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The Ice Road

Stefan W. Waydenfeld

6 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1840181664 / ISBN 13: 9781840181661
Published by Mainstream Publishing, 1999
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Ice Road

Publisher: Mainstream Publishing

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

About this title

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Unusual book

Review:

The plight of the one-and-a-half million Poles deported as "enemies of the state" to the labour camps of the frozen Soviet Union has often been forgotten. Stefan Waydenfeld lived in the town of Otwock, 30 kilometres south of Warsaw, with his father, his mother and his older brother Jurek. Their idyll was broken in September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland and Stefan, aged 14, was forced to flee with his parents to safer territory. Unfortunately to the east were the Russians, casting a colder shadow under Stalin than the so-called "civilised" Nazis from whom they were fleeing. Overcrowded trains, hard physical labour, squalid living quarters, perpetual hunger and for nine months of the year the bitter Soviet winter, sought to crush a spirit within them that somehow remained resolute.

1941 and the German attack on the USSR brought a "liberation" of sorts, but they were still herded like cattle across the Soviet Union, deemed "unreliable" and kept subjugated by deliberate starvation. Eventually, and only with a sadistic reluctance, the authorities allowed them to leave, but the awful ordeal still had consequences it would bring to bear. Stefan Waydenfeld settled in London, where he followed in his father's footsteps and became a GP. Now retired, in this, his first book, he renders the narrative with an emotional stoicism in stark relief to the misery he is often describing and while he never allows it to be forgotten that it is also the story of a boy's, of his, adolescence, the panoramic sympathy he brings to bear is indicative of the man who emerged from it all. Shot through with a love and incorrigible comradeship that Stalin's communism idealised but could never realise, The Ice Road's grim twist is that given what happened to those who stayed in their region of Poland, the interminable journeying they endured probably saved their lives. --David Vincent

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