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In August 1915, when father Karol Leonard Wajszczuk was a vicar in Radzyń Podlaski, the town was under German occupation. In the conditions that came to be after Radzyń was taken by the Germans, father Karol fulfilled his duties in the church and in the parish with great devotion, seeming not to be engaged in political matters. In truth, starting from 1916, until Poland regained its independence in November 1918, he was a chaplain of the Polish Military Organisation (POW). On Sunday and holiday afternoons, in his free time, he would visit secret meetings of the POW in the nearby forests, in Płudów, Turów, Kąkolewnica, Żakowola. He would go on his bicycle or on a cart, often in civilian clothes. He was also often visited by liaison officers, carrying orders and instructions - sometimes they waited in the parish office, pretending to have come with some kind of business. It was a difficult job, very dangerous, done close to the Germans, whose attitude towards Poland and the Poles was ruthless and aggressive. Their attitude towards the church was especially aggressive. They made army magazines, stables and garages out of churches (as in Drelów), they profaned altars and crosses, took away church bells. The Germans started getting suspicious in connection with father Wajszczuk's many trips towards Kąkolewnica. They suspected that he was one of the organisers of the secret Polish army, POW, which was preparing to face the German occupant in battle, in the Radzyń region. That is why the Germans performed many searches in Radzyń Podlaski and the nearby terrain, searching for weapons and POW documents. They arrested many people. Only a good idea saved father Karol from being arrested. On a summer day in 1917, as he was preparing a sermon in his room, looking through the window, he noticed soldiers surrounding the parish and three of them going towards the door. He understood what it meant. He rushed to the kitchen and said to the housekeeper: "Germans! I've got typhoid fever!" He went back to his room, took of his clothes and went to bed. The Germans were already knocking on the door. The housekeeper opened it and, pretending that she was crying, uttered: "Pastor krank 'typhus'". The effect was immediate. The officer made his soldiers wait outside and carefully looked into the room, were he saw the vicar lying in his bed, half uncovered. He shut the door at once and, as he left, started shouting, that a punishment is needed, because there should be a warning on the fence in front of the house, written even in chalk: "typhus". The same day father Karol was given a holiday by his parish priest and left the parish for some time, first to visit the POW soldiers in Kąkolewnica, then to his parents in Siedlce. In the winter and spring of 1918, former (polish inductees) tsar's army soldiers came back to their family homes in Podlasie. Many of them joined the POW conspiracy. Father Karol lived literally every day concerned with the matters of 1918. He often visited the meetings of the Turów-Kąkolewnica POW region, for he knew that his presence roused faith and hope in the group. November 11th 1918 brings the long awaited freedom to Poland. 


Just like during the First World War, in September 1939, father Karol did not remain indifferent to the fate of his country. He would never accept the "September defeat"; he considered it only a short episode, to be without much effect in the final resolution of the war. Today we know he was not the only one to think this way. This idea was one of the main causes of the creating of the first conspiracy sections of the "Resistance Movement" in the Lublin region, already in the Autumn of 1939. On the 26th of October 1939, the General Governship was created in central Poland and its Lublin district was created in the beginning of November. The mass crimes and terror of the German occupants were reasons enough to justify fighting with the enemy. The Międzyrzec region was especially in danger, for the Germans encouraged the Ukrainian nationalists to fight with the Poles. In full conspiracy, in the autumn of 1939, the secret military organisation "Nasze Orły" ("Our Eagles") was created. At first, its terrain was Drelów and Łózki and, starting from March 1940, Żerocin. This organisation was based on the experiences and traditions of the POW from the First World War period. The "Eagles" group was organised by an emissary using the pseudonym "Szary" ("Grey"). Who was this man? Unfortunately, we do not know. We know however that, in the end of October 1939, "Szary" met father Wajszczuk in his parish - they knew each other from the times of their activity in the POW before 1918. Feliks Szafrański, Józef Krawiecki and Stefan Kowalczuk from Drelów, invited by the priest, also took part in those talks. An initiative group was then created; Krawiecki was elected its leader. 

