Warsaw Insurgents - Biographies

Major Wacław Chojna

Maj. Wacław Chojna,
Codenames: "Horodyński", "Majewski", "Młotek", "Świerczyński", "Świerk",
soldier of the Home Army (AK) in the rank of Major.

         Wacław Chojna was born on August 4, 1907 in Zaslav, Wołyń in then-Russian occupied Poland (today's Volhynia in Ukraine). Son of Cezary Chojna and Helena Paschalis-Jakubowicz, who was a descendent of an exiled insurgent from the January Uprising against Russia of 1863/64.

         When Poland regained independence in 1918, the country was ravaged by 120 years of exploitative occupation by Russia, Prussia and Austria and majority of the World War I battles between those countries took place on Polish soil. Between 1918 and 1921 various insurrections against Germans to expulse them from historically Polish territories took place in western Poland. On the eastern and southern fronts Poles had to fend off various military conflicts, mainly the Bolshevick invasion between 1919-1921.

         In 1919 during the Bolshevik War, as a 12-year-old boy, Chojna took up the role of a secret messenger for General Jan Sawicki, commander of the 3rd Riding Brigade. To this end he travelled on foot with his father for a total of 100 km from Zaslaw to Starokonstantynów, and back, to deliver a message to a local activist priest. Upon Waclaw's return the general kissed him out of gratitude and said, "The country will never forget it, dear boy". During the defence of Zaslav, he helped the soldiers by delivering food and carrying ammunition to the trenches amid a hail of bullets from machine guns and cannons. During this, he was wounded in the foot, but nevertheless continued to perform his tasks. He was approached to join the detachment, but his father objected due to his young age (based on text written by Chojna to the Independence Cross Committee in 1938). These early experiences during the war served as an impetus to embark on military career in the future.

         Chojna attended the State Gymnasium school in Ostroh and, from fifth grade, the A. Mickiewicz State Gymnasium in Zdolbuniv, where in 1927 he obtained his Baccalaureate. In 1928, he graduated from the Infantry Officer School in Komorowo near Ostrów (Eastern Poland), and in 1930 from the Artillery Officer Cadet School in Toruń (Western Poland).

Completion certificate from the Infantry Officer School and Artillery Officer Cadet School

         After completing his education in August 1930, he was posted to the 4th Cuiavia Light Artillery Regiment (4 PAL), where he was soon promoted to battery commander. The regiment was stationed in Inowrocław, in the western part of Poland. On January 1, 1934, Chojna was commissioned as First Lieutenant by Colonel Karol Hauke (2nd cousin of Princess Alice of Battenberg).

Service Record 1927-1930

         Chojna was proficient in Russian, German, Ukrainian, Czech, Latin, Ancient Greek and, after 1946, some Italian. He was a keen sportsman; he practised fencing, equestrian vaulting, show jumping, skiing, skating, gliding and boxing. He was also an excellent and very avid bridge and poker player.

Second Lt. Wacław Chojna at a military exercise in 1933

Wacław Chojna at an equestrian tournament in 1933

         In the annual qualification list of the 4th PAL of 1935, the comments of the first opinionating officer, Regiment Commander Colonel Leon Hózman-mirza Sulkiewicz, read as follows:

         Wacław did not care much for material things: in 1939 he won a lottery jackpot ... and bought a new pair of skis, leaving the rest of the money in his desk. He was so absorbed by sports and the officer's club where he played bridge that he never found the time to deposit the winnings into a bank or to invest it. Unfortunately, during the war, the money almost entirely lost its value due to German destructive monetary policies toward Polish currency between 1939-1945. Waclaw was also a keen hunter and won several fox hunt competitions on Anita, and later on his favourite white horse, named Blackie. At left, an article from the local newspaper about Saint Hubertus Hunt, in which Chojna was the runner-up.

Wacław Chojna's hunting club ID card

Glider pilot licence

         In November 1934 Lt. Wacław Chojna married Maria Dzikiewicz, having obtained an official consent from Col. K. Hauke- Bosak, who - as was customary at the time - met ahead of time with the future bride and her parents.

Wedding photo from November 27th, 1934

Lt. Wacław Chojna with wife Maria in Solanki, 1936


Invitation to a ball of the 59 regiment, IV PAL, in March of 1935 for Maria's parents

         In December 1936, they had a daughter, Krystyna, and their second daughter, Anna, was born in January 1938.

Wedding announcement in a local newspaper, Dziennik Kujawski, stating that the 4 PAL entire officer corps was present at the wedding of Maria and Wacław

Krystyna and Anna, summer of 1939

Wacław Chojna with father-in-law, Andrzej Dzikiewicz,
at Morskie Oko, in Tatra mountains 1936

         Chojna occasionally travelled together with his father-in-law, Andrzej Dzikiewicz, an accomplished painter and sculptor based in Inowrocław. Andrzej Dzikiewicz, like most patriotic Poles, took part in the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1919-1921, along with his younger brother Michał. He then moved to Inowroclaw, a salt baths spa town in Western Poland in response to the appeal of Polish authorities to re-establish Polish secondary education in liberated Western Poland, where he took the post of a history and art teacher at the elite Jan Kasprowicz secondary school for boys following the resignation of a known artist Antoni Serbeński. Dzikiewicz was also involved in the scout movement. His son Tadeusz, who attended that school was also a scout.

Andrzej Dzikiewicz with scouts and his dog
in Spała, Central Poland, in 1935,

         The Polish Scout movement began in 1910. All of the scouts units merged into ZHP (Polish Scouts Association) in 1918 when Poland regained independence after 120 years of partition between Russia, Prussia and Austria. ZHP was one of the founding members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Aside for universal Scout ethos Polish scouts were very patriotic and their young members engaged in all of the military campaigns to defend Poland's new borders to include: Western Poland insurrection (1918-1919), Polish-Bolshevik War (1918-21), Silesian Uprisings (1919-21), and Polish-Ukrainian War (1918-1919). Before 1939 the ZHP was one of the largest social and educational associations in Poland with over 200,000 members, mostly from well educated and patriotic families. They were patronized by all Polish presidents.


Some works of art by Andrzej Dzikiewicz

Model of Solanki spa exhibited in the pavilion of Polish
health resorts at the General Nat'l Exhibit (PWK), 1929

In pilot seat during aeromodelling,
competition, Warsaw, 1926

Invasion of Poland in September 1939

         During the twenty years between the two wars, many impressive strides were made to consolidate all Polish territories into one state after 120 years of occupation by three countries and the destruction caused by WWI. Efforts were made to modernize and rebuild the Polish military. However, Poland did not have enough time and financial means to adequately modernize its military defence industry complex prior to 1939. While Poland spent $500 million on armaments during this time, Germany spent $400 billion.

         The so-called "Enigma" device used by the German military command to encode strategic messages from early 1920's and during World War II. Nazi Germany introduced a series of improvements to the Enigma over the years what hampered decryption efforts for the Allies. Eventually three Polish mathematicians (Rejewski, Różycki, Zygalski) hired by Polish Cypher Bureau cracked the machine as early as December 1932 and managed to read German messages prior to and into the war. With the growing likelihood of a German invasion and lack of adequate funding, the Poles turned their information over to French and the British in the summer of 1939. Poland's sharing of her achievements with France and Britain enabled the Allies to exploit Enigma-enciphered messages as a major source of intelligence. The latter set up a secret code-breaking group known as Ultra at Bletchley Park under mathematician Alan M. Turing in 1941.

         Thanks to the efforts of the Polish Cypher Bureau, the Polish military knew 95% of the Germans' order of battle before the invasion of Poland on the September 1, 1939. A military mobilization plan was ready to be implemented as early as April 1939. However France and Britain continuously pressured the Polish government not to "provoke" Hitler in any way. Even two days before the outbreak of the war, on August 29, under their pressure, military mobilization was officially put on hold. When the general mobilization started a day later, on August 30 it was plagued by confusion. Poland relied on its military alliance with the United Kingdom and France from March 31, 1939, which called for immediate air assistance in the event of aggression against Poland, including a land attack from the western borders of Germany, within 15 days.

         The Allies declared war on Germany on September 3, but did not take any military action, allowing Hitler to concentrate all of Germany's forces on Poland (aside from the Saar Offensive). Poland fought alone for 35 days, against the Germans (and the Slovak 1st Infantry Division). By mid-September, after the defeat at the Battle of Bzura (a river in central Poland), the Germans had an undisputed advantage and the Polish armies withdrew to the southeast (around the city of Lvov), where they prepared for a long defense of the Romanian Bridgehead, awaiting Allied aid.

         The unexpected attack by the Soviets from the East on September 17 on Lvov (following a secret pact between Hitler and Stalin signed on August 28) threw all of Poland's defence plans into total disarray. Poland did not want to start a military conflict with the Soviet Union. The Commander-in-Chief's ambiguous directive: "Do not fight the Soviets, only in the event of an attack on their part or an attempt to disarm our troops" caused confusion. In the end Soviets detained over 300 thousand Polish POW's and after the fall of Poland up to a million civilians were deported to Siberia and other parts of the Soviet Union.

         In addition, some of the ethnic minorities living in Poland turned against the Polish army and civilians, siding with either the Germans or the Soviets. Despite very brave and often desperate attempts, Polish troops were overwhelmed by enemy forces, which seized the entirety of Poland by October 6. Remnants of Polish units managed to escape via Romania and Hungary to France, and formed an 85,000-person army (including army, air force, and navy personnel), which first defended Norway and France in 1940. Later they fought in North Africa (Tobruk in Libya in 941, Tunisia in 1943) and the Battle of Britain. The displaced but newly formed Polish units also fought as part of RAF operations, including the Battle of the Atlantic 1941-45 (Polish military and merchant navy), Normandy 1944 (air force, navy), the Italian Campaign, Operation Market Garden/ liberation of the Netherlands, and the invasion of West Germany in 1945. The above mentioned troops, known as Polish Armed Forces in the West, eventually numbered around 250 thousand. They were comprised of refugees, evacuees, escapees from POW/intern camps in Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Switzerland, Soviet concentration camps, gulags and labor camps (who under a British-Soviet agreement were freed from Russia and arrived via Iran and Palestine).

         Other Poles participated in resistance movements in several occupied countries; in France alone, tens of thousands were members of La Résistance and Front National. In addition, another Polish army equipped by the Soviets in 1944, numbered over 70 thousand Poles. They fought the Germans along the Soviet army all the way to Berlin in 1945.


         During the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 Lt. Wacław Chojna commanded the 2nd battery, and served as deputy commander and acting commander of the 1st Squadron 4.PAL (4th Cuiavia Light Artillery Regiment - 4 Kujawski Pułk Artylerii Lekkiej) 4th Infantry Division of the Pomeranian Army (4 Dywizji Piechoty Armii Pomorze) led by Gen.Władysław Bortnowski. With his unit Chojna took part in the decisive Battle of Bzura, and engagements at Jabłonowo, Zakrzew, Główna and Kiernozia. After his squadron was dispersed, he organized a battery unit from the remaining soldiers and continued his march to the east towards Sochaczew and Warsaw, withstanding a series of intense bombings by the Germans.

Lt. Wacław Chojna, 1939

Message from the morning of September 1 delivered to his wife:
"Dearest ... It is war. I have been assigned as battery commander... "

         His account of the September 1939 campaign is kept at the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum in London. Below is an excerpt from his account describing the last days of the course of combat 1st Squadron 4 PAL: "at the town of Kiernozia from 5 a.m. continuous bombardment. The entire squadron was crushed ... I collected the remains of the whole squadron (except for 1 Battalion, which marched alone) and decided to create one artillery unit."

         Then, after enduring another entire day of heavy bombing from the enemy, he marched with the artillery unit towards the town of Sochaczew (70 km west of Warsaw), but came across a German armored division, which made it impossible for them to break into the Kampinos Forest. Subsequently Chojna was taken prisoner three times: first on September 17 at 3 p.m -- he then escaped the next morning at 10 a.m. under heavy machine gun fire [C.K.M.]. That evening he ran into a colleague, Capt. Wojtasiak from a platoon in Toruń, with whom he decided to organize a detachment to break through to Warsaw because he knew "that Warsaw was still fighting, from a radio transmitter I left behind in the forest." From the town of Iłłów Chojna "tried to reach Warsaw over a period of three days, while advancing only at night," but was taken as POW only 40 km from Warsaw at dawn on September 21.

         Years later he recalled that he and his friend hid in a barn, but a local farmer woman reported them to the Germans. On September 22, Germans transported him to Gąbin and later Kutno. After the war he recounted that the Germans beat prisoners, including his colleague, who was beaten many times, while Chojna somehow managed to avoid any hits. Chojna was loaded onto a train with Polish enlisted personnel. He pretended to be a non-commissioned officer - by then he did not have his identity documents, which he previously handed over along with a report for Warsaw, to an enlisted soldier. This soldier was later killed on the outskirts of Warsaw in Bielany on September 22 and, based on the documents that had been handed to him by Chojna, was buried as Lt. Wacław Chojna at the Powązki Military Cemetary.

         Chojna then escaped from a train on September 25 under heavy gunfire as he fled across a field running in a zigzag motion, miraculously avoiding a hail of bullets. Then he was sent to a temporary detention POW camp, inside a senior home in Kutno, where he feigned to have contracted dysentery and typhus. He recounted that he befriended a German doctor to whom he showed a photo of his two little daughters, who happened to be the same age as the daughters of the doctor. The latter, aware of Chojna's ploy, nevertheless issued him a pass as an alleged non-commissioned officer, knowing that he was planning to escape.

         Below is the Report on the September Campaign and captivity.



Account by J. Kostrzak of combat by 4 PAL during the September campaign,
in which he indicated that, "the commander of 2nd battery, Lt. Wacław Chojna, was a wonderful man."

German occupation of Poland

         In the aftermath of the fall of Poland, a Polish government-in-exile was formed in France and later moved to London. Despite an oppressive occupation of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, it exerted considerable influence in Polish territories and beyond during the entire war. The government-in-exile operated mainly through the structures of the Polish Underground State and its military arm, the Home Army (AK- Armia Krajowa). Abroad, under the authority of the government-in-exile, Polish military units that had escaped the occupation, fought as Polish Armed Forces in the West, within the realm of Allied efforts, in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

         In occupied Poland, as early as the autumn of 1939, the first underground organizations began to form. They were made up of Polish officers who escaped or avoided POW camps and Gestapo arrests. The largest of these underground organizations, subordinated to the Polish government-in-exile, was ZWZ (Związek Walki Zbrojnej- Union of Armed Struggle a.k.a Armed Combat Union), which evolved into the Home Army (AK), eventually growing to 380 thousand members by 1944. There were also other independent military organizations, such as Batalion Chłopskie (Peasants' Battalions) numbering up to 160 thousand, the right wing NSZ (National Armed Forces) totaling around 70 thousand, and the leftist GL/AL (People's Army) at close to 30 thousand (the latter fully subordinated to the competing communist government established by Stalin in 1944, which sometimes sabotaged the efforts of the Home Army and NSZ).

         As regards the Home Army, a.k.a. AK, a Polish acronym for Armia Krajowa, it received support of the vast majority of the Polish population. Serving no individual or political group, it was open to people from all social classes who held different political views, from socialists to conservatives, apart from the communists who collaborated with Stalin. Its main goals were sabotage and diversion of the German forces and transports bound for the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union, preparation for a general military uprising against the Germans in occupied Poland, as well as defence of Polish civilian population against atrocities by Germans and their Ukrainian and Lithuanian collaborators. The Home Army's intelligence work produced spectacular achievements: estimated 48% of all reports received by the British secret services from continental Europe came from Polish sources, totalling 80 thousand reports, from more than 1600- 3500 registered agents. Home Army's intelligence provided the Allies with information on German submarine operations, and most famously, the V-1 flying bomb and V-2 rocket. By discovering a V- missile production facility at Peenemunde and eventually delivering crucial V-2 parts and drawings to the UK, they prompted the British to destroy the facility on August 18, 1943, what eventually delayed the use of V missiles by the Germans during the D-Day landing. Polish intelligence monitored the French fleet at Toulon, and a Polish agent set up "Agency Africa" in North Africa, whose information was used by the Americans and British in planning Operation Torch landings in North Africa in 1942. Polish intelligence even had two agents in the upper levels of the German high command. It also provided the Allies with information on German concentration camps and on the Jewish Holocaust, which was received and ignored by the Allies. This information included the first reports by Jan Karski and later Witold Pilecki, who as an undercover agent volunteered to be imprisoned at Auschwitz, where he gathered evidence for 2.5 years while managing to survive.

