Wojtek the Bear: Polish War Hero
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Wojtek the Bear: Polish War Hero

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  54 ratings  ·  18 reviews
This is the inspiring true story of one of the Second World War’s most unusual combatants—a 500-pound cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking brown bear. Originally adopted as a mascot by the Polish Army in Iran, Wojtek soon took on a more practical role, carrying heavy mortar rounds for the troops and going on to play his part as a fully enlisted ‘soldier’ with his own rank and...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Birlinn Ltd
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Jonathon Dyer
The remarkable story of an army unit mascot - a Eurasian bear - who grew to think he was a soldier, was inducted as a private into the Free Polish Army, and went on to distinguish himself fighting alongside his artillery-company comrades in the pivotal Battle of Monte Casino in Italy, 1944 - a turning point in the road to allied victory in Europe. Wojtek (pronounced Voy-chek) went on to be demobbed in Scotland and spent his final years in Edinburgh Zoo.

The author Aileen Orr has rescued the stor...more
Lee
Amazing quite frankly. The true story of a Syrian Brown Bear who became a war hero and symbol of home for thousands of Polish soldiers. If this doesn't become a film soon I shall be most annoyed!
Anna Paluszkiewicz
It is a fascinating story! Sad, but you will learn a lot about history of Britain, Poland and generally about WWII. (I hope my granddad met Wojtek somewhere on Monte Casino).
Benjamin
Fantastic story of one of World War 2s strangest war "heroes", Wojtek the Soldier Bear who lived with a Polish battalion and aided his comrades at Monte Casino.
Michael
A book both heart-warming and heart-breaking.

Heart-warming because of the very real affection with which Orr approaches her subject: Wojtek's story has obviously touched her heart. And also due to the love and humanity that a little bear cub (and later a not-so-little full-grown bear) brought to a group of Polish soldiers, taken to Stalin's labour camps, released due to political expedience, but their country lost and the fate of their families unknown, though probably not pleasant. It would hav...more
Sarah
We were in the gift shop at Edinburgh zoo. I saw this paperback and bought it as a gift for my dad who loves reading about World War 2. We caught the bus back to our digs and I started reading it, (as it turns out, pretty much anything is better than 'The Finkler Question' that I was part of the way through and that was my 'read-de-jour'). It was very readable, and the story, especially if you know nothing about it, is very interesting.

I then took a break from it and read a novel and finally re...more
Liz
This book was a gift and I'm not sure I would have read it otherwise, to be honest. I found the historical parts interesting enough, but I found the writing voice rather gratingly over-enthusiastic and self-consciously elaborate...perhaps this padding was needed in order to flesh out what would have been a perfectly good extended magazine piece or essay, into a slightly shaky full paperback. Even with the extended epilogue of historical context written by someone with a drier yet less irksome st...more
Rosalie
* SPOILER!*

Soldier Bear by Aileen Orr is about a young and wise bear that is found in the middle of a forest in the Middle East by soldiers. His “mother” Piotr (who found him first), named him Wojtek. In polish, Wojtek means soldier as they were living during a war. After years of living with humans, Wojtek soon developed to be as humanly as a bear could ever be. Instead of walking on 4 legs, he walked on 2 and instead of eating bear food and sleeping outside, Wojtek ate burgers and sandwiches a...more
Emma
The first 60% or so of the book is an amazing true story about this bear who saw active service during World War 2. He had been weaned and raised by the soldiers who saved from an almost certain horrendous life as a dancing bear and he clearly thought he was human. This story is wonderful - but heartbreaking as well as heartwarming at times. Not only does this tell Wojtek's story but also relays the fates of the wonderful Polish soldiers who could not be repatriated immediately, and in some case...more
Lisa
I found this book very interesting albeit slightly sad as it not only told the story of Wojtek the bear in an unsentimental but not unfriendly way, it also recounted an otherwise unknown (to me at any rate) historical links between Poland and Scotland which were forged long before the Second World War. It explained the large presence of Polish refugees in parts of England long before the accession of Poland to the EU - and yes, it does discuss the Katyn massacre as part of the contextual histori...more
Maciek Białous
The story of Wojtek is both interesting and entertaining, I appreciate author's effort to commemorate the polish bear in a book as well as in a form of monument. Nevertheless, the book has it weak sides, especially when author writes about history of polish soldiers and polish people at large. It's not convincing. Even the vast epilogue by Neil Ascherson, which was meant as historical appendix, is full of simplicities and several major errors which can be quite irritating.
Paulina
Wzruszająca historia syryjskiego niedźwiadka,który nie był tylko maskotką. Wojtek został żołnierzem i ogromnym psychicznym wsparciem dla żołnierzy 22 Kompanii Zaopatrywania Artylerii w 2 Korpusie Polskim dowodzonym przez gen. Andersa.
Aileen Orr opisuje nie tylko losy Wojtka,ale też samych żołnierzy oraz ich trudne wojenne i smutne powojenne losy.
Polecam każdemu,kawałek historii który warto pamiętać.
Joanna Czechowska
What an interesting story. I'd heard about Wojtek the bear previously but didn't know the details. This book makes you really fall in love with him and his story. I met the author Aileen Orr when I was in Edinburgh and heard about how they hoping to put up a statue to Wojtek in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. I wish them all the luck
Zuzu Burford
An interesting little book. Repetitious at times thoughout. The Epilogue I found much more interesting than the story of Wojtek. The story was more about the exiled Polish army during WW11 with Wojtek going along for the ride. Still I enjoyed the read.
Tom Randle
What a bear! The history about Wojtek is a bit short though, the end of the book is more about the charity and struggle to get a statue built for him which I didn't find that interesting. The epilogue on Polish history was a nice addition.
Ben Hart


An interesting story but the constant (inevitable) humanising of the bear annoyed me and I completely lost interest when the bear dies.
Inkognit Witoslawski Robert
bardzo ciekawie napisana książka nie jest to dokument a bardziej wspomnienia pełne emocji i miłości do Wojtka i Polaków
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Aileen Orr was born and raised in Lockerbie before going on to study at the London School of Economics. After working for the Bank of America she joined and headed a new political team as regional director of the Countryside Alliance. She is now an advisor to Michael Russell MSP.
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