A Night at the Polish Embassy

September 14, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
Read on for article

Celebrated author Diane Armstrong was recently guest of honour at function at the Polish Embassy in Canberra marking the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII.

The Krakow-born Armstrong addressed over 100 guests including diplomats from Russia, Israel, Portugal and the UK.

Diane Armstrong talks to her audience

Diane Armstrong talks to her audience pic: Michael Armstrong

The Sydney-based author heard Polish Ambassador Andrzej Jaroszynsk1 state that her latest book ‘Nocturne’ is extremely important as it accurately portrays the truth of how events panned out in wartime Poland. He had described the book as “the first book on Poland and World War II written in English with heart, knowledge and imagination”.

Helena Robinson, a survivor who lives in the Sydney seaside suburb of Manly, told how she had been saved through the underground movement in Poland. She said that if a situation became dangerous in the area in which she was being hidden, the group would pass her over to another. She told the hushed audience that many Poles paid the ultimate price in their endeavour to save Jews…become victims themselves.

Fellow author, Melbourne-based Arnold Zable, was generous in his praise for Armstrong’s work commenting on her outstanding “perspective on life.”

A highlight of the evening was a performance of Chopin nocturnes by Sydney pianist Rachel Valler. Before she played Armstrong’s favourite nocturne – the C# Major, Valler told the  story of child prodigy, Natalia Karp. Sent to what should have been a certain death in Auschwitz Karp survived by playing Chopin for the Kommandant. In doing so, she also saved her sister’s life. As a mark of respect for Karp, Valler asked the audience not to applaud at the end of the nocturne.

Armstrong told her own story detailing her childhood in Krakow before moving to a tiny village in the country where she posed as a Catholic surviving through the protection of the local priests. She said that the period had been compelling as she witnessed the betrayals and the behaviour of those around her as they fought for survival during that war-time period.

She told J-Wire: ” It was a hugely cultured and very receptive audience. A very special day for me. I had lunch at the Ambassador’s home. He had been a lecturer in Literature so there was plenty to talk about.”

Armstrong also addressed Canberra’s National Press Club.

Diane Armstrong has published four books. Her second book, Journey of Their Life, has been reprinted eleven times, Mosaic has been published in the United States and Winter Journey has been translated into Polish and Hebrew.


Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

    Rules on posting comments