I am reading The Long Walk and nearly finished it. I began to doubt its verity before I heard anything about whether it was true or not. First, at the oasis on the caravan route: surely the 8 would have kept to the well used path knowing they were likely to meet people who would help and that it must be almost flat. So…why strike out South knowing that way was a deserted desert? They only started going South to put the prison guards off. Once over the border why go in the most uninhabited, inhospitable way for no good reason? It is an amazing story but if true I feel major wrong decisions were made.
Teri ReidSubmitted on 2013/04/20 at 5:25 am
Glinieski and Rawicz both mention Mr. Smith. The author of
“Looking for Mr. Smith” narrows him down to possibly an American engineer who went to the Soviet Union in the 1930′s. Is there any more current information on who he may have been?
See this article at http://www.mikaelstrandberg.com/2011/01/01/gliniecki-%E2%80%9Ci-have-solid-evidence-glinski-didn%E2%80%99t-do-the-long-walk%E2%80%9D/ You can hardly accuse Leszek Gliniecki for being a communist. Read his story.
Submitted on 2013/04/14 at 12:48 am
I was wondering if there is any documentation about whether the journalist Ronald Downing who ghost wrote the book doubted the story of Slavomir Rawicz or if he had been interviewed on the subject, especially since Slavomir Rawicz blamed him for over embellishing his story. I haven’t found any. After buying and reading the book I must say I felt rather cheated that it wasn’t true. Regardless of whether other people have made the trip. I read this book as a true experience. Not a novel.
Submitted on 2013/04/12 at 11:28 am
This is outrageous. The very nerve of you to question a great Polish hero like Slavomir Rawicz. You’re all Communist liars, but you’re not fooling me.
Submitted on 2013/03/30 at 2:57 pm
Just watched the movie. Truth or not, I knew 2 independent guys that walked from Siberia to Germany.
There must be many similar stories out there.
Submitted on 2013/03/11 at 7:59 pm
So, what happened in the interview? Did they find out if Mr.Glinski is telling the truth? Who were the other 3 people? I’m eager to know…
Submitted on 2013/01/10 at 7:21 am
I first read the book about 10 years ago, I enjoyed the drama of it but I thought the details were at very least exaggerated … I bought it recently second hand and re-reading it I thought it was more than exaggerated and that led me to the BBC investigations and all the different threads calling it a hoax … I was disappointed although it’s still a good story … Glinski seems credible but at this point I suppose I’ll just imagine that someone made the trek minus the seemingly impossible details …
Submitted on 2012/12/13 at 8:18 am
I think that the book was really great and inspirational.
Submitted on 2012/12/06 at 1:42 am
To Mikael the Latvian
I read your comment about the 194041 situation in Latvia. Since I am quite well informed on what happened in Estonia during the same period of first Soviet Occupation, it sounded too different to me to be true. After some reading I can say that the Soviets did persecute the Churches in Latvia in 1940-41 as they nationalized property. The arrests in all three Baltic states started immediately after the Soviet takeover and hundreds of people were sent to Gulag before the mass deportations of June 1941.
This is to say that a Latvian priest in Gulag in the winter of 1940/41 is very probable.
Submitted on 2012/11/08 at 4:11 am
I notice that the Long Walk controversy is again alive and well.
Although all the relevant information can be seen on Internet pages “sybirak1940″, unfortunately it is still only in the Polish language. Although a summary may soon appear in English.
Also other pages of Mikael Stranberg’s blogs, , , and add valuable insight to this subject.
Alternative suggestion, to definitively solve this controversy,
is to request Richard Rawicz to post contents of his father archives which will show when his father enlisted into The Polish Army, and also the record of his service. This no
doubt will dispel any existing doubts regarding the Long
These archives are available to him on application to:
Ministry of Defence
APC POLISH ENQUIRES
Building 28 B, RAF Northolt
West End Road, Ruislip HA4 6NG.
I am certain that all the readers of this Blog will be very interested to see those details, and the present uncertainty will be put aside.
