|Polish Hero Roman Rodziewicz Fate of a Hubal Soldier in Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Postwar England |
Lanham, MD and Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books, 2013
978-0-7391-8535-3 • Hardback, 2013
978-0-7391-8536-0 • eBook
978-1-4985-5696-5 • paperback, 2017
“I read this book about a Hubal soldier in one breath with delight. It will make such a wonderful contribution to a greater national recognition of what transpired during the difficult war years. It is a story that shouldn't be forgotten, and I think Ziolkowska-Boehm has done extremely well in providing a vivid picture of what was taking place”.
-Zbigniew Brzezinski, John Hopkins University and Center for Strategic and International Studies; former national security advisor to President Carter
"Recent Polish history abounds with heroic people and deeds, and it is a noble task of talented writers to tell their stories. Dr. Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm takes a prominent place among them. In a fascinating, lucid narration she tells us about another hero, Roman Rodziewicz, born (1913) of Polish parents. His first 10 years were spent in Manchuria; in 1923 he repatriated to Poland. After the outbreak of WWII, he volunteered to join the first guerilla unit of major "Hubal" Dobrzanski, and served with him until his commander’s death. Later on, he distinguished himself in many clandestine actions, Imprisoned by the Nazis Germans, he was liberated by the U.S. Army. He spent the rest of his colorful life in England where, now 100 years old, he resides. Thus, Dr. Ziolkowska-Boehm book represents a first-hand account of his heroic life."
“Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm has done it again -- another fine book about Polish courage and character. Polish Hero Roman Rodziewicz: Fate of a Hubal Soldier in Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Postwar England carries Roman Rodziewicz-- and us -- from Japanese-occupied Manchuria in the 1930s to the German invasion of Poland in 1939, and from the unspeakable horrors of Auschwitz to, finally, the life of a brave Polish survivor in postwar Great Britain. It is a story of earthshaking, violent events but also a very personal story of courage, patriotism and lost love”.
- Stanley Cloud and Lynne Olson, authors of A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron-Forgotten Heroes of World War II..
“Among all European wars, World War II stands out, and will always do so, as the most significant and meaningful conflict since the Western tradition stood firm against Orientalism at Actium. It was no mere struggle over borders, but rather a conflict of ideas: of humanism versus barbarism. But the victory of the Allies, while reemphasizing liberal democracy and respect for the human individual over the Hitlerite system of dehumanizing racial exploitation did not signify a victory for the entire continent. For Poland, the first country of all to stand up to the Nazis in 1939, liberation in 1945 was a hollow phrase, and resulted in merely the replacement of one totalitarianism with another. Aleksandra Ziółkowska-Boehm's new book, Polish Hero Roman Rodziewicz: Fate of a Hubal Soldier in Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Postwar England is important in that it brings to the English reader the full diapason of the Polish situation before, during, and after the conflict. It is a welcome addition to the American library of World War II history, told, as always, in the inimitable and engaging prose of a true master of reportage”.
“Polish Hero Roman Rodziewicz: Fate of a Hubal Soldier in Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Postwar England contains much more than the account of one young man caught in a terrible war. It is a multi-faceted memoir, as told to Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm, who renders this staggering and sweeping story with skill, and who does great service in drawing out from this modest hero the story of his incredible life. The tale of Roman Rodziewicz begins with a childhood of Dickensian vicissitudes and then transforms into a harrowing personal account of a great historical tragedy, a sweeping story of the horrors of the 2nd World War. From his harrowing experiences as one of Poland's first partisans through to his captivity at Auschwitz and beyond, Roman's odyssey is sure to push the breadth of our imagination. Reading this account not only provides a testament to the capacity of one man to prevail through great darkness, but it also illuminates for the reader the possibilities of heroism and endurance that can reside within us all”.-Matt DeLaMater, Military History Press .
“The author does, indeed, write about the Polish military hero Roman Rodziewicz in this volume. She shows the whole man and examines his entire life as it unfolds in his memoir as well as in his retelling”.