         Aside from military and intelligence activities, a clandestine administrative and judicial structure of the underground state was formed as an extension of the Polish government-in-exile within all parts of occupied Poland. It was unique globally. Secret structures of state administration and underground courts were created. As the German occupiers liquidated all schools except for the primary and vocational, clandestine secondary and higher schools started to operate in private homes. Social care for families of fallen or arrested Polish fighters was developed, and The Council to Aid Jews (Żegota) was formed -- the only institution in occupied Europe established by a state government to save Jews.

         In response to Polish fierce resistance during the September 1939 invasion, and unwillingness to cooperate, the Germans' terror and destruction raged throughout Polish territories. Gradually, most trivial offenses considered detrimental to the German occupiers became punishable by death. Mass executions of the Poles were a daily scene in most cities, towns and villages. Representatives of the Polish intelligentsia were systematically identified and killed: priests, people with higher education, and students. Hundreds of thousands of Poles were sent to forced slave labor in the Third Reich or concentration camps in occupied Poland and Germany. The Jewish population was brutally exterminated during the Holocaust. Entire Polish families, including women and children, were murdered for sheltering the Jews, notwithstanding that Poland was the only country in occupied Europe where helping a Jewish person resulted in death or a concentration camp. In spite of such horrific risk, thousands of Poles secretly helped the Jews.

         Under such circumstances, the determination and mass participation of Poles in the anti-Nazi resistance movement was unprecedented. Overall, the Polish underground has often been described as the largest or one of the largest resistance organizations in World War II in Europe. Between 1939 and 1941 the Soviet NKVD and the German Gestapo held four conferences on how to destroy the Polish resistance.


         Chojna's underground activities were part of several organizations, which eventually evolved into the Home Army (ZCZ, POZ, ZWZ). After his successful escape from German detention camps at the end of September 1939 he first returned to Inowrocław, where he found employment as a manual laborer in a soda factory in nearby Mątwy. Soon he was warned that the Gestapo was interested in him. In such dire situation, in October 1939, he left for Warsaw. By the end of that month, he joined a resistance unit known as ZCZ--Union of Armed Act [Związek Czynu Zbrojnego], with which he remained affiliated until August 1940 (see Special Questionnaire page 1 at the end).

         In the spring of 1940, a new group emerged from the farmers' underground organisation "Racławice" and started operating independently under the name of POZ--the Polish Armed Organisation [Polska Organizacja Zbrojna]. Many young officers joined its ranks, devastated by the September defeat and critical of the wartime conduct of superior officers. POZ was joined by many smaller underground organisations: including part of ZCZ--the Union of Armed Act [Związek Czynu Zbrojnego], in which Chojna was active. Other organizations to join were the following: Polish Fighting Battalion [Polska Organizacja Bojowa], Military Freedom Organisation "Sign" [Wojskowa Organizacja Wolności "Znak"], part of TAP--the Secret Polish Army [Tajna Armia Polska], part of GON--the National Defence Guard [Gwardia Obrony Narodowej], part of the Military Organisation "Wolves" [Organizacja Wojskowa "Wilki"] as well as part of the "Reveille" ["Pobudka"]. The new fortified organisation adopted the name of POZ "Znak"--the Polish Armed Organisation "Sign" [Polska Organizacja Zbrojna "Znak"].

         Chojna was active in POZ from March 1940 through December 1941 (see Appendix containing the Home Army Chief Verification Committee report). Command of the First Warsaw City District of POZ was assigned to Commissioned Capt. Wacław Janaszek ( "Jaryna", "Radomski", "Bolek"). The chief-of-staff was Capt. Stanisław Steczkowski "Zagończyk". The 2nd Division - intelligence and counter-intelligence - was led by Lt. Wacław Chojna ("Świerczyński", "Świerk", "Majewski", "Młotek", "Horodyński").

         In December 1941, Chojna was appointed POZ commander of the Warsaw poviat, which covered seven towns: Radość, Pruszków, Włochy, Ożaró, Rembertów, Legionowo and Piastów. The Warsaw-City and poviat District of POZ was responsible for training sappers, drivers and gunners. Chojna formed and trained an artillery squadron in Legionowo. S. Pietras in his book "POZ" states that "Chojna having taken command in the poviat faced steep challenges of putting the necessary structures in place, due not only to staff shortages, but also to certain disruptions in communications in the organisation, caused by earlier arrests. He nevertheless successfully completed the tasks entrusted to him."

         Chojna's involvement in POZ was recognised with a Gold Cross of Merit with Swords [Złoty Krzyż z Mieczami]. In his proposal for the award signed on May 5, 1944, Maj. Wacław Janaszek aka "Bolek" wrote the following:
         "Świerczyński" aka "Majewski", "Świerk" (currently "Horodyński") Artillery Captain (full-time active duty), 1942, before the war battery commander 4.PAL, during the war battery commander and acting squadron commander 4.PAL, currently Kedyw 81 - head of Unit I. Following the 1939 campaign, escaped near Kutno from a transport train headed for an Oflag [POW camp]. Jan. 1940 - ZCZ Warsaw, Mar. 1940 - 2nd Division of POZ, Dec. 1941 - commander of Warsaw poviat within POZ, Dec. 1942 Kedyw 81 - head of Unit I. Completed two-year division commander training organised by the 34th battalion. Statement of reasons: He works under hard conditions, with meagre material resources, thanks to his energy and commitment to work, he's made a considerable contribution to the conspiracy organisation, especially as the poviat commander for Warsaw. He restructured the troops existing in individual towns by carrying out inspections to select individual assets of actual value to our work. He handed over the area under his command to PZP (Polski Związek Powstańczy, codename ZWZ, AK) once it was thoroughly organised. At the same time, he devoted any spare moment to the artillery squadron he formed in Legionowo in constant cooperation with the artillery department in the field of training and publications."

Medal proposal for Lt. Wacław Chojna written by Maj. Wacław Janaszek

         In the spring of 1940, POZ began cooperation with ZWZ - the Union of Armed Struggle a.k.a Armed Combat Union [Związek Walki Zbrojnej]. ZWZ was a predecessor of the Home Army with its legendary Commander-in-Chief, Gen. Rowecki (codename "Grot"). In the book "POZ" S., Pietras states: "POZ strike force units and diversionary "fives" [...] special subversive units were directly subordinated to the commanders of POZ districts and put at the disposal of the commanders of the ZWZ districts." Some of the POZ officers, including Wacław Chojna, were also active in ZWZ structures at the same time. Only a single account of a meeting between Lt. Chojna and Gen. Grot-Rowecki has been preserved. Even before the merger between POZ and ZWZ, Chojna was active in ZWZ structures with his superior officer Maj. Janaszek, who joined the "subversion staff" of the ZWZ Union of Retaliation [Związek Odwetu ZWZ] and was responsible for the coordination an joint tactical operations of ongoing active combat. S. Pietras in his book "POZ" writes that "POZ officers collaborated in specialist training organized by ZWZ. Wacław Chojna, as the commander of the Warsaw poviat, collaborated in the publishing and training field with the Artillery Department of the ZWZ High Command."

         Records show that as of January 1941, Chojna joined PZP Polish Union of Insurgents [Polski Związek Powstańczy], a less known codename for AK/Home Army, and a successor of ZWZ. Chojna was sworn in by Maj. Wacław Janaszek (in Chojna's postwar documentation he refers to him as head of Sapper Battalion Maj. Jaryna/Bolek; Kedyw 53). On the Verification Committee form filled out in 1946 he states: "from PZP I was delegated to partisan unit in Volhynia [Wołyń]." According to other sources, Chojna joined ZWZ in April 1941. During this time, he received and put into action paratroopers and also oversaw the procurement of weapons (see Appendix Home Army Chief Verification Committee). He also underwent a two-year division commander training with the 34th squadron.

         Shortly after the outbreak of the Soviet-German war, in the summer of 1941, ZWZ High Command [KG ZWZ- Komenda Główna ZWZ] decided to establish "Fan" ["Wachlarz"], an organization to carry out reconnaissance, intelligence, sabotage and diversion between the Eastern Front and the prewar Polish eastern borders: from the Baltic Sea, through western Bielorussia to southern Ukraine. Its commanders were Lieutenant Colonel Jan Włodarkiewicz (until 1942) and later Maj. Adam Remigiusz Grocholski. POZ units repeatedly supported the actions of "Wachlarz" sabotage units. In the Verification Commission paperwork in 1946, Chojna states: "With the PZP I was delegated to a partisan unit ["Wachlarz'] in Volhynia; Kedyw 53."

         In 1942 ZWZ/Home Army decided to incorporate "Wachlarz" into "Kedyw" - the diversion and sabotage arm of the Home Army (see below). This integration process between the two organizations lasted until March 1943. By then Chojna was already nominated head of "Kedyw's" Department I (see below). That month Chojna recruited, S. Wierzyński ("Klara"), a personnel officer from the 1st Division of "Wachlarz" as his deputy at the above mentioned Department I within "Kedyw". Furthermore, Chojna's involvement in "Wachlarz" led to his becoming chief of staff for Maj. A. Grocholski "Waligóra" at the end of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.

         On February 14, 1942 the Home Army was officially formed from ZWZ on the orders of Gen. Władysław Sikorski in London, who was also the commander-in-chief of the Polish Armed Forces in the West. In line with the directives from ZWZ High Command, the POZ officers started gradually transferring their units to the command of ZWZ (later transformed into Home Army- AK). These activities continued throughout September-November of 1942. On October 31, 1942, pursuant to the integration agreement, Wacław Chojna handed over units and equipment to the Home Army (AK) from seven posts under his command in the Warsaw poviat. On November 11, 1942, Chojna was promoted to the rank of Captain.

         In November 1942 - Kedyw - Directorate of Diversion [Kierownictwo Dywersji] was formally created within the High Command (KG) of the Home Army (AK) in Warsaw. It was formed from ZWZ Union of Retaliation - "ZWZ Związek Odwetu"] and from the above discussed "Fan" ["Wachlarz"]. Kedyw had up to 3 thousand members who were active in German-occupied Poland, Polish territories annexed to III Reich as well as in Eastern Poland. Its aim was to coordinate the Home Army's sabotage, diversion and partisan efforts. This included military operations against the German forces, passive and active subversion (destruction of German arms factories, military trains, fuel depots, bridges, railroads, roads, etc.), intelligence, counterintelligence, establishment of secret weapons and ammunition production plants, secret military schools, field hospitals, secret wards in all hospitals in Warsaw, communication network and propaganda (various underground press, publications), execution of particularly brutal Nazis and collaborators, and the liberation of Polish prisoners and hostages. Many of Kedyw's officers were SOE agents -- the so called 'silent unseen' ["cichociemni"] - special agents trained in the United Kingdom and parachuted into occupied Poland.

         The organizational structure of Kedyw High Command (KG Kedyw) was as follows:
         High Commander Gen. August Fieldorf "Nil" (Autumn 1942- February 1, 1944, who was also the deputy chief of the entire Home Army), then Lt. Col. Jan Mazurkiewcz "Radosław (February 1, 1944 -- January 19,1945).
         Deputy commanders: Col. F. Niepokólczycki "Teodor" (January-September 1943), then Lt.Col. Jan Mazurkiewicz "Radosław" (March 1943 - February 1, 1944).
         Chief of Staff: Maj. Wacław Janaszek "Bolek" / "Jaryna" (December 1942-June 1944), then Capt. Mieczysław Kurkowski "Mietek" (June-July 1944). They oversaw the following departments:
         Department I -Organizational (code name "Magistrat"/"Gromada")
         Department II - Informational (code name "Kameleon")
         Department III - Operational- (code name " Cyrkiel"/"Wilk")
         Department IV - Training (code name "Bąk"/"Zenon")
         Department V -Communications (code name " Łąka")
         Analytical Unit (code name "Apteka"/"As")
         Production Unit (code name "Teodor"/"Remiza")
         Central Field Supply Unit (code name "Stadion"/"Czata")
         Budget Unit (code name "Wąż"/"Kakao")
         Sanitary Unit (code name "Rola")
         Military Action Control Unit (code name "Cukiernia")
         Legal and Administrative Unit
         Prosecutor's Cell of the Military Special Court

         In December 1942 Capt. Waclaw Chojna was named the commander of the Department I - Organizational (code name "Magistrat"/"Gromada"). He was in charge of all organizational and personnel matters of Kedyw members, production and legalisation of false documents, production of secret compartments and transfer of classified documents. Organizational Department I consisted of three units.
         1) The Organizational and Personnel Unit was personally managed by the head of Department I, Wacław Chojna. Its work included all organizational and personnel matters of Kedyw.
         2) The Legalization Unit was headed from June 1943 by the deputy chief of the Department I, Second Lieutenant / Lt. Stanisław Wierzyński "Klara" / "Korybut"- this unit was responsible for providing all documents for the ongoing work of Kedyw.
         3) Secret Storage Unit, whose head was Sgt. Henryk Rajewski "Skała" - was responsible for making portable (e.g., within furniture) hiding places for the entire Kedyw High Command.

A note from May 26, 1943 from "Igor" (Capt T. Grzmielewski)
to "Bolek" (Maj. W. Janaszek) listing available secret storages,
which were in possesion of II Informational Department,
such as cutting boards, rolling pins, etc.

A list of purchased / received caches from May 27, 1943
such as a kitchen hammer, canvas folders, an umbrella handle.
To "Bolek" from "Kosa 30" ("Osa" - Special Combat Action Organization
incorporated into Kedyw, whose boss was Lt. M. Kudelski- "Wiktor").

Commemorative gorget from "Kedyw's" Department I staff
"As a souvenir for Dear Chief- Clerks from Magistrate" 28.IX.43 (on Waclaw's name day) given to Wacław Chojna on his nameday.

"Magistrate's" (Kedyw's I Department's) instructions
to all Kedyw's departments dated 6.X.43

         Reading from the "Magistrate" Instructions:

         To all Kedyw units:
         By order of Mr. Nil, I hereby announce the following for strict execution: On the basis of materials provided by individual units, the Magistrate keeps a register of all members of [Kedyw code name number] 90: officers and cadets, non-commissioned officers, privates and civilian women and men. Registration data in the course of work often change in relation to individual persons / death, arrest, dismissal, transfer, promotion, decoration, wounds, etc., whose records are already submitted to the Magistrate, as well as persons who have newly arrived at a given unit. In addition, new battalions are constantly being created, including either former [Kedyw code name number] 90 members, or newly admitted or assigned. The purpose of keeping records is precisely to capture all these changes and keep them constantly in the current state. For all this, [Kedyw code name number] 90 units starting from 1.X. [1943] will send in all changes pertaining to their members every month, and up to 25 for every previous month. For the previous period, changes to the records and supplements in relation to new people should be sent by 15.X. b.y./ as previous period should be understood from .IV. until 30.IX.b.r. The list of records should include: 1 / not to be completed 2 / nickname, 3 / rank, seniority, res.. , 4 / type of weapon, 5 / current function, 6 / assignment and function before 1.IX.39. , 7 / assignment and function in the campaign of 39, 8 / record of service in the underground / date of joining the P.Z.P., 9 / comments. New records should be sent on the attached forms, you can write across the sheets. The military rank in column 3 should be given in the code according to the key "a cadet, b second lieutenant, c lieutenant, d captain, e major, f lieutenant-colonel, g colonel, h general. Permanent service should be marked as I, and the reserve as II, seniority with the last digits of the year. Column.4: infantry Aa, artillery Bb, cavalry Cc, communication Dł, / radio Dr / Ca sappers, pioneers Cp, / e.g. infantry, pioneer training AaCp, / aviation L1 / flight personnel / L2 airport personnel, armor Ee, sanitary Fs, navy Commune Other services should be legibly written in pencil. Record cards should be filled out in capital letters.
         [signed] Magistrate

"Bolek" (Maj. W. Janaszek) to "Horodyński"
listing available combat battalions as of 12.IV.1943.
prepared for a report for V Communications Department ("Łąka"),
whose commander was a medical doctor Zdzisława Maternowska

         Wacław Chojna did not leave any memoirs describing any of his work at Kedyw. Very little is known about the range of duties of the Organizational and Personnel Unit within Department I, which he directly headed. His tasks probably included, inter alia, background check, investigation, and recruitment of operatives for the emerging Kedyw departments. One of the few examples of information is Chojna's statement of February 21, 1946 to the Main Verification Commission of the Home Army in London, regarding the civil case of "Zęba" / "Dora", Lt. Zub-Zdanowicz. Chojna stated that while participating in the process of liquidating "Wachlarz" in 1943 he met "Dora", "[...] after an initial interview with Lt."Dora" explaining his assignment and the position [as a security officer in Kedyw], I made an appointment with him to take over the above-mentioned function. The meeting did not occur [...]. I made an oral and written report to the head of Kedyw, Col. "Nil" [...] Despite all efforts, no contact was possible [...] only after about half a year [I] found out that "Dora" joined the NSZ [National Armed Forces] in the Lublin region [...]."

