In Queen's Bench Courtroom Number Seven, famous author Abraham Cady stands trial. In his book The Holocaust born of the terrible revelation that the Jadwiga Concentration camp was the site of his family's exterminationCady shook the consciousness of the human race. He also named eminent surgeon Sir Adam Kelno as one of Jadwiga's most sadistic inmate/doctors. Kelno has denied this and brought furious charges. Now unfolds Leon Uris' riveting courtroom dramaone of the great fictional trials of the century.
About the Author
An internationally acclaimed novelist for over 30 years, Leon Uris was the author of Battle Cry, The Angry Hills, Exodus, Mila 18, Armageddon, Topas QB VII, Trinity, The Haj, Mitla Pass, and Redemption, and two highly praised works of nonfiction in collaboration with his wife, Ireland: A Terrible Beauty and Jerusalem: Song of Songs. He lived in Aspen, Colorado, with his wife, photographer Jill Uris, and their two children. He died in 2003.
Jill Uris is the author of Ireland Revisited and the co-author, with her husband, Leon Uris, of Jerusalem: A Song of Songs and Ireland: A Terrible Beauty.
Read an Excerpt
By Leon Uris
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1970 Leon Uris
All rights reserved.
November 1945-Monza, Italy
The corporal cadet stepped out of the guard hut and squinted out over the field. A shadowy figure ran through the knee-high grass toward him. The guard lifted a pair of binoculars. The man, half stumbling, carried a single battered suitcase. He waved and gasped a greeting in Polish.
It was a familiar sight these days. In the backwash of the war, all of Europe had become a tangled river of refugees, east going west, west going east, and burgeoning refugee camps all but collapsed under the swell. Hundreds of thousands of liberated Polish slaves roamed about desperately seeking contact with their countrymen. Many wound up here in Monza at the Fifteenth Free Polish Fighter Wing of the Royal Air Force.
"Hello! Hello!" the man shouted as he crossed out of the field and over a dusty road. His run had slowed to a limp.
The corporal cadet stepped up to him. The man was tall and slender with a high-boned face capped with a head of solid white hair.
"Polish, Free Polish?"
"Yes," the guard answered, "let me take your suitcase."
The man leaned against the guard to stave off fainting.
"Easy, father, easy. Come, sit down inside my hut. I will call for an ambulance."
The guard took him by the arm and led him. The man stopped suddenly and stared at the flag of Poland which flew from its staff just inside the gate and tears came to his eyes. He sat on a wooden bench and held his face in his hands.
The corporal cadet set the suitcase down and circled the handle of the field phone. "Post number four, send an ambulance. Yes, a refugee."
As the man was driven into the confines of the camp, the guard shook his head. Ten a day? A hundred some days. What could be done but put a few hot meals into their shrunken bellies, scrub them, give them shots against the raging diseases, a set of ragged clothing, and then dispatch them to a refugee center girding for a terrible winter. Europe would be one large house of death when the snows came.
The bulletin board in the officer's club carried a daily list of refugee arrivals. These Free Polish sought the miracle of contact with a relative or even an old friend. On some rare occasions there would be an emotional reunion of old schoolmates. Almost never was there a meeting of loved ones.
Major Zenon Myslenski entered the club, still dressed in flight jacket and fur-lined boots. He was warmly greeted, for Myslenski, with twenty-two kills of German aircraft, was one of the few quadruple aces of the Free Poles and a legend in a time of legends. He stopped automatically at the bulletin board and glanced at the new orders, the list of social events. There was a chess tournament he must enter. He was about to turn away when be was drawn to that frustrating catalogue, the new refugee list. Only four arrivals today. It was so futile.
"Hey, Zenon," someone called from the bar. "You're late."
Major Myslenski froze, eyes fixed on a name on the refugee list. Arrived, November 5—Adam Kelno.
Zenon knocked once, then burst the door open. Adam Kelno was half asleep on the cot. At first Zenon did not recognize his cousin. God, he had aged. At the outbreak of the war he didn't have a gray hair in his head. He was so bony and drawn. Through a haze, Adam Kelno felt the presence of someone. He groggily propped on an elbow and blinked his eyes.
