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Łukasz Ciepliński

Łukasz Ciepliński (October 26, 1913– March 1, 1951) was a Polish soldier who fought in the Polish anti-Nazi and anti-communist resistance movements.[1] He used noms de guerre Pług, Ostrowski, Ludwik, Grzmot, and Bogdan. Ciepliński was executed at Mokotów Prison in Warsaw, shot in the back of the head by the Polish secret service, Urząd Bezpieczeństwa. For almost fifty years, his name was expunged from all books by the Communist government of the PRL.[2 ]

Contents

Early years

Ciepliński was born in the village of Kwilcz, Kreis Birnbaum (Polish: Powiat międzychodzki), in the German Empire's Province of Posen. Although Poland was partitioned, he grew up in a patriotic family. As his native village was located on the then-western outskirts of Polish ethnic territory, his parents– Franciszek Ciepliński and Maria née Kaczmarek– taught him Polish history and traditions as a child. His great-grandfather fought in the Greater Poland Uprising (1848), while his older brothers fought in the Greater Poland Uprising (1918-1919). His parents were owners of a bakery store, and Cieplinski was one of their eight children.

Young Ciepliński started elementary school in Kwilcz, but completed it in 1929 in Międzychód. After graduating from high school, Ciepliński went to the Third Cadet Corps in Rawicz, and in 1934 to the Military College in Ostrów Mazowiecka. In 1936 the young officer joined the 62nd Infantry Regiment in Bydgoszcz, where a year later he became leader of an antitank unit.[2 ]

World War II

Ciepliński was twenty-six years old when World War II began. He participated in the Battle of the Bzura and in the Kampinos wilderness, trying to get across Wehrmacht lines to besieged Warsaw. His participation in the Polish September Campaign was noticed by General Tadeusz Kutrzeba, who personally awarded him the Virtuti Militari for destruction of six German tanks. Cieplinski, who was commandant of the antitank unit of the 62nd Infantry Regiment, destroyed the tanks on September 17, 1939, near Witkowice.

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Resistance movement

In mid-September 1939, Ciepliński managed to reach Warsaw and take part in the defense of the city. When the Polish capital surrendered, he decided to continue the struggle. In late fall 1939, he moved to the environs of Rzeszów, and from there, crossed the Carpathian Mountains to Budapest, where he came into contact with the Polish military. In early 1940, after further training, Ciepliński returned to occupied Poland. He was apprehended by the Ukrainians in Baligród, who handed him over to the Germans. Imprisoned in Sanok, he escaped in April 1940, and dressed as a Lemko peasant, eventually reached nearby Rzeszów.[3]

Successes of Ciepliński and his men

After returning, Ciepliński started to participate in the Polish resistance movement. Promoted to commander of the Rzeszów District of the Związek Walki Zbrojnej, later called the Home Army, he distinguished himself in several operations. Ciepliński took part in numerous attacks on German outposts in the areas of Rzeszów, Dębica, and Kolbuszowa. A skilled activist, he organized a successful intelligence network. His men liquidated some 300 Gestapo agents and collaborators. In the spring of 1944, his unit captured V-1 and V-2 rocket parts.[3] Furthermore, Ciepliński's operatives located Anlage Süd, a secret headquarters of Adolf Hitler, found in a rail tunnel near the town of Strzyżów.

In the spring of 1944, Ciepliński, now promoted to major, carried out the so-called “Kosba Action”, aimed at the liquidation of the Nazis in the area of Rzeszów. Soon afterwards, when Operation Tempest began, his unit, reorganized as the 39th Infantry Regiment, participated in the actions that liberated Rzeszów on August 2, 1944.

After World War Two

In the summer of 1944, Rzeszów and its adjacent area was captured by the Red Army. The Soviet Union ordered all Home Army members to give up their arms and to enter the Ludowe Wojsko Polskie. Ciepliński strongly opposed and resisted this idea.

