Insurgents' accounts of the Uprising
Wartime memories of Marek Tadeusz Nowakowski - a soldier of Lawa's unit
Warsaw's Aviation Group 1941-1944
In the autumn of 1940, the Germans allowed for the reopening of Year 11 and 12 classes for students who had started secondary school before 1939, so I signed up for the "2nd level preparatory course for vocational studies", which was the Year 11 class of the secondary school in the name of Stanislaw Staszic that I had attended before the war.
This "course" was located in the architecture department at Warsaw Polytechnic, a large pre-war building near 55 Koszykowa Road. The syllabus of the course included both the Year 11 and 12 syllabi - even the textbooks were the same as before the war. The only classes not given were Latin and Polish History, but we studied those ourselves, outside of class. Many of my friends from before the war were in my class; however, a large number had disappeared and nobody knew what had happened to them. The two years joined to became one big class and a few new boys from other high schools in Warsaw or other towns, mainly Pomorze and Poznan, were added.
That's how I was reunited with my friends from before the war. They were also the friends that I went to underground school with during the winter of 1939/40.
I immediately sat with Felek Sobczynski, from underground school. Behind us sat Jurek Rencki, who I've known since I was a kid - probably even before nursery, since we played together at the park near Bagatela Road - as well as Janek Kozniewski, known as Janosik or, at school, Koza. Janosik was the son of one of my dad's friends from Lvov Polytechnic from before the First World War and, before the war, we'd been in the same class. There is a bit of confusion here, since Janosik claims that he went to school in Goldanowien in 1940-41 and only came to Koszykowa the following year. But it wasn't school that bought me closer to Jurek and Janek - it was aviation.
We were inoculated with aviation since day one because we lived close to the Mokotow airfield, which was basically the centre of aviation during the inter-war period. The first regiment of hunting aviation was stationed here, as well as the RP Aeroclub and Polish Lot Airlines HQ. Not to mention that near the airfield were Experimental as well as National Aviation Plants, above which test flights for Challengers, Gordon-Bennetts and other new machines were carried out, so various planes and gliders circled above our houses non stop.
Before and during the first year of the war, my interest in aviation had a strong competitor in the Navy, which I had been passionate about from a young age. Just before the war, the urge to one day sit behind the wheel of a machine myself started to manifest, a machine like those which incessantly flew above our houses. It was really only during the first year of the war that I finally decided my interest leaned more towards aviation, and this brought me to the aviation group that was being created.
Janosik had a very active approach to aviation and he was the first one of us to start building models of planes and gliders. These were little models made of paper or plasticine which we played with by throwing them from the balcony - the paper, flying ones - and having competitions to see whose would fly further, or having battles in the air using the paper-plasticine models, and even "bombarding" by dropping tiny explosives onto cardboard houses or other targets.
In the winter of 1940, Janosik and Jurek - maybe through Andrzej Trzcinski or maybe Iwo Blauth - met Czapski, an engineer, pre-war pilot and well known model maker, who began teaching them how to build flying models.
I was quickly pulled into their group, along with Zbyszek Sloczynski, Staszek Suszczynski and Lech Gaszewski. However, I didn't have the same level of passion as they did towards construction and my attempts to build flying and scale models left a lot to be desired.
Many years have passed and these days, I can't remember many details from back then. Only short, unrelated scenes remain. I remember Czapski as quite a tall man, with a moustache and a lofty attitude. Maybe he wasn't actually so tall but he seemed it to me, as I was fifteen at the time - I hadn't had my growth spurt yet, so I was on the shorter side. We often made fun of Czapski, especially when he decided our time at his house - a villa near Langiewicza Road - was nearing its end, and would stand up and say to us: "I'll leave with the men". Then he left, saying goodbye to us just after the front gate. We began using this excuse every time we wanted someone visiting us to leave. Andrzej Trzcinski, the oldest, whose room we used often, said it the most. The words "I'll leave with the men" were a less brutal way of telling a guest to finally get out.
