polish perspective. While some may object that the title is misleading, the book opens up new areas I had not read much about before including resistance newspapers and pamphlets, Nazi propaganda, the Polish government in exile, and the positions taken on various issues especially demands for “retribution” by the Russians, Americans, and British. If the book has a fault, it is that it undertakes too much.

    The reproductions of the Bekanntmachungen starting on page 340, Appendix D, are telling. Public printed announcements that violators of anything will suffer the death penalty is not done in the United States, but it was done on Poland and the Germans meant it. The Bekanntmachung on 344 stating that the Germans have repeatedly determined that Poles were taking in Jews and that violators who were caught would be killed indicates to me that some Poles were clearly not antisemitic.

    Reading this book reminds me that it takes a long time for adequate scholarship to be done on important historical subjects. Mao Tse Dong when asked what he thought about the French Revolution is reported to have said (in Chinese, of course) “too early to tell.” I think he was on to something.

  • Doug Pologe
    18:48 on September 1st, 2012
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    This review focuses on only a few topics in this comprehensive scholarly work, and addresses some of the distortions of other reviewers.

    Lukas consistently presents both sides of the story. For this, he has been labeled a “Polish nationalist” or “apologist” of some sort. He clearly is not. For instance, he is critical of Polish disunity in the prewar government and in the Polish Government-in-Exile. He is candid about Polish-German collaboration, and the tactical errors of the Warsaw Uprising. He is unjustifiably harsh on the Polish-Underground NSZ.

    Most amazing of all is the assertion that Lukas equates the experiences of Jews and Poles. In actuality, Lukas recognizes the fact that the Nazis targeted the Jews for immediate and total annihilation. (e. g., p. 151). In contrast, the German genocide of Poles focused on the destruction of the intelligentsia, cultural genocide, etc. The total, or near-total, extermination of the Poles was to await the end of the war (pp. 4-5), with the “resettlement” provisions of GENERALPLAN OST possibly/probably being a euphemism for this extermination. [Recall that the extermination of Jews was also disguised as "resettlement".]

    Those much-mentioned “Poles who would be Germanized” represented only 3% of the Polish population of the Reich-annexed regions. (p. 24). Furthermore, in German eyes, they were not Poles. They were Germans who had become Polonized, and would now be re-Germanized.

    The no-Polish-Quisling-because-the-Germans-never-wanted-one argument (e. g., by Jan T. Gross) is fallacious. The Germans unsuccessfully approached Prince Janusz Radziwill, and others, as prospective Quislings. (pp. 111-112). An Israeli study estimates that about 7,000 ordinary Poles collaborated with the Germans. (p. 117). [This comes out to a vanishing 1 in 4,000 ethnic Poles.] As for the szmalcowniks, there were probably no more than about 1,000 in Warsaw. (pp. 250-251). Contrary to accusations, the Polish Underground did systematically liquidate blackmailers of Jews, and, furthermore, was largely successful in ending their plague in some geographic areas of German-occupied Poland. (p. 119).

    The number of Jews who survived in German-occupied Poland is unknown. Figures of 40,000-50,000, 100,000-120,000, and even 200,000 or 300,000 have been quoted. (p. 149). Virtually all had depended on Polish help.

    Lukas gingerly defends Bor Komorowski against the charge of his early Underground contacts with the Jews being postwar fabrications. (p. 173). Lukas’ account of the scale of Polish aid to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising itself could be greatly expanded and updated. See Two Flags: Return to the Warsaw Ghetto.

    Some (e. g. David Engel) have accused the Polish Government-in-Exile of playing down what it knew about Jewish deaths, possibly because of anti-Semitism. Ironic to this, an unnamed British official had asserted, in December 1942, that there was “no reliable evidence” that the Germans were exterminating the Jews, and that Poles were talking TOO MUCH about Jewish deaths–in part to show that they were not anti-Semitic! (p. 160). Go figure.

    Lukas’ outstanding work is only the beginning. For further, in-depth study of the little-known genocide of Poles, see the Peczkis Listmania: FORGOTTEN HOLOCAUST…

  • A Berman
    20:56 on September 1st, 2012
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    The teaching of history is often distorted by selective presentation of past events. Virtually everyone has heard of the 5-6 million Jews killed by the Germans. Few outside Polish circles have a clue about the fact that 2-3 million gentile Poles were also murdered by the Germans, and a few hundred thousand by the Soviets–first as Poland’s sworn enemy and then as an “ally”. While Churchill and Roosevelt were dilly-dallying with “Uncle Joe” Stalin, he was still murdering Poles and executing his plans to deprive “liberated” Poland from her rightful independence, freedom, and sovereignity. The western powers shamelessly disregarded the Atlantic Charter and betrayed the Poles–who all along had been fighting on their side on just about every front, and who had played a significant, if not decisive, role in preventing the Luftwaffe from achieving air supremacy over the English skies as a prelude to the planned German invasion (Operation Sea Lion).

