Goodbye Poland by Stefan Maczka is not a typical book in structure or content. It details the deportation of a 17 year old from the eastern reaches of Poland in World War II, through escape, joining the Polish Anders Army, training in Iraq (I see he was stationed briefly at a base I inhabited!) and elsewhere, up through the Italian campaign and taking Monte Cassino. The demobilization and aftermath are also covered.
|Photo from the movie adaptation of "The Long Walk" about Polish internees in Siberia|
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Keeping in mind that the narrator was brought up on a farm in Eastern Poland and was familiar with the arduous tasks of farm life, it gives a baseline of what his physical conditioning and skills were prior to being caught up in events beyond his control. Knowing this, it does not diminish his survival and that of his family in various Soviet forced labor camps and situations. Improvisation, the utter lack of equipment and the reduction of life to the basest comes through at every turn. There is also a healthy dose of chance, of not losing one's nerve that cannot be escaped.
|WWII Evacuation of Polish detainees from Russia to Persia|
A few items from the book that are likely new to many (they were to me!) might interest you as well. The concept of the Stachanov Norm as a production quota for forced labor was new. Those who did not meet these lofty goals had reduced rations. Reduced rations meant a death spiral until the person generally died. This is exemplified by the Russian phrase, 'Nie rabotaj, nie kustiaj"... (if you don't work, you don't eat). Only by having a suitable knife was the author able to opportunistically slaughter a few animals to feed his group. On that note, the Sykes Applegate below is what I personally carried in combat. It has a nice retention clip and a useful size to it. Utility tasks were relegated to sheetrock knives, available at your local big box store.
Amazon Link to Applegate Covert Knife, Serrated Edge, Black
|Teamwork was essential for survival - Polish army in Monte Cassino, Italy|
He stayed optimistic throughout, in contrast to Admiral Stockdale's survival paradox where the optimists died early. This positive message and the story of privation are suitable for young Readers as well, as a means of providing some means of contrast to the sheltered lives of today and the remove from history that public schools are all to eager to widen. May it serve to reduce any "special snowflake" ideas and reinforce just how lucky we are to be Americans.
Goodbye Poland E-book review written by Partyzantski, coolest space cat on teh innerwebs, Retired Mustang USMC 0202 Intel officer, foreign military advisor, PME instructor and accomplished cat herder. You can contact him via e-mail or follow him on Twitter.
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