National Armed Forces - Narodowe Sily Zbrojne - NSZ - The Doomed Soldiers

The Doomed Soldiers
Polish Underground Soldiers 1944-1963 - The Untold Story

Freedom And Independence - Wolnosc i Niezawislosc - WiN - The Doomed Soldiers


Zolnierze Wykleci

Born in prison

Magda, a daughter of the heroes fighting Polish Communist government, was born in prison. Through miscarriage.

Her mother, beaten during her interrogations by communist secret police, died at birth. The communists inculcated a belief in her that her parents were criminals. - I considered them criminals until the end of the 1980’s. - recalls Magdalena Zarzycka-Redwan today, born in 1949 in an infamous communist prison at the Lublin castle. Only after the collapse of communism I started looking for people who remembered my parents and uncover the history of my family - she adds.

Magdalena’s parents, who were Stefania and Wladyslaw Zarzyccy, lived in a Kolonia Luszczow village not far away from Lublin. They participated in an underground organization Freedom and Independence (pol. Wolnosc and Niezawislosc). WiN resisted communism in a desperate way. For such a long time, that the Polish secret police [pol. Urzad Bezpieczenstwa] caught and killed almost everybody.

Magda’s father worked in WiN as a quatermaster. He was responsible for organizing ammunition for his friends from “the forest” and delivering money to them.

Stefka was tall and very beautiful. She had light, wavy, blond hair. Wladek had black hair. He was said to be handsome.

The house of the Zarzyccy family stood away from the other complex of buildings. It was surrounded with Janowski forest on one side and Luszczowski forest on the other side. It was an ideal house for someone who was planning subversive activities. – The parents bought it at the end of the war from a German, who was running away from the Red Army. I do not know why he came here from Opatow in Kielce area. Perhaps they were already involved in the resistance movement then. Did they have to escape from that place? Did they have any purpose? I don’t know. I don’t want to keep guessing - says Magdalena. For several months the house served as barracks for WiN soldiers. – But later on they received an order that they were not allowed to stay there any longer. The father was supposed to stay far away from “the forest”. Because if he was gone, “the forest people” would have lost the most important ally in the area. Thus, only once in a while the leaders would meet in our house - reports Magdalena.

  Magdalena Zarzycka-Redwan
Above: Magdalena Zarzycka-Redwan, daughter of Polish Anti-Communist WiN Resistance Soldiers Stefania Zarzecka, and Wladyslaw Zarzecki.
  A former NKVD and MBP prison at the Lublin Castle, Lublin, Poland.
  Above: Former NKVD and MBP prison at the Lublin Castle, Lublin, Poland. During the Nazi occupation of the city from 1939 to 1944, between 40,000 and 80,000 inmates, many of them Polish resistance fighters, passed through the prison. Just before withdrawing in 1944, the Nazis massacred its remaining 300 prisoners. After 1944 the castle continued to serve as a prison of Soviet secret police and later Poland's puppet regime controlled by the Soviets. Until 1954 about 35,000 Poles opposing Soviet occupation of their country rule passed through it, of whom 333 lost their lives. More on Wiki

WiN soldiers in Lubelszczyzna pestered the communists heavily. Also in Luszczow, the village of Zarzyccy, in a face-off with captain “Uskok’s” division from WiN, five [communist] militiamen and “ORMO” died in 1947. To learn more about Captian "Uskok" click here ...

- My sister Marysia was remembering that she would go then with the mother to a nail factory in Lublin to get ammunition. The rounds were hidden in the carriage in the flour sacks. My mother would race the horses 13 kilometers all the way to the house until the horses got wet. But that “flour” never got home, because the partisans in the forest would unload it - says Magdalena.

Wladek was a president of a hops organization. That is why he could easily go on WiN business deals around the entire neighbourhood. Whenever the militia stopped him, he would respond that he went to sign contracts with growers. – And whenever his co-conspirators would arrive at our doorstep, my father would explain to the neighbours that “they came from the hops organization” - smiles Magdalena.

Everything ended on March 2, 1949. The WiN soldier, whose nom de guerre was “Góral” led the UB officials to Zarzyccy’s yard. WiN officers, who were holding a counsel there at that time, recklessly escaped to the forest. But the UB arrested the owners of the house: Stefka and Wladek.

Over the course of the next days, the secret police would come to the house by vans and steal Zarzyccy’s belongings. The three children of Zarzyccy would hide in fear in a hiding place under the straw in the farm building. The eldest Marysia was 13 years old, Henio was 11 and Zosia was 9. They witnessed one of the member of secret police leaving the house dressed in a beautiful, winter coat that belonged to their father.

The neighbours were not allowed to come close to Zarzyccy’s household. Thanks to that, they could plunder their possessions without any witnesses. And the children were starving.

