Those Who Trespass Against Us
One Woman's War Against the NazisBook - 2005
Karolina Lanckoronska was an aristocrat and art historian who taught at the University of Lwów, then part of Poland. When the Soviets came to occupy Lwów, Lanckoronska became active in the Polish resistance and moved to Krakow. She was arrested by the Germans in Kolomyya in 1942, imprisoned and later sentenced to death; incarcerated first in Stanislau, then in Lwow and Berlin before being placed in the notorious Ravensbruck concentration camp for women.
As a countess, Lanckoronska was subjected to varying treatment, suffering near starvation at times only to receive extra food and medical care at others according to the fluctuating and often conflicting orders from the authorities in Berlin. With the intervention of some influential friends and the honourable actions of one Nazi, she was saved from death on several occasions. Thanks to efforts by the Swiss diplomat, scholar and International Red Cross President Carl J. Burckhardt (whose correspondence with Heinrich Himmler was found among Lanckoronska's personal belongings) she was finally released in April, 1945.
Throughout her imprisonment, Lanckoronska remained defiantly resilient, loyal to Poland and committed to her fellow prisoners, including women used by Nazi doctors as guinea pigs for horrific medical experiments. Her magnetic personality and superb story-telling makes this a powerful narrative and sustains our interest through harrowing reading. Her ability to view her own horrific
situation with objectivity gives us insight into the motives and behaviour of the Soviets and the Germans not simply as oppressors, but as human beings. Hers is an extraordinary story of courage and will.