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When Warsaw's Polish Kids Fought the German Army

Brooklyn, NY, January 13, 2011 ... In August 1944, Jadwiga Chrusciel (left) was in Poland and was a member of the Polish Girl Scouts (Harcerki). Her country had been invaded in 1939 and remained under German occupation ever since.

Ms. Chrusciel is shown here as guest of honor at the annual post-Christmas party (Oplatek) of the Downstate N.Y. Division of the Polish American Congress at Brooklyn’s Polonaise Terrace on January 9th. 

In August, 1944, Poland’s civilian resistance organization (Armia Krajowa) launched what came to be known as The Warsaw Uprising (The Rising) against the German Army that held the city of Warsaw captive for five long and cruel years. 

Only a teenager at the time, Jadwiga and her fellow scouts went right into the thick of the battle.

Maybe the intensity of her determination to fight for her country’s freedom and take on the all-powerful German soldiers stemmed from the fact her father, General Antoni Chrusciel, happened to be in command of this military action. She and the other Polish scouts displayed the kind of courage expected from a battle-hardened veteran.

When the Polish underground resistance still had the upper hand in the opening days of the revolt, Polish scouts even liberated a German concentration camp in the middle of Warsaw and set free 350 Jewish prisoners from inside. 

"She was a real patriot then and is now a dedicated and respected figure in New York’s Polish American community," said Frank Milewski, president of the N.Y. Congress, explaining why the Congress chose her and her late father to be honored at its Christmas event.

Jadwiga and her father survived the war and came to the United States. True to her family’s military and scouting tradition, Jadwiga continued her connection with the Polish scouts and became prominent in the leadership of Harcerki over here.

As is the custom in Poland, Christmas is a holiday and a season the Polish American community continues observing right to the beginning of February.

The annual Christmas Oplatek of the Polish American Congress follows this custom primarily for the benefit of the students who attend Polish Saturday schools where they are taught Polish language, history and culture.

"It’s always about the Nativity, St. Nicholas and other Christmas traditions. This year, Jadwiga gave our children a special and unusual glimpse into what their Polish heritage should mean to them," said Milewski.

Contact:  Frank Milewski
              (516) 352-7125

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