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My father’s war writings

My father, Michael Wajsman, was born in Lublin, eastern Poland, in 1925. He was thus 14 when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. He, his baby brother, their father and my father’s stepmother, escaped into the Soviet Union, far enough east that when the Germans attacked USSR in 1941, they never got that far. The rest of my father’s large extended family in Lublin all died in the Holocaust. The Russian people received the refugees well. My father went to a local Russian school and lived the life of a normal teenager, such as was possible in the circumstances.

He joined the Red Army in 1942 or 1943 and fought in the war until the end in 1945, initially in the Red Army, and later in a Polish army-in-exile that was formed in the Soviet Union. He kept a notebook with him in which he scribbled down his thoughts from time to time. He was a young man between 18 and 20 years old at the time, but already then he had a lot of knowledge and wisdom. He was, like many people of his time, a convinced Communist, since he considered socialism the only solution to the nationalism and anti-Semitism so endemic in Poland and Europe at the time, and which had brought such disaster upon the continent and on the Jewish people in particular. Later, in the 1950s, he lost that illusion, but the writings here are from the war years and the immediate aftermath.

I found the notebook in his possessions after his death in 2004. It was written in Russian–I guess at that time this was my father’s main everyday language. My sister (who is much better at Russian than I am) translated it for me into Polish, and I then translated it into English and added scans of some pictures taken during his time in the army.

I have kept it private since then, just for the family, but I think now is the time to share it with a wider audience. The link below is a 1 MB PDF file.

Michael Wajsman war writings

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