Anti-communist movement

On the night of October 7-8 1944, Ciepliński's unit undertook an unsuccessful attempt to free some 400 Home Army soldiers, imprisoned by the NKVD in Rzeszów Castle. Then, in early 1945, he moved to Kraków and participated in the anti-communist NIE resistance movement. In mid-1945 he joined Wolność i Niezawisłość (WiN), becoming commander of the Kraków District of WiN and soon afterwards the Southern Poland District of WiN.

In early 1947, fearing repressions, Ciepliński moved with his wife Jadwiga from Kraków to Zabrze, where they opened a textile store.[2 ] Under his skillful leadership the WiN organization thrived, mostly in the propaganda and intelligence fields. Even though the situation in Stalinist Poland was quickly deteriorating, Cieplinski kept on saying a Latin motto "Against hope, I am keeping hope" ("Contra spem spero").[2 ] Ciepliński tried several times to get in touch with Western Allies to inform them of the situation in Poland. He managed to do it once, together with the officials of the Belgian embassy, he smuggled documents informing the West about Poland.[3] The NKVD and Urząd Bezpieczeństwa were tracking him the entire time, and finally, on November 28, 1947, he was arrested in Katowice.

Imprisonment

On the following day, Ciepliński was transported to the infamous Mokotów Prison in Warsaw. For months he was kept in solitary confinement, lit day and night by a very strong lightbulb. He was brutally tortured, with NKVD agents personally overseeing the interrogation. His legs and hands were broken, so for meals his companions had to carry him in a blanket, and due to torturing, he went deaf in one ear.[2 ] The tortures lasted for three years; in a letter smuggled from prison, Ciepliński wrote to his wife, “I was lying in a puddle of my own blood, I had no idea what I was asked about and what I was saying”. He also wrote to his beloved son Andrzej: "You see, son, together with mom we always prayed so you would grow up praising Christ, serving the Fatherland, and making us happy. I wanted to help you with my experience, unfortunately these are perhaps my last words to you. These days I will be murdered by the Communists for fighting for ideals I am conveying to you in my testimony. Mom will tell you about my life, and I will be dying believing that you will not let me down".[3]

The trial finally took place in October 1950 in the Military Court in Warsaw. On October 14, Ciepliński was given five counts of the death sentence and 30 years of imprisonment. His family appealed to president Boleslaw Bierut, asking him to change the verdict, but Bierut refused, stating that Cieplinski and his men "in their hatred of Poland and Soviet Union, did not hesitate to commit any crime".[3] The execution took place at 6 a.m. on March 1, 1951 in the basement of the Urząd Bezpieczeństwa prison in Warsaw. Shot in the head, he probably died on the spot. His family never received the body, and the burial place is still unknown.[2 ]

On the same day, six other WiN activists were shot: Adam Lazarowicz, Mieczysław Kawalec, Józef Rzepka, Franciszek Błażej, Józef Batory, and Karol Chmiel.

Comic book

In early December 2007, Rzeszow’s branch of Polish National Remembrance Institute (IPN) announced publication of first IPN’s sponsored comic book. The work presents life of Lukasz Cieplinski, it was created by Rzeszow University’s Wojciech Birek (author of screenplay) and Grzegorz Pudlowski, who drew all pictures. It is entitled "Against hope", and has 46 pages, but as Birek says, Cieplinski’s life deserves many more pages.[4] The book begins in a courtroom in the early 1950s, during Cieplinski’s trial. Then it moves back, presenting his life - Polish September Campaign and his conspirational activities. Also, the authors mention other activists, who cooperated with Cieplinski.

Honors

For fifty years Ciepliński’s name was banned from public use. The widow, Wieslawa Cieplinska and their little son Andrzej, who was only 3 years old when his father was executed, were ostracized and lived in poverty. After the collapse of the communist People's Republic of Poland, the new democratic government honored him posthumously with the Virtuti Militari 5th Class, on a decree of President Lech Kaczyński on May 3, 2007. Tablets dedicated to his memory can be found in Rzeszów and Kwilcz; the 28th Elementary in Rzeszów has been named after him, as well as a street in the same city. In 2011, the authorities of Rzeszow plan to unveil his monument.[5].

See also

References

External links


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