    This work provides an absorbing personal account of the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Poles by the Soviet Union following the German-Soviet conquest of Poland in 1939. Wes Adamczyk, then a boy of 7, was to lose his father in the infamous Katyn Massacre, and his entire family was uprooted and sent to a living death in Kazakhstan. He was one of the lucky few to be released and to eventually find his way to a new life in the United States. Decades later, he fulfilled his wish to visit the site of his father’s murder near Smolensk, Russia.

    The reader is exposed to the brutality of the Soviet police as they ransack the Adamczyk home, destroy objects related to Polish patriotism, and herd the family (“enemies of the people”) into overcrowded trains for the fateful trip east. Every day becomes a battle for survival. They are near starvation. However, individual Kazakhs and Russians show friendship towards the Poles. The young Adamczyk befriends Mr. Petrovitch on a fishing boat. The moving account tells how the elderly Russian teaches the boy the truth about Communism. It is lies on top of lies on top of lies. In fact, the continued spying by the Soviet police on the captive Poles does not stem from the fact that they suspect that the Poles may escape or revolt. The spying comes from the fear that the locals may learn the truth about the outside world from the Poles–that the non-
    Communist world is not rotten, and that the Soviet Union is no workers’ paradise.

    Nazi Germany turns against its erstwhile Soviet ally, creating a chance for the Poles, consigned to eventual death from starvation, overwork, and disease, to escape the Gulag. Negotiations “succeed” in securing the release of captive Poles. But the Soviets drag their feet, and only a fraction of still-living captive Poles end up being released. The Adamczyk family has to stage a near-escape adventure to reach Iran. The squalor of the just-freed Poles is indescribable. Thousands die right there, including Wes Adamczyk’s mother–ironically just a short time after having finally left the clutches of the Soviet hell.

    Tens of thousands of previously-captured Polish officers are found to be conspicuously and unexpectedly missing, and the Soviets say, “They all escaped to Manchuria”. As time drags on, the Adamczyks realize the fate of their father and the remainder of the POWs. The Soviets don’t admit responsibility for the Katyn Massacre until 1990. The long cover-up by western governments is little better than the decades-long Soviet one. The west needed a second coverup to cover its first coverup of the conspiracy of silence about this heinous Soviet crime.

    The Adamczyks, like all surviving Poles, get a cruel blow when they learn that Roosevelt and Churchill have betrayed their faithful ally Poland by giving away eastern Poland to the Russians, and allowed a Communist puppet state to be forced on the rest of “liberated” Poland. In a sense, all of the Polish sufferings and sacrifices turn out to have been in vain. The Adamczyks, and millions of other Poles, have no home to return to. The only “happy ending” is a new life in America.

