world war 2: warsaw uprising 1944

Juliusz Cwieluch: Love Has Won

Reprinted with permission from Gazeta Wyborcza July 30, 2004, online edition.

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Lucyna in 2004Lucyna – a petite blonde, always smiling, and Zenon – tall, lean, dark-haired with sad and tired eyes. Exactly two days before the Uprising, on a Sunday, 60 years ago, they saw each other for the last time. They met half a year earlier. First, she heard him. He was singing so beautifully, that she just could not fail to notice him. Later she did not even remember what he was singing at the time. She was just mesmerized and kept looking at him. He was standing by the piano and was looking deep into her sparkling eyes. Afterwards he walked her home. He wasn't saying much. Three months later he invited her to a small café at Woolskin Street and proposed. Outside a German patrol was marching away and they declared to be faithful to each other. She did not get a ring. They loved each other – a promise was enough. He was 17 years old and she was one year younger.

They talked a lot, but never about conspiracy. Lucyna had been participating in clandestine classes since 1941. The famous Maria Stypulkowska-Chojecka, pseudonym ‘Kama’, who was working out Kutschera's* case, introduced her to them. "I was observing those girls. First at occasional meetings. Sort of parties. I was checking whether they could be trusted," recalls ‘Kama’. "I was in the seventh grade and they in the fifth. Gradually the parties changed into resistance work. Lucyna adopted the pseudonym ‘Anna’. She was carrying resistance bulletins and was training to become a paramedic." The paths of ‘Kama’ and ‘Anna’ parted. ‘Kama’ never met Zenon. "Even if we would continue meeting each other, she still probably wouldn't have introduced him to me. At that time people seldom spoke of their feelings even to loved ones, and moreover to a stranger," recalls ‘Kama’.

They holding hands during walks demonstrated that they were in love. "He never kissed me. He was too embarrassed, just like me," recalls Lucyna Maciejewska. They were doing everything to meet as often as possible. Maybe that's why he wasn't writing any letters to her, or maybe he was embarrassed of them just as of the kisses.

Even when he left to join the Uprising he did not tell her where he would fight. He just asked her to wait for him. He promised to find her. She went to the Uprising in a dress and sandals. Only the shoulder bag filled with dressings could reveal that she was someone more than just a petite sixteen-year old. Young boys were dying in her arms and she prayed that her sweetheart would not be one of them. She was afraid that she would recognize him among one of these children's faces. In mid-August one of the girls brought her a letter from Zenon. "Actually it was a small piece of paper with a few lines scribbled on it. It was difficult to decipher. The words were forming a unreadable line," says ‘Anna’. He wrote that he is wounded and in a bad condition, that he has to hurry and that would like them so much to be together. He wrote the letter in his own blood. "I was told that he was hit in the left arm. He was bleeding heavily. He only managed to writ e a few words," says ‘Anna’.

It is not known when and where he died. The girl, who brought the letter, said that he was fighting in the ghetto. But died at the end of the fighting in the Wola district. In the database of the Historical Museum of Warsaw there is just a brief mention about him: "Taken into captivity on August 5." The same day executed at Gibalskiego Street. Fighting in ‘Waligora’ squad. It is not known who provided this information. The ones who survived from the squad do not remember Zenon. However, they do not believe much in the execution at Gibalskiego Street. "I was there on that day. They did not execute anyone because our soldiers were still there," says Jan Kieszkowski ‘Blyskawica’. And the boys from ‘Waligora’ squad are not surprised that he is not mentioned in the Warsaw Uprising Encyclopedia. "Mainly boys from workers' families were fighting in the Wola district. They were first to shoot, but they weren't apt at writin g. There was no one to write down our names, and now the memory is gone," says 82-year old Zdzislaw Wladynski, pseudonym ‘Pius’, and resigned inhales a cigarette.

Lucyna does not remember exactly how she survived the Uprising. However, she remembers well the moment she left Warsaw. "The commanders were asking us whether we were carrying any items that could give us away as having anything in common with the Uprising. I had this letter from Zenon. When they learnt about it they would not leave me alone. They were telling me all the time to destroy it because we all would get killed. I could not stand it anymore and tore it to pieces," says ‘Anna’, but she hasn't forgotten her sweetheart. She never got married because she promised to be faithful to him. She just missed having children. However, she overcame this problem as well. She started to work in a kindergarten.

She resides in a two square meter room in one of the Warsaw Social Assistance Homes at 6 Elekcyjna Street. A cheerful young woman is looking from a photo on the wall and a sad face of the Virgin Mary from the desk. "I am very happy because what happened was the God's doing," says the old lady in a beautiful red necklace as we bid her goodbye.

* General Franz Kutschera, a chief of police and SS in Warsaw, assassinated by members of the Polish Home Army on February 1, 1944. [ed.]

Photo: Albert Zawada / AG
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