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KU Professor to Discuss His Experiences in Nazi-Occupied Poland

Monday, February 08, 2021

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas professor emeritus of political science will share his experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland during an online event today organized by the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies.

Jaroslaw "Jarek" Piekalkiewicz will discuss his 2019 book, "Dance with Death: A Holistic View of Saving Polish Jews during the Holocaust," at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 8 via Zoom. He will join Nathan Wood, associate professor of history, and will be introduced by Erik Scott, associate professor of history and director of CREES. Those interested in attending can register for the event here

Piekalkiewicz, who was 13 when World War II broke out, will discuss his experience as a teenage soldier in Nazi-occupied Poland, fighting in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, being captured by the Nazis, escaping three times as a POW and later joining the Polish II Corps that was formed under the auspices of the British Army. 

He received his doctorate in political science from Indiana University, started teaching at KU in 1963 and retired in 2000. He played a crucial role in developing East European studies at KU and served as assistant director of CREES. He still lives in Lawrence.

In KU News Service coverage of Piekalkiewicz's book, "Dance with Death" aptly “brings context to the events leading up to the 1939 invasion of Poland that sparked World War II.

"At the time, one-third of the world’s Jews lived in this Northern European country that bordered Germany. Piekalkiewicz traces how right-wing fascism and anti-Semitism were fostered in his homeland and how this led to an equally committed underground to combat such forces. The book also details his own harrowing story, from the strategies of his fellow insurgents to his personal tale of survival.”

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