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Goodbye Poland

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'A soldier's story...A concise and fascinating account with interesting detail. Good addition to other books on this subject. I enjoyed it very much.' UK Reviewer.

Stefan Maczka’s father, (also Stefan), was a cavalry officer who fought victoriously in possibly the last and greatest cavalry battle of the preceding one hundred years, the ‘Miracle of the Vistula’. It was the final victory in the Russian/Polish War of 1920. He was one of nine thousand former soldiers rewarded with a plot of land in the reclaimed borderlands.
Stalin never forgot that humiliating defeat.

Stefan B. was born in 1922 just over two years later.
Life was hard in those early years; the military settlers had to defend their borders against invasion by armed bands from Russia, crossing into Poland from the east.
By 1937, the rewards of hard work were paying off, and life was beginning to get easier...

Then came the war, and Stalin’s revenge on the military settlers he so bitterly despised for their victory over Soviet forces twenty years earlier. Rounded up, they were uprooted from their homes, put on cattle trucks, and forcibly deported to the frozen and inhospitable wastes of Siberia.

Goodbye Poland is one man’s account of his journey into adversity at the age of just seventeen.

Written exactly as he spoke, his accent comes through loud and clear, in this inspirational true story of stoicism, and survival against the odds.

211 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 24, 2014

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Stefan B. Maczka

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Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews
September 27, 2018
Or, as its full title has it: Goodbye Poland: Growing Up. Deportation and Internment in Siberia. Escape and the WWII War Years. It's quite a mouthful, but also sums up exactly what you're about to read: This is the story of the other half of Poland in the Second World War, the half few people really know about. Because while Germany swept into Western Poland and rounded up Jews, intelligentsia and anyone else they didn't really like and sent them off to the concentration camps that will forever live in our collective nightmares, Russia were busy in Eastern Poland.

Soviet Russia's policy was "resettlement", and so it was that in 1940 just under 2 million citizens of Eastern Poland found themselves woken up in the middle of the night by Soviet police, given an hour to pack a few possessions, herded onto trains and taken to labour or resettlement camps in remote Russia, usually Siberia. There was no realistic escape - they had no money, no documents, no food, and where would they run? Thousands upon thousands died in the harsh conditions with impossible working hours and nothing like enough food.

What happened next for the deported Poles is nothing short of an odyssey. Two years later an amnesty was declared and every surviving Pole who was able made their way south, desperate to get to friendly soil before Soviet Russia could change its mind. (Which it did, and thousands were trapped in Russia under enforced Soviet citizenship and were never allowed to leave.) Britain then shifted as many people as possible first to Persia (now Iran), and at that point any Pole still capable of fighting joined the war effort.

Women, children and those too weak and malnourished to fight were sent onward to British East Africa to newly formed refugee camps. The Poles stayed there for years, unknowing whether they would ever leave.

This story has a massive personal resonance for me, as it is extremely similar to the story of my grandmother, who was eleven years old when this happened to her. She and her family were ripped from their home and so began the immense journey above which culminated in five years in a refugee camp in what is now Tanzania before being accepted into the UK. I came across this book when looking for similar stories to fill in details in my grandmother's account.

Goodbye Poland is the story of Stefan Maczka, who made the same journey with his parents and three siblings before joining Anders' Army, the Polish army cobbled together by General Anders made up of every Pole he could get out of Soviet Russia, and going on to fight in the Battle of Monte Cassino, among many others. Eventually, Stefan and his family also made it to the UK.

Goodbye Poland is Stefan Maczka's memoir, and it written in the first person. As such it's not spelling and grammar perfect, but you can hear his voice as he describes his experiences and that is very powerful and effective. I felt that this style of writing added to the reading experience rather than detracted from it. It also includes a prologue and epilogue by Maczka's son, which is just as moving and puts into context the far reaching effects down the generations of what these people went through. I know myself, as the granddaughter of immigrants, how being brought up with alternative cultures shapes your identity and your life. It's also a heartening reminder of how refugees can be looked after: Britain was by no means the only country which took in thousands of these homeless people: Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico took in a great many too, and so the world demonstrates that it can be kind.

This isn't a long book; I got through it in two quite short sittings. It's very concise, and not flowery or embellished, and I think that the matter-of-fact tone is very suited to the format of a memoir. When one states, without drama or ostentation, the terrible and astonishing things that one has gone through, it packs an extra punch. It also recommends other pieces of writing on the subject, which I will now be looking into.

If you have family who went through this, you absolutely must read this book, and probably many others' accounts which I am shortly going to be looking up. But if you haven't, I would still recommend it as an introduction to the lesser known side of what happened in the heart of Europe in WWII. It's an appalling piece of history which deserves to be more widely known and, as Stefan Maczka's son puts it in the foreword, "I will tell the story to anyone who will listen."
Profile Image for P.S. Winn.
Author 74 books343 followers
January 14, 2018
This is the story of the Maczka family. This book is really an important part of history that is sometimes overshadowed by the terrible atrocity of Hitler and the Jewish people. The story in this book is enhanced by wonderful pictures. Telling the story of what happened with another despicable leader, Stalin, and how the polish people were treated during a horrendous time in history. The story reminds us of the courage of people and that we should never forget the strength to overcome the horror of having the wrong man in power.
584 reviews3 followers
August 5, 2019

What a brave man he was and what a tale. I had no idea Russia deported two million Poles to Siberia in 1940 after annexing part of Poland. The author survived, escaped via the middle East, served in the army in many campaigns in Italy. He ended up in the UK with some other survivors from Siberia with much of his family intact. A very interesting story, not particularly well written due to language difficulties. Worth reading though some bits you can skim for the gist of it.
69 reviews1 follower
October 27, 2019
Excellent insight

Read this very authentic book and you will come to know the story of a remarkable man and his family. It’s a very good read but it’s also not a conventional, perfect grammar read either as many others have mentioned. It’s a darn good book, regardless.
Profile Image for Susan.
Author 137 books66 followers
October 6, 2022
Initially, I was quite intrigued by the premise of this memoire, but unfortunately, it was a little flat and repetitive, which made this difficult to stay focused throughout the book. That is, there are portions that I became engrossed in, them what! it repeated or became dull. Overall, I do get the gist of this memoir, and perhaps with a bit more serious editing, the book might become fresher and livelier.

🟣Kindle version.
Profile Image for Harriet Brown.
214 reviews2 followers
January 10, 2016
Goodbye Poland

Goodbye Poland by Stefan Maczka, is an interesting book. The experience of the Polish people, during WWII, was not taught to us. So, everyone should read this book. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,610 reviews46 followers
July 8, 2015
I listened to a little more than half of this book. It did not keep my interest.
47 reviews8 followers
February 9, 2016

A story that needed to be told. A similar experience that my grandmother suffered. This man was a hero and a survivor
Profile Image for terry noyes.
5 reviews
May 3, 2017
How ignorant I am about Eastern European history. Why was I not taught the real atrocities and genocide perpetrated on a true member of the European community. why where they sarcity

filed and betrayed? Thank you Stefan Maczka for a true look into the heart of a true hero and to mourn the loss of a people the world will never get to know.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews

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