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Bill Rushin
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:10 am      Post subject: Nowy Targ and Waksmund During WWII
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Genealogy and local history can lead you to many clues and facts while researching your family. A case in point that I have discovered happened while I was following up on one of my Rusin relatives. About five or six years ago I sent an e-mail to a bed and breakfast I found on the Internet that happened to be located in the village of Gron where my ancestors are from. This bed and breakfast had advertised in English and Polish so I figured I'd could communicate with them. I politely asked if they knew of any Rusin's living in the area. The kind lady replied to my e-mail and stated that there was a old man named Rusin in the village but she thought he had died recently. She remembered him because the Nazis had burned his house down during WWII. I found that comment interesting because I have never thought about researching what possibly could have happened to my relatives in that time period.

I studied about two or three weeks in high school about World War II on a grand scale in 1971. Now knowing that one of my possible relatives may have been personally involved piqued my curiosity. A few years later I finally made contact with one of my Rusin cousins' (Wach) who lived near Waksmund and he shared some information from his family tree with me. One of the names he listed was Elzbieta Rusin who was my grandfather's niece. A small note was placed next to her name "murdered by the Nazis 1943". I was unable to get further information about this because of the language barrier between us. But after that piece of information I became very interested in what might have occurred in Podhale during the war. So I started searching the Internet for stories relating to World War II in Nowy Targ and the Zakopane area and I found a lot of information with some horrendous stories. After I had searched for about six months off and on I discovered a web site named "The Doomed Soldiers". This is a fantastic site if you are interested in learning about Poland, the Home Army (AK) and the Partisan's during WWII.

At the Doomed Soldiers website (where I have now been reading for months) I discovered a story about a man named Jozef Kuras who was a local Górale from Waksmund. What I did not realize there was a great underground group of Partisan's of local Górale who fought against the Nazis and later on the communist Russians who ruled over the Poles until 1989.

With permission from Robert, editor at the Doomed Soldiers website, he has allowed me to post a little bit about Major Jozef Kuras's and then I will continue with my family connection to all of this. (a link to the complete story is below)


Last edited by Bill Rushin on Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:48 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:16 am      Post subject:
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Jożef Kuras


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:24 am      Post subject:
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Major Jozef Kuras and the “Lightning” Partisans Unit.

“First we fought for the Polish Eagle – and now we fight for his crown. Our motto: God, Honor, Country.”

(An excerpt from the leaflet distributed by Maj. Jozef Kuras “Ogien” soldiers during April and May 1945, in the cities of Szaflary and Nowy Targ. (“Lightning” in Polish is “Blyskawica”)

During the period of Nazi and, thereafter, Soviet occupation, the Podhale region (similarly to that of the Lublin area), became a battlefield, where both the Polish underground, and the occupying forces utilized considerable manpower during large scale operations. At the outset of the Soviet occupation, one of the largest concentrations of partisan units in Poland, was operating in the Podhale region, and was commanded by Major Jozef Kuras, nom de guerre “Ogien” (English “Fire”). In the Nowy Targ county alone, his units disarmed all communist People’s Militia (Polish. abbr. MO – Milicja Obywatelska) stations, in addition to those in Zakopane and Szczawnica - and some of those were disarmed more than once. The fear of “Fire’s” partisans, paralyzed activities the communist Polish People Party committees (Pol. Polska Partia Robotnicza – PPR).

Kuras imposed taxes on communists, placed patriotic Poles in local government positions, liquidated snitches, and torturers from the UB (pol. Urzad Bezpieczenstwa – Polish Secret Police), NKWD (rus. Narodnyi Komitet Vnutriennykh Del" - Committee for State Security), and other most dedicated lackeys of the new communist regime. The propaganda machine of the Polish People’s Republic (Pol. Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa – PRL), left no stone unturned to portray Kuras’s soldiers as a common gang of thieves, and their commanding officer, as a dark character, with hands bloodied by deaths of innocent people, among them Jews. Not surprisingly, these slanderous accusations became grounds of declaring Major Jozef Kuras “Ogien”, and his soldiers anti-Semites.

