The storyline in "Highcastle" ends the moment Lem turns 18 years old. This is reasonable, as the book is about his childhood and youth experiences.
However, there is one more nuance. World War II begins 11 days before Stanislaw becomes an adult. And 10 days after his birthday, Lviv is occupied by the Red Army.
Around that time, Lem witnesses a symbolic event. Polish Horse Artillery descended from the slopes of the Citadel. Suddenly, Soviet soldiers appeared from the side streets and rode directly at them. They were of Asian descent. Each person held a revolver in one hand and a grenade in the other. They commanded the Poles to surrender their horses, wallets, weapons, and leave. There was no point in resisting, so the shooters surrendered without firing a single shot.
— "Get out of here!" said the "Mongols".
— "I saw how Poland fell!" Stanislaw recalled that moment, "They were not even taken prisoners, they were simply let go."
A monument to the "Stalin Constitution" was built next to the John III Sobieski Monument. On a wooden pedestal now stood concrete figures of a Red Army soldier, a worker, a mother with a child, a female student, and an old Hutsul with a boy. The writing underneath glorified the Soviet leader in three languages - Polish, Ukrainian, and Hebrew.
There were jokes about the foolish occupants who took the apartments of former "bourgeois". Some said that one commander washed his head in the toilet. And the officers' wives went to the theater in nightgowns, which they found in their new houses because they thought they were evening dresses.
Stanislaw was almost the same age as the Second Polish Republic. His childhood and youth coincided with the formation of this state, and the beginning of his maturity coincided with its collapse.
Ordinary citizens know almost nothing about the arrests and repressions launched by the new government. The Lems were not disturbed. During the war, doctors were not to be interfered with.
The only discomfort they experienced was that an NKVD officer named Smirnov
settled in one of the rooms of their apartment. Everyone knows what he does for work. Besides, he gives the impression of an intelligent man, all his notebooks are filled with poetry. An announcement now hangs on the apartment door, confirming that it has been requisitioned by the military headquarters. This serves as a way of protection.