Regarding Gliniecki´s solid evidence
By John Dyson
I have read Mr Leszek Gliniecki’s ‘solid evidence’ at ExWeb with much interest and now realise that in my letter to him in June 2009 I misled him with a key error for which I wholeheartedly apologise. I wrote in the letter that Mr Glinsky was ‘preparing log-rafts for the break-up of the river in ice in early spring 1941.’ This should have said 1940. The error was made only in my letter, not in my story.
I have not had the opportunity to talk further with Mr Glinsky because he is not well and lives far from me, but I have combed through the extensive notes I made during our long discussions and this is the picture that emerges:
Mr Glinsky’s official birth date was 22 November 1926 but late in life he discovered he was really born in 1924. At the outbreak of the war he was therefore aged 15 and at the time of his escape aged 17.
He reached Kriesty via Moscow in mid-winter (around Dec 1939 or Jan 1940) and located his mother with his younger brother and sister in a camp nearby. He worked as a timber hand and visited his mother most Sundays. Sometimes at night he crossed the frozen river to trade his mother’s trinkets at a nearby village. He might have attended a school but he did not mention it to me and I never thought to ask.
After some months he and his mother communicated through an intermediary with his father who ran the power generators at a mining camp not far away. The whole region was a labour camp and lots of people were always on the move so it was not difficult to travel to meet his father. During their two weeks together his father urged him to ‘get away from here’ and ‘go south.’
Merging with throngs of others like himself being transported to various labour camps he worked his way southward on successive trains until he found himself trapped on a train heading east. He destroyed his papers. The train stopped in the wilds near Irkutsk, and he was pushed into a crowd of men selected for a special labour camp. Thus begun his long march shackled to a chain with scores of other men. He reached the camp around November 1940.
He made his escape ‘about six months later’ (ie, March/April 1941) and reached India about ten months after that (early 1942) and Scotland in mid-1943.
These dates are very uncertain. In my story I wrote that he escaped in February but perhaps March is more likely. In this situation one guesstimate is as good as another but the train of events does seem entirely consistent and explains why he was unaware of the amnesty.
In his ‘evidence’ Mr Glinecki raises further points I would like to comment on.
There is no argument that both Mr Glinecki and Mr Glinsky were at Kriesty. One says the records tell the story. The other says that in the chaotic conditions record-keeping was hit-and-miss. In my opinion the latter story is easy to believe. One has to wonder how long it would have taken the authorities, such as they were, to realise that Mr Glinsky had absconded. It’s more than possible, I would suggest, that when the amnesty came his name was simply ticked off with the others.
Mr Glinecki writes of his surprise that Mr Glinski portrayed himself as’ the leader of the group of prisoners’ which included two captains and a sergeant from the Polish infantry. He says: ‘The idea that men from the Polish officer corps would need to be — or allowed themselves to be — led by a young teenager fresh out of school struck me as altogether beyond belief.”
I quizzed Mr Glinski about this most particularly. He said he kept his escape plan utterly private and he did not work with two others as claimed by Linda Willis in her excellent book ‘Looking for Mr Smith.’ On the night of his escape he was totally surprised to see men following him. He thinks that because he’d been befriended by the commandant’s wife he was being closely watched by others. And it’s likely a sheer coincidence that others saw the blizzard as the best moment to run for it and the dip in the fence as the best spot to cross.
Mr Glinski was the son of a high-ranking Polish cavalry officer and himself a cadet at a military school. He would have been completely familiar with ‘officer class’ individuals and not daunted by them. He did not impose any leadership. In effect he told them: ‘I am going that way and you can do what you like.’ When he looked back he saw them following him. This happened repeatedly. The two officers, he said, were in a bad mental state and were ‘nurse-maided’ by the sergeant. The officers died on the way and the sergeant was killed in a cliff fall. The mysterious Mr Smith said little but kept himself close to Mr Glinski and supported his actions. There were hardly any discussions about what they should do and they did not exchange personal details.
About the Lubianka episode: Mr Glinski did not mention it the first time we talked through his story but it did emerge the second time. I have to wonder whether he was in fact using ‘Lubianka’ as a euphemism for the hated officials who had taken over his life. To any young man in that situation, a tribunal of any sort behind barbed wire would have seemed like a Lubianka. This is just a possibility worth mentioning but the Lubianka story could equally well be true.
My notes have nothing more to add but in my opinion the story that emerges is rational and convincing.
The Big Lie about The Long Walk?
Shortly after the Long Riders’ Guild exposed the Hopkins Hoax, the largest and most destructive equestrian fraud in American history, a proponent of the counterfeit cowboy was interviewed by the History Channel. When asked to explain the lack of documentary evidence supporting Hopkins, the advocate replied, “Just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”
Oddly enough, I feel as if I am being forced to watch a re-run of those arguments, only this time instead of Hopkins’ devotees, it’s “Glinski’s Guardians” who are defending the man in question.
There is a disturbing number of similar elements between Frank Hopkins, whose fraudulent stories inspired the Disney movie, Hidalgo, and Witold Glinski, who claims to have done the Long Walk upon which Peter Weir’s film, The Way Back, is based. These alarming parallels should be of intense interest to the public, the exploration community and film makers.
The first thing to appreciate is that Hopkins deliberately used his advanced age in order to beguile the public. Eyewitnesses who met him reported that they couldn’t believe that this little old man had deliberately lied to them. Yet he did. Repeatedly. Likewise, Glinski’s age is being used to distract reporters from the fact that there is a surprising lack of documented evidence to support his claims.
If a young person made a fantastic travel claim, and couldn’t substantiate it, the press wouldn’t take their age into account. The fact that Glinski appears to have successfully used his respectable age to influence the young Polish travellers, as well as reporters and authors, matches Hopkins’ behaviour perfectly.
Another point of concern is how Hopkins not only took every opportunity to promote his phoney claim to greatness, he did so at the expense of deceased public figures.
In each of his stories Hopkins planted a barb in which a person of genuine historical importance was portrayed in a very harmful light. He did this in order to present himself as a victim. For example, Hopkins told the press that even though he had been the “real” star of the Wild West Show for thirty-two years, Buffalo Bill Cody had stolen his limelight. The fact that Hopkins never worked for Cody was not revealed to the public being misled by this deception
In fact because of the passage of time, Hopkins always made sure that the people actually involved in the imaginary events were deceased. Thus, in those pre-internet days the public had no way of substantiating Hopkins’ libellous claims against President Theodore Roosevelt, whom he called a gambler, or Sitting Bull, whom he called a coward, etc. By using this cold-hearted method, Hopkins was able to fool authors and reporters into believing that, though he had been the true hero of many great adventures, he had simply been too modest to step forward and reveal himself to the public.
Here again, if we could put a cowboy hat on Glinski, we might be witnessing the same behaviour, only this time the victim appears to be the deceased author of the fraudulent travel book, The Long Walk.