At the end of the war, and with the rise of the Communists, the Holocaust or Shoah, as it is sometimes called - proved a gift from the Nazis to the Communists, and especially the Soviets. Intimations by Polish Communists that Polish patriots were implicated in these atrocities were sallied to chill the voices of those who might speak in the defense of them, lest one find oneself speak up for an SS collaborator (German- Schutzstaffel, a Protective Squadron) .Likewise, the Soviets could - through pervasive innuendo, libels and slanders - venture that their hegemony over the eastern bloc was a bulwark against renewed depredations against the Jews by indigenous populations predisposed towards anti-Semitism.

Many historians are of opinion, that falsification of “Ogien’s” biography was one of the most skillfully conducted propaganda operations conducted by the communists. Despite that however, the memory, and the legend of Major Jozef Kuras “Fire” and his soldiers, is alive today not only in the Podhale area, but also in the entire Poland.

Major Jozef Kuras

Jozef Kuras was born on 23 October, 1915, in Waksmund, near Nowy Targ. He was the youngest son of Jozef and Antonina (nee Ligeza). He had brothers Wladyslaw, Wojciech, Jan, and Michal, and also younger sister Maria. During 1921-1926, Jozef Kuras attended schools in Waksmund, and during 1928-1933 attended the Nowy Targ Gymnasium. In 1936, he was conscripted into military and served with the 2nd Podhale Rifle Regiment (Pol. 2 Pulk Strzelcow Podchalanskich – abbr. 2PSP) stationed in Sanok, and thereafter was sent to the junior officer school of the Boarder Security Korps (Pol. Korpus Ochorny Pogranicza – abbr. KOP) in Glebokie, where he was promoted to the rank of a Corporal. After completing the Junior Officer’s School, Kuras was ordered to serve in Slobodka, near Wilno. Honorably discharged from the military, he resumed work on his family farm, and became involved in local politics.

In this fashion, he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, who already in 1923 was organizing local branch of the Polish People’s Party (Pol. Acronym PSL) “Piast”. In the mid-thirties, active under the auspices of the People’s Party (Pol. Acronym SL), the branch lead by his father numbered nearly 50 members, which placed it third in the county right after the cities of Nowy Targ and Maruszyn.

During late spring, 1939, Juzef Kuras was called for several weeks, to participate in military training with the 1st Podhale Rifle Regiment (pol. 1 Pulk Strzelcow Podchalanskich – abbr. 1PSP) in Nowy Sacz, and was mobilized on 24 August, 1939.

At the time the II World War erupted, Jozef Kuras fought in the ranks of the 8th Company under command of Cpt. Lucjan Swierczewski. The entire regiment, including Kuras’s company engaged the advancing German forces, in Limanowa, Nowy Sacz, Bobowa, Szymbar, Jaslo, Krosn, Dynow, Bircze, Mosciska, and the Janow Forest. On September 18, 1939, two days after the Soviet forces crossed the Polish boarders (as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact), and began simultaneous attack on Poland, the staff of the 1st Podhale Rifle Regiment decided to capitulate. Jozef Kuras and several other officers didn’t choose lay their arms however, and decided to make an attempt to reach France, and continue fighting. After an unsuccessful attempt to cross the border, on 14 October, 1939 Jozef Kuras returned to Waksmund. As the German occupation arrived to the Podhale region, the Nazis began their policy of germanification of its population.