In the meantime in Lublin the parents were being interrogated. What those interrogations looked like we know from the preserved investigation reports and stories told by Wladyslaw at a later time. The polish communists were beating his wife, keeping him in the hallway, handcuffed and guarded. The door of the room, where she was being beaten, was open. Stefka was at that time in an advanced stage of pregnancy. If the father had not been handcuffed, he would have torn those communists to pieces, because he was a very well-built man. And my mother in the same way had to listen to them beating my father - says Magdalena.

Stefka was stubbornly giving answers to the investigators that when the partisans came she only had given them something to eat. When they led her out from the last interrogation, she said to her husband waiting in the hallway: Wladek, I can't stand it anymore”. - Straight from the interrogations, she was transported to the prison hospital at the castle in Lublin, because my mother started to miscarry me - says Magdalena Zarzycka.

Supposedly Magda was to be born a month later. The birth was delivered by Stefka’s acquaintance, Mrs. Traczowa. She was a midwife from Luszczow, who was also there at the castle for a short period of time. – After the birth, my mother only uttered two sentences. She asked: ”a boy or a girl? Mrs. Traczowa answered it was a girl. And then my mother said: May God let her live- says Magdalena, oddly pensive.- Then the midwife took care of me for a moment and when she turned again, my mother was dead - she adds.

Magdalena does not know how she managed to survive for the next two years and two months. Because she spent them in prison, among strangers. Who fed her, who changed her diapers? Probably a different person each time. And sometimes, maybe nobody. - I have two daughters and I know, how much effort you have to sacrifice for the child at that age. The fact that I am alive, is like a mystery - she says.

In the meantime her father was in a different part of that prison. He found out at the end of October that he had a daughter and his wife was dead, which was after 6 months. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

And Madzia [short for Magda] ended up at an orphanage in Labunie. She remembers peeing in her pants out of fear, when the nuns that run the orphanage would take her out to the backyard. Because in the backyard there was a huge space … And I only knew the rectangular sky in the courtyard of the prison. I did not even know what the trees and grass looked like - she recalls.

Afterwards, there was another orphanage in Klemensow. The building was located in the park, so the girl wasn’t as afraid of the space. It was there where Madzia experienced a political thaw in 1956. The father was released from prison. He arrived, embraced her. - I was resistant to this cuddling because he was like a stranger to me. I didn’t want to know him. In 1957, immediately after he received a permission to move into his house, he took me from the orphanage. I was embarrassed by the fact that this man would undress me to give me a bath. Nobody loved me before and nobody demanded anything. I didn’t understand it, and I didn’t want that. It irritated me that at night, instead of telling me a story, he would tell me how his generation had fought against communism. He told me that I would live until the time when that system would collapse and that I would tell my grandchildren about it in the future - she says.

In the ruined house in Luszczow the family started to live again. Magda met her siblings. She was sad, when Zosia admitted that she would rather want her mother to have lived than Magda. The eldest Marysia had a different perspective on that. What are you talking about! You know who murdered our mother - she would repeat. And her brother Henio became a role model to her. He would carry her in his arms. He taught her how to jump from the window onto the pile of straw. - The father was oversensitive about my health and safety so we never told him our secret - smiles Magdalena today.

Sometimes the last partisans would come. Wladyslaw would go out with them to the forest right away. When after many years, Magdalena saw a picture of a shot to death [Jozef Franczak, nom de guerre] "Lalek", she realized that she recognized his face. "Lalek" was the last soldier of an sovereign Poland. Having been betrayed, he died in a battle only in 1963.

Magda remembered his visits, because "Lalek" [or " "Laluś"] a little bit chubby and blond, was handsome. Another time, Magda saw her father burying weapons in the backyard. Before he managed to pull her away she touched one of the crates and permanently dirtied the shirt with grease.

Magda remembered that her father’s nails grew oddly deformed after the tortures by the communists. It was a reminder of them being torn off. She also remembers his legs covered in scars.

[Click here to learn more about the Last Soldier of Sovereign Poland ...]


Above: Józef Franczak (March 17, 1918 - October 21, 1963), nom de guerre "Lalek", the last Soldier of the Sovereign Poland. Photo taken by Polish secret police, the UB.
Above: Józef Franczak (March 17, 1918 - October 21, 1963), nom de guerre "Lalek", the last Soldier of the Sovereign Poland. Photo taken by Polish secret police, the UB.
Józef Franczak, nom de guerre "Laluś", June 1939.
Józef Franczak, nom de guerre "Laluś", June 1939.

