Polish Library

Polish American Community Hall

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Roseville, California 95678

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  • Memories of Smoke and Ashes - A World War II Story by Andre Pohlman

    Andre (Andrzej) Pohlman was born in pre-war Poland and today lives in Northern California (he has got his own website http://www.andrepohlman.com). Here is what he says about himself and his book:

    I was born in Przemyśl and both my parents were from Lwów. As a child I experienced the Nazi occupation of Poland and the Red Army Siege and occupation of Budapest. My experiences and the tales my mother told me were part of my being. It was something so powerful that I could not forget it. Finally, encouraged by friends and family who know of my background I wrote a book: Memories of Smoke and Ashes. A World War II Story.

    The book is written as a novel. Of course my own vivid recollections and my mother's tales are the backbone of the book. In fact the main character is based on my mother. I also try to keep the story within the historical context and time frame and use the actual names of historical figures.

  • The Great Powers and Poland, 1919-1945: From Versailles to Yalta by Jan Karski

    Jan Karski (1914 - 2000), was a hero of the Polish Home Army. In 1942 and 1943 he reported to the Polish government in exile in London and the Western Allies, including Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the extermination camps. He had firsthand knowledge about that because he was smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto and also spent a day in a death camp. In 1944 he published the book "Story of a Secret State", which detailed the Polish resistance fight, recounted his exploits, and described the realities of the Holocaust. It became a best-seller book in the United States.

    After the war Karski was unable to return to communist-ruled Poland and made his home in the United States. For 40 years he taught at Georgetown University in the areas of East European affairs, comparative government and international affairs, rising to become one of the most celebrated and notable members of its faculty. In 1954, he became a citizen of the United States. In 1974, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to inspect Polish, British, and French archives. He spent more than a decade on the historical work "The Great Powers and Poland: 1919-1945", published in 1985 by University Press of America. In this book Karski demonstated very wise, calm, rational thinking about Polish policy and Poland's international position. He documented Poland's inability to play an independent and effective role in the international arena. It is an opposite view to the "we won't surrender even a shirt button" attitude. The attitude of flexing muscles that, in reality, you do not have. Karski wrote very clearly it was a road to nowhere.


  • The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution by Alex Storozynski

    From Newsweek.com: a sweeping, colorful, and absorbing biography that should restore Kosciuszko to his proper place in history. President of the Kosciuszko Foundation, which promotes Polish-American educational exchanges, Storozynski is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who knows how to tell a good story. In his account, Kosciuszko - as soldier in America and then a revolutionary in his homeland - exemplified some of the best ideals of his era. He also experienced some of its worst betrayals and disappointments. ... Emancipation was "a controversial idea ahead of his time," Storozynski writes - just, as this stirring biography makes clear, like the man himself.


  • The book In Search of Your European Roots: A Complete Guide to Tracing Your Ancestors by Angus Baxter is an easy-to-use source for genealogical information. It covers various types of genealogical records available in each European country, explains where they are found and how they are used. It includes telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, fax numbers, and URLs for most of the major European archives and organizations.


  • The book Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language by Eva Hoffman is a moving memoir of a Polish immigrant, now a very successful author and a New York Times Book Review editor. She describes how she lost her sense of place and belonging when she emigrated with her family from Poland to Vancouver in 1959 at the age of 13. She shows two similar but fundamentally different cultures, one based on the material comforts that a wealthy society can provide, and the other based on the human comforts of good friends, love of music and literature. The book casts a wide net as it joins vivid anecdotes and vigorous philosophical insights on Old World Cracow and Ivy League America, Polish anti-Semitism, the degradations suffered by immigrants, Hoffman's cultural nostalgia, self-analysis and intellectual passion, and the atrophy of her Polish from disuse and her own disabling inarticulateness in English as a newcomer. As Hoffman savors the cadences and nuances of her adopted language, she remains ever conscious of assimilation's perils: But how does one bend toward another culture without falling over, how does one strike an elastic balance between rigidity and self-effacement? This book helps to understand how old traditions and languages influence new life in a new country.


