How Language Saved Me: A Polish Story of Survival Book Review from @kleffnotes

Tadeusz “Tad” Haska was orphaned in Poland at a young age and survived World War II by narrowly avoiding the Nazis every step of the way. His life continued to involve escaping and thwarting those who wished to destroy him. In the short book How Language Saved Me: A Polish Story of Survival, readers we see the account of how one young man’s knowledge of nine languages helped him to survive.

Haska, who passed away in 2012, co-wrote this book with his granddaughter Stefanie Naumann, a professor at the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific. The story focuses on how the study of language was something that he clung to with all of the upheaval around him. Beyond the initial elements of his life that I’ve mentioned, he would have to daringly escape jail by the Soviet Secret Police and launch an elaborate plan to sneak his wife out of the country in a coffin. Haska began drafting his memoir in the 1990s, but his granddaughter would finish it for him based on his recordings, journals, and letters. This is a powerful story that merits your attention.

In this relaying of his life story, Haska is able to balance the dark elements of his life with bits of humor. The power of this book is that it examines how language can truly help you to survive. With so few people truly taking the time to learn another language in the United States, this shows how much language can truly bring power and positive effects to your life. Haska shares so much about his life and beyond that his inner thoughts and opinions during this time. This is something that is definitely a remarkable addition to the collection of World War II literature that exists. You can get your copy of How Language Saved Me: A Polish Story of Survival today.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on Twitter, @thenerdygirlexp. You can find me on Twitter, @kleffnotes, on my blog,, and on my kleffnotes YouTube channel.

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