Henry: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America

Henry: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America

When Katrina Shawver met the eighty-five year old Henry Zguda, he possessed an exceptional memory, a surprising cache of original documents and photos, and a knack for meeting the right people at the right time. Couched in the interview style of Tuesdays with Morrie, Henry relates in his own voice a life as a champion swimmer, interrupted by three years imprisoned in Ausch...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Henry: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America
Author:Katrina Shawver
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Henry: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America Reviews

  • Amy Shannon

    Inspiring!

    Getting to know Henry is absolutely inspiring. Henry spells out and reconstructions his life for the author, bringing his story of survival from one of the darkest and horrific times in history. It was created by the author's interviews with Henry Zguda, and it was remarkable. "Henry was a Catholic Pole who had been arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for three years in concentration camps for one reason only: he was Polish, and Germany had sworn to destroy all of Poland. He’d been a re

    Inspiring!

    Getting to know Henry is absolutely inspiring. Henry spells out and reconstructions his life for the author, bringing his story of survival from one of the darkest and horrific times in history. It was created by the author's interviews with Henry Zguda, and it was remarkable. "Henry was a Catholic Pole who had been arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for three years in concentration camps for one reason only: he was Polish, and Germany had sworn to destroy all of Poland. He’d been a respected survivor in Poland, or “Auschwitzer." The photos of Henry and his family, were wonderful and ageless. It's a heartfelt, heart warming and heart breaking story. History comes alive, with all its darkness, secrets, terrors and life-filled events. This reader read every single word, and even went back. It's one you won't want to miss, and you shouldn't miss. Highly Recommended story.

  • Amy

    Henry: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America by Katrina Shawver is a fabulous read. I highly recommend it!

  • James Martin

    HENRY is an extraordinary addition to the body of WWII literature. It is the harrowing personal experiences of this Catholic Pole as a prisoner in the German concentration camps of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau that yield information found nowhere else and keep the reader riveted to the page. Shawver has captured the essence of Henry as he weathered unbelievable hard times and yet retained his human dignity and hope in spite of everything. A life well-lived. A swimming star to cheer for!"

    Ja

    HENRY is an extraordinary addition to the body of WWII literature. It is the harrowing personal experiences of this Catholic Pole as a prisoner in the German concentration camps of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau that yield information found nowhere else and keep the reader riveted to the page. Shawver has captured the essence of Henry as he weathered unbelievable hard times and yet retained his human dignity and hope in spite of everything. A life well-lived. A swimming star to cheer for!"

    James Conroyd Martin, Author of "The Boy Who Wanted Wings."

  • Jack Mayer

    Elie Wiesel said “'When you listen to a witness, you become a witness.” Katrina Shawver’s luminous non-fiction, Henry:A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America is a beautifully rendered act of witness and love about an extraordinary Pole, Henry Zguda, a Christian, a political prisoner in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Shawver’s compelling narrative illuminates Henry’s memories as well as his heart and his enduring humor. She has rescued Henry’s vital piece of Holocaust his

    Elie Wiesel said “'When you listen to a witness, you become a witness.” Katrina Shawver’s luminous non-fiction, Henry:
A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America is a beautifully rendered act of witness and love about an extraordinary Pole, Henry Zguda, a Christian, a political prisoner in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Shawver’s compelling narrative illuminates Henry’s memories as well as his heart and his enduring humor. She has rescued Henry’s vital piece of Holocaust history so that we don’t forget, and as an immunization against recurrence. Everyone who reads Henry becomes a witness.

    – Jack Mayer, Vermont writer and pediatrician, author of LIFE IN A JAR: THE IRENA SENDLER PROJECT, non-fiction about the Warsaw ghetto and a new historical fiction about the rise of the Third Reich, BEFORE THE COURT OF HEAVEN.

  • *Avonna

    Check out all of my reviews at

    HENRY: A POLISH SWIMMER’S TRUE STORY OF FRIENDSHIP FROM AUSCHWITZ TO AMERICA by Katrina Shawver is a memoir/biography that had me turning the pages and finishing this memorable read in just two sittings.