Colonel C. Gajnow, Commander of the Fifteenth Fighter Wing, poured himself a stiff shot of vodka and lifted the pages of a preliminary interrogation of Dr. Adam Kelno, who had petitioned to be allowed to join the Free Polish Forces.
ADAM KELNO, M.D.—Born near the village of Pzetzeba, 1905. Educated—University of Warsaw, Medical College. Entered practice as a physician/surgeon in 1934.
There was testimony by his cousin, Major Zenon Myslenski, that Kelno was always identified with Polish Nationalist movements even as a student. At the beginning of World War II, with Poland occupied by the Germans, Kelno and his wife, Stella, immediately went into the Nationalist underground.
After several months their activities were discovered by the Gestapo. Stella Kelno was shot to death by a firing squad.
By a miracle Adam Kelno was spared and sent to the infamous Jadwiga Concentration Camp located midway between Krakow and Tornow in the southern region of Poland. It was an enormous manufacturing complex to feed the German war machine and manned by hundreds of thousands of slaves.
The report continued on that Kelno became a leading figure among the prisoner/doctors and did much to lift the primitive medical facilities. Kelno personally was a selfless and dedicated physician.
Later in the war when extermination facilities were introduced into Jadwiga, Kelno was responsible for saving thousands of lives from the gas chambers by falsifying reports and death certificates, through the underground and by his medical skill.
He became so prominent that toward the end of the war, the chief German medical officer, SS Dr. Colonel Adolph Voss, took Kelno, against his will, to help him run an exclusive private clinic in East Prussia.
At the end of the war, Kelno returned to Warsaw, where he ran into a shattering experience. The Polish Communists had betrayed that country to the Soviet Union. During his stay in Jadwiga, as a member of the Nationalist underground, he was constantly in a life and death struggle with the Communist underground. Now, many Communist doctors, most of them Jews, had rigged a conspiracy against Kelno with statements that he had collaborated with the Nazis. With a warrant out for his arrest, Adam Kelno fled immediately and made his way across Europe to Italy, where he made contact with the Free Polish.
Colonel Gajnow set the report down and called for his secretary. "On the Kelno matter," he said, "I am declaring a commission of inquiry to be composed of five officers with myself as chairman. We shall inquire immediately to all Free Polish Forces and organizations which may have knowledge of Kelno and we shall convene for consideration in three months."
When Poland fell in World War II and was divided between Germany and the Soviet Union by pact, many thousands of soldiers were able to escape. A government-in-exile was formed in London and fighting units put into the field and in the skies under British command.
During the war many thousands of other Polish officers fled to the Soviet Union, where they were interned and later massacred in the Katyn Forest. The Soviets had designs to take over Poland and naturally a Nationalist officer corps stood as a threat to this ambition. At the end of the war, the Soviet Army stood at the gates of Warsaw and did not budge to assist the Nationalist underground in an uprising but allowed the Germans to destroy them.
The Free Poles were to remain in England, rightfully bitter, tightly knit, and forever fanning the dream of a return to their homeland. When the call went out on the matter of Adam Kelno it quickly reached the entire Polish Community.
On the face of it, things seemed clear enough. Dr. Adam Kelno was a Polish Nationalist and when he returned to Warsaw he was to be eliminated by the Communists just as the officer corps had been in the Katyn Massacre.
Within days of the launching of the inquiry, sworn statements began to come back to Monza along with offers of personal testimony.
I HAVE KNOWN DR. ADAM KELNO FROM 1942, WHEN I WAS SENT TO JADWIGA CONCENTRATION CAMP. I BECAME ILL AND TOO WEAK TO WORK. HE HID ME AND SAVED ME FROM THE GERMANS. HE SAVED MY LIFE.
DR. ADAM KELNO OPERATED ON ME AND NURSED ME BACK TO HEALTH WITH GREAT CARE.
DR. KELNO HELPED ARRANGE MY ESCAPE FROM JADWIGA.
DR. KELNO OPERATED ON ME AT FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING WHEN HE WAS SO TIRED HE COULD HARDLY STAND UP. I DON'T THINK HE EVER SLEPT FOR MORE THAN A FEW HOURS AT A TIME.
HE SAVED MY LIFE.
On the day of the commission, the camp was visited by Leopold Zalinski, a legendary figure of the Polish Nationalist underground during the occupation. His code name, Kon, was known by every Pole. Kon's testimony erased any doubts. He swore Adam Kelno to be a hero of the Nationalist underground before his imprisonment and during his years as a prisoner/doctor at Jadwiga. With letters and testimonies from two dozen others without conflict, the commission cleared him.
In a moving ceremony at Monza attended by many Polish colonels of the Free Forces, Dr. Adam Kelno was sworn in as a captain and his pips were pinned on him by his cousin.
Poland had been taken from these men but they continued to remember and dream.CHAPTER 2
The Sixth Polish Hospital Foxfield Cross CampTunbridge Wells, England—March 1946
Major Adam Kelno walked slowly from the surgery tugging at his rubber gloves. Sister Angela untied his surgical mask and dabbed the perspiration from his head.
"Where is she?" Adam asked.
"In the visitor's lounge. Adam?"
"Will you come to my flat?"
"Yes, all right."
As he walked the long dim corridor, it was obvious Angela Brown's admiration was more than professional. It had been but a few short months that they had worked together in surgery. From the onset she was impressed by his skill and a kind of dedicated zeal in which he performed half as many operations again as most of his colleagues. His hands were magnificent.
It all happened rather plainly. Angela Brown, a commonplace sort in her mid-thirties, had been a capable nurse for a decade. A first short marriage ended in divorce. The great love of her life, a Polish flyer in the RAF, was shot down over the Channel.
Adam Kelno was nothing like her fighter pilot so it became a new kind of love. A rather magic spot in time the instant he peered over his mask and caught her eye as she placed instruments in his hands, his quick decisive hands and the closeness of spirit as they worked together as a team to save a human life. The exhilaration of a successful operation. The exhaustion of a failure after a difficult battle.
They were so lonely, both of them, and so it happened in a very undramatic but lovely manner.
Adam entered the visitor's lounge. It was very late. The operation had lasted more than three hours. There was a look of stunned anticipation on Madame Baczewski's face. Afraid to ask. Adam took her hand, bowed slightly and kissed it then sat beside her.
"Jerzy has left us. It was very peaceful."
She nodded, but dared not speak.
"Is there anyone I should call, Madame Baczewski?"
"No. There was only us. We are the only survivors."
"I think we had better put you in a room here."
She tried to speak but her mouth went into a trembling spasm and tiny little grunts of agony emerged. "He said ... get me to Dr. Kelno ... he kept me alive in the concentration camp ... get me to Dr. Kelno."
Angela arrived and took charge. Adam whispered to have her put under.
"When I first met Jerzy Baczewski he was so strong like a hull. He was a great Pole, one of our foremost dramatists. We knew the Germans were out to destroy the intelligentsia and we had to keep him alive at any price. This surgery was not that difficult. A healthy man would have gotten through this, but he had no stamina left after two years in that putrid hell hole."
"Darling, it was you that told me a good surgeon has to be impersonal. You did everything ..."
"Sometimes I don't believe my own words. Jerzy died a betrayed man. Lonely, his country taken from him, and a memory of unbelievable terror."
"Adam, you've been in surgery half the night. Here, darling, take your tea."
"I want a drink."
He poured a stiff one, tossed it down, and poured another. "All Jerzy wanted was a child. What kind of a damned tragedy are we? What kind of curse is on us? Why can't we live?"
The bottle was empty. He chewed at his knuckles.
Angela ran her fingers through that thicket of white hair. "Will you stay tonight?"
"I would like that. I don't want to be alone."
She sat on the footstool before him and lay her head in his lap. "Dr. Novak called me aside today," she said. "He told me to get you out of the hospital for a little rest or you're going to break down."
"What the hell does August Novak know. A man who has spent his life fixing oversized noses and transplanting hair for balding British gentry in his singular quest for knighthood. Get me another drink."
"My God, turn it off."
As he began to arise she grabbed his hands and held him, then looked pleading and kissed his fingers, each one.
"Don't cry, Angela, please don't cry."
"My auntie has a lovely little cottage at Folkestone. We're welcome there if we want to go."
"Perhaps I am a little tired," he said.
