Wira of Warsaw - Memoirs of a Girl Soldier

Ealing woman who has been honoured in Poland is subject of new book

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Wira in 1945

Wira in 1945 after her liberation from a POW camp.

George Danuta and Rupa Huq at book launch

George and Danuta Szlachetko and Rupa Huq MP



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The bravery of an Ealing woman who fought with the Polish resistance has been retold in a new book published by her son.

Local author, George Szlachetko, is the author of ‘Wira of Warsaw – Memoirs of a Girl Soldier’ - the true–life story of his mother, Danuta Szlachetko, who grew up during the brutal German occupation of Warsaw.

With her nation under threat, aged just 14, she became a soldier of the Polish underground army, adopting the pseudonym ‘Wira’ (pronounced Vera).

Her mother discovered her secret – but there was no turning back, the Uprising began in August 1944 and Warsaw became an inferno.

Wira played her role in the maze of underground cellars that served as refuges for the cowering civilians, dodging bullets and bombs and narrowly escaping death on numerous occasions.

With Warsaw destroyed, Wira became a POW in Germany. After an emotional liberation from Stalag VI–C, she met a Polish officer and began a new life in England and moved to Ealing where she has remained since 1951.

Now aged 86 Danuta says: ''I could not return to Poland and I worked hard to build a new life here. I am grateful to my adopted country, but Poland is my homeland and I still follow the political situation there.''

Danuta’s son George said:

''I was fascinated by this image of a young girl growing out of childhood in such a hostile environment, coming to her personal realisation that something had to be done. I wanted to know more about how she was recruited, what she was thinking and feeling at the time.''

The book launch was held on Remembrance Day at Ealing Golf Club and attended by 150 people including local MP Rupa Huq who said:

"The contribution of the Poles to Ealing is an integral part of what makes it such a great place to live and work. Danuta/Wira has lived a remarkable life during world war two as Poland was defeated by the Germans and Russians combined in 1939 but they never surrendered. The Polish army continued fighting the Germans abroad within the ranks of the British and French armies. At home they had one of the biggest and most effective underground resistance movements of the war.

'' Poland was one of the few countries which never contributed any SS divisions with Poles standing against the Nazis throughout including Wira before breaking free and fleeing to Ealing where she made a new life with her children and grandchildren. It looks like gripping read which I'm looking forward to getting stuck into."

In her speech Danuta said, “I am very proud that my beloved grand-children, Emma, Oskar, Eddie and Alice were here for the launch of the book, but of course for me it’s a sad story.''

Marisa Povinelli, who was in the audience, said, “When Danuta spoke it was a really emotional moment, we all had tears in our eyes.”

Readings from the book were given by the author’s daughters Alice, age 11, and Emma, age 16, who said “I was really proud to speak on behalf of my Grandmother”.

Danuta has been honoured by her country for services during and after the war, notably working for charitable organisations such as Medical Aid for Poland. She has received one of Poland’s highest honours, The Order of Polonia Restituta, for extraordinary and distinguished service, as well as the ‘Pro Memoria’ and ‘Pro Patria’ medals which she received in Warsaw last summer.

The book, which contains 64 images, including many from the Uprising, is available from the website www.wiraofwarsaw.com.

It can also be foundin Pitshanger Bookshop and through online retailers including Amazon and Waterstones.


December 2nd 2015