the deputy section leader in the 1st Platoon of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Heavy Artillery Regiment, 2nd Polish Corps of the Polish Armed Forces in the West.
On September 1, 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, the Gładysz family resided in the city of Lubliniec, located in Upper Silesia near the German border. My grandfather, Józef Gładysz, served as a senior constable in the Silesian Voivodeship Police from its inception. Previously, along with his three brothers, he actively participated in the First, Second, and Third Silesian Uprisings, being a dedicated member of the Polish Military Organization of Upper Silesia. During that time, he resided with his mother and brothers in their hometown of Bodzanowice in the Olesno district. After the Uprisings and the plebiscite, Bodzanowice became part of Germany, and my grandfather’s family, due to their efforts to reclaim these lands for Poland, suffered severe repression from the Germans. This forced them to abandon their home and escape to the Polish Royal Subzone, located just beyond the Liswarta River.
These repressions and their escape are documented in Professor Dorota Simonides’ book titled “Silesian Uprisings in Contemporary Folk Narratives” on pages 33-34 in Chapter 15 and pages 34-35 in Chapter 16. “In the village of Bodzanowice, they still speak of the heroic deeds of the Gładysz sons. They hailed from there and were great Poles. They were heroes, such as are rare to find these days.” This is how they were remembered by the people and described in the book “Moi bohaterscy Przodkowie” in 1972.
After seeking refuge in Poland, my grandfather, Józef Gładysz, joined the newly established Silesian Voivodeship Police, where he was assigned badge number 373. In 1924, he married my grandmother, Łucja Skorupa, who was also a participant in the Silesian Uprisings and actively supported the Polish side during the plebiscite in Upper Silesia. Thus, on May 5, 1924, two battle-hardened families, the Gładysz family and the Skorupa family, united. Józef and Łucja Skorupa had two children: a son, Bogusław, my father, born in 1925, and a daughter, Kornelia, who was one year younger. Grandfather Józef served at the Piasek post in Pawonków and, by September 1, 1939, he was stationed at the Polish Silesian Voivodeship Police post in Lubliniec. On September 3, he received orders to proceed in full uniform to the police assembly point in Tarnopol. He bid farewell to his wife and children and was never seen again. The Germans possessed comprehensive lists of Silesian Uprising participants and searched for him several times, unsuccessfully, to apprehend him and, like many other Silesian Uprising participants who had the courage to fight for the return of Silesia to Poland, impose a death sentence on him.
Unfortunately, on September 17, 1939, Józef Gładysz was captured in the eastern part of the country, along with 6,000 other policemen, and taken into Soviet captivity, incarcerated in the Ostaszkow POW camp, where he was designated with prisoner number 3820. In his one and only message, on a postcard that he could send on December 17, 1939, he informed his wife and children that he was in good health and located in Soviet Russia. This was the sole and final contact with his family. On April 27, 1940, based on the expulsion list number 051/1, he was transported from the Ostaszkow camp, along with 99 other policemen, to Kalinin, where he was held in a cell within the building of the NKVD Regional Office on Sowiecka Street. During the night of April ?, 1940, he was executed with a gunshot to the back of the head, using a “Walther” pistol of German make. His body was removed and placed in a truck, and in the morning, it was transported to the village of Miednoje, situated 32 kilometers away, near the Twierca River. There, on the edge of the forest in the recreational area of the Kalinin NKVD, his body, along with those of 99 other policemen who were murdered on the same day, was thrown into a pit and buried, leaving no trace of these heroes.
The family was unaware of the tragic fate of my grandfather, Józef, and still held hope for his return. His son, my father, Bogusław Gładysz, was set to commence his studies in the third grade of the General Gymnasium in Lubliniec on September 1, 1939. Unfortunately, the war outbreak prevented this.
On July 27, 1943, my eighteen-year-old father, Bogusław Gładysz, was forcibly conscripted into the German Wehrmacht. He had no choice: it was either serve in the Wehrmacht or face a concentration camp for himself and his family. The Nazis were already facing such shortages of soldiers that they forcibly drafted the son of their enemy, a Silesian Uprising participant, into their own army. Bogusław Gładysz became an artillery soldier, operating a cannon as a gunner. After the Allied invasion of Normandy in the summer of 1944, he fought in the ranks of the Wehrmacht in French Savoie when the opportunity arose for him to escape from the detested army.
Maybe he read the leaflet “POLISH SOLDIERS IN THE GERMAN ARMY!