— The Sarmatian Review, January 2015
POLISH HERO ROMAN RODZIEWICZRodziewicz was born in 1910, into a privileged class on the family estate in Manchuria. He spent the first ten years there, hearing tales of Poland and the daring escapades of past fighters and patriots. Plans to establish Poland’s freedom were foremost on everyone’s mind.
Fate of a Hubal Soldier in Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Postwar England
by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm
Lexington Books, index, photos, 134 pp.
In 1922 Poland was once again a nation but Japan invaded Manchuria and Roman and his sister were sent to his grandmother’s estate in Wilno. This voyage took many months, stopping at ports around the world. The rest of the family planned to follow, however, both his mother and father died before they could make the journey. Roman and his sister both attended school, but Roman was expelled for causing trouble with his teachers. He decided to enlist in the Surwalki Calvary Brigade and served there for two years, before returning to his uncle’s estate, planning to learn how to manage the large farm.
In the fall of 1939 at the outbreak of war he joined his squadron and met Major Henryk “Hubal” Dobrzanski. They became famous for fighting the Germans in the forests of Poland. They marched toward Grodno, but had to fall back to the Lithuanian border. There they met with Colonel Jerzy Dabrowski who ordered the regiment to disband. Hubal refused, declaring he would take charge and continue to fight to return to Warsaw. They were the last active unit with no base for supplies and surrounded on all sides by the enemy. The inhabitants of Kielce welcomed them with open arms, supplying them with ammunition, food and shelter. Dobrzanski fought on for the next nine months before being killed in battle. Rodziewicz had kept a diary of their activities during this period, which are provided in this book. For the next thirty years Roman continued to live out his experiences, feeling he was a patriot, not a hero.
The group disbanded and Roman was later arrested and imprisoned in Auschwitz. He saw huge transports of people gassed to death. A year later, Roman was transferred to Buchenwald. In 1945 the area was bombed by the Allies and the inmates were transferred to Czechoslovakia and later Austria. It was in Salzburg that the German commander allowed them to escape, declaring the war was over. He went to Italy where he met Melchior Wankowicz, who wrote a book about his escapades and declared him a hero.
Later, living in London, he married and had two children. He frequently visited Poland but remained in England for the rest of his life.
Florence Waszkelewicz-Clowes, Books in Brief, Polish American Journal, February 2014
„The stories of Polish Christian survivors of World War II and the Holocaust remain little known outside of Poland and some limited circles in the West. Their victimization at the hands of Nazi Germany has been seen by most western scholars as unimportant or potentially distracting from the central narrative of the essentially Jewish tragedy of the Holocaust. Polish victimization by the Soviets falls completely outside the standard paradigms of Western scholarship. Attempts by Poles or Polish Americans to include Polish survivors in narratives of the war or the Holocaust are often viewed as special pleading or at worst a form of ant-Semitism or Polish nationalism (two things now treated as synonymous). This has retarded both understanding of the Polish experience during the war and efforts to document the experience of survivors.
Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm’s work has helped the remedy of the deficits in published Polish memoir literature in the West. A prolific author, she has written on numerous subjects but with a special focus on Polish survivors of the war. The two works here under review are an account of the life of Roman Rodziewicz, a Polish soldier and later prisoner if the Nazis and a collection of shorter memoir chapters.
Rodziewicz’s story is an especially compelling one. Raised in the Polish settlement in Manchuria, he served in the Polish Army during the September Campaign. Resisting the imposition of Nazi and Soviet rule, he joined the command of the legendary “Major Hubal (Major Henryk Dobrzanski) who continued to battle occupying forces in the months that followed Poland’s defeat. After Dobrzanski’s death at the hands of the Germans, Rodziewicz joined the Polish underground but was caught by the Gestapo in 1942 and sent to Auschwitz and later Buchenwald. He survived both camps, settled in England, and in the postwar years was one of the few surviving veterans of Major Hubal’s partisans in the West.
The collection “Untold Stories of Polish Heroes from World War II” covers the lives of several Poles with diverse experiences during the war, including the late Zbigniew Brzezinski and his father (who were featured in her earlier book “The Roots are Polish”). The sheer diversity of backgrounds of the subjects covered is interesting, though all experienced similar horrors during the war.
