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A Polish Jew Deported into the Interior of the USSR in 1940,

Jan Peczkis|Thursday, July 8, 2010

The author of this book grew up in pre-WWII Poland. He came from a well-to-do, assimilated Jewish family, who had Polonized their name (from Weidenfeld to Wajdenfeld (p. 357); subsequently Anglicized to Waydenfeld.) In common with many assimilated Polish Jews, the Waydenfelds were atheists. (p. 404, 406). [This recounts Cardinal Hlond's much-maligned 1936 "Jews are freethinkers" statement.


Waydenfeld describes the Polish preparations for war and the savagery of the 1939 German attack. In common with many other authors, he describes a personal experience in which he was part of a fleeing mass of Polish civilians subject to systematic terror bombing and strafing by the Luftwaffe. (pp. 26-27). After the attack, he witnessed many people and farm animals wounded and dead.

The Soviets conquered eastern Poland. Jewish-Soviet collaboration followed. Waydenfeld describes Jews as forming the majority of a local-town crowd cheering the arriving Red Army (p. 36), as well as the fact that 2 of 3 of the NKVD officers later interrogating him were Jewish. (p. 69).

In 1940, Waydenfeld's family was among those deported into the interior of the USSR. He describes the deportation train as consisting of 40 wagons that each held 40 people. (p. 83). Not mentioned is the fact that the 40-per-wagon figure supports the traditionally-cited number of well over a million Poles deported into the USSR in 1939-1941, not the few hundred thousand cited by revisionists.

Waydenfeld ended up in northern Russia, near the Dvina River. He provides details of the grueling life there, notably the bitter winters.

After the "amnesty" of Poles in the wake of the unexpected Nazi German attack on its erstwhile Soviet Communist ally, Waydenfeld traveled south. The mortality rate of the Poles remained high. The author comments: "In 1942, before the advent of antibiotics, the mortality rate for typhus was between fifty and sixty percent." (p. 327). The author realizes that the "amnesty" left as many as a million Polish deportees still within the USSR. (p. 353). For the dead, there was no amnesty. Among the victims at Katyn, for example, was Waydenfeld's Uncle Adam. (p. 176).

The Soviets wanted the Polish citizens of Jewish, Byelorussian, and Ukrainian nationality to remain behind as Soviet citizens. (p. 358). Not mentioned is the fact that this was a telltale sign of the permanence of the imperial Soviet claim to Poland's Kresy (eastern half), a claim that became fully realized after the 1943 Teheran betrayal of Poland.

Waydenfeld found himself in Yangi-Yul (p. 353), a gathering point for the "amnestied" Poles. [My mother, aunt, and grandmother were also there.] In this southern part of the USSR, the locals were descendants of the Tatars, not Slavs. They understood Poles only as citizens of Lekhistan (the ancient Tatar and Turkish name for Poland, which alluded to Lech, the legendary founder of Poland.). (p. 300).

This work has many aids for the reader who is not familiar with the events described here. A map shows all the peregrinations of the author, who ended up in England. A short history of the relevant time period is included in the back of the book. The author clarifies some issues in a published interview at the end of the book. There are also photos of the released Poles. WARNING: The pictures show emaciated humans and animals, often with thin legs and with ribs plainly showing. This may be upsetting to sensitive readers.
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