Everyone who took part in the model-building course more or less diligently worked on theirs, which I too attempted to do, but I wouldn't say I was a gifted model-maker. My one and only masterfully constructed bamboo model - CZ-1, designed by yours truly - achieved one short and unfortunate flight, crashing, breaking and never flying again. And that was the only flying model I ever built. I preferred making scale models of ships and planes, but this preference didn't bring any particularly special achievements to fruition and I had nothing to boast about. Clearly technical things were not my vocation.
My "constructional underdevelopment" did not, however, stop me from being passionate about the models built by my friends and I always attended the test flights for the new "machines".
I remember one chilly, snowy day where we went to the Mokotow airfield to "release" - or, more professionally, "test" - models and Koza was trying a freshly built model he'd made out of balsa wood (I don't remember whether it was him who designed it, or Czapski) called CZ-2. That glider flew fantastically, leaving all of us in awe. Crazy to think that that same day my magnum opus had fallen apart during its first moments in the sky...
The group of boys interested in model making and aviation slowly grew even bigger, and we ourselves were going through fast changes. At the end, we were fifteen or sixteen, and beginning to feel more grown-up.
Sometime around spring, Czapski started to bore us so Janosik and, following his example, Jurek, began building models of their own design. It was inevitably thanks to the influence of Andrzej Trzcinski, who had already started doing that. Around this time, the engineer Czapski somehow quietly vanished from our circle.
At the end of summer, or maybe early autumn 1941, we started thinking and talking about how we could organise ourselves. The initiator of these plans was Andrzej Trzcinski, who had already achieved all three levels of the Civil Glider Proficiency badge before the War and was the secretary of the Young People's Aeroclub in Warsaw. In our talks this topic came up very often especially because, regarding practical matters, we had to work together to get balsa wood, washi (Japanese paper) or even just cardboard. So our "organisation" happened naturally, but maybe only Andrzej knew what his end goal was.
THE CREATION OF W.A.G.
These days I no longer remember whether it was spring, or just after autumn 1941, whether it was a Sunday or a weekday; but, one historic day, Jurek Rencki, Janosik Kozniewski and I showed up at Andrzej Trzcinski's villa on the corner of Langiewicza and Sedziwska Road. The villa belonged to his mother, who ran a café on the ground floor during the War.
Staszek Wadolowski joined us in Andrzej's room. I don't remember whether anyone else was with us. Andrzej was sitting at the table by the glider model he'd been working on. The rest of us just sat wherever.
The room was on the first floor and fairly small - its' key characteristic was the constant mess and smell of cigarettes (which Andrzej smoked in high amounts) mixed with acetone fumes and sawdust. This specific smell was there constantly, no matter if the balcony window was open or not. The room was built into the peak of the roof, and the angled walls added a sort of extra atmosphere. But everything matched Andrzej and to this day I can't imagine him without thinking of that room.
Andrzej was fairly tall and thin, with a long face and a monotone, slightly nasal voice. His long, pale face rarely showed emotion apart from the occasional light smile. The paleness of his face led to his nickname "blady" (t/n "pale"), - though not without the influence of English, once we learned of its similarity to the vulgar word "bloody". I don't remember if I ever heard him laugh out loud; instead, I remember his fairly restrained "heh, heh, heh...", through almost-closed lips. He chain-smoked, inhaling shallowly, making his way through huge amounts of cigarettes. He was very funny, sarcastic, able to look at things from a wider perspective. The fact that he was six years older than us gave him lots of power but he never abused it - he was one of us from the very beginning, though he never lost his authority.
That day, the conversation didn't start off very specific but we very quickly moved onto the topic of how important it was to create a real team and, since we liked making our thoughts into something real, we exchanged opinions and decided what the ground rules of this future organisation would be. Of course, the ease with which we agreed on our positions and the speed of our decision-making was a result of multiple previous conversations about the necessity of bringing an organisation of our own to life, but it was definitely that day that we had an idea for the name: "Warsaw's Aviation Group", and, more importantly, the constitution. The author of this constitution was of course Andrzej Trzcinski, the only one of us who had experience with organisations such as these and knew what a statute was meant to look like. Everything we chatted about and decided on was noted down by Jurek Rencki, who Andrzej had requested take minutes.