Though overwhelming evidence now indicates that Slavomir Rawicz was largely responsible for inventing the deceptive original tale about a long walk from Siberia to India, Glinski has followed Hopkins’ footsteps in that he has denounced Rawicz, claiming that his fellow Pole stole the original story from him.
Thus, as with Hopkins, we are asked to believe that Glinski is a modest man, whose story was unfairly stolen, all the while overlooking the fact that Rawacz is conveniently not around to be cross-examined.
Which brings me to wonder how Glinski can ask the public to believe that he mistook Rawacz for the murderous and mysterious criminal named Batko, who had supposedly accompanied Glinski on the escape to India.
Perhaps because of the increasing number of contradictory stories which Glinski has told various reporters, I might have missed something? Yet I believe that Glinski claims that when he saw Rawacz in passing in London, he made the mistake of believing that the tall author, Rawacz, was the escaped criminal, Batko.
Setting aside the improbable fact that a chance encounter in London frightened Glinski into silence for more than fifty years, is the public expected to believe that Glinski walked 6,000 miles with Batko and then mistook him for Rawacz? This part of Glinski’s story strains credulity and sets aside common sense.
But it matches Hopkins’ behaviour, again.
Nor should we neglect to appreciate how Glinski offered up various versions of his story to different reporters. This matches Hopkins too, who changed his tale to suit the audience.
If the public needed any more reasons to worry, it might consider how, when pressed by reporters to explain inconsistencies, Glinski responded angrily that he didn’t care if he was believed or not. Though I’ve already said it, this too matches Hopkins.
Like Glinski, when pressed, Hopkins would get angry and act wounded. In fact, this was because the questioner was pressing too close to home. So here again, Glinski’s actions towards reporter John Dyson’s uncomfortable questions match those of Hopkins.
Let me provide one final striking similarity between Hopkins and Glinski. In both cases, other people had a strong personal reason to believe them.
Hopkins spun a legion of lies that would have filled the Grand Canyon. Yet authors, reporters, film makers, and lots of knowledgeable horsemen didn’t ask him to provide a single scrap of evidence.
In one famous incident, an American reporter asked the Library of Congress to provide evidence that Hopkins rode in a mythical horse race across Arabia. Even when the Library demonstrated that Hopkins had invented this fantastical tale, the reporter deliberately misled his editor and published a story anyway. That story provided the false evidence which the Walt Disney studio later used to make their misleading movie about Hopkins.
Likewise, there are currently so many reasonable questions being raised about the validity of Glinski’s claims that those who defend him should be eager and willing to provide documentary evidence proving the truth of his allegations – or admit that they have been fooled.
It is not enough to claim that they believe him because he told them it happened. Nor should his age be used as a defence. Nor should startling inconsistencies be ignored. Nor should fanciful tales about murderers masquerading as authors be overlooked.
Thanks to the dedicated research work undertaken by the BBC, the original Long Walk story was finally unmasked as a fraud. Now, the Polish scholar, Leszek Gliniecki, has provided a treasure trove of documents, dates, images and an accurate eyewitness account which has undermined the vast majority of Glinski’s story.
Thus, what is needed is not a defence of Glinski, but this realisation.
Unless evidence can be found proving Glinski’s story is correct, then the strong possibility exists that we are witnessing an unprecedented double-travel hoax, one wherein the original fraudulent tale was purloined by a second charlatan. And while there have been many examples of forged travel tales, there has never been, to the best of my knowledge as the publisher of the Classic Travel Books Collection, a double-travel hoax such as the one we may now be witnessing.
In conclusion, there may be a silver lining connected to the questions raised about Rawacz, Glinski and the many lies about the Long Walk. The new Peter Weir film, “The Way Back,” may in fact indicate that Hollywood is re-evaluating the costs of what happens when it misleads the public.
Despite the fact that more than eighty scholars from five countries collectively denounced the Hopkins story as a historical fabrication, the Disney studio obstinately told the public that their movie, Hidalgo, was “based on a true story.” The result was an outpouring of unprecedented international outrage aimed at Disney’s “pony baloney.”
Thankfully, it appears Weir has learned from Disney’s mistake, as in a recent interview he said his new movie was “essentially a fictional film.”
Thus, regardless of the fable Rawacz originally peddled, and the story Glinski now claims credit for, Weir’s actions hopefully indicate that Hollywood has realized that in this era of Wikileaks and empowered citizen reporters the days of lying to the public, without fear of social and economic repercussions, are a thing of the past.
While the movie-going public may be willing to suspend their disbelief in exchange for being entertained, Hidalgo and The Way Back indicate that Hollywood is learning to respect the truth, or pay the consequences.
CuChullaine O’Reilly FRGS
The Hopkins Hoax – http://www.thelongridersguild.com/hopkins.htm
How many different versions are you going to offer?
An Open Letter to Richard Rawicz and the Rawicz Family.
Dear Mr. Rawicz,
On 13th December I emailed you privately to ask you to please provide answers to a number of disturbing questions connected to your father’s book, “The Long Walk.”
Those questions remain unanswered.
As you have chosen to once again enter into the public debate about the misleading travel story, commonly known as “The Long Walk,” by posting your comments on Mikael Strandberg’s exploration blog, I feel the public and I have the right to pose questions to you and your four siblings.
To begin with, I believe it behoves the public to realise that you are the son of Slavomir Rawicz, the man who deliberately perpetrated the original Long Walk hoax on the public.
There are at least two websites which hold messages which confirm that you are the son of the author of “The Long Walk.”
Date: 5 May 2006
“my father was born in pinsk in 1915. his name was Slavomir Rawicz any information would be most appreciated.”
richardrawicz[the at sign]
Comments: My Father Slavomir Rawicz author of The Long Walk was in
Persia, R.A.F Cranwell, Croughton, Hucknall, between 1942-1946.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
When the BBC investigated your father’s story in 2006, it discovered government documents proving that Slavomir Rawacz had been released in 1942 under a general amnesty designed to incorporate Polish prisoners of war into the Allied war effort. The BBC also learned that along with hundreds of other Polish prisoners, your father was sent from a Soviet prison camp directly to Persia.
In a article published in the Sunday Times on 19th December 2010, reporter Richard Brooks, wrote, “Two key pieces of evidence undermined, even destroyed, Rawicz’s story. First, from the Russian human rights organisation Memorial there was an amnesty document showing that Rawicz had been given his release in 1942, even though he maintained he had escaped in 1941. Second, that Rawicz had written in his own hand that he had been freed and went to Persia, not India.”
The news organization concluded that while there may have been an actual escape from Siberia to India, your father was not the escapee.
Furthermore, I gather that in a letter to the BBC, “even Rawicz’s own children appear to concede that his account was fictional.”
Therefore, the first question from my original email remains, do you have any evidence which would prove that the story published by your father and Ronald Downing was based on fact, not fiction?
If not, then allow me to express my shock at your family’s cold-blooded decision to continue to peddle your father and Downing’s book with the deliberately misleading title, “The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom.”
What part of your father’s story is true, Mr. Rawacz, that he was Polish? That he encountered yetis – twice? That he spent nearly two waterless weeks in the Gobi desert?
I think the public should understand that since your father’s book was released in 1956, it is estimated to have sold more than half a million copies and has been translated into at least 25 languages. Currently the book is supposed to be selling at least 30,000 copies a year. And that doesn’t take into account the tremendous profit which will come your family’s way thanks to Peter Weir’s new movie.
The magnitude of this lucrative deception is therefore of interest and importance to the exploration community, as are the actions of your parents and siblings.
On May 5th, 2004 a family friend named John Adams published an obituary regarding your father in the British newspaper, The Guardian. Mr. Adams wrote, “… each year he received hundreds of letters from people all over the world, inspired by his book, often school children. With Marjorie’s help, he answered them all.”
When I read that statement, I had to ask myself this question. Did Slavomir, and your mother, Marjorie, really sit down together and send school children misleading letters about the fictional trip?
As the son of Slavomir Rawicz, the man who deliberately perpetrated the original Long Walk hoax on the public, I am curious about your family’s current decision to continue to mislead the public as your parents apparently did.
The Amazon website is currently offering a new edition of your father’s book for sale. This is the description currently being advertised as “true” to a gullible public.
“Cavalry officer Slavomir Rawicz was captured by the Red Army in 1939 during the German-Soviet partition of Poland and was sent to the Siberian Gulag along with other captive Poles, Finns, Czechs and even a few American unfortunates who had been caught up in the fighting. A year later, he and six comrades from various countries escaped from a labour camp in Yakutsk and made their way, on foot, thousands of miles south to British India, where Rawicz reenlisted in the Polish army and fought against the Germans. The Long Walk recounts that adventure, which is surely one of the most curious treks in history.”
Generations of readers have felt cheated when they discovered the depth of your father’s deception. Moreover, this fabrication does more to cast doubt on actual survival stories than legitimize them.
I believe that the public has a right to ask how you and your siblings justify using the word “true” in the title of a book which has been thoroughly debunked?
Finally, given your family connection to this discredited title, I am curious to discover your views of Witold Glinski’s attempts to claim that he was the one who made the imaginary journey. Can you share your opinion on Glinski’s attempts to purloin your father’s fable?
CuChullaine O’Reilly FRGS
I must admit to being taken aback by Mr Dyson’s response to my article.
It seems that, despite all the archive evidence I’ve produced and all the contradictions I pointed out, he still prefers to believe Mr Glinski’s assertion that all records at the time were chaotic and unreliable.
Neither does he address all the discrepencies between the different accounts Mr Glinski has given. And where he does address issues which I raised which do not make sense in Mr Glinski’s different accounts, Mr Dyson’s new information appears to create new contradictions and raise further questions.
I will come back to this, but let me first say that to be begin with, it was not at all obvious that Mr Glinski was in Kriesty at all as Kriesty was not mentioned in the Readers Digest article – in fact, if the Lubianka episode was accurate Kriesty would not fit in. That is because in the Lubianka episode Glinski was sentenced to hard labour. Kriesty was for exiles not a hard labour camp. Mr Dyson has never confirmed that Mr Glinski was at the school I attended, even though it is obvious from the correspondence between myself and JD that he was asking Mr Glinski questions raised by me.
Now it appears the Lubianka episode did not necessarily happen. I will return to this.
Also the fact that Mr Dyson now says he got a key date wrong in correspondence to me actually has major knock on effect for undermining other dates and locations he gave me in correspondence. But I will not go too far in to that now because there is so much else to say.
It’s difficult to address everything that Mr Dyson said in response to my article. So I will start by pointing out a selection of the new contradictions that Mr Dyson’s response has raised.
JD in his original Readers Digest ariticle (May 2009): Glinski is sentenced to 25 years hard labour in Lubianka prison.
JD new information: JD is not sure if the Lubianka prison episode happened – he now says it may have been some kind of “euphemism”.
Comment: Surely this is letting Mr Glinski off the hook rather too easily. If he cannot be relied upon to remember something as dramatic and striking as the Lubianka episode accurately, surely this casts doubt on other things he says. What other recollections might be “euphemisms”? The escape from Yakutsk? The Long Walk itself?
JD new information: Glinski’s father, a high-ranking Polish officer, was in charge of a power plant in a mine at a camp close to Kriesty. Glinski could visit him pretty much at will for a period of two weeks because the whole area around Kriesty was a labour camp. Glinski absconded from Kriesty in 1940 before the general amnesty of Polish exiles.
This raises a new contradiction with Linda Willis’ book: Glinski’s father was sentenced to hard Labour in an unspecified camp. His father was 700 kilometres away in Szachunia. Glinski and other family members joined his father in Szachunia in 1941 after the general amnesty.
JD new information: Glinski was advised by his father to “go south” in 1940 before the amnesty.
New contradiction with Linda Willis’ book: Glinski was advised by his father to “go east” in 1941 after the amnesty.
Comment: Exiles were not able just to leave Kriesty at will. Under exceptional circumstances, internees were given 24 hour passes. Spending two weeks in another camp would not have been sanctioned either by the authorities at Kriesty or the authorities of the other camp concerned. Nor could exiles roam easily getting on and off trains without being challenged. I think anyone who experienced life as an exile would find the picture Glinski paints of just being able to travel around in this way – almost at will – unthinkable. Also, and most importantly, two matching archives say Glinski left Kriesty together with family members (with travel documentation for Szachunia) after the amnesty and not before as claimed to John Dyson.
Here are some further general comments:
JD now says he never thought to ask Glinski whether he was at school in Kriesty.
Comment: Yet I wrote to JD specifically because I was at school in Kriesty with Glinski – raising this and a number of other matters. Did he not ask Glinski whether he was at school with me at that point? And yet when he relayed Glinski’s answers to my questions during our extended correspondence, at no point did JD ever say that Glinski confirmed that he was at school in Kriesty.
JD new information: Glinski found in late life he is two years older than he thought he was meaning he was born in 1924.
Comment: How and at what point does someone lose track their own age? And how does this square with Mr Dyson’s assertion to me in correspondence that Mr Glinski thought he was the same age as his younger sister – ie born in 1928. Glinski apparently said this confusion had somehow occurred because of faulty records. What is the nature and origin of these faulty records, by the way? Can he produce them?
And still on the matter of documentation which JD referred to in correspondence with me. JD said he had seen similar documentation to the archive documents I sent him. But he did not say exactly what this documentation was and why seeing it played a part in his decision to dismiss the archive evidence I was putting forward. What exactly was this material he had seen? And again, can he produce it?
Returning to JD’s new information. One other observation that JD makes in his response to my article is that Glinski planned his escape from Yakutsk alone whereas in Linda Willis’ book, Glinski planned his escape from Yakutsk with two others.
