Stalin's Feisty Guest
by Marjorie Hope

"Finally, after a long journey, the train stopped, and all passengers were harshly ordered to depart the train. Would the women find their husbands?"

World War II is one of the most chronicled subjects of the twentieth century. As it was truly a global event, authors from a wide range of national backgrounds have written copiously of the various battles, weaponry, and the costly aftermath of the conflict. But some of the most poignant stories are the ones that have received very little press, personal accounts of lives forever changed when the fighting crossed over into their homelands. And many of these tales, like the author's recounting of the experiences of her mother-in-law during World War II, are definitely worth hearing.

When the war began knocking on Poland's door in 1939, Felicia, Simon, and their small son, Teddy, were living in Warsaw. Fearing what was to come, Simon, a doctor and reserve officer in the Polish army, bundled his wife and child off to a village near Lvov, a neutral city. Sadly, no place in the country would ultimately prove safe for them, and not long afterward Felicia and Teddy were forcibly transported along with many other Polish military dependents to Kazakhstan by the Russians. Despite the bleakness of much of the time under Russian control, Felicia remained strong, a quality that would serve her well in the years to come as she and Teddy returned to Poland only to learn that Simon had been killed in the infamous Katyn Forest massacre of thousands of Polish military officers.

In a few short chapters, the author manages to offer up some intriguing glimpses of what life was like for those compelled to be "guests" of the Russians during the war and how they coped in its aftermath. Far more than a tribute to her mother-in-law, Hope's book helps fill in the blanks of a side of the war that is often forgotten.

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