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Wladyslaw Tadeusz Surmacki

Proszowice, Poland

Born to Catholic parents, Wladyslaw attended schools in Warsaw and earned a degree in survey engineering in Moscow in 1914. After fighting in World War I, he commanded a horse artillery division in Warsaw, worked for Poland's Military Geographic Institute, and taught topography courses. He started a family in 1925, and after he retired from the army in 1929 he founded a surveying company.

1933-39: When war with Germany became imminent in the summer of 1939, