Mishka Zubov wrote:Without Vodka: Adventures in Wartime Russia
A true life adventure story that reads like a novel.
by Aleksander Topolski
Without Vodka is amazingly cheerful and upbeat despite the meticulously detailed death and destruction that accompanied Topolski's descent into the hell of the Soviet prison system....
The book is not irreverent. It is not Hogan’s Heroes. And it does not trivialize the pain suffered by both the prisoners and civilians of wartime Russia. But it does seem to be written with a total absence of bitterness and anger and by a man who has made peace with the world.
Paul Gessell, The Ottawa CitizenNov. 11, 2004 – At the Remembrance Day ceremonies in a small cemetery in Chelsea, Quebec, Canada, author Aleksander Topolski, veteran of the Polish Second Corps, British Eighth Army, honours those who, like him, served their country in wartime. Topolski is now completing the second volume of his memoirs. The working title is Without A Roof = WAR : A Polish soldier’s adventures in Iraq and Italy during World War IITopolski's parents on June 14, 1914, about the time of their marriage.Topolski's mother, Henryka, with his older sisters Henia, 19 (left), and Maria, 16 (right), in Horodenka, 1936.Aleksander Topolski, 14, in school uniform, standing on his street in Horodenka (then in Poland, now in the Ukraine).Pre-war view up cobble-stoned Ormianska Street in front of the Topolskis’ home in Horodenka towards the Armenian ChurchHorodenka high school cadet corps on Polish Independence Day, November 11, 1938 (Topolski is in the front row, furthest right). Of these 26 young men, only five are known to have survived World War II.Topolski (center) with school friends during weekend maneuvers in Horodenka, early spring, 1939.Topolski (crouching, left) in spring, 1939, with fellow cadets Wieslaw Sobiech, Kazimierz Blyszczuk, Roman Ewy, Zdzislaw Starzynski, Janusz Konopka (standing behind), and Eugeniusz Kirszbaum (crouching right).Topolski, 16, at Gdynia on the Baltic Sea during a boy scout trip in July, 1939.Topolski at the Polish naval base at Oksywie in Gdynia. Beyond the Delfin, the Polish destroyer Blyskawica (Lightning) can be seen in the far distance.Photo taken December 11 , 1939, on the morning Topolski left home and was captured by Soviet border guards.Poles, who suffered severe hardships in the Soviet Union, line up to register for the newly formed Polish Army.Typical scene of ex-prisoners and deportees getting their bread rations after finding and signing up for the Polish Army newly formed in the Soviet Union under General Anders..Polish Army volunteers line up for soup in Totskoye, USSR (1941).Polish military cemetery (First Signals Regiment) in Katta Alekseyevskaya, Uzbekistan, where Topolski served. Soldiers died of malnutrition and disease. In some other camps, a few soldiers were shot.Cadet Officer Topolski, 19, in his new army uniform with New Zealand hat, two days after his arrival in Iran in August or September, 1942, near the Caspian Sea port of Pahlevi (now Enzeli).Map of Aleksander Topolski's journey (1939-1942) through Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Siberia, and Central Asia.Polish soldiers, in their British uniforms, resting during manoeuversPolish prisoners caged in Stolypinka rail car en route to UkraineUncle Misha's izba in Northern Russia. Aleks shared its sleeping loft with six people.September, 1939. Luftwaffe bombs Aleks's hometown, HorodenkaJuly, 1941. Kiev labour/prison camp after being hit by German bombsThe train robbers' girlfriends on a train somewhere south of TashkentPolish cavalry officer at Kirov station tells about newly formed Polish Army in USSRPublic Prosecutor Godlewski arrested for stealing coalHorodenka's Ormianska Street where Topolski family lived (house on right).Ploughing with oxen on a kolkhoz in UzbekistanBy sleigh to Kirov (Vyatka) with Uncle MishaBukovinians line up in a dungeon cell watched by Soviet guard (on left)Polish prisoners passing time in Chernigov in former army barracksEnvelope of letter to Topolski's mother from Soviet authorities denying clemencySoviet guard "Dumpling" ogled by SpiegelDr. Epstein sings Wagner in Czortkow PrisonCommissioner at Farab tries to lure Polish wanderers to board bargesNote to his family that Topolski tossed from prison truck in snowy TarnopolSelf-portrait drawn in 1942. Note Soviet army tents.Gen. Anders's army in Uzbekistan had British uniforms but Russian tentsRecruits seeking 2nd Polish Corps in USSRDecember 11, 1939. Topolski and other Poles head for the Romanian border.Galya distracts train guard while others carry off case of "soldiers grub"NKVD Corrective Labour Colony No. 7 in Kiev, Ukraine Topolski slept in prison for juveniles (4) and worked in drafting office (15)Recent self-portrait drawn by Aleksander TopolskiThe Beautiful Zhenya befriends Aleks
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