- Hardcover: 232 pages
- Publisher: Univ Pr of Kansas (Nov. 1 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0700613501
- ISBN-13: 978-0700613502
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 476 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #344,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Forgotten Survivors: Polish Christians Remember the Nazi Occupation Hardcover – Nov 4 2004
Customers who bought this item also bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"The most significant contribution of this book . . . [is that, ] through the media of personal recollections, we are given insights into the numerous Polish rescue and aid organizations. . . . Overall, this collection of survivor accounts is a valuable addition to the historiography of Nazism and Polish-Jewish relations during the Second World War. It will be a particularly useful resource for those students and teachers who are reliant on English material. Quite naturally, the book benefits from the many strengths ingredient to a collection of personal memories . . . "--H-Net Reviews
"As a memorial volume, the text works well, aided by the inclusion of photographs of each survivor (then and now) and eight pages of sketches of life in Auschwitz by the survivor Jan Komski. . . . If approached as a memorial volume and/or a collection of oral histories, this is a fascinating book. . . . "--SEER
"These stories are moving and powerful. Lukas's introduction is a well-written, clear, and masterful summary of just what that 'forgotten Holocaust' of Polish Christians entailed during the six long years of Nazi occupation. That chapter alone should be required reading. . . . These testimonies, painful as they are, must be listened to because the story of Polish Christian persecution during World War II has been largely unheard."--Polish American Journal
"While the Holocaust is well known, the fate of Polish Christians in the camps is far less so. This is a much needed, important, and moving book."--Piotr S. Wandycz, president, Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America
"Lukas pays special attention to the sufferings of Poland's Catholic majority, presenting stories from the resistance and the risings, from Auschwitz and Mauthausen, and from the death marches and forced labor camps. . . . A wonderful testament to the survival of the human spirit in adversity."--Norman Davies, author of God's Playground: A History of Poland
About the Author
Richard C. Lukas is the author of eight books, including The Forgotten Holocaust, Did the Children Cry?, and Out of the Inferno. Until his retirement in 1995 he was adjunct professor of history at the University of South Florida, Ft. Myers Campus. He also taught at Tennessee Technological University and Wright State University.
Showing 1-1 of 1 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Many of us have sat around a dying fire, or an emptying bottle of vodka, while Polish loved ones recounted their WW II experiences. We've wanted others to hear these sagas before being quick to judge. We've used these narratives to inspire ourselves: "If he could survive that, I can get through this." Now such stories are available in book format. It's high time. What took us so long?
"Forgotten Survivors" presents twenty-eight, first-person accounts of Poles who lived through WW II. Now-and-then photographs illustrate each account; there are also fifteen Jan Komski drawings of concentration camp scenes. Tellers include former camp inmates, slave laborers, underground fighters, and Zegota members.
As much as I appreciate this book, and that is very much, there are aspects of it that either troubled me or will trouble others, or at least deserve comment here. First, of course, there is the title. These stories are powerful, and they are transcendent. They are valuable today, and they will be valuable as long as human beings face life-and-death challenges.
The polemical title does not best serve these accounts and their authors. The word "forgotten" implies that important audiences have ignored Polish suffering. Another way of understanding post-war discourse is to acknowledge that Jews have done an admirable job of broadcasting and canonizing their story, and Polish non-Jews have, for whatever reason, been less successful at this.
Our best strategy is to honor our own story, not blame others for honoring theirs. "Heroic Polish Survivors," would have honored the narrators in this book, without positioning them as a rebuke in a feud whose importance - unlike the stories themselves - is transitory.
"Christians" is also problematical. Some Poles were neither Jewish nor Christian, and suffered under Nazism; some were openly hostile to organized religion. Many Polish Socialists were not Christian and were heroic in their resistance to Nazism.
These Poles do not deserve to be "forgotten" any more than their Christian fellow nationals do. The term "non-Jewish" - one Lukas does occasionally use - acknowledges the impact of Nazi racial policy without eliminating the stories of non-religious Poles.
Readers concerned with ethnographic technique will be frustrated by Lukas' omission of his transcription method. The accounts do bear many of the hallmarks of oral personal experience narratives, including colloquial language and lacunae where readers expect orienting details.
But some editing surely took place; there are none of the pauses or repetitions found in raw transcripts. Too, two separate accounts use the rare words "hegira" and "leggings." One wonders if Lukas didn't insert those words into the accounts while editing.
With the exception of Irena Sendler, all narrators emigrated to Canada, England, or the US. An ethnographer will want to know how survivor accounts told by Polish emigres differ from accounts told by survivors who remained in Poland.
Most narrators are highly placed, white-collar workers: college professors and engineers, for example. These narrators are not representational of a nation whose wartime population was majority agricultural. I wondered, as I read, have we become so intimidated by negative images of Poles that every Pole who survives WW II must be shown to be a high status, model citizen?
In the United States, piety is observed in discussions of the Holocaust, as many Jewish writers have protested. Some readers will be shocked to read Poles who lived through the Holocaust speak of their Jewish neighbors less than reverentially; others may welcome the frank humanity in these accounts. At least two Polish survivors recount being slapped or beaten by Jewish police or capos. One survivor who risked her life to help Jews reports being annoyed by "those hands stroking their beards" during a tense meeting.
"Non-Jewish Poles were just as likely as Jews to suffer at the hands of the Nazis," reads the book jacket. Page one of Lukas' introduction implies that Poles as a group and Jews as a group "shared" - a word he uses twice - equal fates. They did not, and histories of the Nazi era in Poland must state that clearly.
It must be stated clearly because it is true, and it must be stated clearly because there have been attempts by the Soviets and by government and popular culture entities in the US to dejudaize the Holocaust. Irena Sendler's account acknowledges the difference in scale: "Hitler created hell for all of us in Poland. But the kind of hell he made for the Jews was even greater" (166).
Like others interested in the Holocaust, I have pored over hundreds of photos of Polish-Jewish victims, both those who perished, and those who survived. I've often thought to myself, "He looks Polish; I could never differentiate this person from a Polish non-Jew by their facial features alone."
Gazing at the Poles in Lucas's book, I didn't encounter a population completely alien to the Jews in other books; I saw heart-wrenching sameness. One Polish narrator reports that he "looked Jewish," and he exploited this in his underground work helping Jews.
He's not the only Polish non-Jew in "Forgotten Survivors" who looks very like the Polish-Jewish portraits of innocence, endurance, and courage in other volumes. Wordlessly, these photos testify: Poles and Jews are not so separate as many would insist.
In the end, it is the power of the stories that matter, and these stories are among the most powerful you will ever read. Not only Poles, or students of Nazism, but anyone interested in examining cruelty, heroism, and simple, blind, fate, will find this book rewarding, fascinating, and humbling.