bookshelves: e-book, net-galley, published-2014, nonfiction, holocaust-genocide, wwii, biography, poland, history, families, yorkshire, ukraine, true-grime, totalitarian, slavic, rid-the-world-of-tyrants, ouch, gulp, gangsters, execution, casual-violence
Read from May 02 to 03, 2014
Netgalley and Troubador Publishing Ltd/Matador
Description: “However horrible the past may have been, forgetting it would make the future even worse.”
International Historical-Enlightenment Human Rights and Humanitarian Society Memorial, Moscow.
Set around the time of the 1863 Uprising and World War II, In Search of Staszewski is a powerful and moving real life account of a Polish family’s six-year ordeal and fight for survival under Soviet Oppression.
Focusing on a family that were victims of Tsarist Russia’s oppression, the book also investigates Stalin’s brutal regime and the dreaded Gulag system where, in addition to millions of Russian citizens, hundreds of thousands of innocent Poles died as a result. Some survived and escaped the Soviet ‘paradise’, going on to fight courageously alongside allied forces during World War II.
Investigated and told by the son of a survivor, who only learned the truth after the sudden death of his father, two strands of detailed investigation are woven into an emotional journey of discovery, uncovering the shocking details his father was so reluctant to speak about. In Search of Staszewski is not only the story of a fight for survival by four generations of one family, but also of a people’s struggle to preserve their cultural and national identity in the face of powerful neighbours.
Inspired by authors such as Norman Davies, Orlando Figes, and Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Applebaum,In Search of Staszewski uncovers the truth surrounding a little known and largely untold episode of World War II history that will surprise and shock fans of historical and biographical non-fiction works.
Dedication: In memory of my father, Jan Fedzin
Extract from the preface: The terrible human suffering perpetrated on six million Jews in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War is well documented and well understood throughout the world. This chapter of history has been covered in great depth by historians, students and film makers. However, the suffering of an estimated 1.7 million people ‘unfortunate’ enough to be forcibly removed by the Soviets from their homes in Poland to labour camps in Siberia during World War Two is not so well known.
This opens with a young lad riding on the crossbar of his father’s bike and the setting is the Heavy Wool manufacturing town of Dewsbury, Yorkshire.
This Fedzin family history is unravelled with such a quiet and modest tone it reminded me of the horrors behind the opening track of Amused to Death: Ballad for Bill Hubbard. As each page rolls past the horrors escalate and makes for a gruelling read; I think that using the dead bodies to fuel the locomotive on its way to Archangel will stay with me forever. And what about those Ukrainian Nationalists, that too was a horrible eye-opener.
It would be an insult to all those who were murdered, maimed or disposessed but especially to Kenneth Fedzin and his family, to trivialise this book with a rating. Thank you for sharing, Mr Fedzin.
Monument to the Fallen in the East
Kolyma Highway. Gold fields were discovered far from the port of Magadan in a region inhabited only by nomads
The Golden Kolyma. The adjective “golden” in the painting’s title is derived from the larch tree, which is ubiquitous in the region
The Chelbania gold mine in Kolyma, 1943. CREDIT: Tomasz Kizny
Kolyma Summer. The most difficult to reach gold deposits were in the extreme climate of the Indigirka permafrost regions.
See more of Getman’s work in Art of the Gulag