Oral history
History witnesses

Henryk Pawelec

Interlocutor name:
Interlocutor surname:
Krzysztof Banach
Przemysław Jaczewski
Catalogue number:
Recording date:
4th August 2014
Recording location:
Recording duration:
Recording language:
Recording copyright:
Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN
Poles Active in the Protection of Jewish Heritage


Anti-Semitism, Emigration, World War II, Occupation.

Related places

Interlocutor biogram

Henryk Pawelec was born in 1921 in Wzdół Rządowy in the Kielce land. A scout before the war, he fought in the September Campaign and worked for the underground starting in October 1939. He was a soldier of the Polish Home Army, an organiser and executor of sabotages and attacks at collaborators. Henryk Pawelec also served in the Wybranieccy unit under Marian Sołtysiak, “Barabbas, in the group of Jan Piwnik, “Ponur,” and then in the 4th Infantry Regiment of the Polish Home Army. He was leader of the NIE unit.

In 1946, Henryk Pawelec began to serve in the 2nd Corps of Polish Armed Forces in the West, and afterwards worked in the Sikorski Institute. Decorated with Virtuti Militari and twice with the Cross of Valour. He returned to Poland in 1992.

In 2011, he was accused by some Home Army combatants of defaming Marian Sołtysiak by informing the public about personal assaults, murders and massacres of Jews by the latter in person or through his subordinates. By ruling of a peer tribunal of the Kielce Branch of Światowy Związek Żołnierzy AK (World Association of Polish Home Army Soldiers), Henryk Pawelec was expelled from the organisation. He died in 2015 in Kielce.

Recording circumstances description

Henryk Pawelec met with employees of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews at his place, where he lived. His flat was full of mementoes, orders, old photographs and other items connected with the Interviewee's military biography. All this made a great impression on the guests. Despite certain communication difficulties caused by Henryk Pawelec’s health condition and increasing fatigue, he tried to give the an account as accurate as possible. After the recording, he continued talking about selected mementoes, thus confirming the Researchers’ impression that he was a charming man with incredible strength of character and personality. This made the author of these words even sadder to learn about the death of Henryk Pawelec on May 30, 2015.

Recording summary

  1. The Polish Scout Association, participating in the September Campaign, beginnings of the underground activity, working against the communists after 1994, being assigned to Anders’ Army and to Green Berets, working with the Sikorski Institute, working for Radio Free Europe, 0:01:02
  2. Childhood in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, his father's past in the Legions and the family farm, the ghetto in Wzdół (?), his parents helping Jews, Polish people – family members rescuing Jews, 0:06:39
  3. Parents, support for Jews during the war, rescuing a Jewish woman from Wzdół, friendship with Jews after the war, 0:11:10
  4. Jewish farmers in Wzdół, the family’s business contacts with Jews, Jewish neighbours in Wzdół, infatuation with a Jewish student, Jews rescued by dr. Poziomska from Suchedniów, visits of Jews during his father's name day party, 0:15:38
  5. Learning with Jews before the war, religious education of Jews, transport of Jews to Oświęcim, Jews rescued by Poles, history of the Ciołek family, 0:22:46
  6. War breaking out, participating in the September Campaign, defence of Przemyśl, mobilisation trains, air raid on Przemyśl, Jews in emigration, 0:28:49
  7. Beginnings of the underground activities, sabotage, 0:34:55
  8. Sabotage in Narbut’s unit, Jews in the underground and guerrilla units, attacks on collaborators in Kielce, 0:40:02
  9. The unit of Marian Sołtysiak, “Barabbas,” nationalists in the underground activity, massacres of Sołtysiak’s unit against Jewish population, execution of Jews by a firing squad in Bereszyce, massacres against the Ukrainians, 0:45:00
  10. Jews in the Polish Worker’s Party (PPR) after the war, 01:02:49
  11. Being distinguished with Virtuti Militari, with the Cross of Valour, attack on “Witek” – a Gestapo agent, military missions in Kielce, 01:05:51
  12. Activity in the “Nie” organisation, Jews in Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (Polish communist State Security Bureau), 01:15:00
  13. Meeting with Władysław Anders in emigration, staying in the 2nd Corps as an instructor of commandos, Jews in Anders’ Army, a story about Henryk Jedwab, 01:17:30
  14. Work for the Sikorski Institute, 01:25:05
  15. Returning to Poland after the fall of communism, 01:27:25
  16. The nationalist faction before the war, nationalists and anti-Semites nowadays, 01:32:14
  17. Polish-Jewish relations and Polish-Jewish dialogue nowadays, 01:34:03
  18. Jews before the war, Jews being different, the fate of Jews after the war, 01:36:50
  19. Reaction of former Polish Home Army soldiers to what Henryk Pawelec said about the massacres of “Barabbas” against Jews, 01:40:21
  20. Showing photos and mementos, 01:43:04
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