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THROUGH WIRES, PRISON-BARS, AND HANDCUFFS: MEMOIRS OF AN NSZ GUERILLA;Prewar Jewish-Polish Economic Rivalry; Fighting the German Nazis and Soviet Communists; A Houdini-Like Escape

jan peczkis|Thursday, March 30, 2017


Much has been written about prewar Polish boycotts of Jewish merchants, but very little about the other side of the coin. Jewish merchants had banded together to maintain their age-old economic hegemony, engaging in what is now called Jewish ethnic solidarity. Piotr Kosobudzki, a glazier by profession, noted how the Jewish glaziers at Lodz and Dobra had united to (unsuccessfully) drive the newcomer Polish glaziers out of business. (pp. 20-21). Where Jews saw anti-Semitism and discrimination, Poles saw emancipation from Jewish economic dominance: "...the Endeks encouraged Poles to wrest commerce out of the hands of the Jews. More and more Poles began opening shops, and more and more Poles began earning bread and favorable living conditions." (p. 22).


During the Nazi occupation, falling into German hands and betraying one's colleagues under torture was a constant threat. (pp. 106-107). Failing to capture a Polish guerilla at home, the Germans locked his wife and associates in a barn, and torched it. (pp. 209-210). Later, they did the same to a prison filled with Poles. (p. 242). Kosobudzki recognizes the fact that, following the Jews, the Poles were next in line for extermination. (p. 61).

Kosobudzki's NSZ unit waylaid a German ammunition-filled stalled railroad car (p. 117, 124-on), liquidated Polish confidants of the Gestapo (p. 122, 133-134, 183) as well as highly-placed Ukrainian collaborators (pp. 192-199), and unsuccessfully attempted to execute a Polish Blue Policeman (Policja Granatowa) who had shot a member of the Polish AK Underground. (p. 150-on). His unit also destroyed Kwasniewski's bandit band, which had preyed on Poles while pretending to be NSZ. (pp. 136-140). (How many instances of "the AK and NSZ killing fugitive Jews" were actually the deeds of similar bandit pretenders?)

Kosobudzki felt insulted at the audacity of the Communist GL, whose leaders, citing the unavoidable entry of the Red Army into Poland, proposed that the NSZ guerillas redeem themselves through subordination to the GL. (pp. 160-161). Soviet-imposed Communism was literally a second occupation, whose terror matched or exceeding that of the earlier Gestapo. (pp. 226-on).


Long after the entry of the Red Army, many NSZ units continued fighting, animated by the forlorn hope that the US, especially in view of having the atom bomb, would eventually save Poland. (pp. 237-239). Kosobudzki, long disillusioned by western betrayals ("Poland thrown to the wolves to appease them in the false belief that they will leave the west alone": p. 281), finally returned to civilian life (Sept. 1945).

The leadership of the hated Communist security forces (UB, or Bezpieka) was mostly non-Polish, a fact consistent with Kosobudzki's experiences. The Lodz UB leader was Demko, a Ukrainian pretending to be a Pole. (p. 249). Kosobudzki was interrogated and tortured by Jewish UB functionaries--Cebo, Frenkel, and Zajdel. (pp. 248-250). [I myself know Poles who report having once been processed by identifiably-Jewish UB torturers.]

Piotr Kosobudzki performed a Houdini-like escape (my term) from Communist captivity. He learned to free himself from handcuffs, and jumped from a train after breaking its window using his head. He lost consciousness for a time, but had no fractures or serious injuries. Upon his eventual re-arrest, the Communists, marveling at his survival and especially his resourcefulness, offered him amnesty in return for joining them. (pp. 269-271). He refused, and was imprisoned anew. Though disappointed by the temporary nature of the "Gomulka thaw" of 1956, Kosobudzki lived long enough to see the end of Communism.
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