Non-Fiction Books:

Inhuman Land

A Wartime Journey through the USSR


Paperback / softback

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Inhuman Land by Jozef Czapski

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In 1941, when Germany turned against the USSR, tens of thousands of Poles - men, women and children, starving, sickly and impoverished ? were released from Soviet prison camps, and allowed to join the Polish army being formed in the south of Russia. One of the survivors who made the difficult winter journey was painter and reserve officer J zef Czapski.Army commander-in-chief General Anders assigned Czapski the task of receiving the Poles arriving for military training, gathering accounts of what their fates had been, organizing education, culture, and news for the soldiers, and most importantly, investigating the disappearance of thousands of missing Polish officers. Blocked at every level by the Soviet authorities, Czapski was unaware that in April, 1940, the officers had been shot dead in Katyn forest, a crime for which Soviet Russia never accepted responsibility.Czapski's account of the years following his release from the camp, the formation of the Polish army, and its arduous trek through Central Asia and the Middle East to fight on the Italian front is rich in anecdotes about the suffering of the Poles in the USSR, quotations from the Polish poetry that sustained him and his companions, encounters with literary figures including Anna Akhmatova, and philosophical thoughts about the relationships between nationalities.

Author Biography

J zef Czapski (1896-1993) was a writer and artist, as well as an officer in the Polish army. In 1918, he enrolled in the Warsaw School of Fine Arts, but shortly thereafter he suspended his studies in order to travel to Russia at the request of military authorities to search for officers in his division who has disappeared in action. At the end of the Russian Civil War, he went back to his studies, this time at Krakow's Academy of Fine Arts and soon relocated to Paris with some fellow students, thus founding the Komitet Paryski, or "Paris Committee," later known as the Kapist movement. Czapski was drafted into the army at the beginning of World War II, soon after landing in a Soviet prisoner of war camp. Once free, he was assigned to investigate another disappearance of officers, who he would discover were victims of the Katyn Massacre, the subject of Inhuman Land. Czapski spent the rest of his years painting and writing. Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a translator of Polish literature, and twice winner of the Found in Translation award. Her translations include work by several of Poland's leading contemporary novelists and reportage authors, crime fiction, poetry, and children's books. She is a mentor for the Emerging Translators' Mentorship Programme, and former co-chair of the UK Translators Association.
Release date NZ
December 15th, 2018
Country of Publication
United States
The New York Review of Books, Inc
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