For an enormous number of people in Central and Eastern Europe, the end of the Second World War in 1945 meant the beginning of a new drama: a journey to lands, homes, and graves that were not theirs. The scale of this forced migration reached a magnitude never known before. In her strong reporter’s voice, Grzebałkowska tells us that war never ends in peace.
The official end of World War II did not mean the end of the torments inflicted on civilians. This book brings us vivid personal accounts of ordinary people in Poland—Poles, Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and others—caught up in the most violent war in history and its aftermath. No place experienced more intense suffering for a longer period of time than Poland—the first country to be invaded by both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia and the last to be “liberated”. This is the story of how people survived the flames of war, and began to clear the rubble and try to rebuild their lives, from January to December 1945.
1945 was a year of contradictions and chaos. It had everything: Great postwar hope and the bitterness of the peace. Joy that we have survived, amid mass exhumations. Heroic rebuilding but also looting and corruption. Violence against Poles and by Poles against ‘the others’. The complexity of this period has been caught to perfection by Magdalena Grzebałkowska, who has presented that year from the perspective of ordinary people. Does this reportage come from the heart of darkness or the battlefield? Not only. It is also a story about returning to life.