A desire to explore the ordinary people behind the extraordinary events of World War II led Douglas Jacobson to write his second historical fiction novel.
His most recent book, "The Katyn Order," explores the Katyn Forest Massacre, in which the Soviets killed an estimated 20,000 Polish prisoners of war captured after the Soviet army invaded Poland in 1939.
"It's all completely factual," the Elm Grove resident said. "Every event that takes place in the book is true; the characters are fictitious. I've created these characters to walk through history."
To write the story, Jacobson walked through a bit of history himself.
While visiting his daughter in Belgium - and researching his first book, "Nights of Flame" - Jacobson met World War II survivors, including a pair of elderly women who were freedom fighters.
Slowly, Jacobson learned about the Katyn Massacre.
"This isn't something that they talk about all the time. But when they find out you really want to know, they're very helpful," Jacobson said. "… When you ask them why they (fought), they say they did it for freedom. It was very inspiring."
As Jacobson gathered the story of Katyn, history found its way into modern headlines because of a plane crash that killed the Polish president and other dignitaries en route to a Katyn memorial in April 2010.
"It really brought the history into very vivid relief," Jacobson said.
Against the historical backdrop of Katyn, Jacobson explores the heroic spirit of those who survived that era.
"Many times in life, you have to find the courage and strength to carry on, and you don't know what you can do until you absolutely have to do it," he said.
In the book, an American undercover agent meets a Polish freedom fighter. They risk capture to stop the state-ordered executions of Katyn.
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JUST THE FACTS
NAME: Douglas Jacobson
NOTED FOR: authoring historical fiction
CAREER: owner of HJS of
Wisconsin, a packaging company in Waukesha
WHERE TO GET IT: "The Katyn Order" is available at local and online bookstores.
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