Richard C. Lukas

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photo of author and historian, Richard C. Lukas

Richard C. Lukas is an American historian and author of numerous books and articles in several fields including military, diplomatic, Polish, and Polish American history. He is recognized as a leading authority on Poland during World War II.

He served as a Research Consultant at the United States Air Force Historical Archives prior to receiving his Ph.D. from Florida State University in 1963. He taught at universities in Florida, Ohio and Tennessee. He has also been a guest lecturer at academic institutions in the United States and Poland.

Lukas was a contributor to the Air Force Lineage Project that resulted in the publication of "Air Force Combat Units of World War II." His specialty included the combat operations of the 8th, 12th and 15th air forces. He later wrote a pioneering military-diplomatic study, "Eagles East," that won him a national award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Lukas pioneered in writing scholarly books on United States - Polish wartime and postwar relations. His book, "The Strange Allies: Poland and the United States, 1941-1945," not only studied in-depth relations between the United States and the Polish government-in-exile, but also highlighted the impact of American Polonia in United States-Polish relations. "This book remains as current and relevant today as it was when it first appeared," commented Professor Neal Pease, of the University of Wisconsin.

The sequel to "The Strange Allies" was "Bitter Legacy: Polish-American Relations in the Wake of World War II," which dealt with postwar Polish history and Polish-American relations, as well as the little known subject of aid that was extended to Poland after World War II.

He is best known for "The Forgotten Holocaust," the first systematic study in English by an American historian of the wartime experience of the Poles and their relations with the Jews. Considered a classic, the book has gone through many printings and editions, including a Polish one. "The Forgotten Holocaust" has been highly praised for being the most thorough and fair treatment of what the Nazis did to all Poles—Jews and Christians—during World War II.

Including Christian Poles under the umbrella of the "Holocaust" was intended by Lukas to call attention to the horrible persecution of others during the German occupation of Poland. Lukas did not draw absolute parity between the sufferings of the Jews and Christian Poles during the Holocaust. Lukas was the first historian to discover two crucial documents sent by the Polish Underground to London, informing the West of the beginning of the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The eminent British historian and leading authority on Polish history, Professor Norman Davies, formerly of Oxford University, noted in the third American edition of "The Forgotten Holocaust" in 2012, that over the years Lukas's pioneering work "has proved its worth." Davies added that in regard to the historiography of Poland during World War II, "One can see that Lukas took an important step on the long road leading to a healthier and more open state of affairs."

His continuing interest in the Polish tragedy during World War II resulted in several additional books, including the award-winning "Did the Children Cry?" for which he won the prestigious Janusz Korczak Award and his recent, highly regarded, "Forgotten Survivors."

Lukas is also a freelance writer who has published fiction and non-fiction pieces.

Awards and distinctions[edit]

  • National History Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, (1971)
  • Fellow, American Council of Learned Societies, (1980)
  • Doctor of Humane Letters by Alliance College, (1987)
  • Kosciuszko Foundation's Joseph B. Slotkowski Publication Fund Achievement Award
  • Polonia Restituta award from the Government of Poland (1988)
  • Janusz Korczak Literary Award from the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (1994)
  • American Council for Polish Culture's Cultural Achievement Award (1994)
  • Waclaw Jedrzejewicz History Award from the Pilsudski Institute of America (2000)
  • The Catholic Press Association Award (2009)
  • Mieczyslaw Haiman Award, presented by the Polish American Historical Association, (2013)


Recent Articles:

  • "The Polish Experience during the Holocaust," in A Mosaic of Victims (N.Y.: New York University Press, 1990)
  • The Merchandising of the Holocaust, Catalyst, October 1997
  • Of Stereotypes and Heroes, Catalyst July-August 2002
  • Why Do We Allow Non-Jewish Victims to be Forgotten?
  • "Their Legacy is Life," Canadian Messenger (1991)
  • "Jedwabne and the Selling of the Holocaust," Inside the Vatican (Nov. 2001); Reprinted in The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland (Princeton University Press, 2004)
  • "Irena Sendler: World War II's Polish Angel," St. Anthony Messenger (Aug. 2008)
  • "Rozmowa z Prof. Richardem Lukasem," Uwazam Rze Historia, Wrzesien, (2012)
  • "The Encounter," (fiction), Liguorian, (March, 2013)
  • "God and Country: Catholic Chaplains during World War II," The Priest, (June, 2014)
  • "I'll Be Seeing You: The Warsaw Uprising and the Akins Crew," The Elks Magazine, (June, 2014)
  • "To Save a Life," The Priest, (January, 2015)
  • "Marcus Shook: A Mississippi Hero," in Mississippi History Now,(November, 2016)


  • "Air Force Combat Units of World War II" (Contributing Author), USGPO, 1961; Franklin Watts, 1963.
  • Eagles East: The Army Air Forces and the Soviet Union, 1941-1945, Florida State University Press, 1970, ISBN 0-8130-0428-4.
  • From Metternich to the Beatles, Mentor, 1973, ISBN 0-451-61191-8.
  • The Strange Allies, the United States and Poland, 1941-1945, University of Tennessee Press, 1978, ISBN 0-87049-229-2.
  • Bitter Legacy: Polish-American Relations in the Wake of World War II, University Press of Kentucky, 1982, ISBN 0-8131-1460-8.
  • Out of the Inferno: Poles Remember the Holocaust, University Press of Kentucky, 1989, ISBN 0-8131-1692-9.
  • Zapomiany Holocaust: Polacy Pod Okupacja Niemiecka, 1939–1944, Jednosc, 1995.
  • The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation, 1939-1944, University of Kentucky Press, 1986; Hippocrene Books, 1990; 2d rev.ed., 1997: 3d rev.ed., 2012. ISBN 0-7818-0901-0.
  • Did the Children Cry: Hitler's War Against Jewish and Polish Children, 1939-1945, Hippocrene Books, 2001, ISBN 0-7818-0870-7.
  • Forgotten Survivors: Polish Christians Remember the Nazi Occupation, University Press of Kansas, 2004, ISBN 0-7006-1350-1.
  • Zapomiany Holokaust: Polacy Pod Okupacja Niemiecka, 1939-1944, Wydawnictwo Rebis, 2012.

External links[edit]