Polish Women as Forced
in Nazi Germany, 1939-1945
An unflinching, detailed portrait of a
forgotten group of Nazi forced labor survivors.
Written by the daughter of
Polish forced laborers,Wearing the Letter P gives a voice to women who were taken from their homes as young as 12 years old and subjected to slave labor conditions, starvation, sexual
exploitation, and forced abortions and child separation — all while Nazi propaganda depicted them as well-cared-for volunteers. Knab provides an important contribution to World War II history,
based on archival records from the U.S. and Europe, family records, war crime trials, and previously unpublished victim accounts.
For years Sophie Hodorowicz Knab's mother was unable to discuss or answer
questions about this period of her life. Compelled to learn more about her mother's experience and that of other Polish women, Knab began a personal and emotional quest. Over the course of 14
years, she conducted extensive research of postwar trial testimonies housed in archives in the U.S., London, and in Warsaw to piece together facts and individual stories from this singular and
often-overlooked aspect of World War II history. As mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters, female Polish forced laborers faced a unique set of challenges and often unspeakable conditions because of
their gender. Required to sew a large letter "P" onto their jackets, thousands of women were taken from their homes in Poland and forced to work for the Reich across Germany for months and
years on end.
Even before the invasion of Poland in September 1939, Hitler and his top officials had
designated the Polish people as Untermensch, or "subhuman":
"Poland shall be treated as a colony; the Poles shall be the slaves of the
Greater German world Empire. "
Knab explains how it all happened, from the beginning of occupation in Poland to
liberation: the roundups; the horrors of transit camps; the living and working conditions of Polish women in agriculture and industry; and the anguish of sexual exploitation and forced abortions--all
under the constant threat of concentration camps. Knab draws from documents, government and family records, rare photos, and most importantly, numerous victim accounts and diaries, letters and trial
testimonies, finally bringing to light to the atrocities that they endured.
Sophie Hodorowicz Knab is a bestselling author of
several Polish-interest books, including Polish Customs, Traditions and Folklore, and The Polish Country Kitchen Cookbook.
pb. 304 pages
6 x 9 inches