A REPORT FROM THE HELL

Lidia Dudkiewicz, The Editor-in-Chief of ‘Niedziela’

A famous writer Zofia Kossak-Szczucka is a very important person in the history of ‘Niedziela’. After the Warsaw Uprising she and her daughter Anna got to Częstochowa, similarly as a lot of other inhabitants of the capital city. It was Zofia Kossak-Szczucka who went to the bishop of Częstochowa teodor Kubina when the war actions finished, in order to suggest reactivating ‘Niedziela’ and then she joined the editors of our weekly. Unfortunately, in July 1945 she had to leave for the West because of being under threat of being arrested by the Communist Security Service. The prominent writer returning to Homeland in 1957 was solemnly welcomed at the airport in Warsaw by representatives of state authorities and journalists , among the others, from the Polish Radio. All officials were, however, frightened by the words which she said then. And later in a radio report the following fragment of her statement was removed: - Instead of words of thanking which I should say, instead of welcoming, I will say my Polish greeting: May Christ be praised. As, although this 1000-year-old Polish greeting, it might have been acknowledged that it did not suit the new millennium begun by the communist authority. Zofia Kossak was uncompromised and brave. She did not accept the State Award of the First Degree granted to her in 1966 by the authorities of Polish People Republic. She justified her refusal with the hostile attitude of the authorities towards the issues holy for her.

There might be a lot of our readers who will be surprised but it turns out that Zofia Kossak used to publish the memories of a prisoner in ‘Niedziela’, entitled ‘Labour camp’, every week for the whole year 1945. Those texts were published anonymously till 2 September 1945, when for the first time the initials Z.K. had appeared by the title. The ‘Labour camp’ is a record of women’s fate, who were transported from the Warsaw prison in 1943 on Pawiak to the German camp in Auschwitz. Zofia Kossak was also being transported then. In April 1944 she got to Pawiak again with her death penalty. She was released from prison just before the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising.

And she was just staying in Częstochowa, where she wrote the book entitled: ‘In abyss’, published in 1946. It was memories from the camp hell, which she had shared on pages of ‘Niedziela’ before. The second publication of the book appeared in 1958 with a changed title – ‘From the abyss’. At present the book is available in publication of the National Museum in Auschwitz and Publishing House Book and Knowledge. In the introduction to this book we read: ‘God let some people watch the hell during their lives and return, so that they would testify the truth’.

We have a special occasion to pay tribute to Zofia Kossak – on 9 April this year there is the 50th anniversary of her death. A lot of facts of her heroic life must be shown and memorized. It was her who wrote a protest in 1942 as the first intellectualist against persecution of Jews. When the extermination of Jews began, she set up a Council of Help to Jews ‘Żegota’ and saved thousands of people. She was hiding Jews in her house. Unfortunately, there are still opinions harming Zofia Kossak, as some people consider her an anti-Semite. Whereas, in order to save Jews, she even put her life at risk as well as life of her own children who were leading people out of the Warsaw ghetto. Do we still need stronger facts in order to stand in the truth?

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 14/2018 (8 IV 2018)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl