i’ve read two books recently, essentially as you can say ‘on one breath’. our polish books, important ones.
first, legendary today is Black crosses over Poland by Stanisław Skalski. every military aviation fan should read this one, because it brilliantly and lively describes how it was in september 1939 to fight loosing war for polish sky. it was relentless, there was no integrated strategy, but pilots shown their best. cruel reality of second world war squeezed and twisted their lifes and they tried to live through it. would our current generation fare so well as they did? Robert Gretzyngier wrote ‘second part’ to this book - Poles in defense of Great Britain. i highly recommend for all of those that want to check what was after Skalskis book ends, and how despite Great Britain failed us as ally - we still fought for their freedom.
second book is Westerplatte - in defense of truth by Mariusz Borowiak. tough book, raising a lot of controversial topics in Polish society, but at the same time precisely documenting every fact and while it tears down a lot of propaganda ‘stories’ we’ve heard over the years - it’s very important because its so well documented. we have falling myth of Henryk Sucharski as a hero leader. on the other side, it seems that true hero is born on the books pages - Franciszek Dąbrowski. he not only tried to pull soldiers together in those unbelievably hard days - he also did a lot of them after the war. as a small child and then in primary school i learnt almost exclusively about Sucharski. about relentless defense despite lack of ammo and food. about ultimate order to defend Westerplatte no matter what and in this way giving example to rest of our fighting country (was defending Westerplatte so long a good idea from military point of view is completely another story).
that wasn’t however what really pulled my attention - people that want to have their own understanding should read all spectrum of different books describing those topics, and obviously end up with their own, well informed, opinion.
what really killed me is realization that we, Poles, as a society are so shortsighted and indulging in hypocrisy. in polish state TV - tvp1, couple years ago we were shown long report about how constructor of legendary AK-47 - Kałasznikow, lives in single, small room in block of flats. in his small room he has toilet, bathroom tub and weak lighting. on the other side, he was proudly displaying his uniform and breast full of soviet medals. why our media didn’t document and showcase how our heroes lived after the war and in how pitful situations they passed away? Skalski was dying alone, robbed from money by his own so called family, and that was not so long ago! Dąbrowski also tried hard to make ends meet to his very end, was very poor and forgotten. he died alone in 1962, without anyone showing even little interest. we didn’t fund them, we didn’t care about them, we were not able to do so even today. for our aces, for our heros that we so like to bring over and over again - but only in terms of war achievements.
we tend to forget our own heros. those true ones, not the ones that simply jumped over wall.
and my last doubt - would today our society be able to stand unified together and fight so furiously and valiantly as they did? i have my own opinion, but i’ll leave it to myself.