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The sold out dream: Memoirs of a Polish freedom fighter

Jan Paczkis|Sunday, January 3, 2010

The title of this comprehensive English-language book refers to the selling out of Poland's dream of independence and freedom by Roosevelt and Churchill at Teheran and Yalta. The promised free elections had been a farce all along, as they were not subject to international supervision and control. (p. 225).

The author begins with his life in pre-WWII Poland. His father had, shortly before his death, presciently criticized the Polish forces for not doing more to mechanize their forces. (p. 17).

Within the first days of the 1939 war, Przesmycki had attempted to catch and shoot some of the fifth columnists who were giving light signals at night. (pp. 20-21). Also, in common with very many eyewitnesses, Przesmycki described the indiscriminate bombing and strafing of Polish civilians by the Luftwaffe. Owing to the fact that the German airplanes flew so low that the heads of the crew members could be seen from the ground, there was no way for them to have mistaken civilians for soldiers. (p. 31). It was clear, premeditated murder.

While in Lwow (Lviv) in September 22, 1939, Przesmycki came upon a Soviet soldier who later turned out to be the avant-garde of the Red Army about to enter the city. He comments: "I observed a strange scene: A small group of people--many of them Jews, and evidently Communists--were surrounding a lone and scared-looking Soviet soldier and screaming anti-Polish slogans: "Down with the Polish government!...Down with Poland!...Long live the Soviet Union!" (p. 53). A group of Polish soldiers came upon the demonstrators and shot them, prompting Przesmycki to write: "How could I feel pity for them? Instead, I was very angry and very deeply hurt by their act of treason, the memory of which I was to carry with me for the rest of my life." (p. 54). Now consider the implications: The Zydokomuna (Bolshevized Judaism) is often portrayed as something that flowed out of the Jewish support of Communism as "the lesser of two evils" relative to the Nazis. Przesmycki's experience is instructive in showing that the Zydokomuna went far beyond that: It clearly partook of ACTIVE ENMITY against Poles and Poland.

Przesmycki described the situation under the German occupation, including the following: "Not many people, however, had radios, because the Germans had confiscated them all and prohibited their use. There was a death penalty for having even one receiver in your home; therefore, very few people risked such a penalty." (p. 76). These facts show the absurdity of Jan T. Gross and his fans, who had argued that Poles were freely willing to risk death for radio-possession but not for the hiding of Jews. (In addition, of course, getting caught with an inanimate object (radio) was much less likely than getting caught with a verboten human being.)

The experiences of Przesmycki also refute the contentions of Jan T. Gross about Poles unable to count on each others secrecy in Jew-hiding but able to do so for Underground involvement. This author, a member of the Home Army (AK, or A.K.) repeatedly faced close calls from the Germans as a result of denunciations by Volksdeutsche and ethnic Polish collaborators. One Pole had been broken by the Gestapo, and admitted that he had agreed to serve the Germans in return for freedom, and the sparing of his family. (p. 208). Przesmycki's unit assassinated a few of the collaborators. (pp. 151-153, 210-211). After the Soviet "liberation", some 200-300 Nazi collaborators, mostly common criminals and uneducated Poles, came out of the woodwork in his native Gorlice, and offered their services to the Communists. Some got leadership positions. (p. 221).

For a time, Przesmycki was forced to serve in the Baudienst (construction battalions)(p. 115). Illness reigned, the working conditions were brutal, and the Germans fed the forced laborers very sparingly. (p. 121). He managed to escape.

Przesmycki's early Underground work included the distribution of bulletins and written-down radio transmissions from the B.B.C. (p. 136). Later, there was a successful attack on a German military transport, yielding the booty of weaponry. (p. 154). There were rifle drills in the forest. (p. 156). The author comments: "The Germans very seldom ventured into the woods, unless in great force and numbers, because they were afraid to fight the type of battles that Polish partisans knew how to fight the best." (p. 161). The essence of guerrilla warfare, emphasized by the AK, was: "...fighting with much more superior forces using the element of surprise with great skill and success." (p. 171).

A.K. unit fought the Germans in the Kielce area as part of Operation Burza (Tempest), and several combat operations are described. However, owing to a shortage of weaponry (p. 171, 184), despite the acquisition of an airdrop (pp. 190-191), Przesmycki's AK unit was insufficiently armed to carry out its objective of a march on Warsaw to aid the Soviet-betrayed Uprising.

The Soviet "liberators" engaged in massive looting and rape of Poles. (p. 233). The unarmed Przesmycki observed, and managed to foil, an attempt on his own mother. (p. 220). Months later, Przesmycki managed to flee the decidedly-unfree Communist-ruled Poland.

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