    Katrina Shawver was trying to come up with a new story for her column in ‘The Arizona Republic’ when she heard about a former Polish swimming star who survived the death camps of WWII Germany. After her column ran, she knew she had to

    Check out all of my reviews at

    HENRY: A POLISH SWIMMER’S TRUE STORY OF FRIENDSHIP FROM AUSCHWITZ TO AMERICA by Katrina Shawver is a memoir/biography that had me turning the pages and finishing this memorable read in just two sittings.

    Katrina Shawver was trying to come up with a new story for her column in ‘The Arizona Republic’ when she heard about a former Polish swimming star who survived the death camps of WWII Germany. After her column ran, she knew she had to continue meeting with Henry and tell his entire story. He had an amazing cache of original documents and pictures with stories for them all. This book documents Henry’s story in his own words and the author interjects her own research that verifies Henry’s stories.

    Henry tells his story to Ms. Shawver over many taped meetings. With gallows humor and always a sense of hope, Henry recalls his youth and capture by the Germans as they rounded up all Polish young men after their invasion. Henry was a strong young man who was a champion swimmer and water polo player for the Krakow YMCA team at the time of his arrest. Catholic and a proud Pole, Henry was sent to Auschwitz 1 as a political prisoner.

    There are several instances when Henry should have died, but he always seemed to know someone who would find him at just the right time to help him survive. Henry knows he was incredibly lucky. From Auschwitz to Buchenwald, Henry details camp life. Even with all the killing and death, there are stories that sound absurd to the situation, but were small moments to forget where and what they were living through so that they could hope and survive for another day.

    I have read many stories of the camps from Jewish survivor stories, but this book is through the eyes of a Polish political prisoner. I learned that they could and did send and receive mail, that there were underground activities ongoing in the camps and that the prisoners were segregated from the Jewish prisoners. Buchenwald held mainly German communists, criminals, Jehovah Witnesses, gypsies and the 1000 political prisoner Poles sent from Auschwitz until almost the end of the war.

    Henry survives to live under communist rule in Poland because he returns home to his mother. After she is gone, he and a friend have the chance to escape to freedom in the west and they take it.

    You will not be able to resist Henry. He is an ordinary young man who survived and lived an extraordinary life. If you are like me and devour books about WWII, this one should definitely be on your list.

    Thanks very much to Koehler Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I could not have enjoyed it more.

  • Agnes

    Krakow was one of the Polish cities that suffered severely from human casualties during the Second World War. When the cities such as Warsaw, Poznan, Bialystok, Gdansk or Elblag were virtually razed to the ground and suffered under the subsequent marches of hostile forces and the long-lasting Nazi occupation, Krakow being the largest and most important city in southern Poland, remained almost untouched. It is possible that this kind of situation resulted from the fact that the Germans wished to

    Krakow was one of the Polish cities that suffered severely from human casualties during the Second World War. When the cities such as Warsaw, Poznan, Bialystok, Gdansk or Elblag were virtually razed to the ground and suffered under the subsequent marches of hostile forces and the long-lasting Nazi occupation, Krakow being the largest and most important city in southern Poland, remained almost untouched. It is possible that this kind of situation resulted from the fact that the Germans wished to provide it some protection because they established the headquarters of the Nazi General Government there. In other words, the city was taken over by the Nazis becoming the capital of a pseudo-state which included the south-eastern half of present-day Poland and the south part of present-day Ukraine. That project was controlled by Hans Frank (1900-1946), who was declared as a war criminal and executed in Nuremberg after the end of the war. He chose Wawel Castle, the ancient seat of the Polish kings, as his first headquarters. So even though Krakow’s architecture was not as badly ruined as for example in Warsaw, the same cannot be said about the culture of the city and its inhabitants.

    We must know that at the very beginning of the war, the Germans decided not to divide the city with the Jewish population. It is important to know that before the outbreak of the war, sixty thousand Jews lived in Krakow, which represented a quarter of the entire population. The German occupation of Krakow began on September 6, 1939. At that time, the Nazis liquidated the Jewish social organization and established their own, which was supported to deal with the issue not only of the Cracovian Jews, but also those living in the whole country. It was called the Jewish Council of Elders (in German: Judenrat). In April 1940 the Germans ordered the Jews to leave Krakow within the next four months. At that time thirty-five thousand Jews were evacuated from the city and only fifteen thousand of them remained there. Since that time Krakow became the capital of Poland occupied by the Nazis.