Notes to "Gromada 81" (other code name "Magistrate"- I Organization Department of Kedyw

         However, a decade after Chojna's death, Second Lt. Wierzyński "Klara", his deputy at "Kedyw", described the work of the Legalization Unit within Department I, which he headed. This description is found in a study by Stanisława Lewandowska called "With a false Ausweis." From it we learn that the Legalization Unit consisted of the following sections:
         a) Document Production
         b) Photocopy and Photography Studio
         c) Stamp and Plate Production Team
         d) Printing Team
         e) Document Issuance Team.

From "Horodyński" to all "Kedyw 90" units:
"I would like to inform you that a photographic sub-section has been launched at the Magistrate,
which is able to perform all kinds of work in the field of photography in a short time.
The material and orders should be addressed to "Korybut-Magistrat""

         The tasks of the Legalization Unit were aimed at supplying the underground with appropriate documents, which would enable unhindered movement during preparation and implementation of combat operations as well as the transfer of emissaries and couriers to Western Europe. They were also needed to obstruct identification of hiding places by Gestapo, and to allow infiltration of German administrative apparatus, in particular to secure official German document templates.

         Sets of documents were prepared that were valid not only in the General Governorate [central Poland], but also in other occupied zones: III Reich and Eastern Poland. The basic set included: identification card (Kennkarte), registration slip, work card, employment card (Ausweis), birth, baptism or wedding certificate, preferably from eastern Poland so that they could not be authenticated, food stamps (Polish and German : the average food allowance was 2,600 calories for the Germans, 700 for the Poles and only 400 for the Jews; for the Poles whose work required more physical exertion, additional rations were provided); certificates confirming vocational education, school ID cards, vouchers for industrial goods, railway tickets, rail passes, e.g. for construction workers, permits to transport goods, driving licenses, car and truck IDs and registration plates as well as other documents issued by labor offices, district offices, German city clerk offices, and Catholic and Protestant parishes. Obtaining documents for border crossing between various zones (Durchlasschein) were particularly difficult to forge, because the Germans periodically changed their layouts to impede forgery.

A note written by head of Legislation Department:
"Magistrat 90; 5/10.43 Leta p. Sud Please find attached documents of Szturman "SD", secured in action.
Please inform me if you can produce these types of documents,
if yes, I would like to order adequate stamps and 150 copies of each ID card,
I shall return the original specimen, I also request that these not be used for other purposes.
Korybut" (a.k.a. "Klara", Lt. Wierzyński)

A note addressed to head of Legislation Department
"Lela 6.x.Sła; p. Korybut 90 From the documents received I cannot make a service card, this signature is impossible to acquire.
Therefore do you desire to exchange the remaining documents- shall I proceed?
Please reply. I received the documents.
When placing an order please return this document."

To "Likier" -
in order to streamline legislative mail, please designate a separate receiving box,
to which I could send my liason offcer,
Klara from Gromada

         Only in the period between March and June 1943, 3000 false documents were issued for Poles by different sections of the Home Army. Some were made using original prints and stamps, others were prepared from scratch in secret workshops, fitted to appear as residential flats in case of a Gestapo raid. Getting original paper and stamps was very risky and complicated. A total of 5500 stamped and signed blank personal forms were stolen from the offices of city boards and German city clerk offices in Warsaw, Kraków, Radom, Lublin, Łódź and Katowice, and then placed at the disposal of the legislative units of Kedyw High Command and its district units. False documents aimed at saving Jews were organized mainly, but not only, by "Żegota" - the Council to Aid Jews, which was established within the Polish government in exile in London to save Jews. Żegota's legalization office provided approx. 50 thousand false identity documents, mainly baptism records, in which church parishes were involved. "Żegota" also collaborated on many levels with "Kedyw".

         The main contact mailbox between the Legalization Unit and Capt. Chojna was also the mailbox for the entire Department I, and was located at Wacław Chojna's residence at 7 Słupecka Street (earlier at his other address at Krajewskiego 2). The underground mail was brought by liaison officer Janina Stępniewska "Hesia." Other premises were also used depending on the tasks. Documents were transported, inter alia, inside a double bottom of baby strollers and under the lining of womens' fox fur collars, while stamps were hidden inside cakes baked in a trusted pastry shop. Briefings to submit reports and receive new tasks were held by Chojna every morning for "Klara", 2nd Lt. S. Wierzyński, head of the Legalization Unit. No further information is known about any of Chojna's residences. In turn, a short description of the apartment of his direct superior, "Bolek", Maj. Janaszek, provides some insight: "The family's small [...] flat is like a barrel of dynamite. All the furniture that was crammed in was made to order by an underground carpenter and is equipped with special hiding places. For example, a couch with a built-in storage compartment, a dressing table with a triple bottom, a chair whose legs have holes sealed with rubber. Other secret storage places are in the kitchen cupboard and bathroom cabinet. All these hiding places are filled with weapons, grenades, clandestine press, codes, secret messages, charts and maps."

         Per 2nd Lt. Wierzyński's memoirs, Capt. Chojna was also in charge of preparing operating cost estimates and expenditures of all three units within Department I. These he submitted to the Budget Unit ("Kakao") to be approved by "Bolek" (Maj. Janaszek).

Expenditure report of I Department of Kedyw
prepared by Capt. Chojna ("Horodyński") on 27 X 1943.

         As head of the Organizational Department Capt. Chojna was responsible for the Kedyw High Command archives. He regularly received classified documentation from Kedyw's Chief of Staff - Maj. W. Janaszek ("Bolek") or directly from other Kedyw units (see the following examples of instructions to Horodyński from Broda 53 and Sztuka 90). The archives contained original documents such as orders, instructions, reports, lists, plans, records, organizational charts, and their duplicates or copies. Chojna sorted them, securing them in envelopes of various sizes, which he coded with appropriate letters and numbers. Then he had them secretly transferred to a hiding place in Albina Turczynowa's flat in Miłosna, near Warsaw, either by the head of Secret Storage Unit, Sgt. Henryk Rajewski ("Skała") or by his liaison officer, Janina Stępniewska ("Hesia"). She was Chojna's courier from the time she joined POZ in November of 1939, through her time at ZWZ (to which she was transferred together with Chojna in April of 1941) until the end of the Warsaw Uprising. After its fall she escaped from a transport in the city of Częstochowa in southern Poland, reached Poronin in the mountains, where she remained at the Polish Red Cross [PCK] hospital until August of 1945; during the Warsaw Uprising she was promoted to second lieutenant and awarded the Cross of Virtuti Militari 5th class, the highest Polish military order, as well as Silver Cross of Merit with Swords, and the Cross of Valour.

"Bolek" (Maj. W. Janaszek) to "Horodyński
"to be archived -the case is no longer valid" -
-(application to "Nil" (Gen. A. Fieldorf for Cross of Valour, following a subversive action in Krakow,
signed by "Kalinowski" (Maj. W. Kiwerski,
Commander of Broda 53, Kedyw's combat battalion)

A report of a completed action,
annotated "with request to be stored in the archives"
to "Horodyński" from "Kalinowski"
(Maj. W. Kiwerski, commander of Broda 53,
Kedyw's combat battalion)

"To "Horodyński"-
I attach a file of copies to be archived" dated 9.10.43.
from "Sztuka 90" - Kedyw combat battalion
(other codenames: "Motor 30", "Deska 81", "Broda 53")

To "Młotek" (another code name of Chojna) from "Motor 30" -
"I am sending with a request for safekeeping" 10.6.43

Wacław Chojna's Kenkarte issued on 21.VI.1943, address ul. Krajewskiego 2a, Warsaw

Wacław Chojna's ID card with a false date and place of birth

Chojna's Ausweis from a sugar plant in Mątwy outside of Inowroclaw

Chojna's Ausweiskarte

         Throughout the German occupation, Chojna remained mostly in and around Warsaw. He made several daring escapes from the Germans during street roundups of civilians, who were then searched and randomly taken to Pawiak prison and then executed or sent to various concentration camps such as Auschwitz, Dachau, Mathausen-Gusen, Ravensbruck, etc. For instance, on one occasion after his arrest in a round-up, he jumped from a speeding and well-guarded truck transporting the arrestees (at the corner of Dluga street) and in spite of heavy gun fire managed to escape. During another roundup in a restaurant he successfully bribed a German soldier, who let him hide in the restroom, from which he escaped through a window.

         He also made several trips into the Warsaw Ghetto to organise arms supplies. His daughter Krystyna recounted that one of the most painful sights for him was to see children starving to death in the streets right across from restaurants that entertained other inhabitants of the Ghetto. During the occupation, Capt. Chojna was a target for the Gestapo and that is why he regularly changed addresses in and around Warsaw.

         Private documents from the German occupation period can be found in the WBH collection Military History Research Office IX.3.21.18 (formerly WBBH III/21/15, pp. 32-36).

Warsaw Uprising

         The Warsaw Uprising was a heroic 63-day struggle to liberate Warsaw from German occupation, taking place between August 1 and October 3, 1944. At that time Allied troops were breaking through the Normandy defences and the Red Army was standing at the line of the Vistula River near Warsaw. Warsaw could have been the first European capital to be liberated; however, various military and political miscalculations, as well as global politics turned the dice against it. During the Allied conference in Tehran in December 1943, a secret agreement was concluded between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill, under which the post-war division of Europe was agreed, placing Poland within the sphere of influence of Soviet Russia. The Allies did not inform the Polish government-in-exile in London about this fact, even though Polish troops continued fighting the Germans alongside the Allies until the end of the war. When the Red Army followed the retreating Germans into Poland, Stalin appointed his own, puppet "Polish" government comprised almost entirely of ethnic minorities in July of 1944 and began destruction of the Home Army, which remained loyal to the Polish government-in-exile in London. As Soviets began liberating Polish territories, the Red Army and in particular the Soviet NKVD security forces committed many acts of violence against Home Army units, forcefully disarming, executing or sending their members to harsh labor camps in Russia, where tens of thousands perished. At the end of July 1944 German authorities issued an order to the population of Warsaw that one hundred thousand men should show up with shovels to dig trenches against tanks and build defensive fortifications against the approaching Soviets, while the Soviet radio station called everyone to join the uprising in Warsaw against the Germans.

         In light of these developments and with Soviet troops on the doorsteps of Warsaw the Home Army hastily decided to begin the Uprising against the Germans. The objective was twofold: to tie up the German forces as a means of helping the Russian troops and to establish Polish administration in the city ahead of the entry of the Soviets. Just like the Polish government-in exile, the Home Army command was not aware that the future fate of Poland was sealed during the Tehran Conference. They did not perceive that after liberation from the Nazi occupation, Poland would fall into the hands of the Soviet Union and that Stalin would never permit the Home Army to establish a democratic administration in Warsaw. The Home Army had planned to deploy 50 thousand soldiers, including 4 thousand female recruits. Its "Kedyw" units numbered 2300 soldiers. However only a very small percentage of soldiers were fully armed, as access to additional arms was blocked for a variety of reasons. The other insurgents had to count on weapons captured from the Germans or their fallen colleagues. The insurgents were facing a 55 thousand strong German garrison, armed with tanks, planes, and artillery. They nevertheless fought for 63 days.

         The Warsaw Uprising was the only military operation in Europe during which it was not the Wermaht's army, but almost entirely the SS that carried out Germany's offensive operations. Himmler dispatched the most brutal murderers he could find in the SS, including Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, the senior SS and police commander, who in turn brought in his former accomplices, including the psychopathic murderer Oskar Dirlewanger and the Russian traitor Bronisław Kamiński. German criminals and ethnic minorities, mainly Ukrainians, Russians, Belarusians, and Caucasians were also recruited, which led to unimaginable atrocities, especially against women and children. It was common practice to throw grenades into cellars wherever they heard children crying. Per well known Polish writer, Marek Hłasko, "... [...] six Ukrainians raped one girl from [his] residential building and then took her eyes out with a teaspoon; and they laughed and joked at the same time... ." During only three days between August 5-7, 30 to 60 thousand residents of the district of Wola alone were murdered (estimates vary), thousands more were murdered in the Ochota and Old Town districts. Mass executions were carried out on Hitler's orders so as to "cleanse Warsaw of the civilian population." In hospitals wounded insurgents, civilians, doctors and nurses were murdered, in several they were burned alive. At the same time, on the orders of Gen. Bor-Komorowski, the Polish Commander-in-Chief of the Uprising, Polish hospital staff treated for wounds German POW's, including the SS troops, despite grave shortages of medicines and dressings in order to respect international law. A post war recount by Mathias Schenk, a German sapper who fought the Poles during the Uprising, gives us some insight: "A nurse appeared in the doorway with a small white flag. We went inside with our bayonets set. Huge hall with beds and mattresses on the floor. Wounded everywhere. Apart from Poles, badly wounded Germans lay there. They asked not to kill Poles [...]. But the Dirlewanger people were already behind us [...]. The SS men shot all the wounded. They blew their heads with butts. The wounded German patients screamed and cried. Then the Dirlewanger people attacked the nurses [...]."

         The Soviets, who before the Uprising created an impression of wanting to aid the Poles in liberating Warsaw, halted their offensive against the Germans near Warsaw, soon after the Uprising began, thus allowing the Nazis to wipe out the Home Army. The Soviets refused to provide any meaningful military assistance (except for sending unprepared 2.5 thousand Polish soldiers under Gen. Berling to their deaths). For almost the entire duration of the Uprising, German bombers operated over Warsaw with impunity, while the Soviet fighter planes stationed on the right bank of the Vistula, not far from the Polish capital, were completely passive. The Soviets also denied the Allied forces to refuel on Soviet territory, thus preventing large scale airdrops for the Home Army. During the Uprising, over 15 thousand insurgents died, and another 15 thousand were taken to POW camps. Between 160 and 180 thousand civilians were killed. After the fall of the Uprising, the Germans expelled the remaining 450 thousand civilians from the city; around 150 thousand were deported either to concentration camps such as Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Ravensbrück, Buchenwald, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Gross-Rosen, Flossenbürg, Hinzert, Neuengamme, Natzweiler, Stutthof, where a large number died, or as forced slave labor in Germany. Hitler ordered the city to be plundered systematically; some 45 thousand loot wagons were sent from Warsaw to Germany between August 1944 and January 1945. On Hitler's orders, Warsaw was to be razed to the ground - turned into a "potato field," as he put it. For many months after the fall of the city, the Germans continued to burn buildings, destroying 90% of churches and historic buildings, including archives, turning Warsaw into a field of rubble; see: https://kafkadesk.org/2021/10/02/on-this-day-in-1944-the-last-fighters-of-the-warsaw-uprising/

Warsaw before World War II

Warsaw after World War II


         Below is a recollection of the final moments before the Uprising described by Lt. Wierzyński "Klara", Chojna's deputy from Kedyw:

         "I watched on the road leading from Białystok and Wyszków [towns north east of Warsaw], scenes of panic escape so well known to me from the Polish September[1939], but this time performed by German soldiers and civilians. This indicated that the Soviet army was very close. Their radio station called everyone to fight the Germans, to immediately step forward with weapons in hand, to join the uprising. And meanwhile, the German authorities issued an order to the population of Warsaw that one hundred thousand men should show up with shovels to dig trenches against tanks and build defensive fortifications [against the approaching Soviets]. Everyone was fed up with the oppression of the occupation, and freedom was at the threshold of Warsaw. There were those who heard the sounds of the battle of tanks in its foreground, from Targówek and Drewnica [towns on the other side of Vistula River]. As I found out after the war, Soviet tanks were already in Wołomin [20 km east of Vistula River] on July 30 and their crews were scattering leaflets announcing the capture of Warsaw. So the tank battle that was heard really took place on the outskirts of Warsaw. [...] Update about the hour "W"[beginning of Uprising at 17h] - was brought to us around 12.40 by commander of Department I of Kedyw High Command, Capt. W. Horodyński himself. He came to Hoża Street in the company of Hesia, a liaison officer. After receiving this message, we dispersed to make final preparations and gather at meeting point "K" at 16h. The emergency box for our unit was located at 64 Hoża Street, in the flat of Mr. Grabowski, and Komar [Officer Cadet Józef Kisielnicki] was on duty at all times... [...]. At the same time, I received an order to prepare ID cards for the [Radoslaw] Group soldiers as well as stamps. I consulted with Maj. Horodyński regarding their shape and content. A number of these ID cards have survived to this day."