These two books are valuable sources for Polish history but also for the history of post-war Polish émigrés.(...)".
John Radzilowski, University of Alaska
“The Polish Review”, New York, vol. 65, No.1, 2020, pg. 116-117.
VOICES and LETTERS
I do admire your writing a great deal – it is as if you are speaking yo the reader. And I do review a great many any books
Florence Clowes, Vero Beach, Florida
"The narrative is immediately gripping and compelling - the reader feels in the moment from the first sentence without it ever becoming "sensationalizing". The competent, even tone is perfect for subject matter describing such horror".
-Suzan Sherman, New York, NY - Creative Non-Fiction.
Excellent book, very interesting, especially the parts where Roman was in Auschwitz and how he survived there, also when he reunited with Halina. I stayed up late night to finish it because it was difficult to put down.Dr. Michael J.Wahl
The book is a fascinating read and whilst I knew most of the story there are some gaps that you helped to fill in.Leon Rodziewicz, Utah
VOICES TO THE PREVIOUS EDITIONS
„In the book about Rodziewicz and the Hubal story, everyone can put the questions about life and the costs of their decisions. No one can have the only answer, because everything is based on belief, how strong are our beliefs and the virtues we value”.
- Marcin Kula, Warsaw University
“I am 95 years old, and I am now facing the task of looking through my collection of books that I have gathered most of my life. It is my intention to give away many titles. Several times in my life, when I have to move from one place to another, I never left my books behind. I always gave them to others.
Now with my life collection before me, I must decide which books to give away, and which still to keep. Some of them will stay with me to the end.
Many times I will face a difficult decision…which titles are important enough and should stay with me? To that dear category belongs your book.
When I was young, I wanted to be Pan Wolodyjowski… now the character of the Hubal soldier Rodziewicz also talks to my fantasy.
During World War II, I was not like Roman Rodziewicz, the hero of your book, in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. I was at Sachsenhausen.
I was among a few hundred Polish comrade – they were my brothers. I learned that my Jewish blood is the same color as Polish blood – and that we were both beaten by the same executioner.
I hope that the coming edition of your book will become a part of your work for recognition of and pride in being Polish that I found in you to be so dear and appealing. I wish the book and all the best.
Dr. Marcus Leuchter
Museum of Holocaust, Houston
AMICUS POLONIAE 2004.
„From one place to another, this is the motto for a most interesting book that should be read by everyone interested in history, events of life and its sudden changes”.
WPK, NOWE KSIAZKI Nr 1 (779), January,1984
„It is rather rare to have such an interesting biography – difficult and hard. But what a history”.
Maciej Siembieda „Wachmistrz Hubala”, TRUBUNA OPOLSKA Nr 30, 6-7 February 1988
„The book tells the story of Roman Rodziewicz – a member of the Hubal’s party. The book contains many interesting facts from the main hero’s life in Russia and Manchuria, however, most of all, it relates in the form of a diary the Hubal’s campaign. On the basis of Roman Rodziewicz’s story, a book of Melchior Wañkowicz „Hubalczycy” („Hubal’s men”) came into being”.
„From Place to Place in the Wake of Hubal’s myth”. (POLONIA PUBLISHER)
„A most interesting and genuine story about the legendary Hubal soldier”.
Zbigniew Mierzwinski, SLOWO POWSZECHNE 21/23 August 1997
„The book shows how the one accident can change someone’s whole life, how difficulties make some people stronger, and the destiny of the historical waves. The book also shows how the ordinary people under the pressure of circumstances can turn into real heroes”.
„Uporzadkowac swiat wokol siebie”, PIELGRZYM (Toronto) May 1997
"Polish history roads… Polish destinies. It is something very nostalgic and genuine in those real events, that took Roman from Manchuria to Lawski Brod, pushes him to take part in the war, fight by the legendary partisan Hubal, and to act in conspiracy. To survive the prisons, interrogations, Auschwitz and Buchenwald, and to join the Polish Army’s Second Corp. in Italy. Because of Communism that was imposed in Poland, Roman didn’t return to his homeland, he stayed in England. Here he is, a hard working immigrant, working in coal mines. From the child of a privileged family, he was relegated to that of a non-descript hard worker.