We decided that the friends who had been part of our group before and who we trusted fully would become the first members. The temporary president was Andrzej Trzcinski, Jurek Rencki was elected secretary, Staszek Wadolowski the treasurer, Janek Kozniewski was to take care of training and I, the books. The other founding members were Andrzej Berezowski, Iwo Blauth, Zbyszek Sloczynski, Staszek Wozniak and Lech Gaszewski. Titles weren't really a big deal since we didn't give any importance to the hierarchy and being a founding member didn't come with any special privileges, though we did anticipate having honorary members who were extraordinary and accomplished.
If anything would lead to being removed from the organisation, I don't remember, but the discussion on this lasted a fair amount. We may not have even specified who could become a member of the W.A.G., and the statute wasn't particularly precise, nor did it lead to any disagreements between us, since it was written by us during the short sit-down that we proudly called the "founders' meeting". Our main objectives and decisions regarding the make-up of the administration were to be confirmed at the first founding members' meeting.
The minutes from this meeting and the meetings that followed were collected and added to the "W.A.G. Records". These were eventually burned by my parents when they began to worry they would be reviewed at our house, since we had completely ignored our own rules about the whole thing being kept top secret. Why it ended up at my place I have no idea, and the events which led up to the dramatic destruction of this historical object will be detailed further in a later memoir.
The key objectives of our organisation were developing and deepening knowledge about aviation as well as something a bit loftier, which I don't remember. Members had to be... I don't remember us giving any sort of specific requirements about the kind of person we would accept, and I doubt it was of great importance for us at the time. In any case, there was a rapid influx of members and very soon, our group had grown to around 20.
As if all our organisational efforts weren't enough, Staszek Woźniak designed a W.A.G. logo, which was subsequently formed in white metal by an engraver who was a friend of one of our members. From that moment on, at the Staszica Scout Camp, one could find young boys and girls sporting our badge. This didn't really reflect the clandestine spirit of our organisation but careless times are careless times, and that was just the stage of life we were in back then.
W.A.G. IN ACTION
Once the organisation was officially formed, we approached our activities with renewed vigour. What had, until now, been vague ideas to do this or that, became operations stemming from the goals of our Group.
Operation #1 was obtaining balsa wood and washi (Japanese paper) from the pre-War LOPP shop on Wilson square in Zoliborz, where leftovers were kept. Several trips were done and as much as possible was collected. The most active helpers here were the head modellers Janosik Kozniewski, Andrzej Trzcinski, Jurek Rencki and Andrzej Berezowski. Most members of the Group, however, were people who weren't so much avid modellers as aviation enthusiasts, or even aviation-enthusiast enthusiasts who joined W.A.G. with their friends.
From the very beginning, the individual character traits of each W.A.G. model-maker began to show. Janosik Kozniewski turned out to have the most incredible talent when it came to building flying models. His creations stood out by not only their refined shapes, but above all their results. Most of the records set were by "Koza" - that's what we all called him. His competition was Andrzej Trzcinski, Jurek Rencki and Janek Tomaszewski (who never officially belonged to W.A.G.), but their models didn't have the same finesse or results as those constructed by "K". Andrzej Trzcinski made a few sizeable machines, whose results were overall very good, but not amazing. Others' achievements were sporadic and mostly achieved in very favourable conditions. However, each new flyover of one of Janosik's models drew in a curious crowd, ready for something sensational.
Constructors and builders such as Antek Radwan and Jerzy Martin created their own division. Radwan made one or two models and Martin maybe one, but they were very well-thought out and interesting constructions showing careful consideration of aerodynamics and mechanics. In their case, what was important was not whether they beat a record, but how the models behaved in the air and whether they would achieve the minimum expectations of their constructors.
