Friday, June 10, 2016

Goodbye Poland: Deportation, Internment in Siberia, Escape and Anders Army

Readers here expect a certain type of book to be reviewed.  I have the pleasure here of reviewing my first e-book and I believe that you will find it deeply interesting and informative.

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


Or, just order one time Kindle Copy:

 Amazon Link for Goodbye Poland - E-BOOK (Kindle) copy

The book reads like a chronological diary, which is probably the only way to keep the utter chaos of the time in order.  The overall unacknowledged book topic is a survival narrative, not a survival manual.  It is on its face an autobiography.  The extreme hardships described, from absurdly cold weather in Siberia, to near starvation, disease, wanton and random death and injury.

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
One aspect of Russian politicide that I was not aware of was the massacre of Mednoje, where 4,500 police officers were rounded up and systematically murdered by the Soviets. I have read about Katyn, but this was new indeed.  It shows how a hostile force imposes its will by prioritizing, segregating and liquidating its opposition.

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

What you will read is of the indomitable will to survive.  Small bits of field craft trickle through the writing like steady rivulets, slaking your thirst.  The simple is a weapon, as amply illustrated in this short read.  The simple techniques of wrapping buckets in cloth to keep it from banging, the necessity of knowing what to do with mere staples to make reasonable meals, the utility of evaporative cooling and the absolute necessity of teamwork.  Those of the "Lone Wolf" outlook may take stock of the lessons herein.

Teamwork was essential for survival - Polish army in Monte Cassino, Italy
As this is offered as an e-book, (a print copy is also available) it does not cost much to access on Kindle via Amazon.  Stefan Maczka passed away in 2014 after long service in England where he resettled after the war.  He wrote his memoirs decades after the fact, without loss of crisp detail.  His story deserves to be read widely for its survival message.

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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1 comment:

Paylie Roberts said...

A colleague of mine informed me of your blog and this book review you recently posted about "Goodbye Poland...".
I was born in Poland under communism and later legally immigrated to the US. I am so concerned about the parallels between tyranny then and the current circumstances in the US today that I wrote a book about my observations and experiences. I would be glad to send you a free hard copy or kindle copy for review if you are interested. If you are interested or have questions please email me at:
You can find the book on Amazon here:

You may want to pay particular attention to chapters 1, 2, 9, and 10.
Thank you not only for your consideration, but for the work you do with your blog to promote liberty, and to remind people of the tyranny that many peoples, such as the Poles, have faced throughout history.
Best Regards,