Comment: JD himself is pointing out a clear contradiction between two accounts given by Glinski. Why does this not raise a red flag for JD and lead him to question the reliability of what Glinski is saying?
Back to JD’s new information: The Polish officers were sick and being nursed by the Polish sergeant. Glinski went to cadet school and therefore would not be led by sick officers.
Comment: Young military students would have been in awe of Polish officers and naturally deferential to them whether the officers were sick or not. One would have expected officers to provide knowledge, experience, advice and maintain an air of authority whether they were fully fit or not. And surely they could not have been that ill because of the many thousands of kilometres which, according to Glinski’s account, they must have covered and the hardships they endured. Glinski’s account shows no indication of the respect or deference that one might normally have expected a cadet to have shown to Polish officers.
In conclusion let me make the key point again. Mr Glinski’s account to Mr Dyson contradicts matching information in Russian, Polish and English archives and information Glinski’s own military records. There are also inconsistencies, contradictions and changes of story Glinski’s accounts. Yet on Mr Glinski’s word alone, Mr Dyson is apparently prepared to overlook all this.
Did Rudyard Kipling inspire Slavomir Rawicz’s Long Walk?
In 1907 Rudyard Kipling, the celebrated English author and noted expert on the British Raj, published a short story which may have provided the literary inspiration for the debunked “Long Walk”.
In Kipling’s account, a cavalry officer is captured by the Russians and imprisoned in Siberia. However, the officer escapes and makes his way over the mountains to British-controlled India.
Here’s a link to Kipling’s story: http://www.bartleby.com/195/22.html
I have no intention of getting involved in your nasty vindictive argument.
Richard, as I told you earlier, I just offer a forum, a discussion, regarding this subject of the Long Walk and the comments published are not my personal opinions. You have to set this apart. Each one offering a comment is responsible for their own comments. And as long as you leave your email and name, and don´t stay anonymous or spread hatred, and your comment is reasonable and to to the point, a comment will get published. Even if I have co-written one article with CuChullaine, his opinions as comments are his, not mine. However, the articles I have written and where I have an opinion, those are mine. We are all different human beings with our own way to treat things. My only wish regarding this is only to see if we can find out what really happened or not. And, I think the best way to deal with this issue, is to offer your opinion or version, and than let people who read make up their own mind. I have had great help from everyone involved and I think we all want to find out who did the Long Walk and if it happened. And at the end of the day, we all will have different opinions and such is life. Everyone I have talked to have been great and very helpful. I have a lot of respect for everyone involved here. But you have just complained about Glinski all the time, but offered nothing to prove neither for or against. Check back at your earlier comments and you will see. And at the end of the day, only evidence and facts can say what is right or wrong. Sorry if you in any way feel offended, but this discussion has been nasty since the book first was published. Hopefully, within time we will all know. And I recommend you to read Linda Willis excellent book.
And, read this article http://www.mikaelstrandberg.com/2009/11/04/the-need-for-debate-on-expedition-arabia/
In my humble opinion, I think that you have done an excellent job hosting and moderating this discussion of “The Long Walk” and “The Way Back.” Everyone interested in this subject ought to be grateful for your efforts. Just witness the way in which you took John Dyson’s long response and nicely reformatted and reposted it.
The debate has been very thought provoking. All of the participants also ought to be thanked for their contributions. In years past an information exchange such as this might have taken months or even years. Now we are able to debate the matter in near real time.
Which leads me to a question. Thus far one person apparently missing from this discussion has been Linda Willis. As we are all aware, she devoted years to researching “Looking For Mr. Smith,” a well written, engrossing discussion of this entire subject. Have you or someone else contacted her to seek her views regarding Leszek Gliniecki’s article and the subsequent responses? Many of us would especially like to know her assessment of this latest material.
I had this email sent to me by a reader, which indeed has value to this discussion above. It concerns the discussion Glinski versus Rawicz. It is very interesting reading and shows how complicated and heated this debate has been for years. And adds knowledge to Richard Rawicz´s reaction to what has been written and discussed here. It also adds new knowledge to some degree. Please see http://www.allreaders.com/Board.asp?listpage=8&BoardID=8276
In reply to your observation concerning Gliniecki, yes, I agree that the discussion has become a little heated. However, I really cannot comment one way or the other. Levinson at the BBC has mentioned him but I know absolutely nothing about Gliniecki. I can only hope that any controversy over The Long Walk will eventually contribute to solid, documented information coming forth that will shed more light on the subject. Whether the target of controversy is Rawicz, Glinski, Mr. Smith, or any of the other men who escaped or tried to escape and walked to India, as I describe in Looking for Mr. Smith, I feel that all views should be aired and the public invited to join in the investigation of claims and counter-claims.
Thank you again Mikael for pursuing this subject. Sincerely, Linda Willis
Dear Ms. Willis,
Thank you for joining this discussion thread. As everyone acquainted with the subjects of “The Long Walk” and “The Way Back” knows, your decade of work in the area and recent book have greatly contributed to our understanding of the subject. All of us are in your debt.
I believe that we all understand that until very recently you did not know of Leszek Gliniecki. The question now before us are the implications of his recent article and the ensuing discussion. As one of the foremost authorities in the area, the value of your opinions and views cannot be underestimated.
Hence, I hope that you will permit me to ask: Do you believe Gliniecki’s evidence to be credible? Do his contemporary documents support his conclusions? Is his analysis of Glinski’s testimony to you and to John Dyson correct? Do you think that Gliniecki’s conclusions concerning Glinski are convincing? If not, could you please indicate why? I, and I believe everyone monitoring this mail thread, would welcome your responses to these questions.
In advance of your reply, I would like to thank you for considering my request.
Reply from W.C.Rawicz to CuChullaine O’Reilly.
Having given yourself the position of judge, jury and executioner of Slavomir Rawicz and his
family I feel you should be brought to order.
You cold heartedly claim that my father is “conveniently not around to be cross examined”.
My father died from a broken heart 3 months after the death of his beloved wife of 60 years.
At no time have we as a family conceded our father account to be fictional!
There is doubt in my mind that the release documents found by the BBC where signed by
my father.His very distinctive hand writing is nowhere on the copies I have seen.Papers
supposedly signed at a time when forgery,deception and corruption wher common place.
My father certainly did not steal a story from Witwold Glinski.We have had 5 different versions or his outrageous claims,he really needs to make up his mind which one to
adhere to futhermore he is himself at the moment under scrutiny.
The book was written nearly 60 years ago do you now expect us to unwrite it?
If you are expecting myself and my family to don sackcloth and ashes and to spend the rest
of our lives with our heads bowed in shame then I am afraid you are seriously mistaken.
We are all proud fo our father whose whole purpose in writing the book was to show to the
world the cruelty, oppression and murder perpetrated by the Stalin regime.
