Henryk Sławik (16 July 1894 – 23 August 1944) was a Polish
politician in the interwar period, social worker, activist, and
diplomat, who during
World War II
World War II helped save over 30,000 Polish
refugees, including 5,000 Polish Jews in Budapest,
Hungary by giving
them false Polish passports with
Catholic designation. He was
executed with some of his fellow Polish activists on order of
Reichsführer SS in concentration camp Gusen on 23 August 1944.
1.1 World War II
1.2 The Polish Wallenberg
2 See also
4 Further reading
Henryk Sławik was born 16 July 1894 in Timmendorf (now Szeroka, a
part of Jastrzębie-Zdrój), into an impoverished Polish Silesian
family as one of its 5 children. He was sent by his mother to an
academic secondary school. After graduation, Sławik left his hometown
Pszczyna where he was drafted to the army during World War I.
Released from internment in 1918, he joined the Polish Socialist Party
Upper Silesia and went to Warsaw for additional training. He took
active part in the
Silesian Plebiscite as one of its organizers and
began working as a journalist for Gazeta Robotnicza. A year later, he
became its Editor-in-chief.
In 1922 Sławik was elected president of the Regional Chapter of the
Worker's Youth Association "Siła" and took part in setting up
Worker's Universities. In 1928 he married a Varsovian, Jadwiga
Purzycka, and in 1929 was chosen as councillor for
Katowice City Hall
on PPS platform. He was an ardent opponent of Sanacja. Between 1934
and 1939 Sławik served as president of Polish Journalist Association
of Silesia and Zagłębie (Syndykat Dziennikarzy Polskich Śląska i
World War II
At the outbreak of the German invasion of
Poland in 1939 Sławik
joined the Polish mobilised police battalion attached to the Kraków
Army. He fought with distinction during the retreat along the northern
Carpathians. His battalion was attached to the 2nd Mountain Brigade,
with which he defended mountain passes leading to Slovakia.[citation
needed] On September 15 Sławik and his men were ordered to retreat
towards the newly established border with Hungary. On September 17,
Soviet Union joined the war against Poland, Sławik crossed
the border and was interned as a prisoner of war camp. In Silesia, his
name appeared on the Nazi German list of the "enemies of the state"
Sławik was spotted in the PoW camp near
Miskolc by József Antall
(Senior), a member of the Hungarian ministry of internal affairs
responsible for the civilian refugees and the father of the future
József Antall (Junior). Thanks to his fluent knowledge
of German, Sławik was brought to
Budapest and allowed to create the
Citizen's Committee for
Help for Polish Refugees (Komitet Obywatelski
ds. Opieki nad Polskimi Uchodźcami). Together with
József Antall he
organised jobs for the POWs and displaced persons, schools and
orphanages. He also clandestinely organised an organisation whose
purpose was to help the exiled
Poles leave the camps of internment and
France or the
Middle East to join the Polish Army. His
colleague was Ernest Niżałowski lieutenant and interpreter, who was
a Polish-Hungarian citizen. Sławik also became a delegate of the
Polish Government in Exile.
The Polish Wallenberg
After the Hungarian government issued racial decrees and separated
Polish refugees of Jewish descent from their colleagues, Sławik
started to issue false documents confirming their Polish roots and
Catholic faith. He also helped several hundred Polish Jews to
reach Yugoslav partisans. One of his initiatives was the creation of
an orphanage for Jewish children (officially named School for Children
of Polish Officers) in Vác. To help disguise the true nature of the
orphanage, the children were visited by
Catholic Church authorities,
most notably by nuncio Angelo Rotta.
Nazis took over
Hungary in March 1944, Sławik went
underground and ordered as many of the refugees as were under his
command to leave Hungary. Because he had appointed a new commanding
officer of the camp for Polish Jews, all of them were able to escape
and leave Hungary. The Jewish children of the orphanage in
also evacuated. Sławik was arrested by the Germans on March 19, 1944.
Although brutally tortured, he did not inform on his Hungarian
colleagues. He was sent to the concentration camp Gusen where he was
hanged with some of his fellows on August 23, 1944. His wife survived
Ravensbrück concentration camp
Ravensbrück concentration camp and after the war found their
daughter hidden in
Hungary by the Antall family. Sławik's place of
burial remains unknown.
It is estimated that
Henryk Sławik helped as many as 30,000 Polish
refugees in Hungary, approximately 5,000 of them Jews. After 1948, the
communist authorities of both
Hungary did commemorate his
deeds and pointed out his importance for humanity. According to Maria
Zawadzka of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Henryk Sławik
was posthumously awarded the title of
Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations by
Yad Vashem Commemorative Authority already on 26 January 1977, but
achieved wide recognition only after Zvi Henryk Zimmerman, his wartime
associate and a distinguished Israeli politician, popularized his
efforts in the 1990s.
Raoul Wallenberg, diplomat
Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF; Buenos Aires, New
York, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, Jerusalem)
^ a b c d e Tomasz Kurpierz (IPN Katowice) with Michał Luty (2010).
Henryk Sławik (1894–1944) – Sprawiedliwy Socjalista". Sylwetki
(in Polish). Institute of National Remembrance, Poland. Archived from
the original (pdf) on 9 December 2011. Retrieved 3 September
^ Polish Embassy Vienna, Commemoration on August 23, 2014 at
^ Maria Zawadzka, "Righteous Among the Nations:
Henryk Sławik and
József Antall." Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Warsaw, 7
October 2010. See also: "The Sławik family" (ibidem). Accessed 3
Henryk Zvi Zimmerman, Dr. Henryk Slawik - a Polish Raoul Wallenberg?
Baran i Suszczynski, Kraków, 1997.
Grzegorz Łubczyk, Henryk Slawik - the Polish Wallenberg. at the
Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2007) Trybuna 120 (3717), May
Grzegorz Łubczyk, "Polski Wallenberg. Rzecz o Henryku Sławiku",
Oficyna Wydawnicza Rytm, Warszawa, 2003.
Nathan Davolt, Henryk Slawik - The Man Who Saved Thousands
"Unsung Hero". Warsaw Voice. 2004-01-28. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
Article about Henryk Sławik. Onet.pl. 29 August 2008. (in Polish)
Waldemar Szymański, "
Henryk Sławik – zapomniany bohater." Tydzień
Żuławski, May 2004.
Premiera filmu "
Henryk Sławik – Polski Wallenberg." at the Wayback
Machine (archived September 2, 2007) Archiwum działalności
Prezydenta RP w latach 1997-2005. BIP.
Michał Jaranowski, Grzegorz Łubczyk, "Polski Wallenberg. Rzecz o
Henryku Sławiku." Stowarzyszenie Wspólnota Polska. SENAT RP.
Henryk Sławik – his activity to save Jews' lives during the
Yad Vashem website
Righteous Among the Nations
List of individuals and groups assisting Jews
Holocaust in Poland
Seven Laws of Noah
Aristides de Sousa Mendes
Ángel Sanz Briz
Corrie ten Boom
Johan van Hulst
Johan Hendrik Weidner
Nations and groups
Related articles by country:
Rescue of the Danish Jews
Rescue of the Danish Jews • Rescue of
Poles during the Holocaust
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