    In March 1941, the Germans built a Ghetto in the Podgorze district south of the Vistula River where twenty thousand Jews lived, including Jews coming from surrounding towns. The Ghetto very quickly became a place where people were dying of starvation, and because of overcrowding, fatal diseases were also spread, not to mention the unimaginable brutality of the Germans, who murdered the Jews when they wanted to. Mass deportations from the Ghetto began in June 1942. At that time, five thousand Jews were sent to the death camp in Belzec. Apart from that, in October 1942, another six thousand Jews were also transported to Belzec. During that horrible action the Nazis executed those who were in the hospital and in the nursing home as well as children living in the orphanage. About a few hundred Jews died in the Ghetto. The Ghetto was liquated by Amon Göth (1908-1946), sending people, who were capable of working, to the Nazi camp at Plaszow, murdering others in the streets or in their homes, and sending the rest of them to die at Auschwitz.

    At the very beginning of the war, Krakow lost many of its leading thinkers, and it was when the Germans arrested the Jagiellonian University professors. It was November 6, 1939. The professors were sent to German concentration camps. The Poles who remained in Krakow witnessed the change of their city every day. Shops, houses and generally the whole districts were taken over by the Nazis. Even the Cracow Market Square lost its name because it was renamed Adolf Hitler Platz. During the war years, there was distinct resistance of the Cracovians. The Home Army (in Polish: Armia Krajowa) operated in the city. Its soldiers planned an uprising there, which was supposed to be similar to the rebellion that broke out in Warsaw on 1 August, 1944. Eventually, the decision about the uprising was, however, called off, and it happened because the Nazi forces were too large while many young Cracovians, who were able to fight, had been arrested. Apart from that there was the shortage of weapons that could be used during a possible uprising.

    It is not without reason that above I mentioned the realities that had occurred in Krakow during the Second World War. I did it because the protagonist of the unusual biography by American journalist Katrina Shawver was associated just with Krakow. He was born there, grew up there and next he was arrested by the Germans, and then was locked up in a prison located on Montelupich Street. Originally this place served as a military barracks, and was located in a building that had belonged to the family of the Italian merchants and bankers called Montelupi since 16th century. In 1905 the Austrian authorities decided that there would be a military court which had formerly been located in Wawel Castle. Then the court was turned into a prison. During the Second World War, there was a Nazi police prison in this building under the control of the Gestapo. Between 1940 and 1944 there were about fifty thousand prisoners.

    It can be assumed that the life of Henry Zguda (1917-2003) promised to be really great. He was a great swimmer and water polo player, and he also knew foreign languages. If the war had not broken out, perhaps his life would have been different. In 1942 he was arrested by the Germans and imprisoned in the aforementioned prison on Montelupich Street. Then he was taken to Auschwitz and next he was sent to the Nazi concentration camp in Buchenwald, which operated since July 1937 until the end of the war. Henry Zguda was also in the German camp in Flossenbürg. He also experienced a dramatic death march, finally reaching Dachau where he was liberated at the end of the war. His life in post-war communist Poland was not easy either. The new authorities began mass persecution which also affected Henry. Eventually he managed to emigrate to America where he married the love of his life and died in 2003 at the age of 86. However, he never forgot about swimming. For him the emigration to the United States was a sort of escape from a world that was no longer the same as Henry had known before the war. You have to remember that it would not have been possible for him to do it unless he had had his friends he could count on at any time.