In case of the inhabitants of the Podhale region, commonly known as “Gorale” (Highlanders), the Nazi propaganda bolstered, that they are an ethnically-different, non-Polish population, that shares ancestral roots with the Scandinavian Goths, and thus, are part of the “Greater Germanic Race”. As a part of the Nazi plan called the "Goralenvolk", not only the "highlander language was taught in schools, but the inhabitants of the Podhale region, who identified with their "highlander" background, were offered better living conditions, and were encouraged to migrate and work in the Third Reich. The difficult task of combating policies of the "Goralenvolk" was undertaken by the ZWZ (Pol. Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej - the Association of Armed Struggle), the Home Army (pol. Armia Krajowa), County representative of the Government Delegate's Office at Home (pol. Powiatowa Delegatura Rzadu), and SL Roch (pol. Stronnictwo Ludowe - People's Party). While united in the principle, all of these organizations operated independently, and such divergence couldn't possibly produce the desired outcome. Only in May, 1941, on the initiative of Augustyn Suski, graduate of the Jagielonian University, and well regarded mentor of the rural youth, and lecturer at the so called rural universities. The consolidation of these efforts culminated in the establishment of the "Tatra [Mountains] Confederacy" (Pol. "Konfederacja Tatrzanska"), whose primary goal was armed resistance of Nazi occupiers, and restoration of sovereign, and democratic Poland. The membership in this newly formed consortium, consisted of individuals, who prior to the eruption of the WW II, were involved populist rural politics in the Podhale region; among them Jozef Kuras, nom de guerre "Orzel" (Pol. "Eagle"), who became the head of the Tatra Confederacy branch in Waksmund. Because of his involvement, already in June, 1941, the Tatra Confederacy organization in his area, demonstrated considerable success in combating policies of the "Goralenvolk", resisting Nazi attempts to export strategically important resources, such as lumber, and opposing repatriation of local populations to the Third Reich.

It is among these individuals, that an idea of creating armed, diversionary group operating against the Nazis took shape. Because of the fear of arrest, right from the moment the unit was created, Kuras visited his home only serendipitously, and during nights organized armed operations against Nazi administrative, and economic institutions, including those in Lupaszna, Zaflary, and Odrowaz. His group took part in destroying population lists, inventories of goods to be exported to Nazi Germany, lists of contingents, and also collected money and provisions. As a result of the Gestapo internal surveillance activities, aided by their agent, Stanislaw Wegner-Romanowski, the Tatra Confederacy was destroyed in 1942. From among the units of the Tatra Confederacy, only the unit operating under Jozef Kuras remained intact. At this time however, their members limited contact with local population to a bare minimum.

In 1943, Kuras is dealt a horrific personal blow. On June 29, 1943, the Nazis encircled Kuras’s family house, and murdered his 73 year-old father, his wife Elzbieta, and their 2 ½ years old son, Zbigniew. Through information received from the informers, the Nazis retaliated for the execution of two “Gray Police” men, who were also Gestapo agents. After murdering his family, they burned the house. Thereafter several hundred SS-men, policemen, and Gestapo personnel encircled the entire village of Waksmund.



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Bill Rushin
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:35 am      Post subject:
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“A part of an expeditionary force encircled the houses, and raced all the inhabitants of the village – not excluding the old, the women, or children – onto the cemetery, where they were ordered to lay down with their faces to the ground. Then all those selected by the Nazis, along with captured partisans, and were raced to the school building, which served as place of execution (Polish- kaznia). In the evening, at 8 p.m., all lying down were ordered up to kneel, in order to hear the sentence: 33 persons were selected and sentenced to concentration camps, 5 partisans were sentenced to death, and they were shot on the spot. Among those taken to the concentration camps were ‘Ogien’s’ brothers – Wojciech, and Wladyslaw who were sworn members of the "Tatra Confederation".

As a result of this tragedy, and to signal beginning of a new chapter in his fight against the occupiers, Jozef Kuras changed his nom de guerre from “Orzel” (Eng.-“Eagle”), to “Ogien” (Eng.-“Fire”).

Please go here to read the complete story and battles of Maj. Jozef Kuras, the Gorale partisans and the Home Army (AK) and others. The Doomed Soldiers http://www.doomedsoldiers.com/about-Jozef-Kuras.html

Now we have some idea on what was going on in Nowy Targ and Waksmund at this time. The place was crawling with Nazis and Gestapo. They were picking out local citizens and murdering them if they suspected you were part of the underground Partisans. My relative Elzbieta Rusin had married Franciszek Cyrwus and they now lived Waksmund. A few months ago Polish Origins member Mark Cyrwus and I discovered while chatting in the Back of the Yards forum that we are related to each other from this connection. Mark mentioned that his family had visited the cemetery in Waksmund in 1995 with his parents. Mark was unaware that some of his family were discussing the fate of Elzbieta and Franciszek with locals while at the cemetery. I did not know that there was a memorial marker placed at the cemetery until cousin Mark sent me a partial scanned photo of it that he obtained from his aunt. I then contacted my American friend who lives in Nowy Targ and he stopped by Waksmund on the way to work and got some photographs of it. From these photographs I was able to extract all 45 names and vital information for each victim.

