Jan Kamienski was born in Poznan, Poland, in 1923 and in 1949 he immigrated to Winnipeg. From 1958 to 1980 he was an editorial cartoonist and writer, art critic, and columnist for the Winnipeg Tribune. Between 1980 and 1988, he was an editorial cartoonist for the Winnipeg Sun. He lives in Winnipeg.
Hidden in the Enemy’s Sight
For 16-year-old Jan Kamienski, life as he knows it ends when Germany invades Poland on September 1, 1939. After a great deal of hardship, he joins the Polish Resistance and eventually, in 1941, is sent to Dresden, Germany, to take up Underground activities there. Armed with false papers, he works at various jobs, maintains a clandestine stopover for Allied couriers, produces Polish-language news bulletins for Poles housed in forced-labour camps, and does everything he can within the heartland of the Third Reich to sabotage the Nazis’ war effort. Among Kamienksi’s many horrific experiences is his survival during the terrible firebombing of Dresden in February 1945.
After the war, the author becomes a translator in East Germany for the Russian occupiers, studies at the art academy in Dresden, and eventually finds work as an artist. In 1948, after marrying a German woman, he escapes the Soviet zone, is brutally interrogated in a Polish
Kamienskis memoir reads like an adventure novel, and once opened, few readers will be able to put it down It has an intimacy reminiscent of the Diary of Anne Frank and so perhaps allows us, in the same way as that classic memoir, to share the pain of that time It is the breadth of his humanity and compassion that over and over again reveals itself in his story. He has the ability to draw out and attract the decent and humane even in the appallingly anti-human circumstances of the Third Reich. Kamienskis is a strong and uplifting story that deserves a wide readership.