89 Books about Poland | Polish War Graves in Britain
Father Anselm, a monk, at a monastery near Cambridge in England, warmed himself in front of a roaring fire. It was autumn, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and the apple wood on the fire gave off a delightful smell of smoky cider. An old friend, John Fielding, had come to visit, son of a British diplomat and formerly a foreign correspondent based in Warsaw. He had a story to tell and he needed the help of Father Anselm.
In 1982 John Fielding had been expelled from Warsaw by the Polish state. Poland was then under martial law. The communist government under General Jaruzelski had put tanks on the streets of Warsaw during the night of 13 December 1981. Thousands had been arrested and most of the leadership of the free trade union Solidarity were languishing in jail. Life in Poland was very difficult for those espousing the cause of freedom.
Solidarity activists went underground and the voice of freedom continued to be heard in the city through the medium of underground publications. One voice, the Shoemaker, caught the attention of John Fielding. His publication called Freedom and Independence had first appeared before the Second War World and had continued to speak even when Poland fell under Soviet rule, only falling silent in 1951 during the Stalinist terror. Now in 1982 it was back!
John Fielding wanted to meet the Shoemaker. He was introduced to a friend of the Shoemaker Roza Mojeska. For six months she answered No to any request to speak with the Shoemaker until on All Souls Day in November 1982 she told John that the Shoemaker would meet him that evening in the Powazki cemetery in Warsaw.
The Powazki cemetery was alight with candles as the citizens of Warsaw remembered their dead. John went to the cemetery, Roza Mojeska was there but so was the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa, the secret police. They arrested both Roza Mojeska, who was taken to Mokotow prison and John, who suffered a beating, and was then expelled from Warsaw.
Time moved on, the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Empire was no more. John Fielding, now living in London, was surprised to receive a visitor, it was Roza Mojeska needing his help. She wanted to find out who had betrayed her in 1982. John however after his expulsion from Warsaw was involved in an accident and had lost his sight. He could do little to help Roza so he turned to Father Anselm and asked him to be his eyes and ears in finding the traitor.
I want you to do what I can't do, said John, resigned and tentative. I want you to walk through fire. I want you to find out who betrayed Roza Mojeska in 1982. (p. 56)
The Day of the Lie takes place in Warsaw, Poland. A city which was systematically destroyed by the German army during the Second World War, a city which was occupied by the Soviets for nearly 50 years and a city which saw martial law imposed upon it in 1981.
The story focuses upon resistance to Soviet imposed communism during both the Stalinist Terror and the military clampdown in the 1980s. A time of oppression and brutality and for Father Anselm a journey into moral ambiguity, family shame and ultimately betrayal.