Warsaw 1944 - An Insurgent's Journal of the Uprising, Zbigniew Czajkowski

Warsaw 1944 - An Insurgent's Journal of the Uprising, Zbigniew Czajkowski

This book is built around a journal written in the months just after the Warsaw uprising by Zbigniew Czajkowski, who at the time was a teenage fighter in the Polish underground with the alias of 'Deivir'. He formed part of a ten-man squad that spent most of occupation preparing for the eventual uprising and that was almost wiped out during the month-long battle for Warsaw. He later expanded the original core to include a section on his life before the uprising and the surrender and his time in captivity.

The contrast between the first section, which looks at the period before the uprising, and the rest of the book is stark. In the first section the risks were real, but not quite as overwhelming and some of the exploits almost light-hearted (paint bombing pictures of Hitler on his birthday for instance). From the moment the uprising began this light-hearted tone disappears and the danger becomes instant and almost ever present. Of the author's squad of ten friends only three survived the fighting.

One of the interesting features of this journal is that the author chose not to intersperse his wartime writing with explanatory material, so we know what he knew at the time. This means that our attention is almost always focused on the street level fighting, where the author and his friends rarely had any idea of what was going on in the wider battle. Sometimes news or rumour is reported or Allied aircraft are seen flying over the city, but otherwise we are with 'Deivir' as he struggled to find his squad or food or supplies in the middle of the chaotic street fighting. The eventual surrender thus comes almost out of the blue, just as 'Deivir' and his remaining comrades had begun to believe that they wouldn't survive the fighting.

This is a compelling account of one of the most gallant ventures of the Second World War, and goes well with General Bor's memoirs to help paint a more complete picture of the Polish underground and its desperate fight for freedom in 1944.

1 - Days before the Uprising
2 - The Uprising
3 - The Aftermath

Author: Zbigniew Czajkowski
Translator: Marek Czajkowski
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 155
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2012

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