Jadwiga's Crossing - a Story of the Great Polish Migration - Book Review
Authors: Richard J. Lutz, Aloysius A. Lutz
This novel is based on stories Aloysius A. Lutz heard growing up in
Dunkirk, New York, in the early 20th Century - stories he later told
to his son, Richard.
The story's factual content reads like a documentary of ocean travel
at the end of the 19th Century. The reader will become familiar with
the details of traveling by sail in 1869 - the conditions of travel as
well as the physical and emotional problems the passengers. The story
is told mostly through the eyes of a newlywed couple, Paul Adamik and
Jadwiga Wdowiak Adamik. At its beginning, she finds him, an obedient
soldier in the Prussian army, intending to re-enlist, carry on his
family's farming tradition, or accept an offer to become the caretaker
of his German lieutenant's lands in occupied Poland. But she is a
strong-willed fisherman's daughter from the Baltic coast, and she has
different plans for him.
Father and son augmented the stories, remembered by the father, with
scrupulous research. They portray the tensions among Poles caused by
the political situation of those times when Poland was partitioned
among three neighboring powers, Russia, Prussia, and Austria. The
difficulty of life in occupied Poland was the main reason why so many
people left their homeland in that time, responding to the stories of
a free America. This is shown in the book very well. If you enjoy
adventure and romance - you will find it in the book also.
People who decided to travel oversees had to be very brave and
desperate, like the statement from the book, "the fearful never left
and the weak never survived." Anybody who decided to go oversees had
to sell everything before travel, knowing he might never return. He
needed all that money to start life in a different part of the world.
Early in the 19th Century, just getting to a port of embarkation might
mean days or weeks of travel on foot, by rivercraft, or in horse-drawn
vehicles. But by the middle of 19th Century, the spread of railroads
made it easy. The first part of travel of Jadwiga and Paul is done by
train to Bremenhaven, Germany. Then they embark with other Polish
immigrants on the ship Frederika in the cheapest steerage class amid
Under normal circumstances, the travel would have taken about a month,
and Jadwiga's baby - she is now pregnant - would be born in America,
as she has planned. But the Frederika, pressed into service for the
emigration trade, is not competently managed and the ship is damaged,
extending the travel. Food grows short, and steerage passengers get
the worst of it. It is painful for parents to see their children
hungry, and the situation calls for desperate measures.
Despite the difficulty of such travel, there are many joyful moments
as an elderly couple entertain children with Bible stories and tales
that will boost patriotic feelings for both Poland and America.
I recommend this immigration story to everybody, but especially to
those whose ancestors came to America during the great immigration
wave. It will teach every reader - and it is acceptable reading for
youngsters, too - to have the greatest respect for the Poles of the
19th Century who risked so much to start a new life in America.
The novel can be purchased on line in Amazon.com under the following link:
Jadwiga's Crossing: a story of the Great Migration
contact the author (Richard J. Lutz) by e-mail. There are sample readings on line at http://JadwigasCrossing.com, and
the book ($19.95 trade paper) may be ordered there or from Amazon.com
written by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn, November 2006
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