The days at Folkestone all went so quickly. He was renewed by long quiet walks along the leas on the cliffs overlooking the sea. France was across the Channel in shadowy outline. Hand in hand in silent communication they walked wind-blown along the shrub-lined rosemary path to the harbor and in the distance the sounds of the band concert at the Marine Gardens. The narrow little streets had been bombed out but the statue of William Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, remained. The steamer to Calais left daily again and soon there would be vacationers for the short summer season.
The evening chill was dulled by a crackling fire that threw odd shadows over the old low-beamed ceiling of the cottage. The last lovely day had ended and tomorrow they would return to the hospital.
A sudden moroseness came over Adam. He drank rather heavily. "I'm sorry it's over," he mumbled. "I don't remember such a beautiful week."
"It need not end," she said.
"Everything for me must end. I can have nothing that is not taken from me. Everyone I have ever loved has been taken from me. My wife, my mother, my brothers. Any who have survived are in virtual slavery in Poland. I can make no commitments, never again."
"I've never asked for one," she said.
"Angela, I want to love you, but you see, if I do, I'll lose you too."
"What's the difference, Adam. Well end up losing each other without even giving it a chance."
"There's more to it, you know that I am afraid for myself as a man. I have this deadly fear of impotence and it's not the drinking that does it. It's ... so many things that happened in that place."
"I'll keep you strong, Adam," she said.
He reached out and touched her cheek and she kissed his hands. "Your hands. Your beautiful hands."
"Angela, would you give me a child right away?"
"Yes, my darling darling."
Angela became pregnant a few months after their marriage.
Dr. August Novak, executive surgeon of the Sixth Polish Hospital, returned to private practice and in a surprise move, Adam Kelno was moved over a number of seniors to be named head of the hospital.
Administrative work was not what Adam desired but the enormous responsibilities at the Jadwiga Concentration Camp had trained him for it. Along with budgets and politics, he managed to keep his sure hand in as a surgeon.
It was so good to come home these days. The Kelno cottage in Groombridge Village was a few miles from the hospital at Tunbridge Wells. Angela's belly was filling beautifully with their child and in the evenings they would walk, as always, hand in hand in communicative silence up the wooded path to Toad Rock and take their tea at the quaint little café. Adam drank much less these days.
On an evening in July he signed out at the hospital and his orderly put the groceries in the rear seat of his car. He drove to the center of town and in the Pantiles Colonnade he bought a bouquet of roses and made for Groombridge.
Angela did not answer to his ring. This always gave him a start. The fear of losing her hovered behind every tree of the forest. Adam juggled the grocery sack and fished for his key. Wait! The door was not locked. He opened it.
His wife sat on the edge of a chair in the living room, ashen-faced. Adam's eyes went to the two men hovering over her.
"Inspector Ewbank, Scotland Yard."
"Inspector Henderson," the second man said, holding out his identification.
"What do you want? What are you doing here?"
"I have a warrant for your arrest, sir."
"What is this all about? What kind of joke is this?"
Their sullen expressions denoted it was no joke.
"My arrest ... for what?"
"You are to be detained at Brixton Prison pending extradition to Poland to stand charges as a war criminal."
Excerpted from QB VII by Leon Uris. Copyright © 1970 Leon Uris. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
iii/brief to counsel,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read the paperback edition of the original issue in 1978 while I enduring a hot summer pregnancy. I still remember lying on the examining table, waiting for my doctor to come in - unable to put this book down for a minute. I recently went looking for it among the many volumes I have collected over the years - can't find it! Will have to buy another, and in the meantime, I have obtained the TV movie from Netflix - watching it this afternoon.
I am just 13 and I just finished reading this book. I must say it is truly wonderful. It is the first book I read by Mr. Uris and it surely won't be the last if the rest of his books are like this one.
This review is for the NOOK version: The story is as good as I remember; however, I could REALLY do without the formatting issues. Paragraph indentations and punctuation are missing in spots, which detracts from the story. Which is why I'm only giving this a 3 star rating.
Leon Uris takes me to heaven and hell. In this book, he makes the reader think about individual motivations surrounding experiments done on prisoners in concentration camps during WWII. He does this through a trial held in Court Room Seven--Queen's Bench Number Seven. The story is carried through trial testimony, but the story is not pretty. It is real.