A model aeroplane constructed by Jan Tomaszewski
One time, Janosik made a fairly complex model of light construction and very refined profile, intended for extremely slow flights. Everyone oohed and ahhed over it and waited with interest to watch its first flyover. Released from a forty-metre cable it flew majestically and... disappeared in the clouds, swept away by currents, never to be seen again. In any case, before leaving our sight it managed to beat the Polish record, according to our friends who measured its flight time.
As you can see from the photos that have remained until today - taken mainly by Lech Gaszewski - models and model-makers kept coming and over time there even arrived a new generation of constructors, brought to life under Janosik's watchful eye.
One could say that the milestones of W.A.G's action were the model championships, which we organised twice a year. Though the first games were still quite humble and organised by amateurs, the next ones, after some time, became more "adult" and... official.
If we're talking scale models, the only serious contender in W.A.G. was Staszek Wozniak, whose models were masterpieces of precision. His only "competition" was maybe Tomaszewski, but he wasn't part of the Group.
W.A.G. started becoming serious fairly quickly, not just because we were growing up, but also because older people began to join, ones who had pre-War links with military and civil aviation as well as the industry. They wholeheartedly supported our ventures and wanted to support us further with their presence. It was them who organised an elementary theoretical course with a programme not dissimilar to the one they themselves had followed at LOPP before the War.
Lectures took place at my or Janosik's house. A decent amount of people frequented the course, because after all, everyone wanted to fly one day. The lecturers were Iwo Blauth, Andrzej Trzcinski, Tadeusz Mech, Janek Zdzienicki and possibly engineer Madejski.
The atmosphere during lectures was very friendly and comfortable, but not too relaxed, since everyone wanted to make the most of their studies. Later on, we had exams during which we were questioned hard. If I recall correctly, nobody dropped out and we all obtained diplomas, of which one copy remains to this day. These diplomas were to give us the right to immediately begin practical training in gliders or planes following the war.
The pre-war pilots who joined W.A.G. (or those with whom we made connections thanks to the Group) allowed us, later, to join the circle of those "in the know"; that is to say, to get closer to the civil guards and learn various war conspiracies.
Model planes for examining tunnels, 1942.
Our plans for the work of the Group were very far-reaching and, in 1943, we'd already started planning for the post-War period. Among other things, we purchased a brand new PZL-Junior plane engine from a scrapyard by Towarowa Road for 500zł. At the time, it was for educational purposes but we planned that, after the war, it would be used to power our own W.A.G. aeroplane... Of course, this machine would be designed and built by us, the members.
What an adventure it was with this engine! It weighed about 100kg, maybe even more, and it was laying there at the scrapyard, where we were meant to take it and transport it somewhere where it could see better, post-war days. I don't remember where we got the wheelbarrow to take our treasure home from but off we went: Janosik Kozniewski, Jurek Rencki, Andrzej Berezowski, the President - Andrzej Trzcinski and me. To keep it on the down low we had a sheet to cover our "treasure" with. When we arrived, we discovered we had also been given a rest made out of steel pipes. We loaded all of this into the wheelbarrow, covered it with the sheet and went on our way. As luck would have it, one of the wheels fell off near the exit onto Zawisza square and the wheelbarrow spun on its axis with a loud sound, while the engine and its rest fell onto the road. I don't know why, but our first instinct was to scatter like flies. It must have been out of fear that a Blue or German police officer would become interested in why, how and where we'd found this brand new plane engine, and what we planned to do with it. But we quickly calmed down, put the wheel back on, reloaded the wheelbarrrow and continued on our way.
The original plan was to keep the engine at the Kozniewski residence, but this turned out to be impossible, so my parents agreed for it to be stored in my room. Carrying it up to the sixth floor was no mean feat, but somehow we did it. I don't remember now, but it's possible that we managed to fit it in the lift, which was fairly spacious and had wider doors than today's lifts. In any case, the engine made it to the sixth floor and stayed in my room, in the honorary place, serving as an exhibit during lectures in aviation theory and later causing a sensation among my friends from underground high school. Later, just before the uprising, it was moved to the Kozniewski residence on Niepodleglosci Alley and put on the balcony, where it burned to the ground along with the rest of the building.