The”excellent book” by Linda Willis that you refer to contains so many errors and untruths,
written without any contact or reference to us and closed proving nothing.
This is strictly between my family and our agents and certainly NO BUSSINESS of yours!
The number of supporters of my father and his book far outweigh his critics.
We are in the possession of a mountain of fan mail to prove it.
Whilst I respect that you are entitled to your opinions, you are only in possession of a
fractions of information surrounding The Long Walk and Slavomir Rawicz and I feel that
your ignorance is only overshadowed by your arrogance.
My father wrote “Remember always the precious heritage of freedom”
Please respect that statement and let my family enjoy our peace and freedom.
The Long Walk and The Third Eye – Companions in Crime
Dear Mr. Rawicz,
Allow me to extend my sympathies over the loss of your mother and to acknowledge the grief felt by your father.
However, attacking the messenger, instead of responding to the message, namely that your family enriches itself by promoting “The Long Walk” as a “true” story, even though you have not produced a scrap of evidence to substantiate your father’s fantasy, won’t wash. Nor should the investigation into your father’s literary hoax be sidetracked by your attempts at patriotic anti-Stalin flag waving.
This isn’t about freedom, Mr. Rawacz, it is about your family’s claim to a gullible public that your father’s book is a “true” story. Nor do reams of letters from misled readers alter that fact.
Ironically, while the debate continues about the increasing likelihood that the Long Walk has inspired a double travel hoax, i.e. both Rawicz and Glinski claiming ownership of the same lie, there is an undisclosed element of this debate, namely that the year of publication, 1956, gave birth to not one, but two of the world’s most outrageous frauds in the history of travel literature.
As the world now knows, an English reporter named Ronald Downing helped a Polish refugee named Slavomir Rawicz to write what has now proved to be a deliberate hoax, “The Long Walk.”
But what has been overlooked is that in that same year ANOTHER Tibetan travel fraud was also perpetrated on the world.
“The Third Eye” was written by an English plumber named Cyril Hoskin. Published in 1956, in this fictional account, the plumber turned holy man said his real name was Tuesday Lobsang Rampa. Hoskin/Rampa claimed to have been a lama in Tibet, before sending his soul to reside in the plumber’s body. Hoskin, (8 April 1910 – 25 January 1981) who described himself as the “host” of Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, went on to write nearly twenty books based upon his imaginary theology and travels.
Yet Rampa had his critics – now and then.
Agehananda Bharati was an authentic scholar of Tibetan Buddhism who held the rank of sannyasin in the Dashanami Order. Asked by the publishers to inspect Hoskin’s manuscript prior to publication, he denounced Rampa’s writings as ‘cretinistic confabulations’.
Yet, when “The Third Eye” was published despite his objections, Bharati pointed out, “Publishers are not the harbingers of authenticity, but businessmen. They published the book in spite of the negative reports, anticipating its sales potential. And they were right. I understand the six British editions sold close to eighty thousand copies. The German translation, wouldn’t you know it, sold close to a hundred thousand, and comparable numbers of copies were sold in other European languages. People simply cannot stand the idea that there is no abominable snowman, that there is no white brotherhood somewhere in the Himalayas, and that people do not fly through the air except in planes.”
The scholar became even more concerned when it became apparent that though people realized Rampa was a fake, they still eagerly accepted his story.
Bharati warned, “The popularity of these faux mysteries from the east is not due to the difficulty in getting access to the scholarly works. It is due to the attractiveness of fantasy and the ease with which fantasy can be understood and appear to be profound. It is due to the desire to be special and to have knowledge of the mysteries of life without having to study or think very hard.”
Ironically, a reporter for the Daily Mail denounced Rampa’s deceit in 1958, even though Downing, another Daily Mail reporter, had previously been involved in writing the fraudulent Long Walk account in 1956.
Yet as 1956 drew to a close, both books were denounced as frauds by a single remarkable source of Tibetan wisdom and eyewitness experience.
George Patterson is an extraordinary man, universally known as Patterson of Tibet. There was nothing in his early life to indicate that this son of a Scottish minister would go on to lead a life of adventure, travel and intrigue. Yet George turned his back on all that he knew and journeyed into remote Tibet at the conclusion of the Second World War. He not only underwent a great spiritual awakening there, George also became involved with the Tibetan resistance to the invading Chinese Communist army.
George’s subsequent equestrian journey, across the Himalayas in the winter of 1949, to deliver a plea for help from Tibet to the outside world is now the stuff of legend.
Since the Chinese invasion of Tibet, George has continued to be a tireless champion of that captured nation. He became a noted journalist, covering Tibet and exposing Chinese atrocities there. In the 1950s he led a documentary film crew into occupied Tibet and filmed native guerrillas attacking Chinese army motor convoys. And he assisted in the rescue of the Dalai Lama from Lhasa into India. Because of these activities, Patterson was sentenced to death in absentia by the Beijing authorities, a sentence which has never been withdrawn.
George is still writing and recently lectured at Cambridge about his experiences in Tibet. When the Dalai Lama last visited Britain, he especially asked to meet up again with his old friend, George Patterson.
I spoke to George yesterday on Skype. He’s now 90, retired in and living Scotland. His brain is as sharp as ever, and George is still able to recall how the BBC asked him in 1956 to review the two books about Tibet – The Long Walk and The Third Eye.
George told me in no uncertain terms yesterday that he clearly remembers denouncing both books to the BBC as preposterous hoaxes.
Did anyone listen? Apparently not, as both books enriched their authors. Though it is interesting to note that in 1965 Harper Publishers in New York reissued Rawicz’s book with the new title – “The Long Walk, A Gamble for Life”. Why was it suddenly no longer a “true story”? Had they heard Patterson?
Sadly, the original warning issued by Patterson of Tibet lay forgotten until Mikael Strandberg bravely reignited this search for the truth regarding “The Long Walk,” and its companion in literary crime, “The Third Eye.”
For more information about Patterson of Tibet, please visit http://www.classictravelbooks.com/authors/patterson.htm
Rampa/Hoskin is now listed in “The Guinness Book of Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries” by Richard Newnham. Further reading on exposing the Third Eye literary hoax can be found at: http://www.serendipity.li/baba/rampa.html
Mikael, I read both Gliniecki report and Dyson’s reply. I was thinking a lot about this matter and I came to the conclusion that Gliniecki’s evidence seem to be really solid. But on the other hand Dyson gave the same answers as I had heard from Glinski. They are very vague but still they can explain abovementioned doubts. I was cosindering what to do in this situation, how my next article should look like? Then I read your report that it was time for you to end your energy in Long Walk discussions. It inspired me and my decision is not to get more deeply in this dispute. I don’t want to be involved in quarell between Glinski and Rawicz heirs. It might be the task for historians or investigation journalists. I In my last article I gave my testimony: I would like to commemorate victims of totalitarianism, not to seek the truth behing “The Long Walk”, I also want to show that world might be a great adventure and if only you have passion of life.Mr Gliniecki revealed new documents regarding Glinski’s case and on their basis he accused him of being a lier. It has started a very hot discussion about his truthfulness. But I consider if anybody make an effort and ask Witold himself about his reply to these accusations. Mr Glinski is still alive so it should not be a problem to meet with him and make an interview asking these inconvenient questions. To my mind it is a metter of pure decency to give him a right to defend his point of view. As I mentioned before I do not feel involved in these dispute so I leave this matter to the people who are in it.