I was told by my 85 yr. young cousin Irena Kmiotek (Elzbieta was her aunt) that there were three major pacification in Waksmund by the Nazi's. During one roundup 3 months after Kuras's family was murdered, (September 1943) Elzbieta and Franciszek Cyrwus were taken from the house and both were shot in the face by a Nazi Captain for refusing to give information of the whereabouts of their son who was suspected of being a member of Kuras's Partisan group. Someone local had snitched to the Nazi's that the son would come out of hiding in the forest and retrieve food hidden in a hay stack near the home on occasions. As you can see on the marker the two sons and their uncle were also murdered later on.

Stanislaw Mroszczek name is listed on this memorial marker who died on March 15, 1945, he was also relative of Mark and I, notice that he died in the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen which was located north west of Nowy Targ. Stanislaw died within a week of Margot and Anne Frank who was also incarcerated there. This Nazi death camp was liberated only a month later.


Last edited by Bill Rushin on Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:46 am; edited 2 times in total
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:55 am      Post subject:
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Waksmund cemetery


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:00 am      Post subject:
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Waksmund memorial marker


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:05 am      Post subject:
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Waksmund panel 1


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Bill Rushin
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:08 am      Post subject:
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Waksmund memorial panel 2


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:11 am      Post subject:
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Waksmund memorial panel 3


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:36 am      Post subject:
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POLEGLYM W WALCE O WOLNOSC OFIAROM TERRORU HITLEROWSKIEGO W LATACH 1939-45
Killed In The Fight For Freedom For Victims Of Nazi Terror In The Years 1939 to 1945

(Memorial For Victims of Nazi Terror who were killed in the fight for freedom 1939-1945)


April 24 2012
Waksmund Memorial List
B. Rushin

(LName FName DOB DOD POD)

BARANIAK, Jakub 14/12/1897 - 26/04/1945 Waksmund
BEM, Wladyslaw 24/09/1921 - 28/12/1943 Kamienica

CYRWUS, Elzbieta 27/10/1897 - 28/09/1943 Waksmund
CYRWUS, Francizek 23/10/1893 - 21/02/1944 Waksmund
CYRWUS, Jozef 13/10/1920 - 21/02/1944 Szczawnica
CYRWUS, Francizek 12/07/1913 - 23/04/1944 Plaszów
CYRWUS, Wojciech 18/12/1882 - 16/11/1943 Plaszów

DLUBACZ, Franciszek 22/09/1922-04/07/1943 Waksmund

GARBACZ, Jan 10/03/1899-04/07/1943 Waksmund
GARBACZ, Michal 22/03/1901-11/02/1944 Waksmund

KOPEC, Stanislaw 29/09/1923-21/01/1944 Gorce

KURAS, Elzbieta 04/11/1917-29/06/1943 Waksmund
KURAS, Zbigniew 17/12/1940-29/06/1943 Waksmund
KURAS, Jozef 27/01/1870-29/06/1943 Waksmund
KURAS, Michal 23/01/1909-06/12/1943 Plaszów

LIGEZA, Jakub 25/06/1896-08/11/1943 Plaszów
LIGEZA, Katarzyna 15/02/1897-07/01/1944 Plaszów
LIGEZA, Józef 23/02/1904-27/03/1945 Waksmund

MROSZCZAK, Stanislaw 18/03/1923-15/03/1945 Bergen-Belsen

NIEMIEC, Jakub 25/06/1905-07/09/1942 Gross-Rosen
NIEMIEC, Józef 30/04/1921-04/07/1943 Waksmund