The library that I was meant to be looking after was quickly expanding, with an increasing number of mainly German books. These were stolen from "Die Deutschebuchhandlung" that was part of the so-called "Dom bez kantow", and was in the building which previously housed the main military bookshop in the suburbs of Cracow. The specialists of "retrieving" books from there were Blady and Staszek Wozniak, who we called "Szmatlawiec" (t/n "Rag"). They stole not only books about aviation from there, but also handbooks about German weaponry and any other topics they thought could be useful to us.
AVIATION THEORY COURSE
This course was organised in autumn 1942 to prepare us so that we could sit in a machine and fly into the air right after the end of the war (with an instructor of course).
The lecturers were our older friends, such as engineer Tadeusz Mech, Iwo Blauth, Andrzej Trzcinski, Janek Zdzienicki, engineer Madejski and others, whose names I no longer recall. It lasted a fair few months and lectures were held either at my house or at Janosik's. At the end, we had exams and all of us recieved a diploma signed by the lecturers.
Since my sister's underground schooling was also taking place at our house during this time, there were so many young people coming and going that Mr. Ritter von Hesso-Agasowicz, a volksdeutsch who lived two floors below us, suggested to my dad that it might be a good idea to limit the number of visitors a bit. This happened after the end of the course.
Like I said earlier, the gliding model championships were our big festival and a way of presenting the achievements of our constructors.
We had fairly humble beginnings, in the spring or autumn 1941. We started meeting up almost every Sunday at the Mokotow airfield, where those eager to take part brought their models, released them on a standard 40m cable, and one of our friends timed their flight duration with a stopwatch. At the first event, there were no more than about half a dozen models and the audience was made up of W.A.G. members, along with a few allotment gardeners and passersby. But nearer the end of our modelling activities, in autumn 1943 - by which time we had a lot less space, since most of the original airfield was taken up by allotments - the event we held gave the impression of an official party organised with flair and expecting a large audience.
The championships ended up being held twice a year - in spring and autumn. The former for the models constructed during the winter, and the latter for those created over summer. The management of the championships was initially only made up of a panel of judges, but fairly quickly expanded to also include a technical panel, as well as security. The number of people taking part steadily grew; the first competition was made up of only a few models and players, and the whole thing lasted maybe two or three hours. There were no official results, no real audience and those who stumbled upon the event weren't particularly taken by what was happening.
Once the models started becoming more refined and colourful (and there were more of them), competitors' friends and acquaintances wanted to know what was going on, and the number of spectators observing the championships grew to dozens. The audience was also joined by Germans, mainly SS men from the barracks in the old WSE building near Rakowiecka Road, and others, barracked in the old State Forests Directorate building. German pilots also made an appearance and, at the last competitions, the support division "Flak", whose battery was entrenched in SFD buildings, was fairly well-represented.
Our coexistence with the SS men from Rakowiecka worked fairly well. If one of our models landed in their territory, which happened a few times, they always gave it back with no problem. Of course, those who spoke German would go over to the fence and the Germans would bring the models over, if they had landed a bit further away.
I don't know whether the fact that we acted so obviously was the reason the police and Gestapo paid us no mind, but it's likely. In any case, nobody bothered us or questioned the fact that all our models had the logo "SP", which was the international sign of Polish planes - that is to say, planes from a country whose existence Germans didn't acknowledge.
The most effective and well-organised championships were the final ones, held in autumn 1943. People from several different classes submitted their models, and the finalists were decided according to the rules of the games and required confirmation after being checked by the technical commission. There were so many that we had to create a "parking space" to know which models were where. As a consequence, the judges and technical panel had some extra beaurocracy to do and required a little table. Noticing that there was a sizeable audience, we decided to loudly and officially announce the start and end of flights, as well as scores, so somebody was chosen to be the games' "speaker". All of this required us to have a specific area for the audience so they wouldn't walk over the "runway" or distract the competitors. Security stood by the judges and technical panel. In short, the games were organised as if it wasn't the fourth year of occupation, but rather like if we lived in free Poland.
The fourth games at the Mokotow airfield, 1943.
It was a fine Sunday, so many passersby were walking through the airfield, and the large number of flying models with vibrant colours and refined shapes made them stop. Like this, the games drew in many spectators, both Polish and German. The latter didn't always want to follow our rigorous rules, but speaking to them in pretty good German usually did the trick. They probably thought it was the local German kids organising the whole thing. Anyway, the games were going by without a hitch and looking fairly impressive.
Suddenly, sometime in the middle of the games, an uncovered Mercedes drove onto the runway, a proud German aviation general sitting in its backseat. He stepped out and came over to the models. There was a bit of a kerfuffle, but luckily our head judge, engineer Tadeusz Mech, known by the nickname "Porost" (t/n "Lichen"), intervened.
Tadzio, who had studied at the Gdansk polytechnic, spoke fluent German, so he introduced himself to the General and asked politely for the car to be moved off the runway. The General immediately ordered his chauffeur to park the car to whatever place we pointed out. This automatically made an impression on the other Germans and we had no problems with them for the rest of the games (as sometimes they wouldn't stand where we told them to).
The German Aviation General's visit at our games
Meanwhile, Tadzio was telling the General various things regarding our constructions and their results. He then asked the General to take a seat in the seat of honour, which I don't know if we had prepared, or whether he had just improvised.
The games continued as if nothing had happened. The models lifted off, the judges gave their comments through a loudspeaker, and Tadzio Mech entertained the General with his conversation. After a solid half an hour the General said goodbye to Tadeusz, saluted the panel of judges and left in his car.
For some time after his departure, we wondered whether there would be any negative repercussions of his visit; would he would tell the authorities that the "SP" logo on our gliders' wings was actually a provocation, a manifestation of our patriotism. As it turned out, nothing ended up happening and we finished these games like all the others, unaffected by the occupation authorities.
* * *
These autumn games in 1943 were actually the end of the W.A.G.'s modelling work. It didn't, however, mean that certain modellers themselves stopped doing their thing, but in winter 1943-44 most were focusing on matters more related to the war and its conspiracies, as opposed to the work of the Group.
The only one who still took part in W.A.G., or rather took care of its youngest members (known as "szczawiki" - "Sorrel") was Janosik Kozniewski. He consulted with them whenever they came to him for advice and went with them to flyovers. The rest of us met up as more of a social thing, rather than at meetings or lectures.
However, we were constantly thinking about what would happen to us when the war ended. In our minds, it was an end completely unlike the one that was to come. We were counting on the possibility that, as an organisation, we would become part of the Independent Republic, and that we would be able to continue developing our plans. Andrzej Trzcinski even designed W.A.G. uniforms and we discussed the various serious undertakings before us.
Keeping in mind these future plans, we made contact with the underground aviation guard (thanks to the older members of our Group) and obtained funds to design and build an aerodynamic tunnel for flying models which Andrzej Trzcinski worked on. More importantly, we now had the opportunity to do something we'd always dreamed of but never thought could really happen - that is, publishing our own newsletter.
Aside from this, the conspiracy, both aviation and war related, specifically the technical intelligence assessment, had caught our interest. Aside from this, things related to publishing our newsletter "Wzlot" ("Lift-Off"), which we regarded as the W.A.G. newsletter, left us no time for anything else, especially since a decent amount of us had another important thing ahead of us in spring 1944: Matura (similar to A-Levels).
To obtain an adequate level of experience to protect against being caught and taken to work in Germany, part of the W.A.G. members began a course in the technical vocational school near Three Crosses Square. One of the professors and tutors here was engineer Stefan Waciorski, who was very actively engaged in conspiracy work.
