Heroes of War TV Series: Reading List

For the History channel series ‘Heroes of War: Poland’  I had the pleasure of interviewing many excellent historians and authors – and I have put together a reading list, of a couple of titles, for anyone that would like to know more on any particular subject in this series.


Captain Witold Pilecki

The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery Captain Witold Pilecki’s original 1945 Auschwitz Report. By Jarek Garliński. Aquila Polonica 2012.

Rising ’44 – The Battle for Warsaw By Norman Davies. Macmillan 2004 (expanded paperback edition)

I’m including N. Davies book here, aside form it being a ‘must-read’, as I think it gives a good account and examples of the post-war situation and Stalinist repression in Poland – and this is key to understanding Captain Witold Pilecki’s tragic fate.

Rotmistrz Witold Pilecki 1901-1948. By Jacek Pawłowicz. Instytut Pamięci Narodowej / Institute of National Remembrance.

This is an exceptionally beautiful album – with a vast amount of very rare photographs, letters and document scans – beautifully put together with all text in both Polish and English. This beautiful book was published by IPN very recently – Though it may be hard to find a copy – I sincerely recommend it!

Żegota – Polish Council to Aid Jews

Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles under German occupation 1939-1944 By Richard C. Lukas. Hippocrene books (revised edition 2007).

Code Name: Żegota’ Rescuing Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942-1945 By Irene Tomaszewski and Tecia Werbowski. Praeger 2010.

Those Who Helped: Polish Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust. Published by the Main Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation – the Institute of National Memory and The Polish Society for the Righteous Among the Nations. Warsaw 1997.

Krystyna Skarbek / Christine Granville

The Spy Who Loved – The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville By Clare Mulley. Macmillan 2012.

– Clare Mulley was also one of our experts in this series!


Enigma: How the German Machine Cipher Was broken and How it Was Read by the Allies in World War Two. By Władysław Kozaczuk. University Publications of America 1984

Enigma: The Battle for the Code By Hugh Sebag-Montefiore. (My copy is from The Folio Society 2005, but title is available in paperback too!)

Enigma: Bliżej Prawdy By Marek Grajek. Rebis 2008. (Currently only available in Polish)

Marek Grajek was also our expert on the Enigma episode – who also proved a great help in the fact checking of all the different technical aspects of the script!

Cichociemni – ‘The Dark and Silent’

There are surprisingly few books on this subject in English (note to publishers!)

Station 43: Audley End House and SOE’s Polish Section By Ian Valentine, Sutton Publishing 2004.

Poland Alone: Britain, SOE and the Collapse of the Polish Resistance, 1944 By Jonathan Walker, The History Press 2008.

– Jonathan Walker was also one of our contributors for this episode. (01.08.13.MB)

Silent and Unseen: I was a Polish WWII Special Ops Commando By Stefan Bałuk.

Stefan Bałuk was also interviewed for this programme – and his book has been translated into English – however it is quite hard to find a copy!

Further reading (in Polish):

Tobie Ojczyzno – Cichociemni By Hubert Królikowski.Wojskowa Formacja Specjalna GROM im. Cichociemnych Spadochroniarzy Armii Krajowej 1990-2000, Gdańsk 2001.

– I interviewed Hubert Królikowski for this series and he is one of the contributors in both this and the ‘Skarbek’ episode.

Cichociemni i Spadochroniarze 1941-1956 By Jędrzej Tucholski. Rytm 2009.

And Drogi Cichociemnych


(Here in the really lovely 1972 cover design… and easily available recent 2008 and 2010 reprints.)

A few of the historians and experts in this series contributed to several episodes – covering a broad range of different subjects, amongst them:

Halik Kochanski Historian and author of  The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War. Allen Lane 2012

And, of course, Władysław Bartoszewski – who certainly needs no introduction, being not only one of the most prolific historians and writers in Poland but also a sheer, exuberant force of nature!


2 comments on “Heroes of War TV Series: Reading List

  1. Hi Marianna
    Love the blog on ‘Heroes of War’. I contributed to the Cichociemni episode, as my book, ‘Poland Alone’ dealt with Britain’s SOE and the Polish Home Army. I have just returned from researching in Warsaw for my forthcoming book on ‘Operation Unthinkable’, which was Churchill’s secret plan to free Poland in 1945! Will keep you posted.

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