, South Pacific Adventist Record
Ten-year-old Paul Cieslar witnessed the beginning of World War II firsthand as Germany began the invasion of Poland in September 1939.
Six years later, he and his family, including his eight brothers and sisters, were still alive, with remarkable stories of the protection, leading and goodness of God.
Seventy years later, Cieslar has shared his story in No Heil Hitler! — a new book from Adventist-owned Signs Publishing in Australia.
“My only excuse for writing this book is that everything in it happened,” said Cieslar, a retired Adventist pastor. “I began writing my story in Polish many years ago, but Pastor Geoff Youlden encouraged me to write it in English so it would be read by a wider audience.”
Youlden is an Adventist evangelist in Australia.
Little did Cieslar expect that among the first to respond to his story would be the judge of a national literary prize. His story won the inaugural National Seniors Literary Prize for an unpublished manuscript by Australians aged 50 or older in 2012. The prize was sponsored by National Seniors Australia, a nonprofit organization that assists retirees.
“At the award presentation, one of the judges commented to me about how moved she was by the faith of one of the women in the story,” Cieslar said. “This was encouraging because I had wondered how the story might be received by people outside our church.”
No Heil Hitler! tells the story of Cieslar’s survival during the Nazi occupation of Poland, living in the shadow of Auschwitz, and escaping from forced service in the Nazi army. The story describes the background of his Adventist family and church, and their faithfulness and resilience in the face of great dangers and hardships.
Cieslar said he wrote the book for his family — particularly his grandchildren — and the Adventist Church as a testimony of the goodness and power of the God he has seen in his life, particularly in the most difficult times.
After his experiences in World War II, Cieslar worked as an Adventist pastor in Communist Poland before serving as a departmental director in the Northern European–West African Division, based in England, in the 1970s. With his family, Cieslar moved to Australia in 1984, where he pastored Polish- and English-speaking churches until his retirement in 2002. He continues to be active in ministry in his local church in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh.
No Heil Hitler! was released at the Easter camp meetings in Victoria and Western Australia and is available from Adventist Book Centers across Australia and New Zealand.