Excerpt from "Klara's" memoirs

         When the Warsaw Uprising broke out on August 1, 1944, Kedyw units were incorporated into the "Radosław" Group. Its ranks included the battalions: "Zośka", "Parasol", "Miotła", "Czata 49", "Dysk", and "Kolegium A". The "Radosław" Group was led by Jan Mazurkiewcz "Radosław". Wacław Janaszek "Bolek" was his deputy and chief-of-staff. Wacław Chojna "Horodyński" was a communications commander. At the beginning of the Uprising, the Group had 2,300 members. By its end on October 3, 1944 only 230 survived; 90% were killed in action.

         Below are excerpts from the "Record of the course of insurgent activities by the 'Radosław' Group" ("Record"), which summarized 63 days of its combat activities. It was written by Maj. Wacław Chojna (Maj. as of October 3, 1944) and 2nd Lt. Stanisław Wierzyński (his deputy from Kedyw, 1st Lt. as of September 1944) at Murnau POW camp in Germany in 1945. From the Record we learn, inter alia, that on September Chojna became commander of the reserve battalion in the Czerniaków district, on September 23 he was named chief-of-staff for the commander of Area V of Mokotów subdistrict, Lt. Col. R. Grocholski, and on September 24 he became commander of a subsection of V Mokotów subdistrict (also see Virtuti Militari award proposal, signed by Lt. Col. Jerzy Kuszycki on 30 March 1946 in the United Kingdom at the end of this section).

         "Record of the course of insurgent activities by the 'Radosław' Group":

         The "Radosław" Group, named after the codename of its commander, consisted of A.K.[Home Army]soldiers, who in the pre-Uprising period fought with arms against Germans as part of greater sabotage efforts. All of them, be it officers or soldiers, men as well as women are underground people, well tested in tough combat with the [German] occupier since the beginning of the open subversive action led by Kedyw High Command(KG), and earlier as part of smaller sabotage efforts conducted by Retaliatory Groups (Z.O.Zespoły Odwetowe)[...]

         August 1 - At 12 p.m. strategic team briefing, participants: Lt.Col. Radosław, Maj. Bolek, Maj. Skiba, Capt. Horodyński[Wacław Chojna], Capt. Jan- "Broda" battalion commander, Capt. Bryl (aka Pług,Pal)- "Parasol" battalion commander, Capt. Niebora -"Miotła" battalion commander, 2nd Lt. Tatar - Security Unit commander, Capt. Sawa (aka Mietek)- Reserve Unit commander, Lt. Szczęsny- the Group's Quartermaster. The briefing took place in Dr. Skiba's flat at 42 or 46 Krucza Street. The starting times of K-hour and W-hour (commencement of the Uprising) were given at the briefing. Following clarification of some uncertainties the briefing was ended at 12.25 PM. Then all returned to their battalions in order to give final orders [...]
         At 4 p.m. at the high command base of the "Radosław" Group at 41 Okopowa Street, intersection with Mireckiego Street (the house was checked out and reconned by Capt. Horodyński), attending officers are: Lt.Col. Radosław, Maj. Bolek-deputy commander and Chief of Staff, Maj. "Igor" - sapper unit commander, Capt. Horodyński - communications commander, 2nd Lt. Tatar- security unit commnder, 2nd Lt. Rembisz - head of "Remiza", underground procurement production plant[...]
         At 4.40 p.m. Lt.Col. Radosław, 2nd Lt. Zaremba, Capt. Horodyński, Res. Sgt. Skała, Oct. Komar, and private Sten [....] capture a munitions bus at Okopowa Street 41, thus starting the uprising before the "W" hour [5 p.m.][...]
         At 9 p.m. [...] Capt. Horodyński is the first to establish communications with the High Command at OKO in Zieleniewski's factory at Dzielna Street, [with general Bór-Komorowski,High Commander of the Home Army (AK), who gave orders to start the Uprising][...]

Capture of a tank, August 2

Marching insurgents

A unit of insurgents

         August 2 - [...] About 9/10 a.m. there are signals of 3 Panther-type tanks in the area of Karolkowa Street up to Mireckiego Street. The anti-tank troops take up positions on the higher floors of the building at 41 Okopowa Street. The approaching tanks are showered with several Phillippines [homemade hand grenades] and bottles filled with gasoline, and then, after a Gammon bomb is thrown, the first tank bursts into flames, both tanks turn into Okopowa Street, where the crew leaves the burning tank, gets into the other vehicle, and then turns back towards Kercelego Plaza. At the Okopowa-Mireckiego streets barricade, the tank is hit with another round and moves ahead in clouds of smoke to the garden adjacent to 41 Okopowa Street where it stops. The crew surrender. The other tank near the Pfeiffer factory, partly damaged and abandoned by the crew, is taken over by [battalion] Broda. At the same time, [battalion] Parasol captures a munitions vehicle, carrying>rb 206 Panther shells. Lt. Wacek from Broda's Tank Platoon scrambles to repair the two damaged tanks and puts together crews on the spot. By enlisting a driver from the tank crew and a civilian fitter, they succeed in doing so on August 3rd."

Wacław Chojna during the Uprising

Standing from left to right: Lt.Col. Jan Mazurkiewicz "Radosław", Maj. Wacław Chojna "Horodyński", Lt. Stanisław Wierzyński "Klara"

         August 3[5]- Losses increase to about 150 by this day. The wounded lie in the Karol and Maria field hospital. Due to the uncertain route to the Old Town via Stawki Street, Lt.Col. Radosław decides to seize the second part of Gęsiówka [a prison in one section and a concentration camp in another for Jews, Poles and German criminals] in order to take over the area of the Ghetto, which separates the Wola district from the Old Town. In the morning, Gęsiówka is captured after one shot from our tank. The SS crew of 90 people escaped to the ruins of the Ghetto. Our patrols entered the second part of the camp, freeing 383 Jewish prisoners, mostly from southern Europe: Hungarians, Greeks, Romanians, Spaniards, etc. The nearby Pawiak [the most cruel Gestapo interrogation prison for underground suspects] is patrolled by our units, but not captured [...] automatic telephones powered by batteries were captured at Gesiówka [Prison]. [...]

Some of the 383 liberated Jewish prisoners

         As a communications backup for the Reserve Unit and Parasol battalion at the Evangelical Cemetery, a communication code using signaling discs was created by Capt. Horodyński. It gave the opportunity to communicate after a 5-minute training of the service personnel, comprised of female liaison officers: - enemy advances,... from the intersection of streets, - Karolkowa-Żytnia, - enemy tank shoots, - at the Evangelical cemetery, etc. Altogether there were: 5 dots, 5 lines and a combination of both. Call sign: circling with two discs, the rest according to the communication protocol. The report thus transmitted lasted from 1 to 2 minutes (15-20 words)[...]

Girl Scouts as couriers

Youngest couriers

Children helping out

Insurgent nurses

         August 6 - From the morning alarming reports of approaching enemy tanks trying to come close to Leszno Street and Kercelego Plaza. Permanent anti-tank alert. All attempts to breach the barricades were thwarted. Several tanks were immobilized, but it was impossible to capture them, because the Germans tow them with the help of other tanks, protecting themselves with the [Polish] civilians driven out of their homes [as human shields]. Communication with Downtown broken. However, some telephones are working after capturing the switchboard at Tłumackie Street. On that day, the commander of the Parasol battalion, Capt. Bryl is injured for the second time, this time severely. The Germans are putting more and more pressure on the Calvinist cemetery, and finally they take over its western part. Lt. Col. Radosław orders the evacuation of the Karol and Maria Hospital. In the afternoon of that day, the Germans seize this hospital. Some of the sick and injured remainrbed under the care of sanitary personnel. Later we heard tragic news about murdering and burning of some of the wounded. The fires are moving further east. German planes very active [...].

Civilians escaping the Wola district

Execution of civilians in the Wola district (30/60,000)

         August 8 - Lt. Col. Radosław proceeds to a briefing with Gen. Bor{Komorowski]. In the morning hours at that school [Saint Kinga], known as the "Stronghold", at Okopowa Str., Lt. Col. Radosław, in a close circle of "Radoslaw" Group's high command officers and battalion commanders, relays Gen. Bor's [Komorowski] order to stay in the district of Wola as long as possible, because adequate time is needed to solidify the organization of the Uprising, while creating great political advantages by our steadfast struggle. All officers present at the briefing give Radosław their word of honor that they will comply with the orders given by General Bor until their last breath.

         August 10 - After a barrage, which started in the early morning, massive attacks by the enemy clearly intending to cut us off from the Old Town. Radoslaw orders an emergency evacuation. In order to cover the retreat, he orders to recapture Stawki Street, seized by Germans at night. Capt. Niebora, the commander of Miotła battalion and the brother of Radoslaw, is killed in this action and Lt.Col. Radoslaw is wounded twice. There are big losses among commanders and privates. Our tank supports soldiers trying to capture Stawki Street (the other tank damaged in action, was blown up by us when retreating to Gęsiówka prison). However, due to heavy fire from an armored train operating from the vicinity of the Gdańsk railway station [sic], the tank retreats to Okopowa Street, where after the ammunition was fired and the batteries were exhausted, it was destroyed with explosives as unusable by the service personnel. The destruction of this tank during the withdrawal was made by a Hungarian Jewish volunteer, Engineer Pal (Paweł), for which he was awarded Cross of Valour. The situation in which he accomplished this was very dangerous under the enemy's direct heavy machine gun fire. By doing this, Pal, a Hungarian Jew, did not leave the enemy a functioning piece of equipment [...]

Church service for Insurgents

Civilians joining the Uprising

         August 15 - [...] The faces of all those present at the church service show focus, solemnity and faith in the righteousness of the fight. There is no breakdown among soldiers or civilians. Everyone believes in victory, although the situation does not indicate it. As a result of the increasing activity of the German air force, uncertainty about all houses at Mławska Steet is increasing, and the mere thought that there are about 2,000 civilians in the shelters of only one residential building at no. 5 - makes one's blood freeze. The first "performance" of mine launchers called the "cabinets" (called "cows" in other parts of the city)begins, i.e. mine launchers working on the principle of recoil. On this day a series of "cabinets' hit our building, and another one hits the neighboring building. Impressions of the use of this type of weapon is as follows: you hear 6 or 8 rattles, resembling the creaking of a sliding cabinet or the roar of a cow, then after 7-10 seconds, 6 or 8 blasting or incendiary bullets are loaded on your or your neighbor's head. There are also unexploded bombs that supply us with explosive material for grenades and mining works. The effects of the incendiary missile are terrible, as when it explodes, it ejects masses of burning liquid that is difficult to extinguish. There are cases of entire body burns, especially among civilians, hiding in flats.[...]. At night, these missiles fly in bursts, dragging the tail of the comet's flames with them.

Victim of incendiary weapons

Incendiary weapons causing fires

         August 16 - [...] Enemy's air force is bombing intensely the PWPW [Polish securities production plant, which resisted German attacks for 27 days]. Various caliber bombs fall, of which the most powerful weigh 1/2 ton, which penetrate thick, iron-concrete ceilings and destroy the extremely strong structures of buildings. The bombing is carried out by the Germans only with the use of dive planes, the so-called "Stukas", which drop their loads of 2-12 bombs from a height even as low as several dozen meters, which makes their strikes extremely accurate. We do not have any active anti-aircraft defense, we have no choice but to hide in Warsaw basements, or shelters of rather dubious value[...].

         August 17 - [...] From early morning until the evening entire section [north of Old Town] is under fire from artillery firing from the Citadel [north of old Town] area, from armored trains in the Bem Fort [far north west Warsaw] and from the Gdansk railway station [north east Warsaw]. Fire ceases only when the trains drive to replenish ammunition at the Bem Fort. Those breaks however are completely filled with fire generated by mine launchers - "cabinets", grenade launchers and frequent air force bombardments. Artillery fire is also supported by tanks. The Old Town is being attacked from all sides with the aid of direct fire from tanks. Fortunately, the insurgents endure and stand firm in their positions. Movement between individual resistance points, barricades, commands, etc. can only be maintained through the basement communication routes. This sort of communicating is extremely difficult, because the basements are filled with hungry, scared and thirsty civilians.

Nebelwerfer "cabinet"/"cow" mortars over Warsaw

Victim of a "cabinet"/"cow" mortar

         August 19 - From dawn to night, air force, "cabinets", goliaths [tracked, unmanned single use- vehicles self-destroyed when they detonate their powerful explosives] and tank-assisted attacks, the Germans put their heaviest railroad artillery into action against us, so far used only during the siege of Sevastopol[Soviet Union]. The caliber of the missile is 67-69 cm, the height is approximately 1.6 m, and the weight of the explosive is approximately 400 kg. There are two cannons in action, they are firing somewhere from the Bem Fort area. The interval between one shot and the other is 7-8 minutes. The destructive power of such a missile is enormous. The high command base of the second battalion "Igor" is completely destroyed with one of these missiles.[...] PWPW is attacked directly by tanks that parade with impunity in front of the building itself, supporting the attack of the Ukrainians [sic]. These charges are repelled by the PWPW crew. [...]

German bomber

Destroyed German tank with a Polish insurgent

         August 21 - [...] The enemy carries out a series of attacks on PWPW from the side of the Vistula River, breaking into the residence of PWPW officials. Ukrainian attacks from the side of Rybaki Street led to the loss of several houses on Zakątna Street. Artillery fire and aerial bombardment continue with small pauses to allow infantry charges. Carrying out any action in such a small area is extremely difficult because of the civilians' behaviour, who constantly move from building to building, basement to basement, and despite warnings burn fires during the day. German airmen carrying out bombing from a height of several dozen meters look out for smoke to bombard such houses. Fires are raging. You only walk over debris, streets cannot be identified, because they look like volcanic craters, filled with house rubble.

Old Town in ruins

Germans burning down a church

         August 22 - From dawn, you can hear a huge cannonade on the front of the Vistula River [Soviets]. That raises the fighters' spirit. In the morning, hopes fade away due to the silence of artillery fire. The soldier thinks of the Bolsheviks [Soviets] as a hated, but forcibly imposed saviour. Around 10 a.m. railroad mortar shell hits the current "Radoslaw" Group's high command base. Injured: Maj. Bolek [Janaszek], Capt. Sawa-Mietek has a torn off foot, four female liaison officers seriously wounded, Capt. Horodyński mildly injured [...].

         August 23 - The enemy troops carry out a series of attacks on the PWPW; using effective bombardment tactics from dive planes before each attack. The reinforced concrete skeleton of PWPW cannot withstand half-ton bombs and instead of protecting, it crushes its heroic defenders. The air raids are repeated every half an hour, moving successively to individual targets on the defense line of the Old Town, preparing the area for the enemy infantry attack, which, under the cover of tanks, advances to the very first defense lines. Hand-to-hand combat is taking place within the PWPW remaining buildings, there are constant attacks on the Jan Boży hospital, "Winiarnia" [winery] at Sapieżyńska Street and Polish Fiat buildings. The enemy advances from the side of Traugutt Park through the ruins of houses at Konwiktorska Street. Positions upheld.

         August 24 - The Stukas [dive bombers] are raging. In the morning, injured Radosław on a stretcher from a hospital takes charge of the combat subsection and the "Radoslaw" Group. Fierce fights inside the PWPW building. John of God hospital burned down. Our troops are clinging to rubble and ashes. Positions are generally held.

         August 25 - [...] Air raid every hour. Nonstop assaults from artillery fire, grenade launchers and "wardrobes". Goliaths are trying to knock out a hole in the ghetto wall at Bonifraterska Street. Tanks and infantry attack from all sides. PWPW is still holding up. In the afternoon, a heavy raid of Stukas on 3 Mławska Street and 12 Franciszkańska Street, i.e. the current hiding post for Broda and Czaty battalions. Heavy human losses. [...]. The ammunition warehouse at Franciszkańska Street blows up. A number of Czata battalion soldiers die while trying to save the burning ammunition.[ ...]. Lt. Col. Radosław with his staff along with Czata's command officers miraculously survive a collapse of an entire side of a residential building at 3 Mławska Street caused by a 1/2 ton bomb with a delayed fuse. Lt.Col. Radosław, still unable to walk due to his wounds,is carried in the hands of his soldiers to the new high command post at 7 Koźla Street.