Submitted on 2012/11/02 at 7:16 pm
Submitted on 2012/10/29 at 1:03 pm
Also, one person alone making this long walk probably wouldn’t have made it. But when you have others alongside you that have suffered the same things and are aiming for the same goal, bolsters your spirits and gives you the will to go on and survive. I salute you, the Slavomir Rawicz family! Don’t back down in the belief that your father was telling the truth, whether you don’t have any documents to back up his story or for their so- called “proof”, or others produce trumped up documents to try and disprove him! I so admire your Father’s will, tenacity, gentle spirit and faith! Way to go!
Submitted on 2012/10/29 at 12:51 pm
And one more thing, 12?, 13? days in the desert with no water? Remember, they had no watch and nothing to write down what day of the trek they were on! So he forgot how many days without water, big deal? Does that make his story unbelievable? Anyone who questions how many days they went without water as the basis that his story is not true, in my opinion, is scratching at straws. If you don’t believe the days they went without water and that they thought they had seen a yeti, two parts to his story, then for sure it can’t be true, right?
Submitted on 2012/10/29 at 12:40 pm
I am ashamed at most of the comments on this site and others. I can’t believe the childish innocence some display at the thought (that many horrors such as this and all the other displays of man’s inhumanity to man happened in WW11 and other wars) that there were actually millions of people that suffered like Slavomir! And what documents could he produce when he only had the clothes on his back? Do you actually believe Russia would let him tell his story without trying to discredit him or make him look like the fool? Officials in any country can fabricate false papers and signatures to make the world believe the “facts”, as they say. Russia is still very much a communist country. Beware. To this day, Russia is an unforgiving country and would never admit to the atrocities it has done to their own kind and others for hundreds of years. I have literally read thousands of non-fiction books based on the tenacity of the human spirit to survive, unsurmountable odds that we as a society, can’t even imagine or fathom! But because we cannot fathom other people’s will to survive the odds such as were described in Slavomir’s life, does not make his life story a lie. I have not read such a well written book like “The Long Walk” in 25 years or more. I have a hard time reading any fiction books anymore because they all end the same and are so predictable. True life accounts are never predictable! No one could make up a story like Slavomir’s and not be true. I believe Slavomir made this long trek. There’s no doubt in my mind that this man experienced every part in his book.God bless him for having the courage to write his story!
Submitted on 2012/09/03 at 3:01 am
So what of the Ghost Writer, Ronald Downing? What has his tale been when it comes to the debated authenticity of the original story? Did he do any research, or just copy down Rawicz’s story word for word?
Submitted on 2012/07/11 at 2:43 pm
I’ve watched the film, read the book and spent many hours searching the internet for information.
I also spoke to my ninety five year old Grandfather about the ‘Long Walk’ and asked him for his views. I was blown away when he said he met the Poles that completed the walk, though he couldn’t remember where exactly… North Africa, Middle East or Ancona in Northern Italy.
My Grandfather has never read the book or watched the film but he told me that the guys that did the walk had to eat Snakes and Lizards in the Gobi Desert and a few other stories that tallied with what I had read and seen. He also mentioned the name ‘Jan Patik’ – could that be one of the guys that did the walk?
I told him of the debate surrounding the truth of the ‘walk’ and he just laughed. He himself was marched by Russian captors from Minsk to Sverlonsk in Siberia where he spent nearly two years in a Gulag. ‘Long Walks’ were going on all over Europe…
I asked him how he survived the Gulag and just recently he told me an interesting tale… On arrival the Officer in charge asked all the inmates if anyone was a barber. He asked this three times and on the third time my Grandfather said that he was. He had never cut hair before in his life… The Officer produced a cracked mirror and some scissors and my Grandfather got to work! The Officer was pleased with the job and my Grandfather had to cut the hair of all the officers on a regular basis. For his efforts he would be given a tin of meat that he shared with his fellow inmates and he says this extra tin helped keep people alive. The Russians always punched a hole in the tin before they gave it to him so he couldn’t stash the rations for an escape bid…
Submitted on 2012/07/09 at 4:30 am
I do not know if the film or book is true or not. I do know my grandfather was one of the Poles who made it to India. I have his papers. I also know his story was true I talked to him many times. Some more info, he was also put in prison in Kabul and I know how he was released. The walk was shorter and the years are different. I am serious about clarifying the story of the Poles who made it to India. If anyone can help please post a comment.
