The Polish Patriot book cover

The Polish Patriot

"The Polish patriot" is not just a memoir of war, nor is it any history book. It is the true story of the path in the life of a young Polish Jewish doctor who just began his specialization in dentistry when World War II broke out. The young dentist, David, was captured by the Russians and sent to Siberia in a cattle truck clogged with many others on a long journey. In Siberia, he meets the woman who would become his wife, a refugee from Poland. They got married, and he was drafted into the Red Army. Hitler attacked Russia, and Stalin responded. After several years in Siberia, he brought his wife and her parents to Uzbekistan, where their first son was born. The Russian army invades Poland, and David finds himself back in his country as an officer. He reaches his hometown Warsaw and finds the town in ruins, he succeeds in finding his aunt Eugenia, but he discovers that his whole family has been murdered. He also discovers that Poland does not want him back. He advanced with th

Genre: Biographies, Non-Fiction

The first of September, 1939, will always be etched in my mind as the day my life changed. I was a young doctor of twenty-seven who, three years earlier, had begun an internship at the dental clinic of a relative, Dr. Leon Buhanik of Miedzyrzec Podlaski, which is approximately seventy kilometers from Brest-Litovsk, a city near the Russian-Polish border. For the past few weeks, we had been hearing reports on the radio about an imminent German attack. Although the reports were full of assumptions and estimations that contained very little factual basis, everyone was convinced that, eventually, the Germans would attack Poland. The only question left to us was when and whether the Russians would join the German attack. Letters still arrived from my home, albeit irregularly, from my cousin and best friend, Adam Wolowelski, a medical doctor who had completed his studies in Modena, Italy, around the same time that I completed my studies in Warsaw, after which I specialized in surgery at the general hospital at Brest-Litovsk. Adam was tall, red-haired, unkempt, gentlemanly, sarcastic, and spoke Russian fluently because of his Russian origin. In the 1920s, at the start of the Bolshevik Revolution triumph, which attempted to eliminate the upper class, his father, Moshe Wolowelski, a wealthy businessman, fled from the Communists to Poland. Upon his arrival in Warsaw, he invested his money in real estate and brought along with him his eight-year-old son Adam, who had recently lost his mother. In Warsaw, Moshe met my beautiful and single aunt Cesia. They eventually got married and had a child named Jerzy, who was now in 1939 seven years old. I was in constant contact with Adam Wolowelski, with whom I had much in common. Not only were we the same age, both doctors, single, and cousins, but we were also extremely close friends. During my years of study at secondary school and then at the university in Warsaw, I lived at his home and shared a room. Now, although we worked in separate clinics seventy kilometers from each other near the Russian border, we managed to get together often and spend time together. Sometimes twice a week, I would arrive at the center of the city of Brest-Litovsk and spend time with young co-eds whom I met at dance clubs or through the voluntary associations of the various hospitals. These associations were particularly ripe places to meet young girls, for as the reports of imminent war spread, the girls lined up and volunteered to study accelerated nursing courses. They were told that the military and civilian services interested them and would recruit them for immediate service. In the very early morning on September 1, 1939, the city of Warsaw was bombed by hundreds of German aircraft that arrived in massive waves. Over the radio airwaves, we could hear the loud shrill voice of Adolf Hitler, promising that no house in Warsaw would remain intact. “We will eradicate Warsaw to its foundation,” he screeched, and so Jewish and Christian families alike lost their homes, and all their life possessions were buried under rubble. Entire buildings collapsed, streets disappeared, and districts were obliterated when the waves of German planes relentlessly dropped tons of bombs on this great city. Within moments, luxurious gardens were transformed into craters filled with muddy water containing carcasses of swans and crushed fish. An unbearable stench of charred corpses hovered in the air, and bursts of fire and smoke could be seen everywhere. Ambulance sirens were frequently heard, but after a while, they also abated. The lucky ones who were not injured were seen leaving the city in endless convoys, mostly on foot, pulling carriages laden with packages, all traveling in an eastward direction. Even those fortunate to begin the journey by car eventually had to abandon that plan because of lack of fuel and damaged roads. The plane attacks occurred mainly at night, and as a consequence, the city was lit by the incendiaries that ignited buildings, districts, and avenues of beautiful old trees. Bridges that spanned the Vistula rose into the air and collapsed beneath themselves. A feeling of Armageddon and the end of life prevailed. There was no way of defending ourselves against the relentless German planes that operated without pause, bombing Warsaw and raining down destruction and death, which allowed their ground forces to advance and conquer the submissive city. The mayor of Warsaw, Jozef Stasinski, was helpless and confused. Once, he broadcast over the airwaves and urged the citizens of Warsaw to leave the city and be spared; during another time, he urged his citizens to remain and not betray their torn and bleeding homeland. Shortly thereafter, the electricity was interrupted, and absolute chaos reigned. All of these descriptions I heard from my wife-to-be,” the lucky and fortuitous one.” The entire apartment house where she and her family lived on Ulica Chlodna[2] in the center of Warsaw was destroyed, but the family fled the building as soon as they heard planes overhead; thus, they were saved. After seeing the building go up in flames and collapse in front of their eyes, they decided to leave their beloved city, where their grandfather Maks was born, and relocate to the city of Kobryn, which is east of Brest-Litovsk, two hundred fifty kilometers from Warsaw. They spent their first period of time there with relatives whom they met when they stole across the Russian border by crossing the Bug River that separates Russia from Poland, but I will return later to the story of the rescue of my future wife, whom I met in a Russian Gulag[3] in Novosibirsk, where I was exiled along with many other Poles, Christians, and Jews alike by the end of 1939. During the subsequent days, I witnessed the chaos that resulted as hundreds of thousands of frightened people were fleeing the border area towards villages and forests in the east, escaping to Russia. I decided to escape from Międzyrzec to Brest-Litovsk and see what the people were doing. After talking to Dr. Buahnik and his wife, who were both anxious but hopeful that no harm would befall them if they remained. I decided to make my move. I walked out of their house and found an abandoned motorcycle lying on the side of the road without fuel. A short distance away, on the opposite side of the road, there was an overturned truck. Approaching the truck, I noticed that there was fuel in the tank. With the aid of water hoses that I tore from the engine, I siphoned off the fuel and transferred it to the motorcycle, which immediately started and headed to my destination, all the while passing hordes of people escaping imminent death. Arriving at Brest-Litovsk, I raced through the deserted streets toward the hospital. At one point, the bridge was closed to traffic, and I could not continue.
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Uri Jerzy Nachimson

Uri Jerzy Nachimson was born in Szczecin, Poland, in 1947, and two years later, his parents immigrated to Israel. In 1966 he was drafted into the Israeli army, where he served as a war photographer in the Northern Command and participated in the ‘six days war’ as a photographer in combat. His travels and adventures worldwide are recorded in the various books he has written, including Seeds of Love and Broken hearts at Boulevard Unirii. When he went back to Poland in 1990 to seek his roots, he was deeply affected by the attitude of the Poles towards the Jews both during and after World War II and decided to research the history of the Jews of Poland during that era. Thus the trilogy was born; Lilly's Album, The Polish Patriot and Identity. Uri's grandmother, Ida Friedberg, was the granddaughter of the known Jewish writer A.S. Friedberg, author of many books. In 2008, Uri relocated to Tuscany in Italy, where he lives with his wife. While in Cortona, he wrote: Two Margherita, Isabella, Into the depth of Silence, Violette & Ginger, Recalled to life, and Rembrandt for Sale. All of his books have been translated into many languages. more…

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