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Apr 17, 2024

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Communist Poland’s “Villain”
Becomes Free Poland’s Hero

Major Lupaszka – posthumously gets his due

By Robert Strybel
Warsaw Correspondent

WARSAW–After decades of being discredited and ignored by communsit Poland, another Polish freedom-fighter has finally received his due. Major Zygmunt Szyndzielorz (1910-1951) fought in the 1939 September campaign against the invading Germans under General Władysław Anders. Outmanned and outgunned by the invaders, he had hoped his unit could make it across the border to join the Free Polish Forces in the West. Captured by the Soviets, he managed to escape and eventually ended up in Wilno.

There he worked at different jobs under assumed names and eventually joined the Home Army (Armia Krajowa), Nazi-occupied Europe’s largest underground organization. He was known by his nom de guerre (military pseudonym) of Łupaszka, which can mean something like the Splitter or Cracker. His leadership qualities enabled him to inspire his men’s fighting spirit and he was soon he put in command of the Polish 5th Wilno Home Army Brigade. (Łupaszka is pronounced: “woo-POSH-ka”.)

During the war, Łupaszka and his men fought against regular German troops, Nazi-backed Lithuanian police and Soviet partisans and continued their fight even after the US and Britain recognized Poland’s Soviet-installed puppet regime. The group attacked communist party, police and UB (secret police) outposts, captured enough weaponry to arm 600 men and even successfully engaged the NKVD, Stalin’s Gestapo.

When the communist foe was hot on its heels, Łupaszka’s unit moved to another part of Poland under the cover of the country’s extensive woodlands.  The very name “Łupaszka” struck fear in the hearts of local communist officials and collaborators who could never feel safe with him in the area. But after it became clear in spring 1946 that the US and its allies did not plan on launching his hoped-for war on the USSR, Łupaszka disbanded his unit and returned to civilian life under assumed names.

In 1948, he was finally arrested in the Tatra Mountains and subjected to two years of brutal interrogation and torture at Warsaw’s grim Rakowiecka Prison. In 1950, a rigged show trial sentenced Łupaszka to death on trumped-up charges of espionage, treason, crimes against humanity, murder, robbery and, above all, opposing communist rule, Three months later, on February 8th 1951, he was murdered with a Soviet-style pistol shot to the back of the head.

The communists dumped Łupaszka’s maimed and battered body into an unmarked, common death hole and built an asphalt road over it. Not only his corpse but even his memory were to be obliterated for all time. It was not until 2013 that researchers from the Institute of National Remembrance using modern DNA testing identified his remains among those of some 250 other victims of communist terror.

Major Zygmunt Szendzielorz, posthumously promoted to the rank of colonel, was finally laid to rest with full military honors this past April. Speaking at his ceremonial re-burial, President Andrzej Duda said. “After 65 years, through our memory of the heroism of the Accursed Soldiers,* we are restoring Poland’s dignity. (…) Rest in peace in your family grave. May Poland be in your dreams.”

Poland’s current climate under the pro-patriotic Law and Justice government has been conducive to the public media’s high-profile coverage not only of Łuzpaszka’s belated funeral but also his heroic exploits and those of other undaunted anti-communist freedom-fighters. That general ambiance is also observable amongst many of Poland’s young people now showing a renewed interest in historical re-enactments, para-military groups and various patriotic activities. Under the previous pro-business Civic Platform government, the MTV generation was more concerned with instant gratification.

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