• July 3, 2014
  • 151

The war history of Vilnius 1939-1945

The book ” The War History of Vilnius 1939-1945”. History of the Polish people, sensations, mysteries” by J. Krajewski is, as the name suggests, devoted to the events happening in Vilnius and within the Vilnius Region during World War II. The author focused mainlyon the activities of the Polish underground and the activities of the Home Army during the Soviet and German occupation.

The publication is divided into a few major and a few dozens minor thematic chapters. One reads virtually about everything, which author considered worth being mentioned. The whole story starts from the defence of Vilnius attacked by the Red Army in 1939, then there is the description of KeDyw’ s ( Directorate of Subversion’s) activities and also, the execution of  a gestapo spy Marijonas Padaba performed by the Home Army members. The author obviously describes the crime in Ponary as a result of which, at least few dozens of thousands Jewish and non-Jewish people, including those of Polish origin, were killed by the German invaders and  Lithuanian services collaborating with them. Also, the author discussed the armed conflicts between the Home Army and the Lithuanian Subsidiary Corps( LVR) led by the general Povilas Plechavicius, the battle of the Muravanaya Ashmyanka, the massacre in Glitiskes performed on the 38 Polish people by the Lithuanian subsidiary police forces, retaliation of the Home Army and murdering 37 Lithuanian people in the village of Dubingiai. Also the threads concerning the reality during occupation, such as escaping from the  Łupiszki prison or producing counterfeit documents for the people involved in the conspiracy, were described.

The book reads well and enables to familiarize oneself with the summary of numerous events concerned with the hisory of Vilnius during the war. The content is complemented by the black and white photographs placed at the end of the book. In addition to this, a well- prepared cover presents the reader with a picture of a pre- war surroundings of the Gate of Dawn. Moreover, one also  encounters such content-diversifiyng elements as the fragments of witnesses’ memoirs, e.g. Helena Pasierbska’s of her stay in the Łukiszki prison or, of Zygmunt Kłosiński (AKA ”Huzar”), a soldier of the 3rd Vilnius Home Army brigade.

Krajewski’s work is popular scientific in nature and that is how it ought to be perceived. In a short bibliography found at the end of the book, there is only a scarce amount of scientific formulations. On less than 300 pages many interesting events concerning the history of Vilnius and the Vilnius Area were described. Nevertheless, the shortage of space unabled the complete description of some intricate topics such as the Glitiskes massacre and the subsequent Home Army’s retaliation mentioned only on few of the pages.

This book is, in my opinion, worth being comlemented with scientific publications. It is already the very text at the rear part of the book’s cover (” Dramatic and Sensational Events in the Vilnius Area during World War II ”) that presents it as a sensational, pleasurable and interesting piece of writing. Nonetheless, it should not constitute the only source of knowledge about the events described.

Translated by Katarzyna Piskorz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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