  • Code Monkey
    22:32 on September 1st, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Poland lost 15-20% of her population during the war, the most of any country, and they came from all walks of life. These forgotten millions were murdered simply because they were born Polish. Very few people are aware of the fact that 3 million Polish gentiles were murdered by the Germans during World War II. Much of the 1939-1945 Polish history remains to be uncovered, such as the stories concerning resistance units, and the uprising of the Home Army and the suppression by the Soviets.
    Lucas’ historical volley “Forgotten Holocaust” is aimed at exposing a much overlooked part of WW II history, i.e. the suffering and wholesale slaughter of the Polish people. The tragedy of the Polish experience, is that it has been neglected and distorted by the West (which betrayed much of Eastern Europe at Yalta) and the suppression of this history by the Soviet puppet governments. The truth is beginning to trickle out, but archives are scant, some still being labeled as top secret (e.g. the SOE role in WW II resistance movements). In other cases only oral history survives, but those potential oral historians who are still alive are in their 80s and older. The search goes on in Poland with some alacrity to reconstruct many stories before they die.
    Lucas’ main goal is to contrast the Polish gentile experience to the Polish Jewish one. The Polish experience was different than the Jewish one, in that Polish Jews were marked for immediate and total extermination while Poles were slaughtered a bit differently. Both were killed in large numbers.
    What contrasted the Polish gentile experience was that the German genocide of Poles focused on the destruction of the intelligentsia and cultural genocide, while using the others as slaves to wait on those Germans who were resettled into what Hitler viewed as rightfully belonging to Germany (east of the Molotov Ribbentrop line). The total, or near-total, extermination of the Poles was to await the end of the war.
    An interesting part of the book deals with a different kind of Holocaust, the destruction of families. Polish children who would be Germanized, because of their blond hair and blue eyes, represented about 3% of the Polish population of the Reich-annexed regions and were ripped from their families to be placed in German foster homes and orphanages. According to German crazy ideology, these were not Poles; they were Germans who had become Polonized, and would now be re-Germanized.
    The book pays scant attention to the Warsaw Uprising, although to be fair, the intent is not to provide a blow-by-blow account of those tragic 63 days. I did find some interesting material herein about weapons stockpiles held by the Home Army.
    What was fascinating to me was Luccas’ description of the underground state. Absolutely extraordinary. All of those thousands and thousands of patriotic Poles running schools, universities, a justice system, cultural and journalism activities under the very noses of the Gestapo in an attempt to keep their country, history and culture alive. Recall that the Germans were trying to do away completely with Polish culture during their occupation; Poles were not considered worthy of education past elementary school and they could not speak their own language (under penalty of prison or death). I came away with an intense appreciation for the tenacity and courage of a peoples who said “Hell no.” It is no accident that the Polish national anthem begins with “Jeszcze Polska nie zginê3a” (Poland is not yet lost). This is a country that takes its spirit to heart. Moreover, to think of the unity in preserving this vast underground state when at any minute there could have been a wholesale slaughter of its thousands of citizens is an extraordinary feat and one that has not been seen in any country. Much is made of the French underground and resistance, but it must be remembered that the French were divided. Their Vichy government were Nazi collaborators. Whereas the Poles refused to engage in any Quisling activity, although as Lucas points out Germans unsuccessfully approached Prince Janusz Radziwill, and others, as prospective Quislings. BTW, I did not know the meaning of the word quisling before reading this book. So I improved my vocabulary!
    If I have one criticism of the book, which is very well written and footnoted, it is that Lucas drops words that he assumes we should know – e.g. numerus clausus, philo-Semite. I confess that I think that I have a very good grasp of words, but I found myself consulting google frequently. It would have been nice to put in parentheses what these words mean – at least the first time that they are used.
    Finally, as one brick in the building of my understanding of all things Polish, this book gave me a great deal of food for thought. What is it about the Poles that in WW II TWO powers tried to destroy the Polish culture and peoples? There was a double tragedy in this time of their history when one realizes that in addition to wholesale slaughter by Nazis, hundreds of thousands of Poles were deported by the Communist Soviets between 1939 and 1941. Most (including most of my father’s family) died. The Katyn massacres represented Stalin’s effort to exterminate Polish intelligentsia. Perhaps the answer lies in the Poles’ extraordinary tenacity that is anathema to tolitarianism that always seeks to destroy democracy and independent thought.

  • dasdas
    1:14 on September 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    This is one of the best overviews of the German occupation of Poland. This book explains how it “felt” to live under the Nazis. The Underground press, Underground schools, boycotts, posters, attacks on SS officers, plays and movies, cafe life: these details paint a priceless picture. Chapters also cover efforts to assist Jews, and the Warsaw Uprising. Anyone with any interest in this story should have a copy.

  • Reginald
    3:09 on September 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    The ordeal of the Polish gentiles during WW2 tends to be overlooked despite their overall suffering being much worse than that endured by people in Western Europe, Czechoslovakia or Britain. Certainly they did not suffer as much as the Jews – nor does Lukas ever claim they did – but I think they can justifiably aggrieved that in the focus on Jewish suffering, their own suffering has been virtually ignored. This book goes some way towards addressing this.

    Of course as pointed out in other reviews, this book does not just talk about the “Forgotten Holocaust” and covers that aspect all too quickly. A historian could easily write a book about that aspect alone but despite it’s title this book covers more broadly all aspects of the Nazi occupation of Poland. Overall it does an excellent job, but I’ll focus on probably it’s most contentious aspect – that of Polish Jewish relations.

    Lukas does do an excellent job of discrediting some of the extremist Polonophobic myths (“majority of Poles were happy the Jews were being killed” “concentration camps located in Poland due to local support” etc etc) that are out there. However if you are just looking for a book that discredits those myths then my first recommendation would still be Gunnar Paulsson’s Secret City about the hidden Jews of Warsaw . Paulsson’s estimates on Polish helpers betrayers etc have greater credibility than Lukas’ – partly because Paulsson goes into great detail as to how he arrives at his estimates and also because Paulsson, unlike Lukas, definitely could not be accused of Polish bias (indeed Paulsson slips into anti Polish generalisations occasionally but that is another story).

