Being there . . . . on September 15, 1939, with brave, young Lucyna B. Radlo and her family when Hitler’s Panzer Corps met Stalin’s Shock Army troops per the secret Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement to crush Poland, including Lucyna’s hometown of Brest Litovsk . . .
“BETWEEN TWO EVILS
By Lucyna B. Radlo
The World War II Memoir of a Girl in
Occupied Warsaw and a Nazi Labor Camp”
259 pp, $25
“In writing my life story there were many bitter and tragic moments that simply had to be told, no matter how painful, but one of enjoyable aspects of writing this memoir was the reliving of good times spent with my family and many friends. A great many individuals, to whom I am
exceedingly grateful, inspired me to write these reflections and recollections, but most of all I wish to express my deepest appreciation to my dearest loved ones who through all these years were willing to listen to the bits and pieces of the story of my life . . . “
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers
Box 611, Jefferson, North Carolina 28640
orders/customer service: 336-246-4460
Fax orders 336-246-4403
Reviewed and Highly Recommended by Don DeNevi
The most intriguing question that repeatedly comes to mind while engrossed reading unique episode after unique episode is, “How could she have possibly survived the wickedness and pure evil surrounding her almost on a daily basis?”
“Between Two Evils” is a vividly clear memoir by Lucyna B. Radlo of her experiences beginning as an eight-year-old girl in Poland forced to dash from danger in Brest after its German-Russian, bombardment to safety in Warsaw on Sept. 15, 1939, two weeks after the outbreak of World War II. With rare, powerful intense realism, she recalls the realities of the early German occupation of Poland and its capital, especially the arrest of her father by the dreaded Gestapo, and his tragic murder soon after in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Chapter 1 through 6, “War: Choosing Between Two Evils” and “My Father Dies in Auschwitz”, in this reviewer’s opinion, are among the most tenaciously grasping narratives of personally experienced encounters with the dreaded SS and Gestapo to surface in post-World War II literature. Yet, in Chapter 2, “Flashbacks”, are some most endearing writings found in the memoirs of survivors, i.e., “Life at Krasnyy Duor; 1914-1918 Vyazma; Returned to Brest; Life in Brest, 1931-1931; Brest on the Eve of World War II”.
The latter half of “Between Two Evils”, more than 132 pages from chapters 10 thru 26, are as mesmerizing as the initial nine chapters. After her father’s murder in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Lucyna details her family’s participation in the black market, their heroic effort in the Warsaw Uprising, and her capture and incarceration with her mother in a forced labor camp. Later, upon release from the camp, they joined their Russian relatives in Austria only to almost immediately leave with them to avoid the rapidly approaching hordes of Soviet T-34 tanks. A month-long journey ensued, often comical, on an ox-driven cart back to the U.S. Zone of Germany.
Lucyna’s concluding paragraph of her heart-felt Preface sums up, “Between Two Evils” beautifully. She writes, “This is the story of average people beset by the ravaging forces of political history. I was eight years old in 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland and the Soviet Union occupied Brest, my mother’s hometown. My immediate family had escaped the Soviets by exchanging homes with a family in Warsaw, but this saving-arrangement resulted in my father’s arrest on charges of ‘aiding a Jew’. I grew up in an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear, even as my resourceful relatives and neighbors attempted to find ways of living life as if normal. Again and again, however, there was disruption and loss. Recounting this odyssey, I was amazed at the resilience of my family and the very human ability to recover, even cheerfully, from misfortune”.