  • World War II: Behind Closed Doors, presented as three part series on PBS in May, is already released on DVD. This ambitious series from award winning filmmaker Laurence Rees uses exclusive evidence gained from the actual conversations and secret meetings Stalin conducted with Roosevelt, Churchill and Hitler. It dramatically reveales the true natures of the three leaders, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, and it demonstrates how the meetings they had - and the decisions they made - shaped the world today. It presents all the major episodes in the Poland's history from 1939, when the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact divided Poland between Germany and Russia, through the Russian invasion of Poland in September 1939, deportation of Poles from eastern Poland, Katyń massacre, Warsaw Uprising, and the conferences in Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam, where three allies discussed the post-war Germany and Poland. It shows how the Polish soldiers, who were the first to fight Germans and were fighting alongside the British all the way from the Battle of Britain to Monte Cassino, were not even invited to participate in the victory parade in London. The movie also discusses the beginning of the cold war and it ends with the Solidarity movement in Poland. The series mixes the dramatized sections with archive footage and eyewitness interviews.
    The DVD is in English, with some English subtitles. Run Time: 346 minutes.


  • Polish Heritage Cookery by Robert and Maria Strybel is considered the most extensive and varied Polish cookbook ever published in English, with over 2,200 recipes in 29 categories (and 887 pages), written especially for Americans with American weights, measures and temperatures. Each recipe is indexed under its American and Polish name. Included are elegant gourmet dishes, simple peasant cookery, and everything in between. Both traditional and simplified versions of Polish classic recipes are provided, together with countless hints and shortcuts to achieving traditional flavors by using commonly available items and modern appliances. The book includes numerous cultural notes, historical accounts of Polish culinary traditions, and descriptive line drawings. However the recipes are in paragraph format without a list of ingredients so one need to read the entire recipe before gathering all the ingredients. And there are no recipe photographs - only a small section of pictures in the middle of the book. If you are cooking for a Polish-American family, this book will be a help in finding new dishes as well as a reference for the traditional dishes that people of Polish heritage have in their souls.


  • Polish Cooking (Kuchnia Polska) DVD, hosted by Marina Antony

    The Polish Cooking DVD contains video demonstration of 15 popular Polish recipes, like Hunter Stew, Pork with Mushroom Gravy, Pierogi, Blintzes, Mushroom soup, Barley soup, Cucumber salad, special almond Easter cake (mazurek), and others. The pierogi recipe includes 7 different fillings. All instructions are in English and all measures are in English units. The DVD is accompanied by the detailed written version of all recipes. Run Time: 135 minutes.


  • Testaments: Two Novellas Of Emigration & Exile by Danuta Mostwin.

    Danuta Mostwin is herself a post-World War II Polish immigrant to the United States. She is an accomplished scholar and well published novelist. She devoted her scholarly career to the study of immigrants trapped between cultural worlds. Her books, until now unavailable in English translation, bridge the divide between Poland and America, exile and emigration. Danuta Mostwin has been the recipient of numerous international awards for her f iction and in 2006 she was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

    The novellas in this volume, The Last Will of Blaise Twardowski and Jocasta, are the first of her works published in English. Deeply melancholic and moving in its unsentimental depiction of ordinary people trying to make sense of their uprooted lives, Testaments presents two powerful and very tragic vignettes of life of Polish immigrants in America. Mostwin writes how hard it was for Polish immigrants to leave their homeland and to build new lives, how they struggled with loneliness and isolation. She accurately describes the tensions that arose among the different generations of immigrants, and shows the diversity of the Polish American community. This publication provides an introduction to Mostwin's work that will ensure that she is recognized as the creator of one of the most nuanced and deeply moving pictures of emigration and exile in Polish-American literature.


  • DVDs with folk music and dance of Poland.

    MAZOWSZE (pronounce MAH-ZOF-SHA) and ŚLĄSK (pronounce SZLONSK) are two most popular Polish folk groups, from the Mazovia and Silesia region respectively. They are internationally recognized as Poland's cultural ambassadors.

