Paweł Jasienica was the pen-name of Leon Lech Beynar (10 November 1909 – 19 August 1970), a Polish non-academic historian, journalist, writer and soldier.
He was born in Simbirsk, Russia, to Polish parents, Mikołaj Beynar and Helena Maliszewska. His father worked as a Russian official. Beynar's family lived in Russia and Ukraine until the Russian Revolution of 1917, after which the family returned to Poland in 1920. He graduated in history from Stefan Batory University in Wilno.
Beynar was a soldier in the Polish army during World War II and fought against the German Wehrmacht during the invasion of Poland in September 1939. After the defeat of Poland, he joined the Polish underground Armia Krajowa (AK, or Home Army) and continued the fight against the Germans.
After the war, he a was member of Wolność i Niezawisłość (WiN, Freedom and Independence) and was wounded while fighting against Soviet units and the Soviet-backed communist authorities of Poland in the unit of Major Zygmunt Szendzielarz (Łupaszko).
In 1945 Beynar made his debut as a journalist with articles in the independent Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny. It was then that he took the pen-name Jasienica (from the name of the place where he had received treatment for his injuries) in order not to endanger his wife, who was still living in Soviet-controlled Vilnius at this time. Jasienica would later became famous for his popular historical books about Piast Poland, Jagiellon Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was known for condemning nationalism, and for his personal courage. There are numerous anecdotes about how he was commended for his outspokenness by the censors. These acts led to his being labeled a political dissident, for which he suffered government persecution.
Several of his books have been translated into English by Alexander Jordan and published by the American Institute of Polish Culture, headquartered in Miami, Florida.
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