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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neglected History Come To Light, 30 Jun 2008
This was an intriguing read and presented the whole situation arising out of Hitler's invasion of Poland from the West and Russia's subsequent attack from the East. Poland was given new borders and territories after the First World War. It had been subject to partition between Russia,Prussia and Austro-Hungary.The Western Ukraine and Belorussia had Polish populations who tended to be the professional classes although they were strictly in the minority. Russia's invasion turned their world upside down and is probably a part of the history of the second world war known only to those with an interest.The author describes in detail the process of Sovietisation and its effect on the Polish population and the other racial groups including the Jews. The difficulty for the peasants was that they welcomed the invasion as it meant the end of Polish domination and becoming integrated with the larger Ukrainian whole which was part of the Soviet Union.

The author presents a systematic account of the Russification of a part of sovereign Poland highlighting areas where Soviet control most affected the population. Under Polish control these territories had some semblance of order and control and availability of goods. When the Russians arrived they had no conception of this. Poland could not have been invaded by a worse country. Strangely, many Jews asked to repatriated to territories which were under German control considering that this was better than life under the Soviets.

Denunciations ran wild and grievances were able to be reconciled through the true or imagined stories concocted by those who did not like you. Denunciation was encouraged and rewarded. Village hierarchies were turned upside down as thieves and vagabonds took over. The lower your station within community life, the more you were likely to find favour with the Soviets. Much of what happened amongst these unfortunate people took place in a short period of time between 1939- 1941 when the Germans then invaded these territories. To have gone through one invasion and then to live through another is testimony to the outstanding tenacity of peoples under situations of duress. Of course, many died through hunger, imprisonment and other deprivation.In 1941 many Poles were deported East to lands within the central Soviet Union. Once Germany had invaded Russia then the Soviets quickly found new allies with England and the USA. Polish prisoners were set free and allowed to make their way to Persia and Palestine where they formed part of the Free Polish Army.This Polish Army fought with valour in Italy, especially at Monte Cassino. This trek was made on foot and I have have actually met some of those brave people who lost their homes and livelihoods and had family members who died in harsh circumstances.

This is a part of history that many do not know as it never gets told.The holocaust was one aspect, but the transportation of many others from their homes and the murder and upheaval of Polish peoples is part of the same story. For some this is still within living memory and there are those who will have met people who suffered the enormity of the tragedy that was the second world war.

Professor Gross has done well to keep this very important time in Europe's contemporary history within our minds.
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Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia
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