Alicia Nitecki was born in Warsaw to a Catholic family that was active in the resistance movement. Following the Nazi conquest of Poland, she and her relatives were dispersed to German prisoner-of-war, labor, and concentration camps. In this book, she revisits the places that have formed her and confronts a past that has haunted her: Warsaw during the 1944 uprising, the Black Forest village where she and the women in her family were taken as slaves in the last months of the war, and Buchenwald and FlossenbÃ¼rg, the concentration camps where her grandfather was imprisoned.
Nitecki's private odyssey coincided with the collapse of communism in Poland and the reunification of Germany. These essays mark her movement from fear and rage toward fuller knowledge and reconciliation.
"An important, moving, and well-written contribution to our knowledge of the experience of the Poles under Nazi occupation."—Antony Polonsky, Brandeis University
"Nitecki returned to the Poland and Germany of her girlhood seeking to find, or create, meaning in her family's wartime suffering and dispersal. The stories and portraits of Recovered Land are often harrowing, but they also include moments of great courage and undaunted spirit. And her central European landscape consists not only of battlegrounds, cemeteries, and concentration camps. There are ancient woods, too, and precisely described butterflies and wildflowers in the fields. The author's childhood was swept up in the tides of war, but all of human history has its larger context for Nitecki as well: the surrounding and enduring life of Earth."—John Elder, Middlebury College
"Recovered Land knits memory and event, past and present, adult and child into a seamless and moving contemplation of a land and of a life lived in some of the most difficult years of human history. It is a brilliant book."—Robert B. Parker
"Beautifully written, sharply imagined, evocatively structured and deeply felt, Recovered Land embeds in its language and form the process by which an adult woman attempts to recover her own memories and the experience of her Polish family during World War Two. . . . Fragments of Nitecki's childhood memories are given shape and substance through the war journals of an uncle, the stories of a grandmother, the memoirs of survivors, and the author's own return with her young daughter to the scenes of her dispossession. . . . Extraordinarily palpable and compelling."—Lynne Hanley, author of Writing War: Fiction, Gender, and Memory
"Young Alicia was denied conventional roots, but half a lifetime later she went back to visit the sites of her own family's holocaust: Warsaw, Woldenburg, FlossenbÃ¼rg. In the lyrical and moving memoir she has written about her journey, Alicia Nitecki struggles toward her sense of place, compensated by the humane gift of remembrance. Recovered Land adds good weight to the heavy memory of the Holocaust."—Jonathan Maslow