Since its release in 1908, Anne of Green Gables has been embraced by many cultures around the world. The titular character’s imagination, perseverance, and wit transformed her into an instant heroine whose values won over readers everywhere, including Polish soldiers during World War 2.
In the midst of political tension and war during the late 1930’s, early 40s, Polish military officials gave soldiers copies of Anne of the Island in an effort to remind Polish soldiers what they were fighting for i.e. family values, community, nonconformity, determination, etc.
The third book in L.M Montgomery’s series, Anne of the Island, recounted Anne’s escapades as she ventured off to college and reflected romanticism, dreaming, heroism, and the ability to overcome oppressive forces. These themes were greatly valued by the Polish army and were held dear in the time of war.
Source: Sophie Allsopp
Not only did these themes resonate with soldiers, but the book also offered soldiers a form of escapism from the harsh realities of war. Anne’s imagination and vivid adventures full of excitement, conflict, and eventual resolutions brought much needed hope and the message that one could persevere.
The powerful role Anne of Green Gables played in the war is even more profound considering the oppression publishing companies faced during that time. As journalist Barbara Wachowicz points out, by 1939 all publishing companies stopped publishing books and subsequently making it extremely hard to acquire them and in many cases the only way was through black markets and underground publishing offices. This makes it even more extraordinary that soldiers were able to get their hands on copies of Anne of the Island.
Undoubtedly L.M Montgomery’s iconic character will continue to inspire readers throughout time as Anne of Green Gables will continue to be passed down to younger generations. The series’ incredible impact on the Polish resistance may be one of the lesser known stories of World War 2, but it’s unforgettable.
Source: Kim Ji-Hyuck
Feature image via PBS.