My father who was polish in what is now Belorssia was captured and sent to the gulag escaped or was set free at the time russia swapped sides. He and four others made it to Persia and then to Palestine. There he joined the Polish Free forces and ended up in Nottingham UK building Hurricanes He stayed in England and married my English mother. I have photos of the eastern Polish platoon he was with with all their names signed on the back of the photograph.
I am very interested in the whole story and would welcome anyone elses thought s on this matter.
Dear Mr. Sheppard,
I wish you luck in your quest and hope that you find the information that you are seeking.
However, just to ensure that there is no misunderstanding, when you say that your father was sent to the gulag and that he “… escaped or was set free at the time russia [sic] swapped sides,” please remember that there is all of the world of difference between those disjuncts.
We all know that sadly in 1939 – 1941 the Soviets interned many Poles under horrible conditions and that after the German invasion of the Soviet Union happily many of them were released via Persia. The interesting question is whether any of those interned Poles escaped from the Gulag and made there way overland to India. The problem with The Long Walk is that Rawicz claimed membership in the second group when in fact documents show that he really belonged in the first.
Again, good luck in your search.
Hi readers, I have been made aware that there is a very interesting discussion going on about the subject at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1023114/board/thread/176183433?d=176712274&p=3#176712274
I would like to echo the disappointment expressed on the IMDb thread referenced above that Linda Willis has not responded to the evidence that I have presented regarding the credibility of Witold Glinski.
There is no doubt Willis did a fine job in digging out the archive evidence which discredited Slawomir Rawicz.
But I must admit that I am disappointed by the fact that she has given a platform to Witold Glinski given that there is so much evidence – including matching archive material – that his claims are suspect.
Even if we disregard what Glinski told John Dyson and confine ourselves to his account to Willis in isolation, there appear to be major inconsistencies and discrepencies with archive material from several sources.
And – in line with what has been suggested elsewhere – the biggest question to my mind concerns evidence connected with the all important chronology.How can there be time for Glinski to have done the Long Walk in the period between being released after the amnesty by the Soviet authorities and joining the Polish Army?
Willis’ book “Looking for Mr Smith” provides information which is relevant in this matter. On page 139 of Looking For Mr Smith, Willis herself states that Glinski received his amnesty from the Soviets on 2 September 1941. Then, on page 128 she reveals that Glinski’s military records show that he joined the Polish Army on 7 March 1942.
But this is only a period of just over six months. Surely this would preclude his having undertaken The Long Walk. After all, the Long Walk by itself took 11 months (and that doesn’t include time we must allow for other pertinent events before and after the walk).
So given this contradictory information that she gathered during her research, I am curious as to why she still had faith in Glinski’s credibility and gave his claims a platform in her book. And of course – like others – I would be interested to hear her comments on the other related material I have turned up in addition.
Dear Mr Gliniecki,
Thank you for sharing your experiences and research with us on the internet. Its very valuable. Regarding your point that Glinski received amnesty at a time that would have made his trek improbable, I was just wondering what your response is to Mr Dyson’s above where he said,
“One has to wonder how long it would have taken the authorities, such as they were, to realize that Mr Glinsky had absconded. It’s more than possible, I would suggest, that when the amnesty came his name was simply ticked off with the others.”
Does this not seem possible? Willis’ book also mentions on page 172 that “Rumor had it that the commandant had somehow disgraced himself because of alcoholism while in Poland, and he and his wife were in exile in Siberia-marking time so to speak-until he had rehabilitated himself”.
It does seem likely that the commandant might not want to make a public statement that a number of men escaped his camp. It would make sense that he would like to bury the whole affair, not draw attention to his own blunder and give the men amnesty at the same time everyone else in camp got it.
Im curious about your thoughts on the matter and thanks again,
In response to Mr Masefield…
I think that the first general point I would like to make is that Glinski’s credibility appears to me to fail in at least three areas.
1. He is inconsistent. Many versions of his story have emerged.
2. He is incoherent. Explanations do not make sense or add up.
3. What he says does not match with historical archives from more than one source. Clearly this is very important.
But to concentrate for a moment on the archive material which Mr Masefield has questioned.
Any document can be inaccurate just as any any testimony can be false. But, as been argued elsewhere, you need to have some sort of evidence to indicate why contemporary documents are in error beyond random speculation.
The kind of archive evidence I have produced is relied upon by Governments, historians and others to piece together what actually happened during World War II.
It is generally accepted that this kind of material is reliable. Soviet archives in particular have an extremely good reputation for accuracy. The Soviet authorities were obsessive about crushing potential opposition. The movements and whereabouts of millions were monitored as real or imagined opponents were transported to prison, exile or places of execution. Records of this were thorough, and in retrospect, incriminating.
The Polish government has long understood how important and reliable Soviet archives are. Ever since the end of communist rule, the Polish government has been pressing the Russian government to release archives connected to the Katyn atrocity where thousands of Polish officers were murdered by the Soviets in cold blood.
Recently, the Soviets have officially accepted responsibility for the atrocity. But crucial archive material is still being withheld and Polish government would dearly like to obtain it in order to get a fuller picture of exactly what happened and document the full details of the atrocity.
Of course, the Glinski story is insignificant in the overall picture of what went on during the Soviet deportations. But by questioning the accuracy of Soviet archive material in general, you leave the door open to questioning similar material in other areas, allowing apologists for those who don’t want the truth to come out to distort what actually happened. So it follows that reasons for questioning this sort of archive material should very specific and very strong with a solid basis.
I think Linda Willis understands the weightiness of archive evidence and that is why I personally feel it is important that we hear her views about the archive evidence I have presented that contradicts Glinski’s story.
Another important point connected with this is that I believe it would be very wise for the Polish government to steer clear of anyone whose credibilty relies on disputing Soviet and other matching archive material without very strong and credible evidence because it could backfire later. That is one of the reasons I wrote to the Polish Foreign Office.
John Dyson’s speculation as to why the archives may be wrong is just that – speculation without any evidence to back it up. And the information Mr Masefield offers unfortunately doesn’t even concern the commandant at Kriesty. It concerns the commandant at the Yakutsk Gulag (and for all we know this commandant is a fictitious character as no firm independent information about him or the Gulag exist).
And now we get what is so extraordinary about the Glinski case, to my mind. He has given several different accounts. There are inconsistencies and incoherences. And in addition we are then asked to wave aside solid historical documentary evidence because it is inconvenient.