REJCZAK, Jozef 08/01/1916-05/07/1943 Katowice
REJCZAK, Józef 04/02/1898-23/09/1943 Waksmund

ROGAL, Katrazyna 16/07/1893-08/12/1943 Slaszow
ROGAL, Józef ??/09/1925 21/02/1944 Szczawnica
ROGAL, Jan ??/?5/1919-21/02/1944 Szczawnica

SIUTY, Franciszek ??/?9/1898-23/09/1944 Tylmanowa

SRAL, Franciszek ??/02/1903-28/12/1943 ??????
SRAL, Jan ??/??/1905-14/07/1913 Waksmund
SRAL, Jozef ??/??/19??-??/??/1943 Waksmund
SRAL, Rozalia 25/09/1904-03/11/1943 Plaszów
SRAL, Wladislaw 11/11/1911-03/10/1942 Krakow

TRABKA, Stanislaw 03/11/1916-28/09/1943 Ostrosko

WAKSMUNDZKI, Franciszek 12/04/1897-28/09/1943 Waksmund
WAKSMUNDZKA, Katarzyna 16/06/1912-28/09/1943 Waksmund
WAKSMUNDZKI, Jozef 21/12/1921-28/09/1943 Waksmund
WAKSMUNDZKI, Wladislaw 12/06/1924-16/06/1943 Kamenica
WAKSMUNDZKA, Rozalia 13/01/1882-27/11/1943 Plaszów
WAKSMUNDZKA, Helena, 12/12/1922-29/11/1943 Plaszów
WAKSMUNDZKI, Jan 21/05/1906-17/07/1943 Waksmund
WAKSMUNDZKI, Jan 03/08/1897-11/02/1944 Waksmund
WAKSMUNDZKI, Jozef 05/06/1900-15/04/1945 ??????
WAKSMUNDZKI, Wladislaw 07/08/1904-04/07/1943 Waksmund
WAKSMUNDZKI, Wojciech 13/11/1914-23/09/1939 Stary Byste
WAKSMUNDZKI, Stanislaw 13/03/1906-12/12/1944 Waksmund


http://isurvived.org/Bergen-Belsen_liberation.html


Last edited by Bill Rushin on Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:51 am      Post subject:
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Jożef Kuras "Ogien" monument in Zakopane.


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:03 am      Post subject:
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August 13, 2009 Zakopane, Poland: Unveiling of the monument dedicated to Jozef Kuras and his soldiers killed in action.

The President of Poland Lech Kaczyński lays a wreath at the dedication of Major Jożef Kuras and his fallen Partisans.



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Arlene Vic



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Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:43 pm      Post subject:
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Thank You Bill Rushin for putting pictures of people who have been killed.

I found few of my relatives and wondering if you can show all Waksmundzki close so we all can read the name of our relatives. I would be happy if you can.

Garbacz, Liegeza and Waksmundzki are my relatives which I never heard of. I can tell you that my Grandfather Andrew Waksmundzki and Grandmother Karolina Garbacz Waksmundzki may got sick of their loss. Grandpa Andrew passed away in 1948 and Grandma passed away in 1954. They never told us about their families. I wonder why. Now it could be the reasons.

All I can say I am very proud of all of these wonderful people who were killed during WWII were braves. They are Patriots people.
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:24 am      Post subject:
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Arlene Vic wrote:
Thank You Bill Rushin for putting pictures of people who have been killed.
I found few of my relatives and wondering if you can show all Waksmundzki close so we all can read the name of our relatives. I would be happy if you can.


Arlene you are most welcome. I'm glad you finally know the truth of what happened to our Góral relatives. My contact in Nowy Targ only took one close up of the marker because it had my relative Elzbieta Rusin-Cyrwus on it. The only thing I can offer at this time is to enlarge the last panel for you. I think you can read it ok, Stanislaw at the bottom is a little blurry. (most of the data is on the list if you need it.)



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Arlene Vic



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Post Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:50 pm      Post subject:
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Thank you Bill Rushin,

It is perfect to see all Waksmundzki and I will send emails to my Waksmundzki Relatives

Are there any more memorials in different villages?

.
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