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Recent months have seen the release of three books related to Polish participation in the Second World War:
Hempel, Andrew. Poland in World War II: An Illustrated Military History. New York: Hippocrene Books, 2000
The first of these three is a quite small volume, measuring only five inches by seven and a quarter inches and amounting to only 117 pages. Heavily illustrated with photographs on almost every page, the publisher bills Poland in World War II as "a brief history of the Polish Forces...'brief being the key word'..." It includes the following chapters:
Given the brevity of Poland in World War II, this can qualify only as a primer, but it does quite well at that. The photographs include some interesting shots and portraits of relatively obscure figures, but tend to be rather dark and not nearly so crisp as in For Your Freedom and Ours.
Brodniewicz-Stawicki, Margaret. For Your Freedom and Ours: The Polish Armed Forces in the Second World War. St. Catherines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing Limited, 1999
Given that Poland in World War II is really about the Polish armed forces, it proves to be similar in many ways to For Your Freedom and Ours -- subtitled "The Polish Armed Forces in the Second World War" -- but the latter is quite a bit larger at ten and a quarter inches by ten and three-quarters inches and 264 pages. Like Hempel, Brodniewicz-Stawicki offers many photographs. The difference is that in the former, the photos merely accompany and illustrate the text; here, they must carry the book because -- aside from captions and wartime quotations -- there is very little narrative text. Nevertheless, the chapters look very familiar, although not quite so chronological:
While Hempel provides more text and more information, the photographs in For Your Freedom and Ours are larger, sharper, and much more striking. Similar as the books are, some readers will prefer the more visual volume while others will prefer the one with more emphasis on the written word.
Piotrowski, Tadeusz. Genocide and Rescue in Wolyn: Recollections of the Ukrainian Nationalist Ethnic Cleansing Campaign against the Poles during World War II. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2000
While Poland in World War II is heavily illustrated and For Your Freedom and Ours contains almost nothing but photos, Genocide and Rescue in Wolyn has no pictures at all. It offers instead an unremittingly horrible tale of ethnic cleansing in a single province of Poland where Ukrainian nationalists undertook a bloody campaign against Polish men, women, and children.
Not a history of the OUN, OUN-A, OUN-B UPA/SKV/SB, and OUN-M alphabet-soup of Ukrainian nationalist organizations, this is a volume of personal recollections. The author's twenty-page Introduction explains the history of Wolyn province, the mixed nature of the population, the explosive political situation, and the triggering of the bloodbath. The bulk of the book gives a county-by-county review of the purge. Each chapter includes brief notes about the population of the county and its political environment, then offers numerous first-hand accounts from survivors who tell of the atrocities they observed and experienced.
Although most of the accounts recall Ukrainians murdering Poles, in almost every case there are also instances of Poles who were sheltered and saved by their Ukrainian neighbors, sometimes at the cost of their own lives.
A sobering and sorrowful document. Also includes a very useful and detailed chronology of the larger political issues and military events to put these recollections into context.
All three titles are available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from the respective publisher.
Thanks to the publishers for providing these review copies.
Reviewed 30 June 2000
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