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"Ashes and Diamonds"

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

On Monday, A-Level students revisited the book "Ashes and Diamonds" by Jerzy Andrzejewski, a highly propagandistic novel that Andrzejewski wrote to support the communist regime. The students learned about the evolving political dynamics during the Second World War, which led to Poland falling under Soviet influence and the establishment of a puppet communist government in the country. It's not widely known that during this time, Poland had two governments—exiled in London and operating in Warsaw—for nearly 50 years.

"Ashes and Diamonds" was the first book to shed light on the "cursed soldiers" (a term that was not in use back then), referring to the Home Army soldiers who went underground to resist the communists. The book itself aimed to portray the new ruling authority in a positive manner while vilifying the Home Army soldiers. Consequently, "Ashes and Diamonds" sparked debates among writers: while some hailed it as a masterpiece, others accused the author of perpetuating historical falsehoods.

The book gained international recognition through its film adaptation by Andrzej Wajda, featuring the iconic figure of Polish cinema, Zbyszek Cybulski. However, it's important to note, particularly for A-Level students, that the film only loosely adapts the novel and diverges significantly in many details.

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