Leamington woman Anna Patrick has written and published No Going Back based on her mother’s experience of Nazi-occupied Poland and Ravensbruck concentration camp in the Second World War. Here is our report.
“It’s not as if we ever sat down and talked about it over a nice cup of tea,” says Anna Patrick when describing how her mother would relay her experiences of the Second World War.
Anna, 62, who lives in Leamington , has written and recently published the book No Going Back which is based on the true story of her mother Marta Paciorkowska who lived in Nazi occupied Krakow in Poland during one of modern Europe’s darkest periods.
Marta was lucky not to be shot where she stood when, in 1944, she was arrested by the Gestapo for carrying a gun on behalf of her then-fiance Ludek Golab who was a high-ranking Polish resistance fighter.
“She said it was if they knew she was coming,” says Anna.
Instead, Marta was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp where close friendships and her unshakeable belief helped her to survive.
But after the war ended, she had to pull together the fragments of her shattered existence.
Anna, a former journalist, PR manager and secondary school teacher, said: “I don’t want to spoil the story for readers by telling you what happens next.
“But it is a gripping and moving tale of an exceptional woman although she would never have described herself as that.”
Anna always wanted to write what she describes as a ‘historical fictional memoir’ but credits her husband, Mike, for achieving her aim.
She said: “He kept telling people I was writing a book and they kept asking me how I was getting on with it. In the end it was easier and less embarrassing to just sit down and complete the project.
“I call it a historical fictional memoir because large parts are based on my mother’s notes and what she told me about her experiences but there are also fictional characters in the book although their experiences are all based on historical fact.”
Marta lived in Leamington for a time before she died in October 2003.
Her husband - Anna’s father -Tadeusz Wielogorski was a captain in the Polish army who had escaped Poland in 1939.
He became part of the Polish contingent of the British Army and fought in Normandy after D-Day - surviving the Battle of the Falaise Gap.
He died in Wimbledon, south London, - where the family had settled - in June 2001.
Anna was born in Taunton, Somerset, moving to Wimbledon with her parents, when she was six.
There she attended the Ursuline Convent High School before going to St Anne’s College, Oxford, to read French and philosophy before changing courses to theology.
Her first job after leaving university was as a reporter on the Wimbledon News. Later she moved into public relations first for Spillers pet foods in New
Malden and then as public relations manager for Massey Ferguson Tractors Limited in Coventry.
In 1999, she left to study for a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) at Warwick University and then worked at Whitley Abbey School in Coventry as their religious education teacher.
She is now enjoying retirement with her husband and two cats and has already started writing her second book
Copies of No Going Back are available at most major book shops and Kenilworth and Warwick Books.
**** Ravensbrück was a concentration camp exclusively for women located 56 miles north of Berlin in northern Germany from 1939 to 1945.
The largest single national group of prisoners consisted of 40,000 Polish women.
Others included 26,000 Jewish women from various countries: 18,800 Russian, 8,000 French, and 1,000 Dutch.
More than 80 per cent were political prisoners.
Many slave labour prisoners were employed by Siemens & Halske - a German electrical engineering company.
From 1942 to 1945, medical experiments to test the effectiveness of sulfonamides were undertaken at the camp.
In the spring of 1941, Hitler’s paramilitary organisation the Schutzstaffel (SS) established a small adjacent camp for male inmates, who built and managed the camp’s gas chambers in 1944.
Of some 130,000 female prisoners who passed through the Ravensbrück camp, about 50,000 of them died.
About 2,200 were killed in the gas chambers and 15,000 survived until liberation.
Some children were also imprisoned at the camp. ****