Between the Swastika and the Bear - A Polish Memoir 1925 - 1948
by Andrew Jurkowski and Lisa Wright
Cave Art Press in Anacortes, Washington, 2017
Between the Swastika and the Bear is a compelling memoir about a young man’s survival of the Nazi and Russian occupations of Poland. Born in 1925, Andrew Jurkowski enjoyed a peaceful boyhood on his grandfather’s farm in western Poland until the Nazi invasion of 1939. For the next six years, he and his family endured the occupation, determined not only to survive but to fight back with small acts of defiance until Germany was defeated.
Instead of bringing relief, the end of the war brought new dangers as Poland was taken over by Russian-led Communists. Andrew, then a young man of twenty, was sentenced to a labor camp. He was forced to choose between death and a dangerous escape to the West.
This book is Andrew Jurkowski’s account of his experiences in the vanished world of rural Poland before, during, and after World War II.
Please direct your request for a complimentary copy of Between the Swastika and the Bear - A Polish Memoir 1925 - 1948 by Andrew Jurkowski and Lisa Wright to:
Kathleen Kaska, Marketing Director, Cave Art Press
13589 Clayton Lane, Anacortes, WA 98221
A Surprising Discovery - Love Letters of Wacław Kossakowski
An Update by Irena Kossakowski-Clarke
I am the author of A Homeland Denied, the story of my Dad, Wacław Kossakowski, a student of maths and astronomy at Warsaw University in 1939, before he was transported to a Siberian labour camp.
The book of his incredible journey was published last year. To my amazement, I received an email from a lady in Warsaw a few weeks ago. This lady had bought the book for her Mother, Regina now 98. It was translated over several months by the grandson as only he could understand English and through him they emailed me.
It transpires that to their astonishment, the book is about the childhood sweetheart of Regina, my Dad Wacław. They had grown up together in the small village of Kapice near Białystok; they attended the same village school and became extremely close. Aged 11, Dad gained a scholarship for a prestigious boarding school in Suwałki, but they saw each other when he was home for the holidays and later did correspond frequently. When he was 17, he was accepted into Warsaw University and they continued to write letters. In September 1939 when Germany attacked Poland and the war began, Dad joined the army cadets but was taken prisoner by the Russians just two weeks later when Russia invaded Poland.
There are 20 letters in all, several of six pages. All were written in neat handwriting and are kept with their envelopes. The last three letters were sent from the internment camp in Ukmerga, Lithuania where Dad was a prisoner for several months before being transported to Siberia. They reek of propaganda, but are also poignantly sad and despairing, yet full of hope. He desperately wanted to hear news of his family and was unsure of what would happen and where he would have been going.
The letters tell a story of a love that was destroyed by the war and yet was never forgotten. He was a young student, 17 years of age; the last letter was written when he was 19 years old, just weeks before deportation to Siberia. Sadly he was unable to receive any letters from Regina though she wrote constantly over the years. They both presumed each other dead.
After leaving Siberia with the 2nd Army Corps commanded by General Anders, Mr. Kossakowski served in the Middle East and participated in the battle of Monte Cassino. He was assigned to the1st artillery survey regiment, topography division. Unable to return home after WWII ended, for fear of imprisonment or even death, he came to England and met my Mother (Irene Clarke, born 12 March 1921, died in 1990), whom he married in 1950. They had three children.
Meanwhile, in Poland, Regina also married. At this time, there was a strict censorship of communication with the West, under the communist government in Poland and Dad did not receive any news of his family until 1959. For twenty years after the start of the war, he and they had been thought dead. Of Regina there was no news.
Dad died two years ago just before the publication of the book and sadly does not know of these letters being kept safely all this time. I hope to have them all translated and published as a book. Dad was born on May 19, 1919 and died on August 12, 2016.
A poem by my Dad was included in the last letter he wrote to Regina, from the internment camp Ukmerga, Lithuania. 1940, weeks, written before he was transported to gulag in Siberia. This poem is reproduced below, translated from the Polish by Stella Overall.
~ Irena Kossakowski-Clarke
Lost in thought
When I am away from you and I contemplate loneliness
I recall all the past moments and hours
One image of the past I repeat for the hundredth time
As this is the only thing that I have left
I remember each moment spent with you
I remember each word you said to me
How these moments quickly flew away
The moments of no return
Now, when I am here and I have to spend my time here
Lonely, I drink the tear wept with sadness
Now, I live of my memories and keepsakes
I want to feed my soul with these.
I feel a miss-you kind of ecstasy when I remember
Oh, will I remember it in future the same way I do now that I am young?
Oh my dear, you will not give me the reason to forget
I beg you -I swear!
Translated by Stella Overall