Exile and Identity carries out a vital historical mission, resurrecting and coherently shaping the testimonies of long repressed victims—the Polish women (and men) who were arrested and deported by Soviet forces during the so-called 'phony war' in the west. Jolluck's valuable retelling of their stories is at once compassionate and analytical, commemorating their terrible pain and loss and critically reflecting on their remarkably consistent ideal of matki-polki, of the good Polish woman. Jolluck has produced a missing chapter of the history of World War II that must be read.
Using firsthand, personal accounts, and focusing on the experiences of women, Katherine R. Jolluck relates and examines the experiences of thousands of civilians deported to the USSR following the Soviet annexation of eastern Poland in 1939.
Upon arrival in remote areas of the Soviet Union, they were deposited in prisons, labor camps, special settlements, and collective farms, and subjected to tremendous hardships and oppressive conditions. In 1942, some 115,000 Polish citizens—only a portion of those initially exiled from their homeland—were evacuated to Iran. There they were asked to complete extensive questionnaires about their experiences.
Having read and reviewed hundreds of these documents, Jolluck reveals not only the harsh treatment these women experienced, but also how they maintained their identities as respectable women and patriotic Poles. She finds that for those exiled, the ways in which they strove to recreate home in a foreign and hostile environment became a key means of their survival.
Both a harrowing account of brutality and suffering and a clear analysis of civilian experiences in wartime, Exile and Identity expands the history of war far beyond the military battlefield.
A much needed study. The Polish experience of deportation, imprisonment and exile in the Soviet Union during World War II has only recently attracted serious scholarly analysis and women's experiences have been discussed in this literature only in passing. Thus, the topic is original in this narrow context. It is also original in a larger Polish historiographical context in which the history of women and gender has yet to be sufficiently incorporated and where postmodern and feminist theory and methodology are only beginning to be applied. Jolluck's book will be among the first in which these approaches are used in combination to discuss the gender dimensions of Polish national identity. The text is quite readable and appropriate for an audience of non-specialists.
. . . sparks interest when showing the tensions that resulted when early Polish feminists encountered the Soviet Union's forcible removal of the gender gap.
This is a remarkable effort by a Polish American historian who has spent endless days researching . . .one should be grateful the University of Pittsburgh Press and to various foundations who ensured that this book was published. It iw a worthy monument also to those women who did not survive the ordeal.
Jolluck's book is pathbreaking not only for presenting an angaging analysis of the experiences of Polish female deportees in the Soviet Union but also for pioneering a more detailed investigation of the gender dimensions of Polish national identity. . . . Exile and Identity is important and should be read by scholars of European history and women's studies.
"Both moving and deserving of great attention. Highly recommended.
Impressive. . . .A study that is a serious addition to the canon of books about World War II. . . .Full of compassion and understanding . . . A great study written by a first-class historian.
This innovative and provocative book is definitely worth reading.