A war hero in my family – a personal story

Zygmunt Kaczyński “Wesoły” (“Cheerful”) was one of the members  of the Polish Underground during World War II in Warsaw. For his supporting yet important role in the “Arsenal Action” he deserves to be remembered and honored. And so it happens that he was… my husband’s grandfather.

This is how he remembers the German occupation:

“I went to the Gestapo for five years. Sometimes every day or even twice a day. I think I’ve been there a thousand times. Szucha Avenue (Gestapo hqs) was a place that people were afraid of most of all, but I was a bit less afraid. Unlike all other people, I knew that they were also afraid. I was at it when they learned about the deaths of Schultz and Lang, shot dead in our verdict. I saw their horror. When you see the fear of another person, it is much easier to master your own.”

Chocolate – key to Gestapo

“I went there with “Wedel” sweets and chocolate. At that time no one, not even the Germans, had chocolate. All of it was sent to the war front. And when a new Gestapo officer learned that a guy with sweets, which he could send to his family to Berlin, was walking around the building, he immediately wanted to get them. The Gestapo men knew that they would get my chocolate only by asking. They could not give me an order in this case, they could not threaten. That is why they not only tolerated me, but indeed, they even tried to win my favor. Of course, I have diversified my own considerations. I only gave hard chocolate to the high-rank officers, chocolate-coated candies – to their deputies. Officers got toffee. Privatege – hard candy and soft fruit. (…)

The most important division for me was the fourth, political, intended to fight the Underground. His boss was Stamm. Auschwitz, Warsaw Pawiak prison , interrogation – everything depended on the fourth division, and this Stamm was a lawyer by profession, a judge. The division, in turn, was divided into branches with the commissioner at the forefront. (…) I knew them all personally. I knew who was in which room and what they did. Hence, it was one of the first tasks I received: to present the exact plan of the building, the structure of the departments, room numbers and private addresses of the Gestapo officers.”

“Arsenal Action”

And for these reasons, “Cheerful” is an invaluable source of information for the Polish underground. It was he who began the famous action of rebounding Jan Bytnar, “Rudy”, on March 26, 1943, brazenly calling in the presence of a German officer to a fixed number and saying the sentence:

“- I send the goods, it must be absolutely picked up!”

 It was an agreed sign that a truck with prisoners, among whom there was “Rudy”, set out for the Pawiak.

Zygmunt Kaczyński, my grandfather-in-law, died on November 26, 1984 and was buried at the Powązki Military Cemetery.