Free Download | Night of Flames: A Novel of World War II | Douglas W. Jacobson

The 1939 German-Soviet conquest of Poland is well described in this realistic piece of historical fiction. Jan is a cavalryman, and his unit enjoys temporary success at the Battle of the Bzura. But then the extreme German asymmetry in speed and firepower reasserts itself. The Stuka dive bombers are vividly portrayed. They wreak destruction everywhere--and by no means only of military targets. German policy is one of unilateral terror. Brief perspectives from the German side are included. For instance, a Stuka pilot who just shot up a Polish cavalry column is a lover of horses, and expresses sorrow over killing the horses, but not the men.

As the occupation unfolds, thousands of Poles are arrested and murdered by the Germans. Dr. Thaddeus Piekarski, a Krakow professor, is invited with other professors to a meeting with the new German authorities. It is a trap. He and they are suddenly arrested and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The Jews are locked up in ghettos, and later transported secretly to what turn out to be the death camps.

After being one of those evacuated during the 1939 war, Jan sneaks back into Poland. The Germans are testing V-2 rockets near the town of Blizna. One of the rockets falls unexploded. Jan is involved with this intelligence coup. The rocket is covered with foliage, and the Germans are unable to find it. The Poles dismantle the rocket, transport its parts in hollowed-out bales of hay, photograph its parts, and get it ready to be shipped to England on a plane that arrives from Allied-freed Italy. They are successful.
The lack of proper equipment of the 1939 Polish Army is contrasted with the victorious battles of the Polish First Armored Division against German armored divisions after D-Day. Polish forces also take part in the taking of Antwerp from the Germans.

There are maps that show the relevant towns and troop movements. This work includes a fair amount of profanity. I tend to agree with those reviewers who think that there is too much shifting of the scenes between Poland and Belgium, for example. Nevertheless it provides much insight that the reader unfamiliar with Poland and WWII would probably not know.