Defecting To Christ

The Liberation of One, by Romuald S. Spasowski (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986, 687 pp.; $24.95, cloth). Reviewed by Diane Knippers, program director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Washington, D.C.

We Americans tend to treat news as entertainment. We are temporarily titillated by the tragedies of others. Our compassion is cursory, trendy.

In December 1981, martial law was declared in Poland. The attention of the world was galvanized by the harsh crushing of Solidarity, Poland’s independent trade union. In response, the U.S. government imposed economic sanctions against Poland. And on Christmas Eve, my husband and I joined thousands when we lit a candle and put it in our window, following President Reagan’s suggestion to show our solidarity with Poland in its dark hour.

Nearly six years later, conditions in Poland have changed very little, but the news earlier this year that the U.S. had lifted the economic sanctions and granted Poland Most Favored Nation status was buried in our papers.

Now comes The Liberation of One, a book by a central figure of those dark and dangerous days, a witness to Poland’s suffering during and since World War II. Even more important, the book is a compelling testimony to the grace of God.

Romuald Spasowski, the Polish ambassador to the United States, became, on December 19, 1981, the highest-ranking Communist official ever to defect to the West. His candid autobiography chronicles his relationship to his father (one of Poland’s most prominent prewar Communists), his family’s harrowing experiences harboring Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland, and his diplomatic career representing Poland in Argentina, India, and the United States.

Spasowski was ...

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