Submitted on 2012/03/27 at 12:54 am
Many years ago, 1970, I was working in a tobacco shop in Westminster California. I had a Russian language book sitting out on the counter. One of the regular customers asked me what I was doing with it. I told himI wanted to learn Russian. He then began cursing the Russians. I didn’t say any more about it because it upset him. Later, a woman who came in with him and said she was his sister, told me the story of the Long Walk. She also said that the man, Eugene Wyra, was one of the people who made the escape and subsequent walk. I always thought the story fascinating and wondered what happened to Mr. Wyra. I was surprised when I read the book, several years ago, and one of the people mentioned was a man named Eugene. His sister told me about the camp commander’s wife helping them. It makes me wonder now if they had read the book and it made a good story or if Eugene, a Pole by his own admission, really was one of the escapees. I often thought about the story and why Eugene never put it in print.
Submitted on 2012/03/24 at 9:16 am
Awww hell, I’ve only 32 pages left of this story on my iPad but made the google mistake. Now that I see that it is most likely a work of fiction and – the abdominable snowman is soon to arrive – I feel I haven’t the inclination to finish this formerly spell-binding book. Part of me desires to ask Amazon for a refund. 13 days w/o water? In the desert? Shoulda been my first clue. It was actually, yet I continued to read on choosing to ignore the obvious.
Submitted on 2012/03/23 at 10:55 pm
Having read The Long Walk , savouring every word of a believable experience and living the journey with all concerned ,I was left cold with no follow up. A simple footnote on each survivor would have completed this wonderful epic.
Submitted on 2012/03/23 at 2:27 pm
I want to agree with what John Regina is saying but to add that as an anthropologist I listen most to oral testimony and would be fascinated to learn how his family retell their father’s stories and how his memories were understood amongst them. But most importantly no one discredits the impossible, inhumane marches into the Gulag on which many died yet they question the possibility of men and a woman walking to freedom through the same hazards but with hope of surviving. Psychologically we understand very little of people’s capacity to survive. In listening to stories we also give far too much credit to small facts or anomalies such as the abonimable snowman which may have been evidence of their state of mind and perceptions at the time i.e. their/his being semi delirious.
Submitted on 2012/03/16 at 1:43 pm
I believe this story to be true. For those who do not I submit to you any contrary evidence that comes from Russia can not be trusted. I remind you of Katyn denied for 50 years and how they went to great lengths to prove they did not do it. The entire country of Russia had been severely traumatized. Can anyone think of another country that was more brutal to its people then the USSR (maybe Cambodia). To tell the truth in russia about anything was certin death. Investigate the story but to use Russian supplied material to support or contradict the book is stupid.
It seems to me tracking down Mr.Smith should be easy. It should be possible to determine all the american companies that built the moscow metro and determine if any of their employes disappeared. The other possability is Mr.Smith was indeed a spy and he tried to keep his identity a secret.
As far as clothing for the trip. Remember they were in siberia. The clothing had to be good enough for the Gulag so why would it not protect them during the walk?
The only thing that i wondered about is why did it take mentioning about eating snakes to Smith before he told them how to do it. With snakes around their first water hole they could have rested more with the water and snakes to eat to rebuild their strength.
One last thought, never underestimate the human ingenuity to survive. When i was stationed on the Aircraft Carrier Lexington my Captain escaped from a north vietnamese POW camp in the north and walked all through N. Vietnam,, evading detection and making it to south vietnam and safety.
Remember Captain bligh and his men in the open boat sailing over 3,000 miles to safety and the men of HMS Pandora, Crew from the whaler Essex, the chezh legion’s march across russia to freedom there are many examples.
Think of all the poles who escaped poland to fight through the war never knowing what the fate of their famillies were or about their future. They are a valiant people.
