ABOUT HOW A WARSAW INSURGENT GAVE HIS LIFE FOR TWO GERMAN WOMEN
Fr. JAN KRAWIEC
In April 1940, my father – Michał Krawiec, residing in Żabnica no 29, the district of Żywiec – was deported to compulsory works in Germany. During the whole occupation, he worked with about 2 thousand workers in Oels (now Oleśnica), from where he and other Poles were deported to Wrocław in 1945, because of the approaching Red Army, where, as a carpenter, he had to build shelters for ‘Festung Breslau’ –‘Wrocław fortress’, which was to be defended till the last soldier by the German garrison of nearly 80 thousand people, onto the order of Hitler. After nearly 3-month bloody fights with the German army, the Soviet army gained ‘Wrocław fortress’ on 6 May 1945.
During one of instant Soviet attacks, my father and his friend, coming from Ostrów Wielkopolski, were freed. At that joyful moment, despite artillery bullets falling and exploding around, they started retreating towards Oleśnica, in order to return their homes quickly. On their way, they were joined by a 20-year-old young man, who had been deported to compulsory works in Germany, after the defeat of the Warsaw Uprising. Having walked a small distance, on a road leading to Oleśnica, they witnessed a shocking situation. Two drunk Soviet soldiers took two German women out of their house, mother and her probably 18-year-old daughter. A drunk soldier was trying to throw the crying and heroically defending herself girl, obviously for one reason, and another soldier was trying to do the same with her mother who was desperately defending herself. The poor, terrified women, desperately defending themselves, and seeing three men passing by, wearing their jackets marked with the capital letter ‘P’ – Pole, sewn on their jacket lapels, started shouting: ‘Oh, God, oh, Blessed Mother, help us!’ and they also started calling for help: ‘Poles, please, defend us! Poles, rescue us!’.
A young man, passing nearby and hearing this pleading, desperate calling for help, did not hesitate: he instinctively threw his old briefcase and quickly ran to help the innocent victims. MIchał and his friend ran with him. The man strongly pushed away the drunk soldier from the young girl desperately defending herself. The soldier fell on the ground and unlocking a gun, he aimed a series of bullets at the stomach of the young Pole. When the soldiers saw the letter ‘P’ on the young man’s jacket, they quickly ran away into a side street, from the approaching Soviet patrol.
The dying young man, not known to my father, bleeding with his last strength and tears in his eyes, said: ‘I am dying for you, defending your women’s dignity’. When these words of the deceased brave young Pole were translated by my father’s friend to the German women trembling with fear, being emotionally moved, they fell onto their knees by the killed man, and crying like children, were kissing his cool hands with great gratitude and respect, saying: ‘Oh, God, we are the cause of your heroic death’. After a while, they ran to their home quickly, in order to hide themselves from approaching soldiers.
After his return home and telling his friends Jakub Wojtyła and Melchior Słowikow, my father noted: ‘Maybe, if the Pole’s parents had survived the Warsaw Uprising, they are waiting for their son, who will not come back to them, will not write a farewell letter, will not see destroyed Warsaw, because he, having forgotten the harm done by the Nazis Germans to him and the Polish nation, gave his life in order to defend the innocent, weak German women, so that they would not be hurt’.
There might have been hundreds or thousands of such noble people of various nationalities, who in the years of the last war, gave their lives with love to God and their neighbours. And although because of clear historical reasons, their heroic actions will not be mentioned, or they will not be canonized as martyrs, we should not forget about them – as the Holy Father John Paul II said in his homily on 7 June 1999 in Bydgoszcz.