Trail of Hope
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Trail of Hope

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„The main text was written at pace, without any laborious research, drawing on knowledge that had accumulated in my head over the decades. My task was assisted by the fact that in the previous year I had presented a course of twenty lectures on the subject at the Oriental Institute of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. In the second stage, flesh was added to the bones by inserting scores of substantial extracts from memoirs and eyewitness reports, thereby counterbalancing the historian’s views with the voices of people who had completed the Trail in person. Each of the 20 chapters was then embellished by hundreds of pictures, many collected by an Internet appeal... As part of my preparation, I thought it essential, if not to tramp the trail from start to finish, at least to visit a selection of the key sites in person... General Anders and his army now belong to history. The pain and strivings of his followers have come to an end. For which reason, it is all the more important that the new generation should learn what happened, and pay tribute to a triumph of the human spirit. If the Poles of today knew their history better, perhaps they would be less inclined to decry their nation’s achievements in the last 25 years” – from the Introduction by Norman DaviesNo other odyssey was like that of the Anders Army: 120,000 men, women and children over 12,000 kilometers. At the call of General Anders the Poles flowed in from all corners of the „Inhuman Land”, driven by a hope for salvation. They crossed the Soviet border driven by the hope to return home. Fighting the Germans at Monte Cassino, Ancona and Bologna, they knew that their hopes had been dashed. They were to become a surrogate of free Poland. Accompanying the soldiers were women, children and the elderly, civilians, making every effort to lead ordinary lives. Hospitals, schools, orphanages were Polish. For the first time the hardships of life on the march, everyday dilemmas and sacrifice in battle, small joys and great tragedies come together in this panorama of one of the most extraordinary chapters of World War II. No one has ever told this story like Norman Davies has. Together with photographer Janusz Rosikoń, Davies has followed the trail of Anders’ Army, visiting Russia, Iran, Israel, Italy, even New Zealand and Africa. The book contains unknown witness accounts, unpublished archival materials and photos documenting this fascinating journey along the Trail of Hope.

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