John Regina Former US and royal Navy person
Submitted on 2012/03/04 at 1:06 am
I heard about the book recently by chance and was fascinated with it. I’m not a cynic and do tend to believe everything I read but even I was incredulous at the Abonimable Snowman and tales of walking the desert with no food or water. Since reading the book I have done lots of online research and am gutted to learn it’s not true. I also can’t seem to find conclusive evidence of Glinski doing the Long Walk either, wikipedia says he was running a factory at the time!
It’s a fascinating story, I would love for it to be true
Submitted on 2012/02/24 at 11:56 am
So many questions to ask.
Modern forensic investigation of hair or teeth from Slavomir Rawicz might reveal some truth.
The Commandants wife? Does she have living relatives?
Perhaps the bones of Kristina will one day be found.
Regardless, it is a remarkable and inspiring story, and I hope the film does it justice.
Submitted on 2012/01/06 at 4:14 am
Hello! I’ve created a (very) rough chart of the Long Walk trek in Google Maps (based on the book by S. Rawicz). Feel free to correct it, add alternative routes, modern treks repeating the effort or any other information of interest. I think a visual representation of the topic may be an interesting addition to the discussion.
I’ve just recently finished reading the book and most of the discussions on the Internet. I admit I’ve found many facts in the book unbelievable. However, given the allegedly existing documents confirming the emerge of a group of men in India escaping from Siberia in 1942 and recent successful treks along the dramatic route, I believe the WW2 feat can be real. Also, as much as I would like to know who have done it, I am more interested in the achievement itself and reasons behind it.
Submitted on 2011/11/14 at 4:27 pm
I have seen the film and am enthralled by Rawicz’s book. I cannot imagine how he could make the whole story up with the detail he includes. The book reads as if he remembered the broad scppe of the journey but had distinctive, traumatic memories which I feel would be difficult to fabricate. I respect of accusations that they knew little about each other, I think it is perfectly plausible that in the chaos and fear of Eastern Europe at that time that the men did not ask questions of each other. They were strangers who had fearful bonds that they shared and their reticence spoke to their bonds as survivors and travelers. There is too the issue of language, the differences for them in communicating and for Rawics in his reports which would change with time and in translations. In respect of the evidence and signed papers – how credible or reliable are any records coming out of Poland or Russia either in respect of the records or that they relate to the named individual. He describes in his book how as men die during their transportation by train to the Gulag that their names are struck off lists. For instance, no one has ever found out exactly what happened to Raoul Wallenberg ,the Swedish diplomat and he came from a high profile banking family. Remember too that communication today is vastly different from then and after the war people, kin, friends disappeared. Keeping in touch with people was simply impossible a hundred years ago. My grandparents for instance came to Africa from Scotland when they were in their late twenties. They returned to see their siblings when they were eighty. They exchanged few letters in the sixty years in-between. I suggest the there could be enough give and take in the dates for Rawic’s story to be credible. Lauraine
Submitted on 2011/11/13 at 12:28 am
Trying to find a copy of the movie
Submitted on 2011/01/27 at 6:44 pm
In this case I at least partially agree with Richard Rawicz.
Anne Applebaum’s assertion that “… the Polish consulate recorded their arrival …” is hearsay. If there is hard physical evidence supporting the alleged registration, she should produce it. Unfortunately no such record is known to exist.
As has been repeatedly noted on this bulletin board and the IMDB bulletin board discussion of the movie “The Way Back”, there are no contemporary documentary written records supporting any Pole having actually escaped from the Soviet Gulag in the early 1940s and without supplies walked 4000 miles across the Gobi and the Himalayas into freedom in India. Though several researchers have devoted years seeking such records in the appropriate archives their efforts have failed.
Submitted on 2011/01/27 at 12:59 pm
Submitted on 2011/01/27 at 10:51 am
Hi all readers! I know there´s many of you and I just had this thread sent to me by a reader regarding an article in the Washington post by Annie Applebaum, which is of interest, see;
My faith in one of America’s better newspapers, The Washington Post, has just been undermined. Please see Anne Applebaum’s op ed article, “A real-life look at the Gulag” (Washington Post, January 25, 2011) at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/24/AR2011012404566.html . In particular, the following quote is disturbing: “‘The Way Back’ is based on a book called ‘The Long Walk’ by Slavomir Rawicz, a Gulag survivor who ‘borrowed’ his escape story: Three Poles crossed the Himalayas from Siberia into India in the 1940s; the Polish consulate recorded their arrival; one of them told his story to Rawicz.”
