‘Cursed soldier’ hero finally laid to rest after long-lost remains found in unmarked grave
A solider described as one of the “bravest and most dynamic” of Poland’s Cursed Soldiers has finally been honoured with a public funeral following the discovery of his remains last year.
Codenamed ‘Lufa’, 2nd Lieutenant Henryk Wieliczko continued to fight for Poland against the Soviet Union following the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Murdered by communists in Lublin Castle in 1949, his body was thrown into an unmarked grave where it lay forgotten for six decades.
His remains were finally discovered last year by workers from the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in what was described as ‘a major breakthrough’.
Speaking at his funeral, Professor Krzysztof Szwagrzyk vice-president of the IPN said: “For many, many years we were all condemned to wipe our hero from our collective memory. (...) We waited a very long time for that day when we would find his remains. The day we waited for, came on 15 April 2021.”
A highly regarded solider active during WWII, Wieliczko was determined to continue the fight for Polish Independence after the country’s takeover by the communists after the war.
Serving from 1943 in a Home Army unit commanded by Capt. Wincenty Mroczkowski, before joining the 5th Home Army Vilnius Brigade, Wieliczko took part in the brigade’s most important operations against the Germans in January 1944 and against Soviet partisans in February 1944.
After the brigade’s disbandment in July 1944, he managed to reach the Augustόw Forest but was captured by the Red Army and forcibly enlisted into the Communist-controlled Polish army known as the Ludowe Wojsko Polskie (LWP).
Deserting in October 1944, Wieliczko rejoined the recreated 5th Home Army Vilnius Brigade under Major Zygmunt Szendzielarz, codename "Łupaszka", in the Białystok region and due to his large combat experience quickly became the second in command of the 4th Squadron.
Earning the respect of his superiors, he was elevated to the rank of lieutenant and an application was put forward him to receive the Cross of Valour for being ‘a shining example of bravery and heroism for the other soldiers’.
After the brigade was disbanded in 1945, Wieliczko continued his fight for Polish independence in underground groups in the Pomerania region and from April 1946, became second in command of the Brigade’s regular unit reconstructed in Pomerania and led the 4th squadron from September 1946.
His operations were said to have been characterised by dynamism, the ability to control developments and make instant decisions and his unit was by far the most active of the Brigade’s formations, crossing the Warmia and Masuria region several times. The squadron survived until the amnesty of 1947, when its members decided to disband it.
Wieliczko then joined the 6th Home Army Vilnius Brigade in Podlasie and served in the ranks of the 3rd and 2nd squadrons.
In June 1948 he was recognised by a security officer at Siedlce railway station and shot while trying to escape.
After undergoing an operation, he was questioned in hospital, but refused to reveal anything that would compromise the other members of his unit.
Following an intense hearing on the 24th February 1949, he was sentenced to death by a Military District Court in Lublin and on the 14th March 1949, he was murdered at Lublin Castle at the age of 23.
Speaking at the funeral held this week with full military honours in Lublin, IPN vice-president Krzysztof Szwagrzyk described Wieliczko as “one of the greatest field commanders of the Polish anti-communist underground fighting for independence”.
He continued: “These units have been recognised for their unique fight against the communist system. The communists themselves, recognised them as some of the most dangerous units of the anti-communist underground.
“There would not have been successful operations and successes without commanders like Henryk Wieliczko “Lufa”…his life was almost like a film”.
A letter written by Polish Prime Minister Mateus Morawiecki for the occasion was also read in which he wrote: “After 73 years, free Poland is honouring soldiers of the Home Army and the armed Polish Independence and anti-communist underground.
“Lieutenant Henryk Wieliczko regains his due place in the pantheon of heroes for our independence. He regains his identity and a place on blessed ground.”