The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War by Halik Kochanski - review by Richard Overy

Richard Overy

Unknown Soldiers

The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 733pp £30 order from our bookshop

It is all too easy in postwar accounts of the Second World War to forget that the war started over the invasion of Poland and that many Poles continued, from their defeat in September 1939 through to the end of the war in May 1945, to fight at the side of the Allies for the liberation of their country. This collective Western amnesia began with the victory parade through London to celebrate the end of the war in Europe. Polish soldiers and airmen were denied the right to march alongside the British forces they had been fighting side-by-side with a few weeks before. Although formally one of the Allied peoples, the Poles were never treated as equals. 

There can be few books on the Second World War more needed than an account of just what happened to Poland and the Poles after the new state, created in 1919, was savagely obliterated by the German and Soviet armed forces in September 1939. This single-volume history by Halik Kochanski,

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