A Call To Arms
It is September 1, 1939. Its territorial demands rejected, Germany invades Poland. Overwhelmed Poles capitulate. Their government takes exile in France where it forms a new army. The German invasion leaves Edmund Stawowy, 18, who works as an interpreter for a French construction company building a dam in Poland, out of work. He takes refuge in a nearby village. The Germans intend to finish the dam but can't find the plans. They think Edmund knows where they are. Gestapo agents locate Edmund and ask him to collaborate. But does he? Later, while listening to Radio Paris on a clandestine radio, Edmund hears a special Polish government communiqué that Poland is not defeated; it will continue fighting the Germans from France and urges all Poles to join the fight. Spurred by patriotism, Edmund vows to go to France to enlist. But France is a long way from Poland whose borders are sealed by the Germans. But Edmund is determined. While crossing the Polish Slovak border, German border patrols apprehend him. He is interrogated and thrown in jail where he contracts scurvy. After five weeks of living in inhumane conditions, he is deported to Germany as a slave laborer. There, he falls in love with a German girl, something strictly forbidden by the Nazis. After a year of planning an escape, and in trouble with the police; Edmund is nearly beaten to death. The Gestapo is about to send him to a concentration camp, but he escapes to occupied France. In Paris, he visits his former employers. They cannot employ a fugitive in occupied France, he is told. They advise him to go to the unoccupied zone where the company is building a dam on the Rhone River. After a three week stay in Paris and an ardent romance with a young Parisian prostitute, Edmund sets off for the unoccupied zone. While crossing the demarcation line in Chalons-sur-Saone, he is again apprehended by the Germans, interrogated then thrown in solitary for one month. Upon his release he tries another crossing, but is caught again. This time he is made to work as an interpreter at a German border police outpost. He is again thrown in solitary for another two weeks. On his third try, he makes it into the unoccupied zone and heads for Génissiat site of the new dam where he is welcomed by engineers he worked with in Poland. While working at the new dam, Edmund explores ways of getting to England where the exiled Polish government and its forces had been evacuated to after France capitulated. But getting to England, blockaded by the Germans, is virtually impossible. But that doesn't stop Edmund! As a last resort, he enlists in the French Foreign Legion which he knows will take him to Algeria. From there he hopes to reach England. Months later, the Allies invade Algeria and Morocco. Vichy orders the Legion to stop them. After a cease fire, the Legion joins the Allies to fight Rommel in Tunisia. Later, under a special Allied agreement, Edmund and other Poles serving in the Legion are honorably discharged and shipped to England to serve in their own forces under British command. Along the way, Edmund's convoy is attacked by German U-boats. Carrying German POWs, his ship is spared, the others are sunk. Edmund ends up in the Royal Air Force, where after a lengthy courtship he marries Marjorie Smith, a WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force) stationed at the same camp. Marjorie and Edmund have an interesting life and serve together until war's end. Set during the most tumultuous time in human history, A CALL TO ARMS is a story of patriotism, relentless pursuit of an ideal, human endurance, adventure and love, for which there is always a price to pay.
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