There were thousands like him from the Polish Army, hundreds of thousands now mostly gone, and in graves all over the globe.
The book shows an extraordinary man and extraordinary generations similar to him, and the book honors those brave people”.
“Ocalic od zapomnienia”, MYSL POLSKA Nr 12 (60), November 1997
“The book remembers the partisan Hubal legend that is so fascinating in Polish culture and history”.
Wieslaw Rogowski, NOWE KONTRASTY, January 1998
"It is a life of „a wandering Pole”, because history made him move from one place to another. It is a fragment of Polish history, so cherished in Poland. The book is written with a beautiful flair and can be read as a romance story; it keeps your interest and has also some fragments which are very touching, several that can bring one to tears. The book relates a beautiful story of one person’s life, written in a beautiful way and full of details and smells and sounds of those times”.
Mirosława Pałaszewska "W cieniu legendy Hubala", NASZ DZIENNIK, 23 March 1998, Nr 46 s.7
The life of Mr. Rodziewicz is rich in human and patriotic values. The author's skill in storytelling makes this an absorbing and moving story that I could not tear myself away from.
Andrzej S.Porwit, Philadelphia, PA www.amazon.com.
It is written with genuine talent and feelings for the hero's life. I had tears in my eyes reading about his misfortunes, about meeting with his former fiancé Halinka after years had passed by. The book can be a base for a great movie scenario about the hero's life, Roman Rodziewicz. It has a fascinating plot, action and a "lost great love".
Michael Kopacky, Washington, D.C www.amazon.com
It is a third edition of that extraordinary book dedicated to the man who survived the World War II, Auschwitz and Buchenwald.
His life in England as an immigrant warms the heart of the reader”.
Leonard Ratajczyk, Schaumburg, Illinois, May 27, 2000 www.amazon.com
I learned a lot about Poland and Polish people from the book. I am from a young generation, and those years are a history for me. Maybe now I can understand my parents and my grandparents”..
A reader from Kalisz, August 2001 www.amazon.com
I saw the film about Hubal and now the book about one of his soldiers. Very beautiful and very informative. I like the parts where the writer shows the estates in Kresy, its virgin beauty, rules and behavior…Everything gone with the wind
A reader from Chicago, February 15, 2001 www.amazon.com
„The description of the land that is gone and the behavior of the people are touching because it is written by a present modern day writer in a modern way. I like her sometimes archaic sentences – about fishing, hunting, etc. (...)”.
Olgierd Terlecki, Kraków 13 lipca 1979
(review for the Krakow publisher House Wydawnictwo Literackie).
„I had a great pleasure in reading that book, all the descriptions of the estates - the land, houses and its people”.
Karol Wañkowicz, London, 12 June 1984
„I like the form of the book, very informative and very beautiful”.
Stanislaw Gliwa, London
“I read the book several times. It is most wonderful and informative”.
Andrzej Przybylski, Szczyrk, 15 July 1985
„What an artistic way to show those years… How sad that the hero couldn’t contact his loved ones in Poland after the war”.
Prof.dr Stefan Wesolowski, Warszawa, 7 May 1989
„I am taken by the style of Aleksandra Ziolkowska, I do like this talented writer’s way of playing with words very much”.
S.Kwiatkowski (letter to Radio Polonia), 13 May 1988
„Z miejsca na miejsce” I read withour stopping. I choked a few times with sensitivity”.
Nina Koma (letter to Radio Polonia, Boom, Belgium, 27 March 1988
„The most wonderful part for me were the first 30 pages. The drawing of the times and land, the childhood years – full of nostalgia, colorful and also melancholic. Very beautiful”.
Szymon Kobyliński, Warszawa, September 18, 1997
„I read the book without stopping and even cried reading about the meeting of the hero with his old former fiancé, Halina”.
Rafal B. Jacyna, Philadelphia, PA, 14 March 2000