After that, a middle aged, thin man came to Drelów, presenting himself to father Karol as count Eryk Kryszyński, officer of the former S.G.O. "Polesie" of General F. Kleeberg, who, after the battle of Kock and Wola Gułowska, avoided German imprisonment. He asked to be able to stay in the parish house until he was able to go back to his home in Strzemieszczyce near Katowice. Father Wajszczuk made the man his guest. This situation lasted up till May 1940. During this time, the man did not hide; he would ride on a bicycle to Międzyrzecz and bring German newspapers. In conversation with the local people, he would often provocatively ask: "what do you think of the possibility of German rule over all Europe?" People did not trust him; they scornfully called him "Beznosek" ("No-nose"). After a few weeks of observing count Eryk, father Wajszczuk also became suspicious of his true identity. The parish members were generally sure that this "Beznosek" is a German spy. (The truth came out after the parish priest had been arrested; it was true that "Beznosek" was not the person he had presented himself as.) Eryk's presence in the parish house complicated father Wajszczuk's contacts with the "Nasze Orły" group, which was then preparing to be sworn in. On the 10th of December 1939, at 7:00 in the morning, Bolesław Hawryluk opened the door of the chapel in Łózki; that is where the members of POW "Nasze Orły" gathered, in the presence of "Szary". Jan Kozłowiec brought the parish priest, who was to celebrate morning mass at 8:00, from Drelów. The first thing was the swearing in of the members of the organisation. Father Karol Wajszczuk in the presence of "Szary" took the oath. The sworn in members were from Łózki: Stanisław Daniluk, Jan Ciechowski, Jan Dąbrowski, Bolesław Hawryluk, Jan Saczuk and Jan Kozłowiec; from Drelów: Stefan Kowalczuk son of Mikołaj, Bazyli Łaźko, Józef Krawiecki, Adolf Młynarczuk, Tomasz Stańczuk son of Marek and Feliks Szafrański. After the oath and Holy Mass, Jan Kozłowiec took the priest back to Drelów and the parish life went on its own way. Christmas 1939 passed by in an atmosphere of gloom and the increasing terror of the occupants. In mid January 1940, father K. Wajszczuk went to see his cousin, father Feliks Wajszczuk, in Woskrzenice. Michał Strok specially misinformed everyone, saying that the priest had gone for a short holiday to Kodeń. In mid February, the priest came back to Drelów. He found a very nervous atmosphere, for Eryk's behaviour in the parish house was insolent and arrogant. On the 17th of March 1940, father Wajszczuk received the news about his cousin, father Feliks, being arrested and put into Gestapo jail in Biała Podlaska. The news made one feel gloomy and look for more caution. In the beginning of April, father Wajszczuk decided to hide once again, this time in the house of Teodor Ostapiuk in Drelów. Michał Strok tried to take the priest secretly to Kolembrody parish, to father Aleksander Prus. The escape was without success. Eryk, having seen the carriage leave, started chasing it on his bicycle and, near Żelizna, made the priest turn back to Drelów. The conspiracy group "Nasze Orły" was the origin of later regional sections of ZWZ and AK. It was ideologically and emotionally related with father Karol Wajszczuk. The fate of the organisation's members was tragic. Stefan Kowalczuk, Bazyli Łaźko, Adolf Młynarczuk, Feliks Szafrański, Józef Krawiecki, Tomasz Stańczuk, Jan Dąbrowski and Bolesław Hawryluk were killed in Auschwitz. Stanisław Daniluk was arrested and murdered by the Gestapo in Radzyń Podlaski. The Germans also murdered Jan Ciechowski and Jan Saczuk. Only Jan Kozłowiec, imprisoned in the Lublin castle, was rescued by members of the Warsaw diversion section of AK. The fate of these heroes was also the fate of their chaplain, father Karol Wajszczuk. He was arrested by the Gestapo and killed in the concentration camp in Dachau.


Written by: dr. Feliks Olesiejuk 
"Wspomnienie o księdzu  Karolu Leonardzie Wajszczuku 1887-1942"

in Rocznik Międzyrzecki - Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk 
w Międzyrzecu Podlaskim -  1987
Excerpts prepared by: Paweł Stefaniuk, assisted by Waldemar J. Wajszczuk
Translated by: Kamila Wajszczuk