         August 28 - The situation in the entire Old Town is tragic. The defended area is extremely narrow and cramped (green line on the map). Lack of water, hospitals overcrowded with wounded soldiers and civilians. The civilian population suffers in basements, dying from fires and bombs. Despite this defeat, their brave attitude is undeniable and simply heroic. Male civilians work to extinguish fires, transfer supplies and the wounded. Women help in hospitals and self-help committees among those staying in shelters. Every shelter has its own Anti-Aircraft Defence committee (OPL), which helps people with many aspects of their lives during the ongoing fight. OPL commanders of houses and blocks of flats generally rose to the tasks that suddenly fell on their shoulders. In this situation, the commander of the "North" Group decides to give the ruins of the Old Town back to the enemy in order to spare the civilian population further suffering.

A child with severe injuries

Dead woman and a child

         August 29 - [...]. There is no water, not even in hospitals [...]. Acute scarcity of wound dressings [...] lice among soldiers. Positions upheld despite incessant bombardments, tormenting artillery fire and fire from grenade launchers. The Old Town is completely destroyed. Entirely consumed by a sea of flames from so many fires. All churches were destroyed, except for the church opposite Mostowa Street. The evacuation of the mildly wounded and unarmed through the sewers continues to Downtown [...].

         August 30 - No major changes to the situation. Air force with precise punctuality, every 15 minutes, continues to complete the destruction of the Old Town. Bombs hit the church of St. Jack, where about 1,600 wounded people remain. In the same way residential buildings along Długa Street, with other wounded civilians, are destroyed(7,8 and 10 Długa Street).

Insurgent emerging from a manhole cought by Germans

Moving through the sewers

         September 1 - Evacuation [ of the Old Town through sewers] continues. By lucky coincidence, no bomb hits the manhole. On this day, the Old Town is one sea of flames. The civilian population, feeling that on this day the defense of the Old Town is about to end, begins to approach the manhole more and more insistently; [...] "Radoslaw" Group remains in the rear guard [of the evacuation lines] [...] We managed to evacuate our seriously wounded commanders: Maj. Bolek, Capt. Sawa, Capt. Pala (Bryla), Lt. Jeremy.

A civilian pulled out from a manhole by Insurgents

         Three of them on stretchers, carried by Jewish volunteers who stayed with us in the service support of the quartermaster unit since their release from Gęsiówka prison. The wounded remaining in the Old Town are gathered in hospitals at St. Jacka, on 7 Długa Street, in the basement of "Pod Krzywa Latarnią" restaurant, where a field hospital was organized at Podwale Street and 23 Długa Street. However, there are small hospitals in every building and basement, which shelter wounded civilians. There were about 500 wounded of the "Radosław" Group at 23 Długa Street[23 Miodowa Street]. Doctor "Przemysława" [Zofia (Maternowska], volunteered to remain with the wounded after the medical officers fled. Before the Uprising, she was the head of [5th] Communications [Unit] of Kedyw High Command. In the hospital at Długa [Miodowa] Street many wounded Germans remained. According to later reports, the hospital was bombed again (first around August 20th) and a number of the wounded got killed. The German troops did not torture the wounded, as they did, for example, at 7 Długa Street hospital, due to the fact that their own injured soldiers remained at this hospital.

downtown Warsaw

         September 3 - After [the "Radoslaw" Group] battalions enter Downtown through the sewers, they receive accommodation in the southern section, in the villas at Al. Ujazdowskie 35-39. There is a short rest and reorganization of the units. Some of the wounded are taken to hospitals, only to rejoin with us at the end of September, while those medically treated in private homes remain within their units and continue the combat. Lt. Col. Radosław is to head the newly created subsection "Near Czerniaków" ["Bliski Czerniaków" - by the Vistula River], and the units of the Group are to reinforce the local garrison [...].

downtown Warsaw

Civilians after a bombardment

         September 5 - [...] In Czerniaków the final reorganization of the command and units of "Radosław" Group takes place [...] Capt. Horodyński is named the commander of the reserve battalion [...] Status of the units: commanding officers, quartermaster unit, and secuirty unit, about 80 people in total. The battalions of "Czata" with the remains of "Miotła", about 200 people, "Broda" with "Parasol": about 200 people, Stefan's (Janusz) battalion about 150 people, reserve battalion about 200 people [...] Weapons: 80% of people have weapons, i.e. rifles and pistols, machine guns, but always grenades. Insufficient amount of ammunition, only what was saved from the Old Town. Units commanded by Capt. Kryska: about 1200 soldiers, only 30% of them are armed, small amount of ammunition [...] The period between 5th and 12th of September was relatively peaceful, allowing for the expansion of defense positions within "Near Czerniaków", to organize a grenade factory and to treat the lightly wounded who returned to their units [...] The grenade production plant is organized by its former underground production manager, Lt. Jerzy, and his associates from the underground Kedyw "Cukiernia" ["Confectionery"] Unit. About 800 grenades with a chemical and friction detonator (the so-called sidolówki) were made. This production was carried out until the end of the defense of Czerniaków. These grenades played a decisive role in defense combat, because throughout this time the sub-section of "Near Czerniaków" received nothing except for 300 pieces of ammunition from the southern Downtown command.

Advancing German tank

Insurgents moving positions

         September 13 - Turned out to be a very hard day for us. Several raids by "Stukas [dive bombers] in the morning and afternoon. Around 9.30 am the residential building, which housed the high command of the Radosław Group was hit. Two half-ton bombs collapse two opposite wings of the building and blocked exits from the shelter. For a couple of hours, the command staff is buried in debris. The civilian population helps to dig out the access to the basement. Two officers suffer a brain concussion [one of them is Capt. Horodyński], two guard soldiers die in the rubble. In the afternoon, the Germans [sic] blow up the Poniatowski bridge and the railway bridge, leave the district of Prague [across the Vistula River] and move north (towards towns of Legionowo and Zegrze). Gen. Berling's troops in Powiśle subdistrict invade the Kierbedź Bridge, where, unable to maintain their positions, are taken prisoner. The French and Chinese embassies and the Pniewski's Villa fall [to the Germans]. St. Lazarus Hospital continues to hold. Similarly, a number of residential buildings at the ZUS [Social Insurance Building], Książęca Street no 1-5, resist the enemy. Communication with Downtown via Książęca Street is cut off. Radosław orders the evacuation of the wounded and sick through the sewers to the Mokotów district. Parasol battalion is forced out of Solec Street, the post office at Ludna Street, and the gasworks area. The line of defense on the streets of Ludna-Solec from Ludna to the south, Rozbrat Str -Łazienkowska-Port Czerniakowski is upheld.

Insurgents moving positions in Czerniaków

Civilians running with water buckets

         September 14 - Some of the wounded, sick and unarmed under the command of Capt. Horodyński, Lt. Danka and Barnaba leave for Mokotów district at night. The liaison officers keep bringing further supplies of ammunition from Lt. Daniel in Mokotów district, while the Mokotów commander, Col. Karol refused in writing to provide any assistance with the ammunition. [It] is repesentative, because Mokotów had large stocks received from air drops [by the Allies]and brought over by partisan units that had broken through the Kabacki Forest. Sad fact was that when Colonel "Karol" left Mokotów, we found at his quarters stocks of weapons and amuntion so large, that even if they had shared with us only small part of the stocks and sent those to Czerniaków, we could have prolonged the defense of this district for a few more days. [...] After the bombardment of the church at Łazienkowska Street, where a large number of civilians were hiding (large losses),the enemy advances with support of tanks and Goliaths and capture the "Blaszanka" and the "Czerniaków Fortress". The German SA and Ukrainian troops are taking part in the attack. The defense line along Łazienkowska Street is completely razed to the ground by the bombs dropped by Stukas. The line of defense was shortened by Capt. Kryska from the streets of Solec, Mączna, Fabryczna along Rozbrat, Ludna, Solec, all held by the Radoslaw Grouping units. There is lack of ammunition. Very high number of killed and wounded, especially in the units of Capt. Kryska [...] The [cCommunist] PAL and AL units, operating at Łazienkowska Street, spend majority of their time on heavy drinking in the nearby buildings of the Warsaw Distillery and cannot withstand the enemy advance initiated from the Legia pitch, and soldiers from their units either desert or escape through the sewers to the Mokotów district [these leftists troops accepted subordination to the Soviet Union].

         September 23 - In the Mokotów district, the [Radoslaw] Grouping's officers who previously arrived in the area were already assigned to the Mokotów district units [Circuit V]. Capt. Horodyński became the chief of staff of Lt. Waligóra [regiment commander of area V, Czerniaków-Sadyba], and after the latter is wounded [September 24], he commands this section himself and, as one of the last defenders of Mokotów district, he is taken prisoner by the Germans on September 27 [September 28 according to the Virtuti Militari nomination document of 1946].

         September 23-26 - Units of the "Radosław" Group are taking part in the defense of the Mokotów district. "Parasol" unit under the command of Mirski and "Broda" unit under the command of Tomek take positions in school at Woronicza Street, then at Krasickiego Street, at Odyniec Street and Czeczota Street. Maj. Witold is developing a plan for the "Radosław" Group units to break through towards the town of Piaseczno [south of Warsaw] and the forests in this area. When Lt. Col. Radoslaw, asks for permission for this move in return he receives an order from Gen. Bor-Komorowski to evacuate the remnants of the Group to Downtown. We are experiencing heavy air raids in Mokotów and heavy losses. The number of people in the units of the Group does not exceed 150. The enemy is advancing concentrically towards the Mokotów district with the support of tanks. The enemy aviation takes advantage of the low altitude and inclement weather, which makes anti-aircraft defense difficult for the Soviet troops, and supports German infantry advances. The section is narrowed down to the following streets: Puławska, Różana, Kazimierzowska, Odyńca. The Mokotów units, despite excellent supply of weapons and ammunition (numerous English and Soviet airdrops), less seasoned in combat, leave their positions without notifying their neighbors, for instance, the "Parasol" Battalion [part of "Radosław" Group] was left behind at Woronicza Street.

         Several other sources refer to these events as follows: Gen. Komorowski in a message to London states that Mokotów - "on September 24, after a hurricane fire of 30 Stukas, heavy artillery and mortars, was concentrically attacked by the enemy with tanks. Fighting in progress. Especially strong in the Królikarmia [palace] section." The 1946 Waclaw Chojna's nomination for the Virtuti Militari order says the following: "Chojna personally commands section in the area of Vistula escarpment and Królikarnia [palace], by example, he motivates the soldiers towards fierce resistance, preventing the Germans from breaking into the section, which prolongs the combat operation in Mokotów from September 24 to September 28[27] 1944." In turn, a German historian, Hans von Kranhalls, reported that the Germans expected the destruction of the Mokotów district much sooner, that is by September 25, because it stood in the way of capturing entire Warsaw. Further information on the involvement of the Radosław Group units in the defense of the Mokotów district is given by Mieczyslaw Nitecki ("Orkan") "a team of soldiers from the" Miotła" battalion, which together with" Czata 49" battalion moved to Mokotów, was assigned to the "Jagoda" platoon, lodged at Odyńca Street, from where we made 3 or 4 raids to Królikarnia [palace] and to defend the Sisters of St Elizabeth Hospital, which was later bombed. After our positions were bombed by German planes and then shelled by tanks, we were forced to retreat."

Map of Mokotów district indicates the attacking German forces (arrows) and the sections, which surrendered on 26.IX.44 and on 27.IX.44.
Small circles indicate entrances to sewers.
Map from a book: Mokotów Warszawskie Termopile 1944 by Lesław Bartelski

         September 27 - At 11 PM The Radoslaw Group leaves Mokotów, entering the sewer at Szustra Street. After a tragic and extremely difficult passage, we get there around 6 am. We go out at Al. Ujazdowskie corner of Wilcza [Downtown], near the high command post of Lt. Sławbor [...]

         In the study by L.M. Bartelski, "Mokotów 1944," he describes the sewer passage on September 27 as follows: "The canal was filled with the wounded, additionally high water and carbide [ upon contact with water emits a suffocating and irritating gas] thrown by the Germans in Solec Str hindered the passage. The wounded were drowning, there were scuffles. The insane ones were disabled, sometimes finished off in order not to spread panic. Some of the soldiers lost their way, got out of the sewers in other meeting points than planned, and were taken prisoner by the Germans." Another recollection is by a SOE agent, T.Burdzinski "Zenon III", who left the district on September 26th together with the Mokotów soldiers: "We are wandering in the foul slime .... We are moving very slowly ... dragging ourselves all night long. And here we have covered only a few hundred meters. I feel that I am overwhelmed by folly ... Eve, my cryptographer, had an attack of madness. We carry her taking shifts, stumbling over dead bodies, backpacks and abandoned weapons. It's all horrific. Eve's horrifying howl is combined with the sound of monstrous screams of others. Phantoms keep passing us by. Some of them howl as had Eva recently... Eva is dead ... The nurse "Wandzia", carried on a stretcher, died of a heart attack... Kryński died, who had an attack of rage, as did Second Lieutenant "Czarniecki", a doctor of cavalry, and dozens of others. Some became apathetic and resigned. The Germans threw sacks of carbide into the sewers, which, while mixing with slush, emitted gas, which attacked the eyes." Another Motokow soldier reports "after 17 hours in the sewers, we were pulled out by the SS-men. I realized that they were Germans only when they started to search us. It is very painful to open one's eyes. I see a dozen or so bodies lying face down on the ground. Next to another dozen or so of our soldiers literally drenched in blood. Against the fence more shot bodies were piled up."

         October 2 - Capitulation. The epic of the Uprising is over. Radosław gives a farewell order. He affirms the duty fulfillment of all soldiers, beginning with the closure of the westward movement of the Germans in the Wola district, guarding the High Command in the Monopoly [Polish Tobacco Monopoly] and in Dzielna Street, guarding the organization of the Uprising by fighting in the ghetto and in the Old Town, defending the foothold of Czerniaków subdistrict to the fights in the Mokotów district. The task, however, is not finished yet. The soldiers should maintain their fortitude and readiness to continue fighting until the liberation of Poland, and only then the proper task lies ahead - building Greater Poland.

         October 3 - Lt. Col. Radoslaw accompanied by Lt. Turn and liaison officer "Irma" [Radoslaw's wife] escorted by the adjutant left the ruins of the capital at 7 PM. The Group soldiers in the number of around 200 marched out on the 4th at 10 a.m. towards a POW camp. They were placed in POW camps in Lamsdorf, Fallingbostel, Sandbostel, Murnau and Mosburg.

         Link to the entire "Record of the course of insurgent activities by the 'Radosław' Group"

         On October 2, 1944 by order no. 512 of the Home Army Commander-in-Chief, Gen.Bór-Komorowski, Wacław Chojna was decorated with a Virtuti Militari Cross 5th class (V M is the highest Polish military medal). The award proposal, signed by Lt. Col. Jerzy Kuszycki on March 30, 1946 in the United Kingdom, reads:

         1) "On the first night of the uprising, he personally established communications between the command of the "Radosław" Group and the Headquarters with Gen. Bór [Tadeusz Komorowski], cut off in the factory at Dzika [Dzielna 72], pushing his way through German troops..."

         2) "After Lt. Col. Waligóra [Adam Remigiusz Grocholski] was injured [September 24, 1944], he took the lead of the subsection between Vistula escarpment and Królikarnia, inspiring his troops to put up fierce resistance by his example, preventing the Germans from breaking through the section, which extended the resistance in the Mokotów district from Sep 24 to September 28, 1944."

         On October 3, 1944 Chojna was promoted to the rank of Major.

Virtuti Militari Cross card issued in London

         Waclaw Chojna was a deeply religious person. During the Uprising he miraculously escaped death several times. For instance, during one of the bombardments (September 13), in violation of security requirements, he left his hiding place in the basement to stand in the entrance of a residential building for a smoke. Two half-ton bombs destroyed two opposite wings of that building, and one of these wings collapsed on Chojna. According to his liaison officer "Hesia", it was providential not only that he was not crushed, but that aside from losing consciousness he had no other injuries. This episode was well known among the members of the "Radosław" Group. Chojna later referred to it and claimed it as evidence of a head injury causing memory loss in many interrogations by the UB Communist secret police in the post-war years.

