Book Review: A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising

Bialoszewski, Miron translated by Levine, Madeline

Revised Polish edition 2014, NYRB edition 2015

This book is a firsthand account of the author’s experience in the Warsaw uprising near the end of WWII.  He was not directly involved in any of the official actions, nor did he chronicle everything at the time, but years later he put his memories together in a relatively chronological order.  There are some passages where he clearly admits he is uncertain of the order a few events took place in, but in the grand scheme of the book the exact order is unimportant.

What is important is the overall picture.  The author was a young man living in occupied Warsaw, who had seen the destruction of the ghetto, and who was out running errands when the uprising began.  Separated from his home by a front line that sprang up in his absence, he visits and shelters with friends, volunteers with various groups and working parties drafted to help repair barricades, get water, etc..  As the uprising lasts the tone changes from optimism to fatalism, and eventually the escape through the sewers from a major stronghold comes across flatly.

 

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