A Saffron Walden author has released the revised edition of a biography telling the thrilling story of the Polish resistance in the Second World War.

In Maria's Code, biographer Cynthia Engelmann tells two parallel stories - recounting how she travelled to Poland to research a memoir written by a Polish survivor in Berlin immediately after the war.

Cynthia visited the Zachodni Institute in Poznan, Poland, an archive that holds records of the wartime Polish resistance.

This was the start of an adventure into history, and all that had been hidden since the Nuremberg Trials, where Stalin dismissed all Polish evidence - a silence which was maintained due to the 45-year Russian occupation of Poland.

While in Poland, Cynthia investigated the truth of an unpublished manuscript bequeathed to her upon the death of Maria Weychan.

What follows is a tale of intrigue, romance, imprisonment and survival, related by Maria, a young Polish dancer in Berlin after the end of the war.


Maria had survived life in a camp with her mother, and Cynthia explored whether they collaborated with the Germans in order to protect themselves.

Cynthia said: "Maria entrusted the manuscript of her autobiography to me shortly before her death in 1986 with instructions to get it published.

"The translation from German revealed an extraordinary story that resembled a fictional novel.

"I needed to verify that it was fact before proceeding, and the journey to research this became an adventure into a history that had been hidden since the Nuremberg Trials where Stalin had dismissed all Polish evidence ensuring that her voice was silenced.

"I felt obliged to share the discovery of these events that had been suppressed for so long."

After gaining a degree in psychology at University College London, Cynthia taught reading to dyslexic students in the 1970s, and also rode to Grand Prix dressage level - going on to publish articles in equine journals, as well as scripting and directing theatre on horseback.

After a riding accident in the 90s, Cynthia began her research into Maria's manuscript, and has been featured in two Polish television documentaries.

To buy the book visit https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/history-politics-society/marias-code/.