    • MAZOWSZE DVD was produced in New York. Polish-American entertainer Bobby Vinton narrates, and English subtitles are displayed during the choir performances. While the choreography and musical arrangements represent 39 distinct ethnographic regions of Poland with traditional performance styles, the appeal of Mazowsze's dynamic stage show goes beyond audiences of Polish descent. An ensemble of 65 dancers and singers are arrayed in a seemingly never-ending series of handmade traditional costumes -- more than 1,000 in total, one more dramatic and colorful than the last. Some costumes weigh as much as 30 lbs., making the performers' energetic gravity-defying leaps, twirls and lifts even more impressive.
      Running time approx. 90 minutes.

    • ŚLĄSK DVD was produced in Poland, and it shows the Śląsk Ensemble 50th Anniversary Concert - Live from Katowice, Poland, 2004. ŚLĄSK is an ensemble of 90 singers, dancers and musicians who enchant audiences in 1600 vibrant costumes representing different regions of Poland. There are dances and songs from 15 regions of Poland, as well as national Polish dances including Polonaise, Mazurka, Kujawiak, Oberek and Krakowiak. There is a huge section of dances of Polish Highlanders.
      Total length approx. 53 minutes.


  • Old Polish Traditions in the Kitchen and at the Table by Maria Lemnis and Henryk Vitry. This unusual cookbook is a true tribute to Polish cooking, presenting the culinary history of Poland, filled with an amazing mix of culinary facts, Polish cooking-related legends, and Polish recipes. Nearly 100 recipes for classic Polish favorite dishes are presented as examples to short essays on Polish history and the evolution of the Polish kitchen. Some essays also cover subjects like Polish hospitality, holiday traditions, even the exalted status of the mushroom. Two main Polish holidays, Christmas and Easter, are described in separate chapters with examples of special recipes for these holidays. Some of these recipes can be difficult and/or time-consuming, and sometimes instructions are vague and ingredients required for a given dish are not clearly laid out before each recipe - one must read through the whole recipe when making a shopping list. But one can learn how to make and how to serve pierogi with all kinds of Polish popular fillings: potato and farmer's cheese (known as Russian), cabbage, farmer's cheese, meet, kasha, and even fruit. The recipe for cabbage and mushrooms pierogi, a traditional dish for Wigilia, is missing from the book.


  • The Audio book Basic Polish: Learn to Speak and Understand Polish with Pimsleur Language Programs contains 5 hours of interactive audio-only instructions that teach spoken language organically, without any written material. 30-minute lessons are designed to optimize the amount of language you can learn in one sitting. The great thing about them is that you can learn while you are doing other activities. The length of each lesson makes it perfect for taking in the car, on a run, or while working.
    It is very, very basic, slow and repetitive. It is designed for people who are just starting to learn the language. The first lesson teaches you the basics and really helps you to understand how to pronounce the words. The first ten minutes of each lesson is a review of the previous lesson. After this series, you should be able to pronounce and speak many basic phrases and combine words you know to form sentences. This will certainly help you in your travels to Poland. For those having some knowledge of Polish, it is better to start with a more advanced program.

  • British bestseller Churchill's Triumph: A Novel of Betrayal by Michael Dobbs. It is set at the Yalta Conference in February, 1945. Stalin has insisted on holding the conference on his own soil, and was planning to force both Churchill and Roosevelt into concessions while he never intended to live up to his side of the agreements. Roosevelt arrived exhausted and dying, looking to set his place in history with the United Nations. Churchill arrived knowing he'd gone to war to save Poland from the Germans and aware that he was losing it again to the Russians. Among this trio, Dobbs inserts the fictional character Marian Nowak, a former member of the Polish aristocracy and cavalry. Nowak impersonates a plumber to gain access to British headquarters and befriends Frank Sawyers, Churchill's valet. He tries to persuade Churchill to save his country again, as Nowak's own hometown is being pillaged by both the retreating Germans and the advancing Russians.
    As a result of Yalta, the Russians would keep the territory they had already annexed in eastern Poland, and Poland was to be compensated for that by extending its Western borders at the expense of Germany. Stalin promised free elections in Poland despite the recently-installed Communist puppet government. However the Western Powers soon saw that Stalin would not honor his free elections promise. The elections, held in January 1947 resulted in Poland's official transformation to a socialist state by 1949.

