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January 31, 2015 | History

Polish Hero Roman Rodziewicz Fate of a Hubal Soldier in Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Postwar England 1 editions

Cover of: Polish Hero Roman Rodziewicz Fate of a Hubal Soldier in Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Postwar England | Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm
About the Book

“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."
-Jerzy Krzyzanowski, Ohio State University

“Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm has done it again -- another fine book about Polish courage and character. Fate of a Polish Hero 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.
Rodziewicz 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.
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 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
“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”.
-Charles S. Kraszewski, Kings College

“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

I do admire your writing a great deal – it is as if you are speaking to the reader. And I do review a great many 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

„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

„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
„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
I read withour stopping. I choked a few times with sensitivity”.
Nina Koma (letter to Radio Polonia, Boom, Belgium)
„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
(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

„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
„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
„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)
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

1 edition First published in 2013

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Cover of: Polish Hero Roman Rodziewicz
2013, Lexington Books
Polish Hero Roman Rodziewicz


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January 31, 2015 Edited by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm Edited without comment.
January 24, 2015 Edited by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm Edited without comment.
January 24, 2015 Edited by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm Edited without comment.
May 4, 2014 Edited by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm Edited without comment.
February 3, 2014 Created by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm Added new book.