Submitted on 2011/01/07 at 5:45 pm
I have read Mr Leszek Glinecki’s ‘solid evidence’ 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.
Submitted on 2011/01/07 at 2:21 am
Loads of emails are coming in about the articles, and one of them alerted me to this interesting fact found on wikipedia,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Way_Back, which has changed since the articles:
The film is loosely based on a book titled The Long Walk by Slawomir Rawicz, depicting his alleged escape from a Siberian gulag and subsequent 4,000-mile walk to freedom in India. Incredibly popular, it sold over 500,000 copies and is credited with inspiring many explorers. In 2006, the book was effectively debunked. The BBC unearthed records (including some written by Rawicz himself) that showed that rather than having escaped from the Gulag, in fact in 1942 he had been released by the USSR. In May 2009, Witold Gli?ski, a Polish WWII veteran living in the United Kingdom, came forward to claim that Rawicz’s story was true, but was actually an account of what happened to him, not Rawicz. In addition in 1942 a group of Siberian Gulag escapees reportedly walked to India. However these claims too have been questioned and currently are the subject of active discussion. Given such concerns, the director Peter Weir himself now describes “The Way Back” as “essentially a fictional film.” 
Submitted on 2011/01/06 at 5:29 am
I just wanted to thank Leszek Gliniecki and all those who assisted him. His article clearly shows the critical importance of contemporaneous documentary evidence, especially in the evaluation of historical claims such as those associated with “The Long Walk” and “The Way Home.”
Submitted on 2011/01/05 at 4:27 am
Mr. Gliniecki’s article – along with the documents we’ve seen thanks to him – certainly sheds new light on The Long Walk story. Now, let’s go back to the very beginning. I wonder. The escape itself, from the Yakutsk gulag, couldn’t have passed unnoticed there. I don’t mean any official Russian records, it’s obvious they’ve never existed. No-one in his right mind, in Stalin’s times, would have recorded an escape from a prison camp. But what about the fellow prisoners? Maybe someone still remembers, maybe they will speak up. If not Mr. Rawicz or Mr. Gli?ski, then who fled from Yakutsk and did the trek? I do hope we will know, with time.
Submitted on 2011/01/05 at 2:41 am
I have been following the latest developments in the Long Walk saga with great interest. In 2004 three friends and I retraced the journey chronicled in Rawicz’s book the Long Walk. http://dea-media.com/?page_id=697
Since our journey many people have contacted me asking if I had any new information about the validity of the story and if other members of the Long Walk had ever come forward.
I received an email from a man in Australia whose mother worked as a nurse in India and had treated a group of Westerns who had trekked over the Himalayas the same time period as Rawicz’s group. Another man said he could verify Rawicz’s story if he could have access to a tooth to do some type of scientific analysis!
Glinieckis’s story adds yet another fascinating twist in to the Long Walk story. Will the truth about the Long Walk ever really be determined? For me, after traveling through the terrain, I believe it is possible to complete the journey, but only with the help of the local people. Wether it was Rawicz, Glinski or another person, I believe the journey was made by someone.
David E. Anderson
Submitted on 2011/01/05 at 12:42 am
I just want to tell you I found this story on the BBC today when I was looking for more background. Witold Glinski claims that he really is the real inspiration behind the Long Walk. This is the link http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/cornwall/hi/people_and_places/newsid_9280000/9280813.stm Thanks for the great suspense in these articles. David
Submitted on 2011/01/04 at 10:40 pm
Dear Reader! I just want to add that Leszek Glinieckis profound article on the Long Walk was just published athttp://explorersweb.com/trek/news.php?id=19856 . These are his opinions, however, not mine. I just write that, because I have had quite a few folks writing to me in a not so nice manner about it all. However, he has a very valid point in everything he states! M