    Katrina Shawver’s book is an extraordinary account of the man who survived despite the enormous cruelty that was present in the Nazi concentration camps. While writing, the author took care of every detail. On the pages of this book a reader meets Henry who was a really unusual man. In addition there is so tragic story that you can be almost sure that there is no return to a normal life from that hell. In a very interesting way Katrina Shawver reveals the fate of Henry Zguda, and the whole book is enriched by numerous photographs. The biography is based on interviews with Henry Zguda between 2002 and 2003. It was just before his death. I think that some invisible force had to direct that Katrina Shawver could meet Henry to be able to write down his memories, which are a true tribute to all people who survived that terrible war and to its mortal victims. This kind of books should be published as much as possible, but unfortunately every year it is getting harder because the eyewitnesses of those events are less and less.

    On the pages of the book we learn not only the events that took place in Henry Zguda’s life but also we can read how emotionally the author approached them. Therefore, there are also her observations and remarks. In addition a reader also learn what Poland had looked like prior to the war before Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) decided to destroy not only the country but first of all the people living in it. The book's hero is a really beautiful character regardless of what part of his life his story is about. Very often Henry mentions an extraordinary inner strength that helped him survive the worst moments of his life. Some people may be surprised by the fact that despite the ubiquitous terror he never complained about his fate, although it does mean that he accepted it. It is possible that it resulted from his immense desire to live. I am sure that it was just his willingness to live that gave Henry the strength to survive each day. In my opinion Henry’s story, although very tragic, gives us hope and uplift.

    There are many people in the world who do not really know much about the cruelty of the Second World War. They do not fully understand what the Holocaust was about. Therefore, this book can be a great source of information for them filling the gaps in their historical knowledge. I have no words to express my emotions after reading this book. For my part, I can only be grateful to the author that she decided to undertake such a difficult subject. For Poles, it is very important people around the world learn about the great drama we experienced when on September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. But that's not all, because several days later (September 17) the Soviet Union, headed by Jozef Stalin (1878-1953), did the same. Therefore, I recommend Katrina Shawver’s book to anyone who wants to know the extraordinary story of the man who survived hell, and even so he never gave up and lost his faith in people.

  • Karen Ingalls

    This is a most fascinating read about the life of Henry Zguda, who was a champion swimmer in Poland. The author tape recorded her many interviews of Henry, researched to verify facts, visited and saw places in Poland of which he spoke, and included photographs. The tumultuous history of Poland and its unique political position made it a target for such countries as Russia and Germany to invade. It was difficult to read about Henry's years in two concentration camps because the reality of those p

    This is a most fascinating read about the life of Henry Zguda, who was a champion swimmer in Poland. The author tape recorded her many interviews of Henry, researched to verify facts, visited and saw places in Poland of which he spoke, and included photographs. The tumultuous history of Poland and its unique political position made it a target for such countries as Russia and Germany to invade. It was difficult to read about Henry's years in two concentration camps because the reality of those places were so well described.

    A must read for everyone. It is historical, biographical, interesting, and well written.

  • Donna Urbikas

    Author Katrina Shawver writes with the awe of a child listening to an enticing fairytale at the feet of a great story teller. But, Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America (koehlerbooks, 2017) is not a fairytale. From her long interviews with the elder Henry, Shawver delivers the reality of Henry’s world during World War II as a journey of discovery. It is a history many people still don’t know well.

    More than 70 years after the WWII, we learn Henry’s plight fr

    Author Katrina Shawver writes with the awe of a child listening to an enticing fairytale at the feet of a great story teller. But, Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America (koehlerbooks, 2017) is not a fairytale. From her long interviews with the elder Henry, Shawver delivers the reality of Henry’s world during World War II as a journey of discovery. It is a history many people still don’t know well.

    More than 70 years after the WWII, we learn Henry’s plight from Olympic level swimmer in Poland to German Nazi camp prisoner. Having almost died many times from starvation, disease, hard labor, he survived to become a congenial and sought-after physical therapist to Hollywood stars in America. He never let his loss of health or mental anguish keep him from finding joy in life, especially with his beloved American wife, Nancy.

    Henry’s story is backed by authentic documents reprinted throughout the book, Shawver’s meticulous research, including a trip to Poland, to Auschwitz. Her own reactions to learning Henry’s horrific story are what makes this non-fiction book additionally interesting. She has no agenda other than reporting truth with her professional journalist’s intellectual curiosity, and her commitment to her new friends, Henry and Nancy. Completely a naïve American, Shawver is neither Polish nor Jewish, so that Henry’s story resonates with both her and her readers. Henry is not Jewish either but has many encounters with other prisoners who are Jewish, thus his story is another witness account of the Holocaust.

