When I was very young, a classics course I took included Xenophon’s account of the March of the Ten Thousand, the story of a Greek army escaping from Persia. I no longer remember the details of the Greek-Persian conflict but I do remember that all of us, including our teacher, cheered for the freedom-loving Greeks, against Persia and its tyrant.
I alone in my class knew that Xenophon’s tale was but a short story compared to the saga of the Polish army that escaped from another tyranny, led to freedom by General Władysław Anders. The General’s name and image were known to me from my earliest childhood as a kind of collective godfather to all the children he had rescued. This was a military leader who knew precisely what motivated his men – my father was one of those men — and leaving the children behind would undermine their spirit. Possibly the only man who was never intimidated by Joseph Stalin, Anders insisted that they be evacuated with the army, and didn’t give up until the tyrant agreed.