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The Dark Side of the Moon: The Incredible Story of What Really Happened in Poland During the Russian Occupation 1939-45 (1st Edition)

jan peczkis|Saturday, June 11, 2011

This book (review based on 1946 edition) is probably the first English-language book on the subject of Polish deportees. In the Preface, poet T. S. Eliot summarizes the Polish sacrifices and contributions to the Allied victory in WWII, and puts the Polish experience in the broader context of the barbarization of Europe because of the Nazis and Communists.

This work is not for the fainthearted. After providing historical background, it describes the horror faced by Poles loaded into trains and deported into the interior of the Soviet Union. The privations were frightful. The conditions on the trains were impossible. There were commonly 50-60 people per rail car (p. 61), not the 25 cited by certain Russian revisionists, who are trying to downgrade the total number of Polish deportees to only a few hundred thousand.

In some camps, including those in the Arctic Circle, Novaya Zemlya, and Kolyma, virtually no one could survive more than 2-3 years of captivity. (p. 21). Other camps are described as follows: "Dysentery and tsinga are endemic. Out of a camp of 10,000 men, some 2,000 die every year, a considerable proportion of these from exhaustion." (p. 120). The authors recount the gruesome effects of scurvy on the human body. (p. 108). Those who were too ill to work were frequently shot on the spot. (p. 119).

Various bits of historical information are included in this book. Did you know that, in 1914, 80% of the tsarist Russian nation was illiterate? (p. 16). From 1935 through early 1939, the Nazi German government tried to entice Poland to an alliance against the Soviet Union--a treacherous request met with uncompromising refusal. (p. 40).

The authors mention Poland's earlier history, and how the Partitioning powers had created a self-serving unfavorable view of Poles in the west. The authors conclude: "The purpose is always the same, just as the formulae are the same, because the source never changes; and this purpose is to carry out, to justify and to make permanent the annulment of Poland's place in Europe; and, by doing so, to throw Europe herself to the thrust of one New Order or another." (p. 30). It is sobering to realize that this is also happening today, with attacks on Poland for her patriotic and religious traditions, by Euro-enthusiasts, internationalists, Holocaust-Industry profiteers, and others with their anti-Polish agendas.
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