    Shawver almost becomes the daughter Henry could never have, as the brutality of the Germans disrupted his life. She has made a huge contribution to the saga of WWII Poland’s history with Henry’s true story. It is through Henry’s generous sharing of those painful memories and Shawver’s excellent writing that wins over the reader.

  • Hobart

    ---

    Looking for something for her

    column, Katrina Shawver found and interviewed Henry Zguda, a octogenarian, who'd been a competitive swimmer in Poland who'd spent three years in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. The interview struck a chord with her and she soon returned to his home to propose they write a book about his experiences.

    This book is the result of a series of interviews Shawver conducted with Henry, her own research (incl

    ---

    Looking for something for her

    column, Katrina Shawver found and interviewed Henry Zguda, a octogenarian, who'd been a competitive swimmer in Poland who'd spent three years in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. The interview struck a chord with her and she soon returned to his home to propose they write a book about his experiences.

    This book is the result of a series of interviews Shawver conducted with Henry, her own research (including trips to the original sites), and some letters, photographs, etc. that Henry provided (some of which Henry pilfered from Auscwitz' records some time after the war!). We get an idea what life was like in Poland before Hitler invaded and began to destroy the nation and its citizens -- then we get several chapters detailing his life in the camps. Following that, we get a brief look at his life in Poland after the war and when the Communists took over, followed by his life in America after that -- meeting his wife and living a life that many of us would envy. The bulk of the book is told using transcripts (with a little editing) of interview tapes with Henry, so the reader can "hear" his voice telling his stories. Shawver will stitch together the memories with details and pictures, as well as with bits of her trip to Poland and the camps there. We are also treated to a glance at the friendship that develops between Henry, Shawver and Henry's wife through the production of the book.

    More than once while reading it, I thought about how much I was enjoying the read -- and then I felt guilty and wrong for doing so. This was a book about someone who lived through Auschwitz and Buchenwald, how dare I find it charming and want to read more (not for information, or to have a better idea what atrocities were committed). I've watched (and read the transcript) Claude Lanzmann's

    (for one example), and never once thought about cracking a smile. I certainly never

    to spend more time with the subjects. This is all because of the way that Shawver told Henry's story, and Henry's own voice. I did learn a lot -- I should stress. For example, there was mail back and forth between the prisoners and family (for those that were willing to give the Nazis an address for their family), Henry at one point looks at some letters from prisoners online, checking not for names, but numbers he recognizes. Or the idea that there were light periods in the labor duty -- not out of mercy, compassion or anything, but because the guards got time off, and there was no one to make the prisoner's work.

    The subtitle does tell us that it's a story of friendship -- several friendships, actually. Without his friends, Henry's story would have likely been much shorter, with very different ending. It's easy to assume that others could say that because of Henry, as well. There's also the story of the brief friendship of Henry and Shawvver, without her, we wouldn't have this book. There were some moments early on that I thought that Shawvver might be giving us too much about her in the book, but I got used to it and understood why she chose that. In the end her "presence" in the book's unfolding helps the reader learn to appreciate Henry the man,not just Henry the historical figure.

    This is a deceptively easy read, the conversational tone of Henry's segments, particularly, are engaging and you're hearing someone tell you great stories of his youth. Until you stop and listen to what he's talking about, then you're horrified (and relieved, sickened, inspired, and more). Shawver should be commended for the way she kept the disparate elements in this book balanced while never undercutting the horrible reality that Henry survived.

    This is something that everyone should read -- it's too easy to hear about the Holocaust, about the concentration camps, and everything else and think of them as historical events, statistics. But reading this (or books like it), helps you to see that this happened to people -- not just people who suffered there -- but people who had lives before and after this horror. If we can remember that it was about people hurting people, nothing more abstract, maybe there's hope we won't repeat this kind of thing.

    .

Best Free Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2018 Best Free Books - All rights reserved.