Violence has pressed you into the ranks of Poland’s mortal enemies, who have ruthlessly oppressed our Nation. Violence has made you wear the German uniform.
You are ordered to fight alongside the liberation armies of free nations attacking the western wall known as the ‘Fortress of Europe.’ Our Polish Armed Forces are fighting there alongside Americans, Britons, Canadians, and the French. Many of you have already received instructions about what Poland expects from you. The Polish government commands you:
- Do not fire upon your brethren, the soldiers of the Allied Forces.
- If you must fire, miss your target.
- Seize the first opportunity to join the Allied Forces or hide until their arrival.
- Provide accurate information to the Allies when you come into contact with them.
- As soon as you find yourself on the side of the Allies, report that you are Polish, request separation from German prisoners, and seek contact with the Polish military authorities. Your brothers fighting alongside our Allies await your return.
Long live Poland!”
My father decided to desert from the Wehrmacht and immediately put this plan into action. So, on August 28, 1944, Gunner Bogusław Gładysz found himself in the ranks of the Spanish Partisans, also seizing several abandoned artillery pieces, which they successfully used to shell German positions. In this way, they formed the only partisan artillery battery. They were part of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI), in which, besides the French, foreigners such as Poles, Spaniards, Italians, Germans, Luxembourgers, and Armenians also fought. This information comes from the oldest member of my family, who personally heard the accounts of these significant events directly from my father in 1948.
Between 1944 and 1945, the Germans executed 50,000 deserters. My father, a Polish partisan in France who had both served in and deserted from the Wehrmacht, was among those who fought valiantly in the 2nd Polish Corps for the liberation of Bologna during the closing battles of Polish troops in Italy before the final conclusion of World War II on May 8, 1945. These Polish soldiers in the 2nd Corps were predominantly former Wehrmacht soldiers. For their services during these battles, including my father, Gunner Bogusław Gładysz, he was promoted to the rank of Bombardier on May 1, 1945.
On one of the photographs taken in Italy shortly after World War II ended, my father, Bombardier Bogusław Gładysz, is pointing in the direction of Poland. He longed for his homeland and his family. Therefore, on August 20, 1946, he submitted a written request to the Commander of the 12th Heavy Artillery Regiment, Colonel Marian Jędrychowski, for his release from military service in order to return to Poland. On November 5, 1946, he was transferred to the UK No. 1 camp. On November 14, he submitted a written statement about his voluntary return to Poland. He arrived in Poland by ship from the United Kingdom and was registered in the Gdańsk Port on December 22, 1946. It took him only two more days to reach Lubliniec. The wartime odyssey of my father, Bombardier Bogusław Gładysz, concluded on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1946, when he finally stood at the threshold of his family home and could greet his mother and sister. Unfortunately, his father, my grandfather, a senior constable in the Silesian Voivodeship Police, Józef Gładysz, never returned from the turmoil of war. His name is immortalized as a heroic Silesian Uprising participant and a victim of the NKVD on the Virtuti Militari memorial plaque located in the Military Cemetery in Lubliniec. In his lifetime, for his heroic merits, he was decorated with the Independence Medal, the Bronze Cross of Merit, the Cross on the Silesian Uprising Ribbon of Valor and Merit, and the Medal of the Decade of Regained Independence. On November 10, 2007, Senior Constable of the Silesian Voivodeship Police, Józef Gładysz, along with other victims of the Katyn massacre, was posthumously promoted to the rank of aspirant by the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński. He was a hero. Honor his memory!
Both Józef Gładysz and Bogusław Gładysz, father and son, were forced to fight in foreign armies: Józef in the German army during World War I and Bogusław in the German Wehrmacht during World War II.
On one of the preserved photographs, my father, Bombardier Bogusław Gładysz, is wearing a badge of the Artillery Group of the 2nd Polish Corps and some ribbons. Unfortunately, I do not have any information about the specific orders or medals associated with these ribbons, and to this day, these mementos and documents related to them have not been preserved.
Bombardier Bogusław Gładysz couldn’t imagine living abroad, and as soon as the opportunity arose, he immediately returned to Poland. In 1948, out of great love, he married Marianna Antoszczyk, and together they founded a happy family, becoming the parents of four daughters. Unfortunately, a severe illness took him from us in 1959 when he was only 34 years old. He came from a heroic family and experienced a great deal in his short life. He was a hero. Honor his memory!
Granddaughter of Senior Constable of the Silesian Voivodeship Police, Józef Gładysz, and daughter of Bombardier Bogusław Gładysz,