- The father would tell her that they were beating him on the healing scars in order to renew them. And afterwards they would throw him into a cell filled with water so the wounds would decay. He had some military ways to deal with that, for example he would disinfect the wounds with his own urine - she says.

Wladyslaw Zarzycki tried to repossess the wealth of his wife for his children. The process didn’t go as planned. In 1963 he came back from the hearing and died of a heart attack.

- It is horrible, but I was glad that I would go back to the orphanage. I did not feel any bond with my father - recalls Magdalena. - Only in the National Children’s Home in Lublin did I realize that it was even worse than the orphanage run by the nuns. The supervisor would make other children bully me. They called me names, I had a nickname “partisan”. I was so ashamed of my parents then. I agreed to recite during school ceremonies: “My parents were criminals. But I am young and I won’t follow in their footsteps” - she adds.

She was not entitled to shoes or clothes. She didn’t participate in any trips. The country was still punishing her for the fact that her parents were patriots.

She could only attend a vocational school. She chose a trade school. She was a good student, she danced in a dance band, she tutored other children. - There were two women there who somehow made me who I am, who instilled the willingness to study in me. The assistant headmaster, Mrs Gorska and the Math teacher Mrs. Myrcik. I believe that they had something to do with the resistance movement in the past. You could feel that spirit in them - she recalls.

She began working in a butcher shop as a shop assistant. Unfortunately, they fired her when they found out that her parents didn’t die in a car accident. Because this was what the Zarzyccy siblings would put in their resume. My sister Marysia was accepted into three different universities to study Agriculture. And they all threw her out. She would then say: get married and change your surname. So I got married just to get a new surname, with the awarness that I would have gotten divorced right afterwards. - she says.

She got divorced but before that she gave birth to her daughter Wioletta. - I penalized her because I didn’t know how to be a good mother. She would cuddle her teddy bear and I would do the same. I wouldn’t buy toys for her but for me. She sensed that - she recalls. - I was more mature with my second daughter, Dagmara, to whom I gave birth when I was 30. My mother was the same age when she gave birth to me - she says.

Throughout her life, Magdalena wouldn’t tell the truth about her past. She always felt fear that the truth would come out, that she would be expelled from school and fired from work. Because of that reason, she didn’t trust people. She found it more difficult to make friends with people because she was afraid to open up to them. She thought that they would turn their back on her, that they would report her. She says today that she was living a lie.

She would meet good people as well. President Skrzetuski from a cooperative society “Men’s self-help”, where she used to work, asked her to promise him that she would get a higher education. And he would prepare her schedule in a way that she could finish High School and then Economic Studies. When he retired, the succeeding president admitted : I don’t know why, but I gave Skrzetuski my word that you will continue education and I have to help you with that." - Then I realized, that he knew - smiles Magdalena.

In the 1980s Magdalena became a director in the Esperanto department of a travel agency in Lublin. Her sister Marysia was happy. It was a time when they didn’t check a person’s background as thoroughly. In the late 1980s, I gradually started to agree with Marysia, that maybe after all, our parents weren’t criminals. I read a brochure about Katyn [Forest Massacre]. And then I started to explore my past - she recalls.

She reached out to the partisan Goral, who led the secret police to her parents. – He said that all his life he anticipated that one of us will come and see him. He said that he broke down after the tortures. That he wanted to give them a false date of the leaders’ meeting in our house, but due to the pain, he gave them the right date. I left outraged. Only after 6 months did I say that I forgave him - she recalls.

Today Magdalena believes that her parents are heroes. After the age of 40 she started making friends with them. She brings back their good name, she talks about them. The court granted her with her father’s acquittal. Last year she picked up a medal on behalf of her mother granted by the President [of Poland Lech Kaczynski].

Magdalena had three husbands in her life and now she is a widow. She was baptized in her childhood and received Communion as it was her father’s wish. She does not go to church though because she hates the priests. I pray to my parents every day. My mother always comes to me in my dreams when I have troubles. I tell her everything. But I believe that there is someone bigger than my mother, that there has to be a God. Every day on the way to work I say a prayer for my parents. I enter the Church at the Triple Cross Square in Warsaw to say a prayer - she says.

- So are your parents the thread that lead you to God? - I ask. - It’s exactly like that. And you know, I always see my mother in my dream going up the revolving stairs? The stairs resemble the ones that led to a watchtower. When I went to see the courtyard of the castle in Lublin, I got my mind around everything. I think that the female prisoners would tell me that my mom went to heaven. And the heaven was that blue rectangle that you could see from the prisonyard. And that’s where the revolving stairs were. I imagined, that my mother was going up those stairs. And to this day I see my mother in my dreams going up to heaven. – she says.

Written by Przemyslaw Kucharczak for Gosc Niedzielny • Translated by Kamila Batorska-Miller



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