  • Polish Roots by Rosemary A. Chorzempa. The book introduces the reader to the art of genealogical research. It is full of practical advice for everyone who is attempting to find their Polish ancestors here in the USA and/or in Poland. Mrs. Chorzempa begins with an examination of Polish-American resources, touching first on records that might be kept by the family, before veering off into a discussion of the standard records employed in genealogical research, such as census and naturalization records, ships' passenger lists, vital records of birth, marriage and death. She also writes about the records held by the LDS Church (Mormons) in Salt Lake City. Additionally she provides a breakdown of libraries and archives with Polish genealogical materials and a comprehensive list of Polish genealogical societies.
    The bulk of the book is focused on research in Poland, as the author shows the reader how to find and use church and civil records; how and where to locate research services, libraries, and archives; how to make sense of Polish names, and how to deal with the Polish language. There is even a letter writing guide and a transliteration of queries to be sent to polish institutions for purposes of obtaining assistance.

  • Victory over Death by Tony Purcell. It describes five years of Tony's youth, from sixteen to twenty-one, which he spent in various Nazi prisons, concentration, slave labor, and death camps as a political prisoner during World War II. Tortured and close to death a number of times, Tony Purcell used his inner strength, cleverness and courage to hold on to life a minute or a day at a time. After the liberation, he returned to Poland.
    Tony Purcell lived in Poznań, the city in the part of Poland that was incorporated into German Reich in 1939. The author's early experiences were very different from those of Poles arrested in the General Government (Generalna Gubernia): Tony Purcell was treated as a Reich citizen, was accused of treason and had a trial, albeit a phony one.

  • Enigma: How the Poles Broke the Nazi Code by Wladyslaw Kozaczuk and Jerzy Straszak. It tells the story, with many technical details, of how Polish mathematicians got involved into the work on breaking the German Enigma code. Polish cryptologists broke the code in 1933, 6 years before the start of World War II, and continued to update their work before the war in Poland, then later through the war in France. In the summer of 1939 Poles gave the methods of decoding messages and two copies of Polish-built Enigma machine to French and British allies. From this unprecedented act of generosity sprang the British decoding operation at Bletchley Park, near London, which supplied vital intelligence known as Ultra. This information proved decisive in many battles, and played an important role in the Allies' ultimate victory. Poland's contribution was not known outside Poland until 1973, when general Gustave Bertrand, French military intelligence officer, wrote in his memoirs about Polish cryptologists: to them alone belongs all the credit and all the glory for having successfully carried through this incredible technical feat, thanks to their knowledge and their perseverance, unequaled in any country in the world. They overcame difficulties that the Germans had thought to be "insurmountable," of which it is hard to give an idea.

  • Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present, written by the British historian Norman Davies. He takes an unusually comprehensive look at the history of Poland, the forces that shaped it, and how those forces affected the nation's political and cultural traditions. The book begins and ends with Solidarity; the unique labor movement thus serves as a frame for the nation's history. It starts in 1983 and then proceeds in a reverse chronological fashion to cover 5 separate periods of history including first, the period of the People's Republic (1944-1983), second, the period encompassing World War II (1939-1947), third, World War I and the interwar period (1914-1939), fourth, the Partitions (1795-1918) and fifth, historic Poland (history prior to 1795). Norman Davies then returns to 1983 to demonstrate the past in Poland's present or as Davies more eloquently puts it, Such is the burden of History in Polish consciousness, that any full appreciation of the Polish crisis requires a full examination of the way in which the chief actors on the political scene perceived their roles in relation to the nations traditions. The book ends with the chapter "Liberation" that covers the period from 1983 to roughly 2000.