         Chojna fought the entire combat trail of the "Radosław" Group from Wola district (where he started fighting at Okopowa Street) through Stare Miasto district (Old Town). In order to move between districts while avoiding German bombardments, along with his "Kedyw" comrades he entered the sewers at Plac Krasińskich in the Old Town area, emerged in Śródmieście (Downtown) district on Wilcza Street on September 3, on September 5 to Czerniaków subdistrict, then again through the sewers reached Mokotów district. In the sewers, he contracted typhoid fever, as a result of which he lost 30 kg of his body weight. He managed to avoid death in the sewers by covering up his head with a blanket soaked in sewage in order to protect himself from lit petrol or carbide thrown in by the Germans to burn or suffocate the insurgents.

Memorial badge of the "Radosław" Group issued posthumously in 1979

         During the Uprising, Chojna handed over the Kedyw Archives to a courier who was later killed. Subsequently, he did not know the future whereabouts of the archives (which were searched for by the Communists after the war in order to identify and annihilate remaining insurgents). The photographer of the "Radosław" Group was killed, too - that is why there are so few photographs documenting the Group and Chojna.

         Severely wounded, Maj. Wacław Janaszek "Bolek" (Chojna's direct superior), after undergoing two successful surgeries and a transfer between hospitals, was eventually murdered along with other patients by the SS troops in the hospital on Drewniana street in the last days of the Uprising. Here is recollection of their last moments provided by the wife of Capt. "Sawa": "On September 27th, around 2 pm, soldiers from the battle group of SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Reinefarth rushed into the hospital. Amid roars and beatings, they ordered the hospital staff to go out into the yard and stand with their faces to the wall. They themselves ran down to the cellars, where the wounded lay. After a while, shots rang out... When the murderers were out in the yard again, the barrels of their guns were still smoking. They were shouting: "We're going to make a crematorium here" - the criminals ran to the garden next to the school, where they shot two nurses in the gazebo. At that time, Romana Kurkowska, who tirelessly took care of her husband, Capt."Sawa," and Maj. "Bolek," [Janaszek] ran down to the basement to see what happened to the wounded. All the wounded were murdered [...] Capt. "Sawa", who was lying closer to the entrance, was murdered first. His head was torn to a pulp, because the Germans were firing from heavy caliber weapons (9 mm cartridge cases were found in the basement). Maj. "Bolek" was lying on the second bed in the row. After the execution, the corpses were poured with gasoline and set on fire. The hospital staff were lined up against the wall where they awaited execution. A moment before the execution, a German officer appeared and halted it. The survivors were herded along with a group of other civilian survivors [...]."

from left to right:
"Bolek"-Maj.W. Janaszek, "Bór"-Gen.T.Komorowski,
"Radosław"- Col. J.Mazurkiewicz and aide to Gen. "Bór" in August of 1944

         Years after the war, Wacław Chojna emphasized that the uprising was inevitable, because five years of brutal German occupation rendered it impossible to stop young people from retaliating. In particular German demands that one hundred thousand Polish men show up to build fortifications to help fend off Soviet troops in late July increased the probability that the Germans would use the Poles as human shields during armed conflict with the Soviets. Nobody anticipated that the insurgents would be left with practically no help from the Allies and the Soviets during their military uprising against the Germans.

Captivity after the Uprising

         Those who fought in the Mokotow district until the very last hour on September 27 unfortunately did not manage to evacuate themselves through the sewers to Downtown (Śródmieście) and were taken prisoner by the German troops. About 140 officers and about 1,300 non-commissioned officers and privates together with Wacław Chojna were detained as POWs in Mokotów. Maj. Wacław Chojna appears on the list of officers of the 5th District of Mokotów in the POW camp in Skierniewice (dulag 142) with number 1130. After giving up their weapons, they were gathered in the Bem fort in northern Warsaw, and then transported on October 1 to the camp in Skierniewice. It was a transit camp for Soviet prisoners of war. The insurgents were placed 100 each in dugouts equipped with wooden bunks, lined with a thin layer of straw. There was no sewage system in the camp.

         Krystyna Mystkowska, who was a translator at that camp and previously assisted Soviet POWs, left a brief description of the recently arrived insurgents: "It was unforgettable to see the long rows of fairly uniformly dressed young boys carrying out their daily roll-call. Officers reported to the commander, military honors were given, and the attitude of these people - despite their hardships, hunger and all torment - did not resemble what we understand by the term 'POW'. The German commandant of the camp, Maj. Pongs, told me with undisguised admiration: Diese AK-Leute- es ist bloss Intelligenz! [These AK people - they are all from the intelligentsia! [social class]. But this admiration was not shared by other Germans. There was an Abwehroffizier with a gang of Gestapo men by our side who did not spare us any bullying."

         After several days in Skierniewice, these insurgents were transported in freight cars with barred windows to the Bremervoerde station in Germany, from where they marched on foot to Stalag X B in Sandbostel POW Camp, many kilometers away, where Chojna was registered as prisoner no. 224607 / XB.

Wacław Chojna's Oflag ID card

         On November 24, 1944, Chojna was sent to Murnau POW Camp for higher rank officers in Bavaria, where he arrived on December 2, 1944.

         Accounts of this transport can be found in the testimony of prisoner Franciszek Brzeziński (CMJW, RiW, reference number 1233), who wrote a journal in Oflag VII A Murnau: "December 1 [2], 1944, we enter the Christmas month. Around 9.00 a.m. a new transport of Varsovians arrive - 130 people. Their appearance worse than that of the previous ones, much worse. They traveled for 6 days in closed-freight cars - shoes, suspenders, etc. were taken from them into the deposit. From now on, we receive daily bread ratios of 300 g- only theoretically - practically around 280-285 g. On November 24 or 25, 1944, a transport of 131 prisoners of war - staff officers and senior officers, from the rank of Major and above, was sent to Murnau from Stalag X B Sandbostel."

         Another recount of this transport is given by Danuta Kisielewicz in her publication "Captivity in the shadow of the Alps. Oflag VII A Murnau", CMJW Opole 2015: "The next larger transport of prisoners of war went to Murnau in October 1944, after the fall of the Warsaw Uprising. On October 19, after a short stay in Stalag 344 Lamsdorf (Łambinowice), a group of 592 soldiers from the Home Army was brought here. The next group of 129 Warsaw insurgents arrived in Murnau on December 1 from Stalag X B Sandbostel (transport organized on November 25)."

         Arrival of that transport was also recounted by S. Wierzyński in his memoirs (who arrived to Murnau from Lamsdorf POW Camp on October 19, 1944): "At the end of February [actually December 2, 1944] a group of senior officers from the Uprising came to Murnau, after the liquidation of the Fallingbostel [Sandbostel] POW camp. Among others, Maj. Horodyński, my superior from underground work and a comrade-in-arms from the Uprising. Then we decided to write down notes, which constituted the material for this report. We ended the report in Murnau on May 3, 1945, right after liberation." Parts were written with pencil on cigarette boxes due to lack of paper. This report later known as the "Record of the course of insurgent activities by the 'Radosław' Group" was published in: "Mars" Issues and History of Military Studies and Materials, volume 16/2004, with introduction by Dr Andrzej Krzysztof Kunert.

Transport card from Sandbostel on 25/11/44. stating that Maj. Chojna was on the list of prisoners transported to Murnau,
date in pencil 02/12/44 (arrival date)

         In Murnau POW Camp, Chojna also contributed to the preparation of Reporting Chronicle for Toruń 4th Infantry Division of the Pomeranian Army, in which he fought in September 1939. He mentions this in the handwritten four page manuscript (above) "I submitted reports on the activities of I / 4 AA to Lt. Col. Pyrek Józef in the presence of officers in Murnau, in the presence of the officers from the September 1939 military campaign."

         Conditions in this POW camp were less oppressive than in the other POW camps mentioned above, which enabled the officers to organize small gatherings as illustrated by the below commemorative ticket. On April 29, 1945, the camp was liberated by American troops. Mere hours earlier, the Germans had been planning to blow the camp up to kill all Polish officers, but the Americans stormed the camp sooner than anticipated.

4 page commemorative ticket of a gathering among officers from the "Parasol" battalion, which fought as part of the "Radosław" Group during the Uprising:
1) a drawing of the camp 2) depiction of Warsaw Uprising- burning of the Old Town
3) text of most famous insurgent song written by the "Parasol" battalion for the uprising 4) various commemorative signatures signed by battalion officers for Maj. Chojna

In Italy and the United Kingdom

POW's provisional ID card

         On July 11, 1945, Maj. Wacław Chojna was assigned to 2nd PAL 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division of the Polish Corps in Italy.

commemorative distinction card of the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division

Wacław Chojna (first from left) with fellow officers in Italy 1945

         While in Italy, he met with Col. Włodzimierz Dettloff and his daughter Olga (see section Fate of Relatives below). After liberation from a POW camp (Oflag Woldenberg Oest) by the Americans, Col. Dettloff was appointed "Town Major" to coordinate the stationing of Polish II Corps in Venice, Ravenna and Ancona, and was headquartered in local palazzos. Chojna was provided accommodation with an Italian family, which was conducive to learning Italian.

Col. Włodzimierz Dettloff in Italy, 1945; on the right with daughter Olga, Italy 1945

         Along with the rest of the Polish II Corps, Chojna was transported to the United Kingdom. In London he met with Irena Kępińska, wife of his cousin Zygmunt Jakubowicz (see fate of relatives).

         In September 1945 and January 1946, Chojna received a certificate from the Polish II Corps Verification Committee confirming his military service record and his rank as Major.

Verification Committee certificate Sept. 11th 1945

Fate of relatives during the war

         When Wacław Chojna first arrived in Warsaw in October of 1939, he stayed with Zofia and Stanislaw Colonna-Walewski. Zofia (née Kęstowicz) was his first cousin and godmother of his daughter Anna. Her husband, Stanisław, came from a well-known large family (e.g. Count Alexandre Colonna-Walewski, Napoleon Bonaparte's natural son, was a France's minister of foreign affairs under Napoleon III). Stanislaw was a chemical engineer and before the war managed the Haberbusch & Schiele vodka and lemonade production plant in Warsaw. Stanisław was a member of ZWZ and it was him, who helped Chojna access the Warsaw underground movement when he first arrived. His flat, at Ceglana 4, was on a second floor of the plant's main office and provided a good vantage point to observe the Warsaw Ghetto. As per memoirs of Zofia's younger brother, Romuald Kęstowicz, "Stanisław founded and financed a printing house in the "Terminus" hotel at Chmielna Street. One day his conspiracy colleague, a certain Hibner, was arrested. He was eventually killed at Pawiak prison, but before that he exposed Stanisław" [under severe torture]". Stanisław was arrested by Gestapo in front of his wife, Zofia, on January 12, 1941 at 6.30 a.m. They knocked out his front teeth with "brass knuckles" and ransacked the flat. On his way out, Stanisław whispered to his wife that even if they made him sit on razorblades, he would confess nothing. Just like Hibner, his conspiracy colleague, Stanisław was sent to the infamous interrogation chambers at Pawiak prison, where he was kept for three months.

         Pawiak was the largest prison for Polish underground operatives as well as civilians who were captured in street roundups and raids by Gestapo. Close to 100 thousand people were subjugated to all forms of tortures such as beatings to death (including pregnant women), pulling out nails with pliers, making prisoners crawl on burning slag, etc; 37 thousand died in the prison and another 60 thousand were sent off to various concentration camps in Poland and Germany. Some of the more cruel guards were 40 Ukrainians brought by the Germans in 1942. See: https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/unbelievable-tale-of-children-born-and-imprisoned-in-notorious-gestapo-prison-retold-in-harrowing-new-book-15132.

In a letter dated January 19, 1941, Chojna informs his wife Maria about the arrest and imprisonment of Stanisław Colonna-Walewski at Pawiak prison on January 19th.
"... Thank God I am alive and healthy, for now. 4 times there were big Gestapo raids [?] at night between 9 am to 4 pm.
One of its victims was Stach [Stanislaw] on the 12th [of January] at 6:30 a.m.
He is probably currently sitting in Pawiak [prison].
You can imagine Zofia's nervousness and anxiety [?] and they took him in the morning"

         For safety reasons, Wacław Chojna very cautiously mentions to his wife that "Efforts are made to free him, but it is not known if this will give any positive result." They did not. Colonna-Walewski was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp on April 6, 1941 as prisoner no. 13417. He miraculously survived the unimaginable cruel treatment and harsh conditions until the camp was liberated by the Soviets in January of 1945. Auschwitz was set up as a camp for Polish political prisoners in June of 1940. Throughout the war a total of 140 thousand ethnic Poles were sent there, of which 70-75 thousand died. See links: http://auschwitz.org/en/history/categories-of-prisoners/poles-in-auschwitz/; http://rtmpilecki.eu/wpcontent/uploads/2018/05/RAPORT_WITOLDA_GB_WWW.pdf.

Auschwitz identification photos of Stanisław Colonna-Walewski

         After liberation from Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviets in January 1945, although very ill, Stanisław became head of Polmos Zielona Góra, a state-owned alcoholic beverages factory, where he developed the rowanberry brandy recipe.

         From Romuald's memoirs we learn a few interesting facts: "Before the arrest of Stanisław, our cousin Waclaw Chojna, a pre-war officer who escaped captivity, also lived with us. Fortunately for him and for us, he moved out two months before Stanisław was arrested. I felt he belonged to a secret organization, because he often brought clandestine press to read. I told him that I also wanted to work against the Germans. He replied that the time would come, but at the time it was impossible, because Zygmunt [Romuald's and Zofia's brother] was taken away [to forced slave labor in Germany] and Stanisław to Auschwitz [concentration camp]."

Zofia Colonna-Walewska

         "After Stanisław's arrest, the owners of Haberbusch & Schiele allowed Zofia and her family to remain at the plant's flat, continued to pay her Stanisław's monthly salary, and allowed her to take coal from the yard to heat her flat. They were true Polish patriots and never signed the Volkslist [as ethnically German collaborators]. Ironically, their names [were all German]: Patzer, Lampe, Openheim, Jung, and Schiele - his son was shot in public execution by the Germans in the Grand Theatre Square. All were Catholic, and the director, Czarkowski [Polish name], was Protestant. Director Schiele also had a famous ski factory in the Zakopane ski resort before the war... During the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, when all the Haberbusch & Schiele plant buildings were taken over by the Germans, Zofia and her mother hid in the plant's smokestack, spending two days there. When the Germans left they escaped to Central Warsaw."

         Stanislaw's sister was murdered by Ukrainians during the ethnic pogroms of Poles in Eastern Poland, namely in Polesie in Volhynia [Wołyń] in 1943, during which 60 thousand Poles were massacred in Wołyn and another 20-40 thousand in East Galicia. Documented medieval style atrocities towards Poles included burning alive, flaying, impaling, crucifying, disembowelling, dismembering, cutting off women's breasts, beheading of men, women and children. See: https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/over-100000-slaughtered-with-axes-pitchforks-scythes-and-knives-the-wolyn-massacre-started-76-years-ago-today-and-lasted-for-two-years-6714.

         Romuald Kęstowicz "Roman", brother of above mentioned Zofia Colonna-Walewska, was hired by her husband Stanisław at "Haberbusch & Schiele" vodka production plant in early 1940. Following Stanislaw's imprisonment at Pawiak in 1941, all his relatives were closely watched by Gestapo and so Romuald could not risk joining the AK (Home Army) underground until 1943. After training he became a liaison officer and underground press distributor, first in Downtown (Śródmieście) and then in II District II "Żywiciel" in Żoliborz, "Żyrafa" Group, campaign of Lt. "Kmicic". In his post war memoirs he wrote the following: "One day I met [...] my friend Włodek Majdak, with whom I attended school in Berezne. He started persuading me to join the [underground] organization. I couldn't say I already belonged to one, because of my oath. I declined, explaining that our house was under surveillance after Stach [Stanislaw Colonna-Walewski] was arrested. I felt bad. Later, in captivity at Lamsdorf [POW Camp], we met again. I told him about myself and we concluded that I could not have acted otherwise [...] Before the Uprising, my cousin, Waclaw Chojna, came to our house and told me to take an oath to join the Home Army. After taking the oath, I realized that I was repeating the same words that I had pronounced to Mr. Biliński. Then I said that I had already taken the same oath. When asked 'whom to?', I replied that I could not tell, because I had promised to keep this information secret. He laughed, kissed me heartily, and said he was just probing me."

