Jamesport doc’s memoir tells tale of insurgency in WWII

07/04/2013 5:00 PM |
Polish insurgents

COURTESY PHOTO | Dr. Peter Badmajew and his first wife, Antonina Soszka-Badmajew, beside the Baltic Sea in 1951. The two had met through common friends who were insurgents during the uprising.

It was during World War II, early August 1944. Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany and Dr. Peter Badmajew of Jamesport, now 85, was a member of Poland’s Home Army, fighting to liberate his home city of Warsaw.

WWII Warsaw uprising insurgency

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Dr. Peter Badmajew, 85 of Jamesport, recently self-published a memoir of his experience as an insurgent in the Warsaw uprising.

As light filled the sky, marking the third day of the uprising in Warsaw, Dr. Badmajew stood on guard, keeping watch while members of his platoon slept. Through breaking light he saw German soldiers completely surrounding the home where he’d taken refuge.

This is one of many turning points described in Dr. Badmajew’s self-published memoir, “The History of a Warsaw Insurgent,” which depicts his experience as a 15-year-old soldier during the war.

“I ran upstairs and I woke everybody,” he said. “We organized a chain and we started to move all our belongings into the attic, not to leave any sign that insurgents were there.”

As German soldiers filled the home, he and six others gathered in a hidden crawl space just underneath the attic. As the last insurgent, a woman, entered the space, a German guard was making his way up the attic steps, just above their heads.

“When I looked up I saw the sole of his boot between the gaps of those beams. Sand was like a stream falling on our heads from the floor above,” Dr. Badmajew said.

“This was the greatest stress that I can remember,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is the end, I am going to die here.’ ”

Dr. Badmajew went undiscovered. He continued to fight for almost two months before he was captured and forced into a cattle wagon that transported him to a prison camp, where he worked until he was able to escape.

The memoir describes Dr. Badmajew’s first time shooting a gun during the war — and the German soldier on the receiving end. He began writing about the experience upon his escape from prison camp, calling on other insurgents who had survived the war to help him remember the details.

The book was originally released in Poland in 2008 and has become part of the Warsaw Uprising Museum, dedicated to preserving history on the war in Poland.

He recently added to the book and published it in the U.S. just a few months ago. The revised book also covers his personal challenges of prostate cancer and losing his second wife to an untreatable brain disorder known as supranuclear palsy.

After the war, Dr. Badmajew studied medicine, went to Canada on an internship and eventually came to the U.S.  He went on to become a surgeon and has been in practice in Jamesport, with an office on Main Road, for over 25 years.

“The History of a Warsaw Insurgent” is available for purchase online and will be featured at a book fair in Frankfurt, Germany, in October.

cmiller@timesreview.com

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