Magdalena Mikrut-Majeranek: You made your debut on the publishing market in 2019, and currently you have already published six novels. The action of the first and the second, or “Red Revenge”, takes place during the Second World War, and the following four constitute the series “In the Secret Service of the Second Polish Republic”. What made you decide to write?
Krzysztof Goluch: It was not a decision. Rather, a healthy desire to prove yourself. It was my readers who decided they needed my next novels. I just fill it with demands. Besides, I like to write a lot.
The last series is a historical thriller, and therefore a demanding genre. Where do you draw your inspiration for your next novels?
Oh yes. The historical novel is perhaps the most demanding literary genre. Other writers are free to create reality in any way. I have to recreate the one that disappeared. I am inspired by requests from readers who want to deal with a specific era. I use diary literature and journals. I collect all the information.
You write spy novels, which are also a historical thriller – is that your favorite genre and do you enjoy getting into such publications yourself?
I don’t have a favorite novel genre. I read everything that comes to hand. However, this is the first time I’ve written this kind of novel. I would like to recall the great merits of our intelligence in the struggle against the two totalitarianisms. Especially since they are often appropriated by others. The Enigma case can be mentioned here. The contribution of Polish cryptologists is almost absent from Western publications.
Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski, Józef Piłsudski, Aleksander Prystor, Wacław Stachiewicz. Saski Square, May 31, 1926
Is the Second Republic of Poland your favorite historical period?
I have always been interested in the Second World War, and therefore also in the end of the existence of the Second Polish Republic. However, it wasn’t until writing this series that I penetrated that era more deeply.
You indicate that the heroes of the saga are only “pawns in the hands of the great story”. What does the question of being faithful to historical realities look like? Is the plot of the novel based on facts or is it a poet license?
The spy scandals described in the novel are based on sources and documents produced by our intelligence services. However, they were only a source of inspiration. Most of the characters in the novel are figments of my imagination. Zofia Jakimowicz, both Nevsky and Dobrowolscy. I have tried to present the historical reality with maximum precision. I inform the reader of any changes in the afterword. However, some plot shortcuts were necessary. To limit the deliberations of the Peace Conference to a few chapters is nonsense from the point of view of a historian. But the writer has rights. All the historical events of the novel are carefully reproduced.
You have woven figures such as Piłsudski, Wieniawa-Długoszowski, Hindenburg and Dzerzhinski into the plot you have created. The multitude of plots and characters indicates that you must have made a solid request before sitting down to write. How long did the work on the novels last and what sources did you use to research the realities of the time?
Work on the novel took three years. As for the figure of Feliks Dzerzhinsky, I used his correspondence with his sister Aldona. Of course, the first source when it comes to historical figures is always their biographies, but I also like diaries and letters. The letters of Dmowski or Piłsudski are very interesting to read, they allowed me to understand the way of thinking of these characters, to understand them, and at the same time to bring them closer to the reader. Take off the brown and make people cringe.
You portray the realities of life in the Second Polish Republic with chronic care – both in the moral and political spheres. So, how was life in the Second Polish Republic?
The Second Polish Republic was a time of great works and great poverty, of great economic successes and disasters. In a time that is just past, we were tortured by them. Now it’s all about success. And the truth is in the middle. So we have people who live really well, who love wealth and luxury. Elites. I also have workers and peasants. That Poland was a poor and overpopulated country with enormous territorial diversity. Life in Wielkopolska was pretty good for the average peasant. On the other hand, the eastern border regions are practically an economic ruin. This state of affairs was of course influenced by the war. The Russians destroyed everything that could be destroyed. It is therefore not surprising that the country quickly descended into economic stagnation and hyperinflation. Poland was born in pain and constant conflict. And yet this socially divided country, devastated by war, could afford to build Gdynia, the COP, from scratch. It achieved political and economic independence. And yet he was never able to deal with land reform, he was not able to come to an agreement with the national minorities. I will describe all this in the next volumes.
“In the Secret Service of the Second Polish Republic. Volume III. Traitor”
Editor: Novae Res
The year of publication: 2022
Cover: soft, tender
Number of pages: 338
Julian Tuwim (third from left in second row) in New York City during the first anniversary celebrations of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 1944
Major series protagonist
there is Wiktor Adamczewski, now an intelligence officer. Does this character have a real prototype?
Not. On the other hand, all the actions in which he participates are more or less modeled on real events.
The novel also introduces Julian Tuwim, who had some relationship with Wieniawa-Długoszewski. They were friends?
Yes of course. Our children’s poet did not shy away from strong impressions.
The Polish National Committee with Roman Dmowski in Paris in 1918
In the third volume of the series, entitled “The Traitor” was raised, among other things, by the question of the return of part of Upper Silesia to Poland. Soon we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of this event. How does Roman Dmowski, one of the heroes of the novel, consider the question of the return of Silesia to Poland and the organization of the plebiscite, the Third Silesian uprising?
Dmowski wanted Upper Silesia to go to Poland without any conditions or reservations. And it was supposed to be like that originally. However, London’s interest intervened in the matter, as it did not want to weaken Germany too much. The British Prime Minister’s famous words about the monkey and the watch are historic. In addition, the Germans very cleverly control the Allies on the payment of war damages. They argued that without the industry there, they wouldn’t be able to pay them. I think Dmowski’s attitude to the plebiscite was indifferent as such. He was well aware that the future of these lands would be decided by armed struggle.
Cycle “In the Secret Service of the Second Polish Republic” are spy novels with a background story. There was also a clash with some myths that fire the imagination of history buffs to this day. It is eg. with the story of Anastasia Romanov. His case must be studied by a certain Anna. What did she discover?
The liquidation of the Romanovs took place in such secrecy that for several years after the revolution many were deceived of hope. It is this fact that the people of Dzerzhinsky took advantage of. Our heroine will be arrested very quickly. I won’t reveal anything else. Even at the end of the 20th century, a fraud appeared, pretending to be Anastasia …
In the fourth volume of the saga there is a significant phrase that Versailles finished nothing, but started everything. How should we understand this?
Such a paradox. Regaining independence was much easier than retaining it. Poland is rising from the ashes of two wars. It faced hyperinflation, social unrest and coups. And yet the Polish house is reborn from these ashes. The greatest generation of Poles we have ever had grew up there, and that is probably the greatest contribution of this generation.
One of the heroines IV volume
is Zofia Jakimowicz. Is it a Polish Mata Hari?
Certainly not. She is a typical high society woman. She doesn’t know where her money comes from. She’s just a housewife. She lives in a certain bubble, created by a well-paid husband who fulfills her every whim. War destroys his world. Zofia finds herself alone with a small child and must quickly adapt to the new conditions. As we will see, this does not work very well. Such a fate befell many women of that time. He is a tragic figure because his world has relentlessly passed.
Are you already preparing your next novel? Or maybe the series “In the Secret Service of the Second Republic of Poland” will continue?
If that is the will of readers and my editor, the rest of this cycle will surely appear.
“In the Secret Service of the Second Polish Republic. Volume IV. Tour”
Editor: Novae Res
The year of publication: 2022
Cover: soft, tender
Number of pages: 390