         During the Warsaw Uprising Romuald fought within "Sienkiewcz" Group, which was part of North Section- "Grupa Północ". Then in the "Lukasinski" squadron and in Downtown (Sródmieście) he was part of "Zagończyk" sapper squadron, promoted to senior shooter. He begain his combat trail by the Powązki Cemetary [near Okopowa Street where Wacław Chojna began his fight], then fought in the Wola district, then the Old Town and via the sewage system reached Downtown (Śródmiescie) where he was taken POW on October 2. After the Warsaw Uprising he was first at a POW camp in Cable Plant in Ożarów, outside of Warsaw, later at Lamsdorf POW camp in Western Poland, stalag nr 344. On 23 November, he was moved to Stalag IX-C Bad Sulz (East Germany), where he was part of forced labor Arbeitskommando 1505. During evacuation of the camp he was liberated by US forces in Rodesdorf near Plauen on April 17, 1945. In his memoirs he states: "The Americans moved us to the ex POW camp in Kaefertal near Mannheim (West Germany). There, an automobile company under the command of the US Army was established, with Polish officers serving as superiors. [...]. We wore American uniforms dyed black with Polish insignia."

Romuald, third for left, Warsaw Uprising in 1944

Romuald at the US Army Vehicle Company in 1946

         Wacław Chojna's temporary hiding place was also Kozietulskiego 1/8 (street in the northern district of Warsaw called Żoliborz) in the apartment owned by his first cousin, Józef Jakubowicz and his wife Irena Kępińska. Józef fought against the Germans in 1939, but was taken prisoner at the end of the September campaign. He spent the rest of the war at a POW camp in Germany Oflag Woldenberg Ost [East], which was liberated by the Russians in 1945.

Józef Jakubowicz, far right, 1938

Józef: horse jumping competition, Lvov (currently Lviv), 1932

         His wife Irena, a pre-war lawyer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, left Poland in 1939 with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Józef Beck, and went to London, where she remained until the end of the war. Her father Władysław Kępiński was a friend of Archduke Karl Olbracht Habsburg whom he helped secure Polish citizenship after WWI. The Archduke was the guest of honor together with his Swedish wife Alice Ancarcrona at Józef and Irena's wedding in Warsaw in the summer of 1939, which Wacław Chojna attended. Both, the Archduke and Kępinski were arrested and tortured by the Gestapo; Irena's father was taken from his manor house in Moszczanica to Dachau concentration camp and subsequently to Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.

Józef's wedding dinner at the famous Simon i Stecki restaurant in Warsaw

Józef Jakubowicz and Irena Kępińska, second row, 1938

         Meanwhile Chojna's other first cousin, Maria Dettloff (née Jakubowicz), who resided at the above mentioned apartment at Kozietulskiego 1/8 (after her brother Zygmunt and his wife Irena were already gone), risked her own life and that of her teenage daughters, Olga and Liliana, by hiding three Jewish people Stanisława Rybińska, Marianna Schowans and an orphan girl, in the period between 1943 and the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. Poland was the only country in Europe where aiding a Jew, even by giving a cup of water, was punishable by death or a concentration camp. One of Olga's memories was a tram ride with the orphan girl to retrieve her from another location. As the girl's hair was bleached blond and dark roots were showing and she was uncontrollably trembling, Olga was sure they would get caught when a German soldier entered the tram, but by some miracle he got off at the next stop. Maria's daughters spent the majority of every day organising false food stamps and food for the three fugitives and devised various hiding places in case of a German search. The teenage daughters also attended clandestine school classes, as Germans banned Poles from secondary and university education, punishing all involved by execution or concentration camp. Getting to such classes was risky if books or notes were discovered during daily street surveillance, not to mention the danger of getting caught during the classes.

         During the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 Maria Dettloff and her older daughter Olga managed to escape both the German and Ukrainian soldiers. When the Uprising ended, like other Warsaw civilians, they were first sent by Germans to Dulag 121, a transition camp in Pruszków, on the outskirts of Warsaw. A few hundred thousand Varsovians passed through it between August 1944 and January 1945, around 150 thousand ended up in forced labor or concentration camps. Maria with her daughter were packed onto a cattle train destined to Ravensbrück concentration camp. In the midst of a rain storm at night some people made a hole in the car from which several people, including Maria and her daughter, jumped while the train was moving. This was only possible because the German guards were not walking on the train roofs in the storm.

Maria Jakubowicz-Dettloff and Włodzimierz Dettloff

Potrait of Maria Jakubowicz-Dettloff before the war

         Maria's husband, Colonel Włodzimierz Dettloff descended from the family line of Dettloff Henning von Hansess, with the title of a margrave, who were expelled by the Swedish king in 16th century. Włodzimierz Dettloff commanded a cavalry regiment in Płock in 1939. After Poland's defeat he was sent to a POW camp in Germany - Oflag Woldenberg West, where he remained until it was liberated by the Americans in 1945. Subsequently, he was appointed by the Allies as the Military Town Major for Venice, Ravenna and Ancona in Italy, because he spoke several languages.

Olga Dettloff

Olga in Italy in 1945, after her four escapes within four months
from the Ukrainians, the Germans, the Soviets, and the Polish Communists

         In 1945, his older daughter Olga, after learning of her father's whereabouts decided to travel to Italy from central Poland. After a brief stay in Cracau with her aunt Zofia Colonna-Walewska, who provided her with new clothing as she arrived all rugged after her previous ordeals, she continued her lonely journey to the south. On her way she was detained by Soviet troops in Southern Poland - they found toothpaste in her luggage and, as they did not know what it was, accused her of being a German spy. She managed to escape. Then, in exchange for a bottle of vodka, she was smuggled in a truck through the already Communist controlled Polish border to Slovakia and, eventually reached her father in Italy. Together they left for London in 1946. Afterwards, Olga travelled to her aunt Maria Maciszewska (née Dettloff) in the USA, and Włodzimierz returned to his wife in Poland. In the photo Olga a few days before departure from Cracow.

         In 1940 the above-mentioned Maria Maciszewska together with her husband, retired general Feliks Maciszewski and their small grandson Felix were given the opportunity to escape Poland on an extremely dangerous emissary flight to Romania organised by the underground movement. They eventually reached Nice in France, where they stayed with the family of her deceased uncle, Adam Dettloff, a well-known architect who built many of Nice's most famous landmarks such as Hotel Imperial, collaborated with architect Charles Garnier on the Casino de Monte Carlo, rented his villa to Queen Victoria's entourage during her stays in Nice (see: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Dettloffs). As Gestapo started to investigate their identity, Maria Dettloff-Maciszewska along with her husband and grandson embarked on an arduous journey through rural Spain to Portugal from where, in a small fishing boat, and among German U-boats set to destroy Allied vessels, they miraculously sailed to England. Ultimately, they reached the USA, where their daughter Teresa with husband Artur Hirszbandt-Maciszewski had lived since July 1939 (they originally travelled to the US for a technology show, and later established a sophisticated electronics equipment research, development and production company that served all branches of the US military during WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The company, American Radio Federation, A.R.F.Products, Inc., early on competed with IBM - President Eisenhower received Teresa and Artur at the White House).

         Shortly after the Soviet Union invaded Poland on September 17, 1939, Wacław's other first cousin, Janina Bryda (née Jakubowicz) together with her two sons were deported to Siberia in 1939 during the first wave of deportations, for which she was selected as a spouse of a high rank Polish officer. In order not to perish from starvation Janina and her older son, Jerzy, had to meet unrealistic daily quota of tree cutting in the Siberian taigau even during extremely long winters in inadequate clothing and shoes, which was a super-human survival effort. Her younger son, Włodek Bryda, who by then was still only a few years old, had to carry timber for fire in waist deep snow. Food was so scarce that even after getting moved to a better job in a food plant, Janina was desperate enough to smuggle out tiny bits of cheese in the heels of her shoes for her small son. During Soviet occupation of Eastern Poland during World War II between a few hundred thousand and a million Polish civilians were gradually deported to gulags in Siberia and other parts of Russia, where about one third died from freezing, starvation, exhaustion and illnesses either during the trip itself (people were transported in cattle wagons for weeks) or in the camps; see also: https://scholarlycommons.law.case.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1078&context=jil and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evacuation_of_Polish civilians from_the_USSR_in_World_War_II. Janina's older son, Jerzy, through a strike of luck, managed to leave Siberia by joining the emerging Anders Army and later fought in the famous Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy with the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division of Polish II Corps [3 Dywizja Strzelców Karpackich II Korpusu]. The army was created in March of 1942 as a result of British and Polish negotiations with the Soviets in an attempt to free and feed as many as possible of the Polish men deported to Siberia. The army later joined Polish II Corps within the Polish Armed Forces in the West and were moved through Iran to Palestine and fought to liberate Italy.

young Janina, 1930

Janina with husband Maj. Jan Bryda, 1938

Janina's two sons: little Włodek and Jerzy with
their cousins Olga Dettloff and her sister, 1936

         Janina's husband and father of Jerzy, Maj. Jan Bryda, was interned by the Soviets after their invasion of Eastern Poland on September 17, 1939 and was eventually murdered in 1940 in Katyń [Kharkiv]. He had commanded 1st battalion 72 Infantry Regiment [1 batalion 72 Pułku Piechoty,] in which Capt. Jakub Wajda, father of the film director Andrzej Wajda, also served and met the same fate. Although Poland did not go to war with the Soviet Union, the Soviets first interned and then killed 21 thousand Polish officers and other servicemen in Katyn, Ostrzeszow, Charkow, Minsk, Kiev.

Maj. Jan Bryda, 1937

Jerzy Bryda, 1945 in England

         For some time during the war Wacław Chojna was also given shelter by Father Władysław Dzikiewicz, his wife's uncle, who was then a priest at the Jesuit Our Lady of Mercy Church on Świętojańska Street in the Old Town in Warsaw. During the Uprising he helped Chojna with food provisions for the insurgents. Previously in the years 1906-1925 (intermittently) he was a Jesuit tutor and later Head Master of the most exclusive Polish college/boarding school for boys in Chyrów [Khyriv], next to Lvov in then Eastern Poland, which was run by Jesuits. The school was modelled after the leading German, French and English boarding schools. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesuit_College_in_Khyriv.

         Within days of Warsaw's surrender to the Germans, on October 4, 1939, Father Władysław was among all the fifteen Jesuit priests, along with the senior Father Jan Rostworowski, who were arrested by the Gestapo at the above mentioned Jesuit church in the Old Town and sent to Pawiak Prison as part of "Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen." This was a proscription list of tens of thousands of members of Polish elites, including priests, deemed by Germans as valuable to the Polish state and therefore designated for immediate arrest and execution. Father Władysław luckily managed to be released after a fortnight.

         Later, he was a house master of a Jesuit convent known as the House of the Writers on Rakowiecka Street in central Warsaw. Luckily, he was not there during the second day of the Warsaw Uprising when the SS-men first robbed and then massacred for hours on end more than 40 innocent people within the convent, including all the priests. Fourteen witnesses survived the massacre, they testified, inter alia, that the SS men were accompanied by a 10-year-old German boy who pointed out to the executioners those Poles who still showed signs of life. One of the survivor's memoirs details it as follows: "A small boy from a German family rushes into the room, entangled with the SS-men and does not stray from them by more than a step. His childish voice can be heard from time to time. 'Achtung! Der lebt noch! Oh hier, hier, er atmet noch!' [Attention! He's still alive! Oh here, here, he's still breathing]. The SS men follow the movement of his hand, and then there is a series of shots and the child's laughter and hand clapping." Shortly after a successful escape of some of the survivors from under a pile of dead bodies, the German soldiers returned to pour gasoline and set fire on all the corpses, including bodies of many seriously injured, who were burnt alive.

         Father Władysław is also mentioned in Warsaw Uprising memoirs of Father T. Rostworowski as a participant of an unusual Jesuit procession, during which a silver and glass casket with the relics of a Polish saint, St Andrzej Bobola, was moved between churches with all honors, escorted by insurgents with machine guns, amid intense fighting and destruction of the Old Town. After the Uprising, along with other surviving Jesuit priests, Father Władysław was sent to Dulag 121 transition camp outside of Warsaw and survived the war.

Little Maria Chojna with her parents and
Jesuit uncle, Father Władysław Dzikiewicz, 1916

         Maria Chojna, Wacław Chojna's spouse, followed the Polish army from Inowroclaw, a salt baths spa town in Western Poland, towards Warsaw in September 1939 along with her two small daughters and families of other officers, taking their most prized possessions with them in transport provided by the military. Halfway through the journey the convoy was bombed. Unexpectedly they ran into the German army across a large field, and the officers' wives marched on to negotiate with the commander to be let through. They were in luck as the commander turned out to be gallant and told them to go back, because of hellish bombardments taking place in Warsaw. As they retreated, she witnessed continued premeditated bombings of the civilian population on all roads, one of which she barely survived - a bullet threw into the air a bowl of oatmeal she was holding in her hands. On her way back, Maria decided to leave her valuable possessions in a safe place in the village where her nanny came from, but was never able to reclaim them. She walked back to Inowrocław limping (one of her shoe heels fell off) with 1.5-year-old and a 2.5-year-old daughters, Anna and Krystyna, having lost everything, including jewellery, which she had sold off to buy food for the small girls. A few weeks later Germans evicted her from her house and her parents from their apartment -- each family were given an hour to pack all the possessions they could carry and were later sent off on a train to the town of Radomsko. Maria recalled that a feather duvet she grabbed on the way out was the most valued item during harsh transport conditions. Ultimately, they found refuge with her uncle Michał Dzikiewicz in Kraków [Cracau].

Maria with her mother before the war

         In Kraków she worked as a waitress in the well-known café "Pani" at 17 Saint John's Street, along with other wives of Polish officers. These women assisted the Home Army in monitoring German officers despite Gestapo raids and arrests at the café, which was also a meeting point for various Polish clandestine groups. It so happened that the café was run by the sister-in-law of Helena Herforth, who was the mother of Colonel Włodzimierz Dettloff and the grandmother of young Olga. Helena's grandfather was an English officer who served at the imperial court of Karl I Habsburg in Vienna, and her grand-uncle was General Józef Chłopicki, a Polish general in Napoleonic Wars in Italy, Spain, and Russia, and a temporary leader of the November Uprising of 1830 against the Russian occupation of Poland.

         Maria Chojna, on her way to work would often drop food, pretending to do so unintentionally, near places where starving Jews toiled on roadworks. Also when passing the ghetto on a tram, she would throw food from the tram window, just as many other passengers did. It was like a ritual - at the sound of an approaching tram, tens of hands rose up from behind the walls of the ghetto in anticipation of such supplies. Dropping or throwing food to the Jews was very risky -- one had to find a moment when the German guards were not looking, otherwise one faced the death penalty or a concentration camp. Given that Maria was a history teacher before the war, after work she taught clandestine classes, which carried the risk of similar repressions. Throughout the war 8.5 thousand teachers and university professors were arrested and executed by the Germans for illegal tutoring as Germans banned Poles from attending secondary schools and universities.

         During the German occupation, Maria visited her husband in Warsaw twice, staying in the flat of the Colonna-Walewski family. Wacław, too, made rare visits to his family in Kraków as it was very dangerous to travel. On such occasions, his daughters would address him as "uncle" so as not to reveal his true identity, due to the Gestapo on his trail. The last visit ended suddenly with his jumping out of the flat's back window at a considerable height in the middle of the night as the Gestapo arrived at the front of their residential building (he did not even have time to grab his jacket as he jumped out literally seconds before Germans surrounded the building; the family prayed for his survival all night long, fortunately it turned out that the Gestapo was after another person).


Certificates from 1945 confirming that Maria Chojna taught at clandestine classes

         Michał Dzikiewicz, Maria's above mentioned uncle, was a military doctor with the rank of a Major. After the fall of Lvov [Lviv] in Eastern Poland (now Ukraine) in September 1939, he was one of the last few to receive a passport to escape to Romania as part of a frantic evacuation of Polish troops who were escaping both the Germans and the Soviets. In the meantime, Michał's wife along with three children set out from Kraków to Lvov by transport provided by the military. On the way Michał's wife and small son, who travelled in an officer's car, survived continuous bombings of civilians, but the two older daughters travelling separately were presumed killed. Days later, in a panicked crowd on the streets of Lvov, where some people were running from the west escaping the Germans, while others were running from the east escaping the Soviets and Ukrainians, Michał noticed a woman with suitcases running back and forth with a small boy tied to her waist with a bathroom robe belt so he wouldn't get lost. As he approached them to offer help he realized that they were his wife and son! With no passports for the two of them, Michal decided they would travel back to Kraków instead of Romania. When they arrived home they were shocked to find both of their daughters, who after all hadn't been killed during the bombardments and managed to return to Kraków ahead of them.