    Despite probably understating the extent of Polish anti-semitism (and note that Polish anti-semitism as a factor in the holocaust is massively exaggerated), Lukas’ work is an important study. I recommend it.

  • Beer Expert
    7:55 on September 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    The great strength of this book is the author’s ability to tell the story from the viewpoint of a young boy. The subject of the book, WWll, can be overwhelming but Mr. Adamczyk keeps the book fresh and alive because it is being told from the viewpoint of a boy. I know it is a cliche but I could not put the book down. High praise indeed for a non-fiction work.

  • iMegaFilm
    13:35 on September 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Generally speaking, when people think of the victims of the Holocaust they think of the six million Jews who perished. Millions of European non-Jews were also murdered by the Nazis, most notably two to three million Polish Gentiles. Polish Catholic traditionalists, who have a historic bias against Jews to begin with, are particularly resentful that their sufferings during the Nazi terror have been overlooked.

    On the other hand, Jews naturally take exception to other peoples sharing in their unique victimization. They view the Holocaust as the calculated genocide of only one group, Europe’s Jews, with the deaths of others being a by-product of general Nazi brutality.

    Both sides have legitimate points.

    In “Forgotten Holocaust,” Lucas makes the case for Catholic Poland by addressing the following:
    * The slaughter of political, religious, and military leaders and intelligentsia.
    * Millions deported to German slave labor camps
    * Tens of thousands of children kidnapped from their parents and sent to the Reich to be Germanized.
    * Obliteration of cities and infrastructure

    But was it genocide? Obviously Catholics were victimized but they weren’t targets of absolute obliteration as were the Jews.

    It’s extremely important to point out that Poland has its own sordid history in regards to its Jewish population prior to the war and at the time of the Holocaust. The ideology of Roman Dmowski and the National Democratic Party (Endecja) tapped into centuries-old Catholic anti-Semitism and gained increasing support throughout the interwar years. There were boycotts of Jewish businesses, restrictions on Jews attending university, segregation of Jews in classrooms, increasing Catholic-on-Jew violence, restrictions on Jewish religious practices passed into law, discussions of deportations, hiring and promotion restrictions in the public sector, etc. In 1938 Poland’s ambassador to Berlin, Jozef Lipski, promised Hitler a beautiful monument in Warsaw if the Fuhrer would help resolve Poland’s “Jewish Question.” This anti-Jewish fervor carried into the war years. Members of the National Democrats held leadership positions in the government-in-exile, the underground Delegatura, and the Home Army. Of the four political parties that comprised the Delegatura, the National Democrats refused to support the Council to Aid Jews (Zegota) in any way. Yes, tens of thousands of Catholics assisted Jews in German-occupied Poland, however much of the population was indifferent to the genocide while others viewed it favorably. Rescuers often feared their Catholic neighbors as much as they feared the Nazis. For Polish Jews, the terror of the Nazi persecution was intensified by the general indifference of their Gentile neighbors. Obviously, Lucas minimizes these important aspects of pre-war Polish history and the Holocaust.

    Why has the world heard so little about the plight of the Catholic population in German-occupied Poland? The Soviets were hardly sympathetic to the story of Poland’s suffering at the hands of the Nazis. Soviets branded the Second Republic a fascist oppressor. Since Poland has shed communism, more and more books like “Forgotten Holocaust” are appearing. Poles also jealously accuse the Jews of manipulating their Holocaust legacy for political purposes. Well, I don’t think anyone would disagree that the Jews have skillfully leveraged their victimization. Who would begrudge them that?

    Richard Lucas has become a bit of a rock star in conservative Polish American circles for having the audacity to defy the Jewish monopoly on Holocaust martyrdom. But as Poland’s Catholics appeal to the objective light of history to illuminate their victimization, their roles as victimizers and indifferent onlookers are likewise exposed with equal intensity.

    Here’s a list of excellent books which discuss Polish Catholic anti-Semitism:

    “Poland’s Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present” by Joanna B. Michlic

    “Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland” by Jan T. Gross

    “The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland” by Antony Polonsky

    “Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz” by Jan Tomasz Gross

    “Contested Memories: Poles and Jews during the Holocaust and Its Aftermath” by Joshua D. Zimmerman

    “Secret City: The Hidden Jews of Warsaw, 1940-1945″ by Gunnar S. Paulsson

    “Shtetl” by Eva Hoffman

    “Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust” by Michael C. Steinlauf

    “Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust” by E. Thomas Wood

    “My Brother’s Keeper: Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust” by Antony Polonsky

    “Polish-Jewish Relations During the Second World War” by Emanuel Ringelblum

    “On the Edge of Destruction: Jews of Poland Between the Two World Wars” by Celia Stopnicka Heller