Yet the people who gave him a platform either stick by him or remain silent. I’ve asked John Dyson if he would like to share the unspecified documentary evidence that he mentioned in correspondence with me (see above). He has not done so.
Dyson himself has also stated in his reply to me at the top of this page that Glinski told him two versions of his story. Did that not suggest to him that there was something amiss? Shouldn’t he have been cautious about broadcasting Glinski’s extraordinary claims when he had been given two versions that didn’t match up? I think that’s a reasonable question, yet we have no answer.
And, unless I am missing something, Linda Willis too had information which indicated that it would have made it impossible for Glinski to have completed The Long Walk because of a lack of time (see my previous post). So, again, why give him an uncritical platform?
Hi, all of you, an article is coming up, an investigation done by explorers from an explorers point of view, what is possible or not within the time frame offered. I also want to add this information, which backed up Leszek´s article at ExWeb http://www.explorersweb.com/trek/news.php?id=19856:
Investigating incredible claims, by experience explorers look for a number of keys signaling foul play: Is money involved? Is evidence missing? Are dates and distances unlikely and do they include major memory laps? Unfortunately, The Long Walk seems to check several if not all of the red flags.
I think this statement from Tina at ExWeb is important to keep in mind. She has investigated and proved so many false claims throughout the years and as far as I know, they have all been right. At the end of a day one can speculate to death, but facts are facts. But for an explorer, the question is also, could the Long Walk have been done during these circumstances and these time claims which are involved? Like for example, could Glinski have done the Long Walk in 5 months?
You have to understand that an explorer is checking evidence from the aspect personally knowing the terrain, maps, physical capacity, everything-is-possible perspective and do it in an down to earth way that other investigators doesn´t do. Meaning, explore by foot for example. So hold on for this perspective as well!
My father, Stanislaw Z. Gladych, was born in Warsaw in 1920. From the time I was a small boy he told of his escape with 6 others from a work camp/ mine in Siberia and his arrival in India. He said that he and the others escaped in an empty fuel truck from the work camp. He never told me the details of their trek to India but related that he boarded a ship bound for England which was sunk in the North Sea by a German U-boat. He told of having to swim beneath burning oil and of being rescued and brought to a hospital in England. His older brother, Mike Gladych, happened to visit that hospital to see a member of his squadron who was injured. To his surprise his brother Stan was in the adjacent bed! Mike, a decorated Ace pilot ensured that my dad was nursed to health- threatening the staff with their lives if his brother died. My dad and uncle Mike told of my dad being trained as a pilot and was shot down on his first mission again ending up in the North Sea, this time with 6 bullets across his chest. My dad had six round scars in a diagonal across his chest to his abdomen. Dad told me that he had been part of an underground operation smuggling Jewish friends out of Warsaw when his operation was caught and he was sent to Siberia. My uncle Mike is 93 and living in Seattle. My dad died just before his 61st birthday. Mike was able to locate his youngest brother, John, who spent the war years as a prisoner in a German work camp. All three Gladych boys were taken in by an English family who saw to their education. I remember meeting ” Grampa Peter” the englishman who cared for my dad and brothers when he visited from England to our home in Chicago. My dad went on to become a highly successful architect working on Ohare field, the J Edgar Hoover FBI building, the First National Bank Building in Chicago, Mercy Hospital, the water filtration facility in Chicago, and the Air Force Academy Chapel, among other well known projects. He was the type of man that could survive anything, build anything, find food anywhere, fish, hunt, and live in the wilderness. After hearing about the movie I have begun researching as much as possible to verify my dad’s story. If nothing else, I never knew my dad to lie to me, and it is the story that I have recounted to many over the years. My dad spoke of extreme hunger in his life, and of man’s ability to survive extreme conditions with intellect and intestinal fortitude. He was a 6 foot 3 inch giant of a man. He never spoke of any names of any of his fellow escapees. Ingrained in my memory is my dad’s statements that “so easy is to follow, so hard is to conceive.” rest in peace dad. -John Gladych, Esq.
At last Hollywood history is no longer bunk
Nitpickers, beware, there’s not much wrong with The King’s Speech. The movie industry has new respect for the past
Here is the Nitpicker’s Guide to The King’s Speech, the new film starring Colin Firth as the stammering King George VI.
There were no cheering crowds outside Buckingham Palace when the King made his radio address after the declaration of war in 1939 (the crowds gathered after the war was won). Winston Churchill did not support the abdication of Edward VIII, he strongly opposed it. George VI had managed to give at least one public speech without stammering before he was treated by the Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush) who, so far from being a straight-talking Aussie cobber, was a dab hand at fawning to royalty.
Oh, and Edward VIII never, ever opened his own bottle of champagne. And that is just about it: barely a nit worth picking.
The most astonishing aspect of this remarkable film is how few errors, distortions and fabrications it contains. The director, Tom Hooper, confessing himself “obsessed with accuracy”, has gone to extraordinary lengths to remain faithful not just to the historical record, but to the emotional truth of the story. This is a film peopled by real individuals, not caricatures (excepting Timothy Spall, a cameo Churchill), and as close to a believable past as cinema can get.
Given the violence done to history by film over the years, this reflects an extraordinary change in the cultural tide. Creators of historical films have tended to pay lip service to the historical record before either ignoring or butchering it, citing artistic licence. Today, however, playing fast and loose with the past is no longer so acceptable in film, with a historically literate audience that demands drama within, not despite, the facts.
Take Peter Weir’s new survival epic The Way Back, which depicts a 6,000-mile trek to freedom by escaped prisoners from the Soviet gulag in 1940, and is based on a 1956 memoir by a former inmate, Slavomir Rawicz. Weir nearly pulled out of the film when he discovered that Rawicz was a fraud. “I said, ‘Well, I can’t do it if it’s not true’.” (After much research, he decided the general story was true enough to proceed, but the taint of inauthenticity lingers.) Such qualms would never have troubled an earlier generation.
Postwar film-makers, in particular, felt no compunction about taking the true tales from that conflict, and distorting them for greater effect.
The Great Escape begins with the unequivocal statement “This is a true story”. In its most famous scene, Steve McQueen, the “Cooler King”, leaps the barbed wire. This never happened: there were no Americans in Stalag Luft III at the time of the escape, and the type of motorcycle ridden by McQueen was not built until 1963.
This tradition of taking facts and twisting them to meet the demands of film reached some sort of nadir with Pearl Harbor, the 2001 epic starring Ben Affleck. The Pearl Harbor memorial centre noted no less than 118 historical inaccuracies, the most hilarious of which was the decision to paint the Japanese Zero fighters the wrong colour, so viewers could more easily spot the enemy planes.