Maria's uncle Michal Dzikiewicz
during the Polish-Bolshevik War, 1920

Maj. Michał Dzikiewicz, 1938

Return to Poland

         The aftermath of WWII for Poland was tragic and disturbing. It was well explained by a historian, Adam Zamoyski in his book "The Polish Way": "The Poles are the nation who really lost the Second World War. They fought continuously from the first day to the bitter end and beyond. They put more effort into the struggle than any other society; they lost over half a million fighting men and women, and six million civilians; they were left with one million war-orphans and over half a million invalids. According to the Bureau of War Reparations, the country had lost 38 per cent of its national assets, compared to the 1.5 percent and 0.8 per cent lost by France and Britain, respectively. They lost vast tracts of their country and their two great cultural centres of Wilno and Lvov [currently in Lithuania and Ukraine, respectively]. They also saw greater part of their heritage destroyed. Although they were faithful members of the victorious alliance, they were treated as a vanquished enemy: they were robbed of much of their territory and of their freedom... Men and women who had risked their lives for six years plotting and fighting against the German order in unspeakable conditions were dragged into jail by their Soviet masters, tortured and accused of collaborating with the Nazis. In the West, their efforts and sacrifices were belittled and ignored... They were not only consigned to Hell; they were supposed to enjoy it."

         Although Poland undisputedly qualified for post-war reconstruction aid under the US Marshall Plan in 1948, Moscow pressured the Polish Communist puppet government to withdraw from participating. Subsequntly Poland received zero funds from the Marshall Plan, while France received USD 2,296 million, Great Britain USD 3,297 million and West Germany USD 1,448 million.

         Arrests became an element of intensified struggle against the so called "class enemy," who were sought among pre-war social and political activists, members of the Polish underground state, soldiers returning to Poland from the West, and the clergy. Indictments were based on fictitious facts and testimonies forced by brutal torture. "Enemies" of the communist regime were sentenced in public show trials, often forced to confess in the public. Many were never presented with any official charges or arrest warrants. Secret militias of the Polish Workers' Party (PPR) and the UB secret service terrorized villages by carrying out treacherous murders. About 250 thousand people were arrested, and about 50 thousand were murdered (see "In the footsteps of crimes ..., Institute of National Remembrance). The state apparatus of terror was swiftly expanded: in 1946, the budget of the Ministry of Public Security (MBP), which included the UB secret service units, was allocated eight times more funds than the budget of the Ministry of Public Health Service and it exceeded the combined budgets for health, education and labor. In 1948 MBP received ten times more funds than was allocated to the reconstruction of the country (see Krzysztof Szwagrzyk: The Security Apparatus in Poland). The general elections held on January 19, 1947 were falsified at practically every level of the election committees, while opposition was ruthlessly eliminated. Most of the people within the terror apparatus, especially in key positions, were made up predominantly of ethnic minorities. Right after the war, majority of Poles sided with the Home Army and had anti Soviet/anti-Communist sentiments.

         During the interrogations, the UB used Gestapo's torture techniques, including tearing off nails, whacking on the kidneys, crushing the genitals, the latter favored by the sadistic interrogator Julia Preiss-Brystygier (wife of Chaim Brustiger). "If someone only has a little imagination and would like to imagine hell, it is enough to mention the 10th Mokotów pavilion at the Rakowiecka prison. One big scream and groan of tortured people on all floors. Women's screams, men's screams. Such monstrous groans and screams cannot be forgotten by a man for the rest of his life" as recounted by "Radosław" - Jan Mazurkiewicz - head of "Radosław" Group in the Warsaw Uprising during court deposition in 1957 when Home Army soldiers were partially rehabilitated. Memories from the same prison by his wife,"Irma", a liason officer during the Uprising, are recounted in Bartosz Nożycki's book "Home Army Group Radoslaw": "they were pulling out hair from my scalp, knocking my head against the wall, kicking me with shoes on different parts of my body, at night they would throw me naked into a small concrete cell heavily contaminated with human excrement, which was purposefully not cleaned up... trampled my feet, what completely deformed them - causing bloody hemorrhaging and periosteal damage ... my feet were swollen from constant kicking ... I couldn't put on my shoes ... after such beating I was forced to do hundreds of sit-ups. And when I couldn't squat properly, A. Humer [Umer] kicked me ... in the soft parts under the knees, so that I would fall backwards on my head, often crashing on the floor. Another torture was hanging me by the tailbone, which caused excruciating pain leading to deep fainting spells ... during beatings on my face they broke my sternum and a number of teeth, my head was covered with bloody bumps ... this lasted for three weeks. Subsequently, these interrogations... were repeated systematically over a period of six months ... For the next eight months, the investigation was conducted by J. Golberg-Różański for 16 hours a day ... I was forced to stand for 8-9 hours a day, without being allowed to sit down on a chair [e.g.often with hands up] ... I was forced to sit for hours on a special stool, which had skewer with a diameter of only a few centimeters [led to anal bleeding]... my eyesight was destroyed by letting a strong beam of light go straight into my eyes from a short distance ... with a shutter system."


         After several failed attempts to get his family into the United Kingdom in 1946, Wacław Chojna eventually decided to return to Poland when he heard on the Polish radio news of the death of his father-in-law Andrzej Dzikiewicz, painter, sculptor, and teacher at the prestigious Kasprowicz secondary school for boys in Inowrocław. On May 8, 1947, with a group of other Polish soldiers, Chojna was repatriated from Glasgow to Gdynia. He then went back to Inowrocław. Despite his wife's worries he walked around town in his Allied military uniform attempting to find some form of employment. People were afraid to hire him.

         Less than three months after his return he was detained by the UB (Communist secret police) searching for the Kedyw archives in order to identify and arrest its members. Chojna was taken for interrogations to several locations in Poland, including Rakowiecka prison in Warsaw. Chojna was unfortunately identified as an officer who could read encrypted documents from the archives. He simulated memory loss as a result of a confirmed head injury from the Uprising and, despite gruesome interrogations, he did not divulge any names. For years Chojna continued to be harassed by the UB agents, he would disappear for weeks and his family never knew if he would come back.

         Throughout these terror years, in and out of interrogations, Wacław Chojna could not find regular employment, so he took on odd manual work, and then worked as a bookkeeper. His application to the Faculty of Mathematics at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń was rejected purely for political reasons. In the 1950's, with the aid of Jan Mazurkiewicz "Radosław", Chojna got a job at a craft cooperative in Inowrocław, later becoming its chairman. He was a member of ZBoWiD (Society of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy) whose vice president was "Radosław". He was always hoping for regime change, secretly listening to the illegal Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. During protests against the Communist regime in Poznan (Posen) in June of 1956, he swiftly helped start the engine of a tank captured by demonstrating factory workers on the streets of Poznan where he happened to be by coincidence. Due to continuous harassment by the UB secret service, Chojna was never able to pursue his pre-war passion for sports. Even after Stalinist repressions gradually subsided, his only reprevie was playing bridge with a handful of pre-war acquintances.

Wacław Chojna as a chairman of a craft cooperative in late 1960's.

         His wife, Maria, who had spent the occupation in Kraków, returned with her daughters to Inowroclaw in 1945. As part of post-war Communist retaliation against non-Communists, the family was evicted from their pre-war house, which was taken over by a UB officer and his family along with all the furnishings. Maria and her daughters moved into her parents' apartment. Following numerous interventions, the UB officer eventually released Maria's piano from their old home, claiming it was the only item to survive an alleged fire. In addition, a different UB officer with his family were allocated as lodgers to her parents' apartment. That UB officer verbally abused and threatened Maria's entire family and forced her to clean up the soiled toilet after him because, according to him, she did not have "working class" hands.

         Maria returned to teaching history at the Konopnicka secondary school for girls. Her classes were regularly inspected by Communist party school board officials and UB agents, who accused her of not teaching in the Marxist spirit, which ultimately led to her dismissal from the school. Throughout the Stalinist period, she was harassed by officials of many ranks (some of the relevant correspondence has been preserved).

         Despite the difficult situation, she decided to pursue Master's degree studies in history at the Nicolaus Copernicus University at the city of Toruń. Even though she worked every day at a secondary school in Inowrocław, for 3 years she took a train twice a week to attend lectures in Toruń, returning home after 2 a.m.; on one occasion she barely got away from drunk Soviet soldiers, thanks to the efficient assistance of a Polish officer. She was bullied by female UB officers, and the defence of her Master's thesis was scheduled for Friday 13th (she passed with flying colours), earning a Master's degree in Philosophy of History.

Maria with daughters in Solanki Park, Inowroclaw in 1945

Maria playing the piano in 1929
- the only item reclaimed from her home in 1945

         Wacław forbade his daughters from joining the almost compulsory ZMP [a communist youth organization], which led to intimidation in secondary school. Years later one of his daughters summarized it with the following remark: "Hitler deprived us of a normal childhood and Stalin deprived us of a normal youth." They nevertheless managed to receive university education. Krystyna received a MA from Drama School in Kraków and became a theatre actress. Her younger sister, Anna, completed medical studies at the Medical Academy in Poznań and became an eye surgeon.

Krystyna in a play, 1957

Anna, 1956

         Wacław remained in contact with "Radosław" for the rest of his life, even though he did not visit Warsaw very often, aside from the occasional August 1 secret commemorations of the Warsaw Uprising held among former insurgents at the Powązki Cemetery. Initially he travelled to Warsaw accompanied by one of his daughters to create the appearance of a tourist visit. He died of a heart attack in the presence of his daughter Anna and "Hesia", his liaison officer from the Uprising, on December 2, 1976 at the Lindley Hospital in Warsaw where he went in for treatment. He was buried at the Powązki Military Cemetery, plot 32C. At his funeral, Jan Mazurkiewicz "Radosław" said: "Wacek, this is not the Poland you fought for."

Maj. Wacław Chojna's grave at the Powązki Military Cemetery

Commemorative distinction of the Home Army (AK) "Radosław" Group

         Maj. Wacław Chojna "Horodyński" held numerous decorations: the War Order Virtuti Militari 5th class, Gold Cross of Merit with Swords, Cross of Valour, The War Medal, Army Medal for War 1939-45, Home Army Cross, Warsaw Uprising Cross, and Partisan Cross.


Virtuti Militari Cross and Cross of Valour

Cross of Valour certificate Sept 12, 1945

Home Army Cross (AK) card issued in London

Gold Cross of Merit with Swords


Army Medal for War 1939-45 and British War Medal


Warsaw Uprising Cross and Partisan Cross

         Below is a scan of documents from the British Ministry of Defence, Hayes, Middlesex, UK, ref 3/PLF/WA-CH1908/DR2c/W.






         Relatively little is known about Waclaw Chojna's extensive underground work due to the repressions after the war. As late as the 1970s any research or approval of the AK underground movement and the Uprising continued to be discouraged by the Communist regime, and life in a remote city did not afford many opportunities for sharing memories with those who lived in Warsaw. Chojna did not even want his family to know about the "Record of the course of insurgent activities by the 'Radosław' Group" from the Warsaw Uprising (the detailed information contained therein would constitute factual evidence for the Polish secret service that Chojna after all did not suffer from any memory loss after a concussion in the Warsaw Uprising). In the 1980s, Stanisław Wierzyński planned to write about Chojna (to this end, he contacted Maria Chojna during a visit to Inowrocław). Unfortunately, his death precluded this project. Another study, including memories from his time in POZ, particularly the organisation and training of the artillery squadron in Legionowo, was planned by Wanda Kulma, in whose home Chojna often stayed during his clandestine operations, but she too died before accomplishing her goal. Likewise, there is little information about Chojna's liaison officer "Hesia" - a person of exceptional courage and many accomplishments, both in her work for AK/Kedyw and during the Warsaw Uprising.

         1) 'Z dziejów Walk o Niepodleglość', dr. Andrzej Kunert, Komisja Scigania Zbrodni Przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, IPN
         2) 'POZ-Polska Organizacja Zbrojna, Siew-Raclawice- POZ-AK', Stanislaw Pietras, str.69,92,93,109,110,132,149
         3) "Notatka z przebiegu dzialan powstańczych zgrupowania 'Radoslaw'", mjr Waclaw Chojna, por. Stanislaw Wierzynski, Komisja Historyczna b. Sztabu Glownego Warszawa-Londyn 2004, Problematyka i Historia Wojskowosci, MARS 16/2004
         4) Dokumenty W. Chojny, Ministry of Defence, Bourne Avenue, Hayes, Middlesex UB3 1RF; ref 3/PLF/WA-CH1908/DR2c/W
         5) 'Z falszywym Ausweisem... : o komorce legislacyjnej Kierownictwa Dywersji na terenie Obszaru Warszawskiego Armii Krajowej 1939-1944', Stanislawa Lewandowska, Rocznik Mazowiecki 16,75-90, 70
         6) "Jan Mazurkiewicz "Radosław" "Sęp" "Zagłoba"", Stanisław Mazurkiewicz
         7) Archiwum Konspiracyjne pplk W. Janaszka. Wnioski odznaczeniowe
         8) "Oddzialy szturmowe konspiracyjnej Warszawy 1939-44", Tomasz Strzembosz
         9) "Tędy przeszła śmierć-zapiski z Powstania Warszawskiego", Bronisław Troński
         10) "Saga o Bohaterach, 'Wachlarz' IX 1941 III 1943", Cezary Chlebowski
         11) Raport Stanisława Huskowskiego ps. Ali z akcji na Kutscherę
         12) "Zgrupowanie AK "Radosłąw"", Bartosz Nowożycki, Oficyna Wydawnicza Rytm
         13) Wspomnienia Stanisława Wierzyńskiego, Archiwum Akt Nowych
         14) "Niewola w cieniu Alp. Oflag VII A Murnau", Danuta Kisielewicz CMJW Opole
         15) "Mokotów Warszawskie Termopile 1944", Lesław Bartelski

Agnieszka Monika Lawacz-Sampanis, granddaughter of Waclaw Chojna

edited by Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz


         The Powązki Military Cemetery holds a certain secret, certainly one of many.
         Plot 25A is the resting place of 568 officers, cadets and privates who fell in the 1939 siege of Warsaw. These servicemen were originally buried in different districts of Warsaw and subsequently, between December 1939 and June 1940, exhumed by the Municipal Board to the military cemetery.
         On this plot, on grave no. 1-14 (1st row, 14th grave) there is a cross with an inscription "Wacław Chojna, aged 32."

grave 25A 1-14 at the Powązki Military Cemetery

         Two different publications shed some light on this grave:
         - Ludwik Głowacki "Obrona Warszawy i Modlina 1939", p. 389: "- artillery Lt. Wacław Chojna (Aug 4, 1907 - September 22, 1939), commander of 2nd battery 4 PAL, 4 ID, fell in Bielany, I-44."
         - collection of articles edited by Juliusz Jerzy Malczewski "Powązki Cmentarz Komunalny dawny Wojskowy w Warszawie", p. 220: "Chojna Wacław (1907 - September 4, 1939), 2nd Lt. Polish Army. In 1930, graduated from the Artillery Officer Cadet School in Toruń and served in 4 PAL. During the 1939 defensive war, commanded the 2nd battery 4 PAL, 4 ID. Fell in the Warsaw district of Bielany. 25A-1-14."
         There are some differences between the two sources. One introduces Chojna as a 2nd lieutenant, the other - as a lieutenant. One says he died on September 4, the other - on September 22. The resting place differs, too, simply missing from one of the citations.
         Most interestingly, however, the remains in the grave are not those of artillery officer Wacław Chojna. During the September Campaign of 1939, Lt. Wacław Chojna, commander of the 2nd battery 4th Light Artillery Regiment 4th Infantry Division fought with the "Pomorze" Army and took part in the Battle of Bzura. After the division was defeated, he was taken prisoner by the Germans first on September 17, then on September 21, and later after September 25. The soldier who subsequently died in Bielany was mistaken for Chojna because he had been ordered to take a report with Chojna's documents and get through to Warsaw.
         The account of Chojna's later life is presented above.
         When he died in 1976 and the family went about having him buried at the Powązki Military Cemetery, they learned that Wacław Chojna was already buried there. Since then, it has become a family tradition to also light a candle on the other grave, the one from 1939.

Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz,

translated by Agnieszka Lawacz

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