The Triple Soldier and my Mother – A True Story by Andrew Faron (A Review by Sharron McKenzie)
Andrew Faron’s memoir tells the harrowing story of his father and mother’s experiences of the Second World War. Franciczek Faron was training as a dentist when he was called up by the Polish Army reserve in 1939, as Poland was invaded by both Nazi Germany, and Soviet Russia, and forced to part from his fiancée Maria. He was quickly taken prisoner by the Germans, escaped, and went east to fight the Russians. He was captured again, this time by the Russians, and escaped once more, this time by jumping off a train, narrowly avoiding sharing the fate of more than 20,000 Poles who were taken to the Katyn Forest and massacred by the Russians.
Returning home and secretly marrying his beloved Maria, he was eventually discovered by the Gestapo who conscripted him into the Wehrmacht. They sent him to fight unwillingly in the Netherlands and Italy, where he was taken prisoner by the Allied Forces. He then enlisted in the Polish Forces under the command of the British Army, amazingly finding himself in the space of a few short years wearing the uniforms of three different armies.
Meanwhile, back in Poland Maria was living in fear under the harsh German occupation, sick with tuberculosis and malnutrition, and trying to find her young son Walter who had been kidnapped by the Germans.
Although not particularly well written, the underlying story of survival against terrible odds shines through in this book. While it probably wouldn’t be suitable for a book club read, it is worth the attention of anyone interested in discovering the often-overlooked part Poland had to play in WWII, and those interested in the stories of refugees.
Review by Sharron McKenzie