Out of the Inferno: Poles Remember the Holocaust

Overview

" Richard Lukas's book, encompassing the wartime recollections of sixty "ordinary" Poles under Nazi occupation, constitutes a valuable contribution to a new perspective on World War II. Lukas presents gripping first-person accounts of the years 1939-1945 by Polish Christians from diverse social and economic backgrounds. Their narratives, from both oral and written sources, contribute enormously to our understanding of the totality of the Holocaust. Many of those who speak in these pages attempted, often at extreme peril, to assist Jewish friends, ...

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Out of the Inferno: Poles Remember the Holocaust

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Overview

" Richard Lukas's book, encompassing the wartime recollections of sixty "ordinary" Poles under Nazi occupation, constitutes a valuable contribution to a new perspective on World War II. Lukas presents gripping first-person accounts of the years 1939-1945 by Polish Christians from diverse social and economic backgrounds. Their narratives, from both oral and written sources, contribute enormously to our understanding of the totality of the Holocaust. Many of those who speak in these pages attempted, often at extreme peril, to assist Jewish friends, neighbors, and even strangers who otherwise faced certain death at the hands of the German occupiers. Some took part in the underground resistance movement. Others, isolated from the Jews' experience and ill informed of that horror, were understandably preoccupied with their own survival in the face of brutal condition intended ultimately to exterminate or enslave the entire Polish population. These recollections of men and women are moving testimony to the human courage of a people struggling for survival against the rule of depravity. The power of their painful witness against the inhumanities of those times is undeniable.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lukas, author of Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation , here assembles oral histories by 60 Christian Polish men and women who survived the Nazi occupation. Told in plain language, their moving testimonies recount the sadism, mass murders, deportations and imprisonment which Poles suffered at the hands of Hitler's invading army. These first-person narratives demonstrate that thousands of Poles courageously rescued Jews, at great risk to their own lives. One point of controversy is Lukas's intention with this oral history to refute the ``stereotype'' that Poles were anti-Semites who ``at a minimum were indifferent to the Germans' treatment of the Jews. . . .'' Yet, in an introductory essay, he supportively quotes comments about the ``unresisting attitude'' and ``passivity'' of Jewish victims of Nazism. In this treatment, he largely ignores the torrent of anti-Semitic legislation, daily brutality and prejudice that many Polish Jews faced prior to the German occupation. (July)
Library Journal
Korbonski was a prominent leader of the Polish underground resistance to German occupation during World War II, and, since leaving Poland in 1947, he has been a major figure among Polish political exiles in the United States. He provides a rapid-fire review of efforts by the Polish underground to assist Jews and to inform the Western allies of the destruction of Polish Jews. The second half of the book contradicts postwar charges of Polish anti-Semitism and reproduces statements and documents emphasizing Polish assistance to Jews. This vigorous partisan contribution to the ongoing debate about Polish attitudes and actions during the Jewish Holocaust is a valuable statement by a leading participant. For collections specializing in these subjects. Lukas presents a selection of oral and written memoirs of some 60 Polish men and women who lived through the German occupation of Poland in World War II. The contributors derive from a wide social and political background and their recollections, ranging from a few paragraphs to a dozen pages, are highly episodic rather than analytic or evaluative. Most discuss some aspect of the Jewish Holocaust, and some describe their efforts on behalf of Jews. Only a few refer candidly to animosities between Poles and Jews. There is a long litany of the brutalities of the occupation, only occasionally relieved by isolated acts of heroism and generosity. Unfortunately, almost no contributors report on the parts of Poland under Soviet occupation. Recommended for World War II and Holocaust collections.-- James B. Street, Santa Cruz P.L., Cal.
From the Publisher

"Oral and written memoirs of some 60 polish men and women who lived through the German occupation of Poland." -- Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813116921
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 9/28/1989
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.83 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2000

    Tells the Truth About Poland's Assistance to Jews

    In one of the published reviews, there is a charge that the book does not discuss Poland's treatment of Jews before the war. I beg to differ. In the book are some descriptions of prewar Polish-Jewish relations, which may help the reader understand why there were mutual antipathies between both groups. And one wonders whether Poland should be excoriated for the anti-Semitism which existed there, or praised for being a haven for Jews, for many centuries, in the first place. The book itself presents priceless information from WWII. From time to time, there are vague and unsubstantiated accusations that Poles did not do enough to assist the Jews during the German occupation of Poland and the ensuing Holocaust. Others gloss over the 3 million Polish gentiles murdered by the Germans during WWII. This book is a collection of eyewitness accounts of both the Holocaust and of Polish assistance to Jews. And, remember, that in Poland, unlike other German-occupied countries, the death penalty was imposed for the slightest assistance to Jews.

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