In May at the Royal Castle in Warsaw the annual awards of the Remembrance Custodian were granted. One of the rewarded people was Kazimierz Piechowski. Most people in Poland are not familiar with his surname, and it is a pity – because he is a real hero. It was him who organized the riskiest escape from the Auschwitz camp to which he had got to in June 1940 as a scout.

On 20 June 1942, with his three friends (Eugeniusz Bendera, Stanisław Jaster and Józef Lempart), he stole SS-men’s uniforms and dresses themselves up, and got into a German car in them in order to leave the camp through the main gate. They did not have any documents. However, Piechowski maintained the consciousness of his mind. Being self-confident and speaking fluent German, he convinced guardians that he was an SS – officer. The patrol at the gate saluted him and said farewell to him with the shout ‘Heil Hitler!’

Authentic experiences of Piechowski in the camp should become the foreground of an adventurous film equal to the ‘Great Escape’ with Steve McQueen. Whereas, none of Polish producers or filmmakers has been interested in this issue so far. There may be an embarrassing fact that the person of the main character fascinated the English. The composer Katy Carr wrote a musical work entitled ‘A commander’s Car’ to his honour, and the filmmaker Hanna Lovell made a documentary in which she showed that not only the Jews were killed in the Auschwitz camp. After all, this place is the biggest graveyard in our history – about 150 thousand Poles lost their lives there.

There is also a story about a Pole Jerzy Bielecki and a Jewish woman Cylia Cebulska which is to be filmed. He got to the Auschwitz camp in June 1940 as a 19-year-old man and she got there three years later. In the camp the Germans murdered her parents and three siblings. She was alone. At that time she was 23 years old.

They fell in love with each other. They met in secret from the Germans. On the Eve of Christmas 1943 the boy promised to the girl that he would save her from the crematory and take her away from the Auschwitz camp. They ran away on 21 July 1944. Jerzy stole an SS-man’s uniform from a warehouse, loaded a holster with a piece of metal and with a falsified pass of Rottenfurher SS Helmuth Steiner, he went to the camp ironing hall, where he stated that he had to take Cyla for hearing. In this way they left the camp, although they had skin crawling, when a German guardian at the gate was checking the falsified pass.

The refugees were running to the borders of the General Government for nine days, receiving shelters at Poles’ everywhere, although it was punished with death penalty. Bielecki placed his beloved woman at a Polish family, which treated her as their own daughter and helped her survive till the end of the war, while he joined the National Army.

Soon she found out that he had been killed. Whereas, after the war he heard that she had left for Sweden and died there. So, they arranged their lives differently. Cyla got married and settled in New York. Jerzy got married and settled in Nowy Targ. Not earlier than in 1983 did they find out about each other. When they met together at Okęcie airport, he was waiting with a bouquet of 30 roses for her – they had not seen each other for so many years. She died in 2006 and he in 2011.

These biographies are a read scenario waiting to be filmed in Poland. However, instead of it, we have the ‘Ida’ film based on the life of Stalin’s procurator Helena Wolińska.


„Niedziela” 23/2015

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: