A Polish Woman’s Experience in World War II : Conflict, Deportation and Exile
Author(s): Irena Protassewicz
This hitherto unpublished first-hand witness account, written in 1968-9, tells the story of a privileged Polish woman whose life was torn apart by the outbreak of the Second World War and Soviet occupation. The account has been translated into English from the original Polish and interwoven with letters and depositions, and is supplemented with commentary and notes for invaluable historical context.
Irena Protassewicz's vivid account begins with the Russian Revolution, followed by a rare insight into the life and mores of the landed gentry of northeastern Poland between the wars, a rural idyll which was to be shattered forever by the coming of the Second World War. Deported in a cattle truck to Siberia and sentenced to a future of forced labour, Irena's fortunes were to change dramatically after Hitler's attack on Russia. She charts the adventure and horror of life as a military nurse with the Polish Army, on a journey that would take her from the wastes of Soviet Central Asia, through the Middle East, to an unlikely ending in the highlands of Scotland. The story concludes with Irena's search to discover the wartime and post-war fate of her family and friends on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and the challenges of life as a refugee in Britain.
A Polish Woman's Experience in World War II provides a compelling, personal route into understanding how the greatest conflict of the 20th century transformed the lives of the individuals who lived through it.
“Irena's frank and evocatively written memoir is brutally honest and utterly compelling. It offers a rare window on another world that has passed from the scene. My respect for this uncompromising lady grew exponentially as I read her story. She deserved a superb editor and she has received the best she could have imagined.” —Malcolm Murfett, Visiting Professor of War Studies, King's College London, UK
“What better way to bring the troubled history of wartime Poland alive than through this meticulous family chronicle composed by those who lived it.” —Paul R. Gregory, Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Houston, USA