Mel Gibson was also painted the wrong colour in Braveheart, woad having gone out of fashion some 12 centuries earlier. Little is known for certain about William Wallace, so the film-makers gave themselves carte blanche to dress Gibson in a kilt that would not be invented for three centuries, and to put him in bed with the French Princess Isabelle, who never met him and was 9 when he was executed. The film’s Battle of Stirling Bridge does not even feature a bridge.
These ahistorical films are not necessarily bad films, merely bad history. The demands of cinema often require gloss, simplification and embellishment. “I am Spartacus” is one of the greatest lines in cinema history. It would not be improved by being rendered as: “Actually, I am not really Spartacus, since by this point in history the real Spartacus has almost certainly been killed in battle.”
No film will fully satisfy historians, for that is not the purpose of film. Performance and entertainment are more important than historical accuracy, yet too often the uncertain events of history are seen as an opportunity to fabricate, romanticise and mislead: viewers of Pearl Harbor might imagine that they are learning something about the attack on Pearl Harbor; the audience of Braveheart might reasonably suppose that this was Wallace’s soubriquet, when it was really attached to Robert the Bruce.
The latest batch of historical films seem to reflect a realisation that true stories, told truthfully, make box-office sense. Valkyrie, the film about the July Plot to assassinate Hitler, was star-driven (by Tom Cruise), lavish, simplified and hardly profound, but it was also broadly accurate.
A recent spate of excellent made-for-television docudramas, such as Band of Brothers and Pacific, the boom in popular history, and the greater availability of historical information all underpin this demand for greater accuracy.
With ever more factual evidence coming to light about the Second World War, audiences are no longer content with the black-and-white mythology of the past. Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) is remaking The Dambusters; Stephen Fry, who is writing the screenplay, sees this as an opportunity to get closer to a true story shrouded in legend: “We hoped to be able to tell it again, incorporating details that in 1954 were too sensitive or secret to reveal.”
Where history was once regarded as a hoard of tales to be looted, melted down and refashioned for the screen, film-makers now feel an obligation to reflect the past as accurately as possible within the demands of the art. The historical adviser peers over the shoulder of the scriptwriter.
The King’s Speech is a triumph of film-making, but also proof that respecting the detail of the past need not impinge on imagination and creativity. Historical veracity, so far from undermining drama, actually enhances it. Like all the best stories, this is all the more powerful for being true and told without embroidery.
There is excitement, romance and humour, painted not in gaudy colours or neat contrasts but nuanced and shaded, as reality is and the past was.
believers gonna believe. but i think this is a wonderful inspiring lie, so whats the harm? i mean hes not saying he can turn water into wine and scare us into living by his mantra or go to hell.
I have no new information to bring to the table, and I have no personal connections that could help. What I would like to say is that I would love to see this mystery solved. I’m inspired by the story and intrigued by the case that follows behind it. I urge you not to give up. I’m starting research and hopefully we can shed some light on what has really happened. Continue on, best of luck -Adam
While I am not going to pretend I read even half of this entire web page, I did read some responses of the Rawics family, and I have some points to make.
1. The Soviet Union was never exactly known for its honesty. It was known for being a sore loser though, and if someone were to escape from a Siberian camp, I can assure you, we would never hear of it from the USSR.
2. It is very easy to forge a document. Give me your signiture, and in 20 minutes I could probably hand you a statement claiming that in 1993 you were involved in a coup in zimbabwe. Actually, no, I would hold on to it, and everytime an obscure third world country leader was assasinated I would make another one. In like 50 years they will find official CIA dossiers “Proving” that you were some kind of assasin for hire, and despite your families claims that you, “Worked in sales.”, Im sure BBC will have a special on your infamous murders.
3. Escape WAS A BIG DEAL. Sure it might appear that the Soviet Union had more important things to worry about then a small band of Poles that made a brake for it one cold Siberian winter, but that is not how it was in Stalins time. Why do you think they bothered to have such tight security? Why do you think they made such an accurate list of prisoners when transporting them? Escape was a big deal, and it really did not take a lot of effort to make one disappear.
4. You can pretty much call every documant forged, it doesnt mean it is. Wrong. You can pretty much call every SOVIET UNION document forged. Like I said, I could probably make a document claiming you were a Polish prisoner for killing a NKVD officer, and that after a short time the Soviet Union let you free and sent you off to Persia.
5. Many people claim that some things in the story could not have happened, particularly the four survivors never meating again. They simply are wrong, perhaps they died, perhaps they never heard of the long walk because they weren’t a fan of reading, perhaps Mr. Smith really was a CIA operative/ spy, you really just can’t say something could not have happened. They didn’t have Facebook in Slavomirs time.
I could probably think of more points, but I am pressed for time right now. Please note that I do not wish to start some sort of blog war, and that I would prefer we have a civilized discussion and not some kind of rap battle, as most internet debates end up becoming.
I commend you, Mr. Gliniecki, and thank you, for your scholarship and persistence. I feel you have made your case clearly and reasonably. I also commend your patience and hope you will not be tempted into an emotional response by some of the strange and clueless comments that have appeared here.
I read “The Long Walk” in Catholic junior high in the sixties. Most of America at that time, and Catholics in particular, were rabidly anti-communist. This story was one of several the nuns offered to our young minds as something of an “antidote”. I remember finding it a harrowing tale. It saddens me to learn that it was actually fiction, but it doesn’t really surprise me. Of course, the totalitarian regime it described was all too real. I still think it is so ironic that Russian Communism ended as it did. The nuns sure did not predict that!
I can only assume that Linda Willis needs time to get over the embarassment of her being so wrong. It can’t be easy for anyone to admit to being duped but I hope she takes stock and finds the courage to revise her published account.
History has shown that humans are capable of enduring great hardship and tremendous pain and suffering, especially when they are deeply motivated. I believe numerous men (and women) likely escaped from camps and prisons in that era and found their way to freedom through tremendous personal effort. But a false tale of escape diminishes the real events. There is nothing wrong with writing an inspiring tale that “could be true” but if it is not true, it should not be presented as such. I don’t know why that concept is so hard for some people.
If Batko was arrested in England for threatening Witold Glinski, arrest records will exist somewhere.
Please continue discussion, very interesting quest for the true!
“Glinski says the most likely explanation is that Rawicz read his account of the escape, in official papers that he found in the Polish Embassy in London during the war.”
Surely, if this is true, the Polish Embassy would still have these records, and they could show Glinski’s story as it was at the time, before the memory haze of 50 years.
Gliniecki states “Soviet archives in particular have an extremely good reputation for accuracy.”
This isn’t true. Many of the documents submitted by the Soviets at Nuremberg have now been either partially or totally discredited.
You have created your stand pretty successfully!!. You talked about it very well!
Please! We are reader who need the true
Really who cares if the story is true
The story inspires the readers imagination as does the movie and places into context the lengths and riks thousands have taken making their way to freedom.
Really who cares if the story is true
The story inspires the readers imagination as does the movie and places into context the lengths and risks thousands have taken making their way to freedom.