    “The Convent at Auschwitz” by Wladyslaw Bartoszewski

    “Rethinking Poles and Jews: Troubled Past, Brighter Future” by Robert Cherry

    “The Hidden Pope: The Untold Story of a Lifelong Friendship That Is Changing the Relationship Between Catholics and Jews – The Personal Journey of John Paul II and Jerzy Kluger” by Darcy O’Brien

    “When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in Nineteenth-Century Poland” by Brian Porter

    “Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland” by Brian Porter

    “The Populist Radical Right in Poland: The Patriots” by Rafal Pankowski

    “Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter: The Catholic Church and Independent Poland, 1914-1939″ (Polish and Polish American Studies) by Neal Pease

    “Traitors & True Poles: Narrating A Polish-American Identity, 1880-1939″ (Polish and Polish American Studies) by Karen Majewski

    “The Catholic Church and Antisemitism: Poland, 1933-1939″ by Ronald E. Modras

    “The Jews in Poland” by Chimen Abramsky

    “Imaginary Neighbors: Mediating Polish-Jewish Relations after the Holocaust” by Dorota Glowacka

    “Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation” by Magda Teter

    “From Assimilation to Anti-Semitism: The Jewish Question in Poland, 1850-1914″ by Theodore R. Weeks

    “Antisemitism And Its Opponents In Modern Poland” by Robert Blobaum

    “The Jews of Poland Between Two World Wars” by Yisrael Gutman

    “Unequal Victims: Poles and Jews During World War Two” by Israel Gutman

    “Economic Origins of Antisemitism: Poland and Its Jews in the Early Modern Period” by Hillel Levine

    “Forced Out: The Fate of Polish Jewry in Communist Poland” by Arthur J. Wolak

    “The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-Communist Poland” by Geneviève Zubrzycki

    “Memory Offended: The Auschwitz Convent Controversy” by John K. Roth

    “In the Shadow of the Polish Eagle: The Poles, the Holocaust and Beyond” by Leo Cooper

    “No Way Out: The Politics of Polish Jewry, 1935-1939″ by Emanuel Melzer

    “The Politics of Hate: Anti-Semitism, History, and the Holocaust in Modern Europe” by John Weiss

    “Boycott! The Politics of Anti-Semitism in Poland, 1912-1914″ by Robert Blobaum

    “In the Shadow of Hitler: Personalities of the Right in Central and Eastern Europe” by Rebecca Haynes

  • New York Joe
    15:19 on September 2nd, 2012
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    I read this book in college as part of one of my history papers. Being 2nd generation Polish, it was important to read the full story of the genocide in Poland, and that it was not just limited to the Jews. Lucas does a fine job of showing all aspects of life under occupation, and that ALL Poles suffered, regardless of religion, gender, occupation, etc. Poland lost 15-20% of her population during the war, the most of any country, and they came from all walks of life. I was glad to see somebody finally wrote a boook about the “forgotten” millions who were murdered simply because they were born Polish. This is a must read for anyone interested in Poland or European history.

  • KllrDave
    18:20 on September 2nd, 2012
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    I purchased this book in the hope it would shed more light and information about the Poles who perished during the occupation of Poland. Unfortunately, more time and effort was spent on detailing the various political parties and intercine squabble between various partisan groups that providing the reader with concrete details about the numbers of Poles who died during WW II. I also believe too much emphasis was placed on the various political shenanigans and squabbles that took place among the various political factions whether it be between Gentile Poles, Polish Jews, Socialist Poles, Communist Poles, etc. As a history major and a Pole, I think the author could have done much better. This reads more like a glorified thesis paper for a master’s degree. Credit should be given to the author for documenting the difficulties all Poles experienced under the Nazis and the Communists. Only in Poland was your whole family killed for harboring a Jew. The remainder of Nazi occupied Europe did not face such severe consequences for such activity. It was also pointed out that Poland was the only country of Nazi occupied Europe that did not have a Quisling or Petain that actively collaborated with the Nazis.

  • Eva Hagans
    19:24 on September 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    The shroud of secrecy that covered the pain and suffering encountered by many families during this time never let the world really see what sacrifices these families endured. The loss of family members, homes, dignity, and personal freedom are immense. Wesley’s ability to write this book in a manner that is easy to read, yet heart wrenching all the same, is a gift to all who read this book. The perspective of a young boy on the painful road to freedom makes it human and real. As I read the book I was touched by what my relative had to endure – and knowing he was not the only one to makes this kind of odyssey only made me appreciate more the hard earned personal and national pride of the Polish community.

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