In January 1943, thanks to Stefan Waciorski, Jurek Rencki began talks regarding the publishing of a youth newsletter called "Wzlot". The head editor of this newsletter would be Maria Kann. The other editors were Captain eng. Maciej Kalenkiewicz aka "Kotwicz" ("Anchorman"), Jerzy Rencki, and engineer Stefan Waciorski. Among others, those who worked with the editorial team were: Captain Adam Borys aka "Pług" ("Plough"), excellent pre-war pilot Tadeusz Derengowski, and plane inventory specialist engineer Stanisław Madejski.
I learned that we had got in contact with Maria Kann - known to me back then as "Kamilla" - from Jurek Rencki, sometime near the beginning of 1943. I no longer recall whether we had talked about this during a meeting with a few others or privately, but anyway, "Grzyb" ("Mushroom") said he was super excited specifically about the fact that future contact with Murka would be upheld via a very attractive liaison girl, pseudonym "Dusia".
Something that stuck in my memory fairly well was reading the first draft of an editorial written by Jurek Rencki - "An appeal from the Polish youth to the youth of the Allied Nations". It was like our creed, our dream, and our vision of the future all in one; after a brief discussion, we agreed with what he had written. The text, corrected by Murka, ended up on the front page of one of the issues of our newsletter. For me, the most important thing about this editorial was that I could sign my name beneath it so that even today, the world can see the dreams we chased.
An appeal from the Polish youth to the youth of the Allied Nations
We would like to talk to you all about the thing that is our goal, that gives meaning to our lives and that which could be the only remedy for the enormity of evil and pain we are facing. We'd like to talk to you about the future.
Right now, you do not understand our reality. We know this. Words cannot explain it and facts are not adequate either. To understand it, it is not enough to know it - you have to see it and feel it.
Our lives are like life in the jungle. But even that life comes with its own rights. We are constantly fighting for the rights which have been taken away from us.
In the jungle, life goes on, despite death waiting at every corner. All of us are trying to live our lives to the full, until the very end. So although we die in battle one by one - life goes on.
We are young, but we already know that our reality matters less than our approach to it, and that our fate is not as important as that which we come to understand from it. So not knowing the day or the hour, we are constantly fighting, and looking toward the future; no longer just ours, but that of our country, of the whole world. And so we call to you all:
Creating the future, remember: it is only done by respecting the rights and dignity of the people, the laws and the honour of nations!
Turning to you, who understand these truths, are we who see what happens when they are ignored, when the opposite is done.
The motto of changing the world in the name of equality and international rights, based on Christian love - used by you, gave us more strength than the armed advantage, moral authority and trust between nations.
Hitler's lies are becoming the strongest reason for his doom, and the authority gained by you all lets us look positively towards victory. And if the harmony between words and actions continues, we will win not only the war; more importantly, we will win peace.
These new rights must be ones which allow a person and a country to fully develop themselves. But neither a person nor a country can have themselves as a goal - they must reach toward something higher and more spiritual. Thus, an individual must fulfil their destiny for the good of society, and society must bring together individual efforts.
We who are trapped and you who are free, fighting together, find deep in ourselves the same values. If we have them before our eyes while working on political transformation, we will definitely find the correct solutions that everyone with goodwill would agree on. In the future we will set huge goals, and give ourselves huge opportunities to realise them.
We, the youth, cannot ignore this important moment, when we are able to start from scratch.
We call you to build a future based on teamwork. We already know what brings one to hate another person or another country.
Let our mutual understanding and our friendship be the cement which seals the foundations of the new world we are creating, without which "every day is a wasted day".
We call to you from a different world, unattainable to you. Do you hear us? Do you understand us? Are we right in saying that our youth brings us together more than our reality divides us? Are we right in our faith that we aren't dying for nothing, but rather for a better future for our nation and the world?
We await your response!
The thought of publishing a newsletter - or more of a bulletin - had been thrown around W.A.G. from its very beginning, but we never expected that we would become the kind of team which was the centre of a real newsletter.
