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Red Shadow: A Physician's Memoir of the Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland, 1944-56 Hardcover – 24 Jul 1997


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Insights into the Early Communist Terror (1944-on), Common Banditry, the Demoralization of the Polish Underground, etc. 27 Jun 2010
By Jan Peczkis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This work is a natural sequel to the author's diary of life under the German occupation: Diary from the Years of Occupation 1939-44.

Both the retreating Germans and the arriving Soviets looted the Poles. (p. 7). This was followed by numerous arrests and executions of Poles by the Soviets (p. 34), including people who had never been involved in Underground or political movements. (p. 32). Villages experienced pacification terror at the hands of the Communists just as they had earlier under the Nazis. (p 71). Finally, there were Communist units (sometimes called pozorny) that pretended to be Polish guerrillas. (p. 122).

Locals who had collaborated with the Germans, especially the Volksdeutsche, were brought to justice. (e. g., p. 40, 97). So was a Polish policeman who had victimized both Poles and Jews on behalf of the Germans. (p. 79). Women who had consorted with the Germans had their heads shaved. (p. 9).

Members of the A. K. (Armia Krajowa), though never ordered to fight against the Communists, sometimes killed Communists on their own. (e. g., p. 22). A Jewish Communist, Sawicki, was among those assassinated. (p. 25). Later, after the A.K. was disbanded in January 1945, successor independentist organizations, such as W.I.N., were formed.

Rampant banditry among Poles is frequently mentioned in this diary. (e. g., p. 9, 26, 47-48, 72). The perpetrators were commonly members of the A. K. (Armia Krajowa). (e. g., p. 9, 10, 33-34; including its officers: p. 39, 40). They had fought against the Germans for Poland's freedom, but Poland got no freedom. The author comments: "Most of the officers and soldiers of the Home Army are extremely depressed because of the uncertainty. The organization is falling apart." (p. 10). Also: "During the last several days there have been many cases of robbery in our region. There seems to be a direct connection between the demoralization evident in the circles of former underground soldiers and the robberies. Some of them cannot sit still without any action, and without ongoing military discipline they look to robbery for both excitement and fulfillment of their daily needs." (p. 13).

In addition, as had been the case under the German occupation, there were many "forest people", consisting this time of the likes of deserters from the Berling Army (p. 25, 64), and formerly upstanding citizens who had become bandits. Klukowski remarks: "Today I have encountered en example of how the forest, alas, sometimes causes a breakdown of morality and produces bandits." (p. 72). People were afraid to go out at night. (p. 72). A wealthy Jew, Luft, was liquidated by the forest bands for unstated reasons. (p. 83).

Klukowski writes: "The fight against banditry is very difficult. Today's authorities are helpless. The underground tolerates the situation and is not involved in any actions to eliminate the guilty parties." (p. 48). The author fails to mention the fact that the Soviet-imposed Communist authorities were so pre-occupied with repressing political dissent that they seldom could bother with banditry. The Underground was struggling for its very existence. How could it deal with banditry?

In his FEAR, Jan T. Gross drew exaggerated attention to the postwar killings of Jews by Poles (some 600 out of 300,000 Holocaust-surviving Jews; less than 1%). Most of the killings, though routinely blamed on anti-Semitism and a supposed guilt complex for having acquired post-Jewish properties, actually occurred under unclear circumstances and motives. Although Klukowski mentions the killings of Jews only twice (cited above), the circumstances he describes makes it easy to comprehend the perpetrators as pozornys, demoralized A.K. men acting as bandits, "forest people", and anti-Communists.

Poles have been portrayed as having an acquisitive complex when it came to Jewish properties, even to the point of desecrating Jewish graves. It turns out that this was an all-round phenomenon. A formerly upstanding citizen, "Podkowa", known to Klukowski, robbed a church, tearing up the floor to locate a hidden valuable. (p. 39).

Although only about 1% of Poland's post-Holocaust population consisted of Jews, they represented a significant fraction of the leadership of the hated Communist security forces (the UB, U.B., or Bezpieka). While under arrest, Klukowski repeatedly encountered Jewish U.B. agents and functionaries. (p. 117, 122).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The dangers of keeping a diary in the Communist era 15 Sep 2012
By Meaghan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed by this book at first because this diary wasn't nearly as detailed as Dr. Klukowski's Nazi-era one. Klukowski was heavily involved in underground activity under the Communists as well as the Nazis and was, I think, afraid to say too much. He referred to everyone by code names and wrote in a very oblique way much of the time because he knew what the consequences would be if the diary were to be discovered by the Soviet authorities. Certainly I could understand all this, but the result was that I didn't know what Klukowski was talking about half the time and was very frustrated.

Things picked up quite a bit though, when it came to his prison memoirs in the second half of the book. That's what made the book worth reading for me. Klukowski wrote about his prison experience in the manner of a documentary, trying to tell as much as he could, as accurately as he could. He wrote matter-of-factly and without self-pity. I had to admire the inmates and their various methods of coping with the terrible conditions.

This is a valuable book for those interested in post-WW2 Poland and the Soviet occupation. I think I still like Klukowski's Nazi occupation diaries better, though.
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