By Stu Whitley
This is the second in a four-part series.
There is no country more
tragically concerned with war, oppression and the visitation of death
than Poland. This is saying something for a continent riven by ethnic
and political conflict for millennia. It is my impression that war—and
in particular, the Second World War—casts a long shadow there, for the
occupation by the Soviet Union that followed for nearly half a century
afterward had its bitter roots in that conflict. The scars are yet
there, literally. In the large block in Lublin where my father lived as
a boy, a line of machine gun bullets fired 67 years ago is neatly
stitched across the stone façade.
My brother and I went to
Poland with my father to visit the country he knew as a young man. In
1939, he was an 18-year-old corporal in the 24th Lancers, his father’s
regiment. The unit was stationed in Krasnik, a small town just outside
Lublin, whose sole purpose at the time was to support the regiment.
days, all that remains of the Lancers are ancient stables now converted
to storage for bricks, and a small museum