Wira Of Warsaw - A Memoir Of A Girl Soldier
The fascinating true story of a Polish resistance fighter
The bravery of an Ealing woman who fought with the Polish resistance has been told in a new book published by her son.
Local author, George Szlachetko, is the author of ‘Wira of Warsaw – Memoirs of a Girl Soldier’ - the true–life story of his mother, Danuta Szlachetko, who grew up during the brutal German occupation of Warsaw.
George, who was born in Chiswick but brought up in Ealing, will be speaking about the book at Waterstones on Chiswick High Road, on Wednesday 9 March at 6.30pm.
The book, an account of his mother's fascinating but sad life, took him over three years to write. His mother became a soldier of the Polish underground army, adopting the pseudonym ‘Wira’ (pronounced Vera), believing she had to do her part with her nation under threat. Her mother discovered her secret – but there was no turning back, the Uprising began in August 1944 and Warsaw became an inferno.
Wira played her role in the maze of underground cellars that served as refuges for the cowering civilians, dodging bullets and bombs and narrowly escaping death on numerous occasions.
With Warsaw destroyed, Wira became a POW in Germany. After an emotional liberation from Stalag VI–C, she met a Polish officer and began a new life in England and moved to Ealing where she has remained since 1951.
Danuta and her son George, pictured with local MP Rupa Huq
Now aged 86 Danuta says, ''I could not return to Poland and I worked hard to build a new life here. I am grateful to my adopted country, but Poland is my homeland and I still follow the political situation there.''
George said: ''I was fascinated by this image of a young girl growing out of childhood in such a hostile environment, coming to her personal realisation that something had to be done. I wanted to know more about how she was recruited, what she was thinking and feeling at the time.''
Danuta has been honoured by her country for services during and after the war, notably working for charitable organisations such as Medical Aid for Poland. She has received one of Poland’s highest honours, The Order of Polonia Restituta, for extraordinary and distinguished service, as well as the ‘Pro Memoria’ and ‘Pro Patria’ medals which she received in Warsaw last summer.
The book, which contains 64 images, including many from the Uprising, is available from the website www.wiraofwarsaw.com.
It can also be found in Waterstones bookshop and through online retailers including Amazon.
George and Danuta will also be giving a talk in Chiswick library on Monday 11 April 2016.
February 10, 2016