The title page of the first issue of "Wzlot", May 1943
The fact that "Wzlot" even came into being was a mixture of concidence and necessity. The necessity was the desire in some circles of the Air Ministry and in the propaganda sector to have propaganda which worked against that of the Germans. German newsletters such as "der Adler" and "die Wehrmacht" enjoyed fairly large readership from youth. Another necessity: supplementing the learning of branches subordinate to the Air Ministry. The coincidence was that we happened to be in contact with Waciurski and Madejski and they had seen in us a great basis for building an editing team for the newsletter. Of course, we came to an agreement after explaining our terms. We didn't want to be too dependent on Scouts and other organisations. We accepted the Air Ministry and its needs but we didn't agree that the newsletter should have a character that was very war-like, and of course we wanted one of our own to be the head editor. This person was Jurek Rencki, our secretary.
Our responsibilities were mainly writing articles and finding material. It was for the needs of "Wzlot" that I began to recieve the technical magazine "Flygt" from Swedes who lived in Warsaw, which was used afterwards by "Dural". Or maybe it was the other way around and I started borrowing "Flygt" for Dural, I can't say for sure. I think after I showed them the first issue of "Wzlot", I received "Flygt".
The Swedes who recieved the first issue of "Wzlot" from me loved it so much they even gave us financial support a few times.
Actually, those who I delivered "Wzlot" to, and who had the means to support us financially, never said no, seeing the quality and level of our newsletter.
While doing various technical drawings for "Dural", I only asked Waciurski once for permission to use the material going through my hands for "Wzlot". It was the diagram/blueprint for the Jumo 1001 engine. After a couple of weeks, Waciurski granted us permission and we were one of the first to publish it.
Jurek Rencki, the head editor, was the only one of us to have constant contact with head editor "Murka". We gave him photographic material - mainly done by Zbyszek Sloczynski, Lech Gaszewski and Staszek Wozniak - carried packages, and did various other small but useful tasks. The one who shone in terms of writing as an author was Jerzy Martin. His article on the topic of oscillation theory (or something along those lines) was a revelation and brought the paper up to a more sophisticated level.
The appearance of each new issue was a very exciting time for us and we read it from cover to cover commenting on and discussing specific articles, as well as the issue in general.
Like many other newsletters, we decided (I say "we", because I don't know exactly where this idea came from and I suspect that, like many others, it was born from a discussion or conversation between us) to announce a competition. The prize was to be a wonderful model of a "Mosquito", constructed by Staszek Wozniak.
Lots of entries were sent to us, of course secretly, and I no longer remember whether the winner was randomly selected or someone who gave the correct answer. In any case, the winner was chosen and the prize was sent secretly. Some time later, one of our friends came with the information that he'd spotted Staszek's Mosquito in the window of some building and apparently near Warsaw. (Unfortunately, time erases facts from the memory and not everything can be told exactly as it was). This was our proof that we had readership and our distribution was working.
But not everything went by smoothly and painlessly. The Germans discovery of "Lord", who printed Wzlot at his printing house at Saska Kepa, caused the destruction of one entire edition. And about 300 issues of the next edition which were being kept in my house burned when a shoot-out broke out the floor below us. We were waiting for a redelivery that could come at any time, while I lay there with a shot leg. That day, the "W.A.G. Records" also burned, with all our photos and names.
But "Wzlot" continued and in spring 1944 we started discussing our dreams of what it would look like once we became free. None of us could have imagined that all of this would end with the destruction of the city and our world turning upside down.
Marek Tadeusz Nowakowski
elaboration: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz
translation: Laura Christopher
Marek Tadeusz Nowakowski,
born 01.04.1926 in Warsaw
2nd Lieutenant (wartime commission), Home Army
nom de guerre "Abba"
Protection unit of the Home Army Air Force Command - Lawa's company
POW No. 102331
Copyright © 2017 SPPW 1944. All rights reserved.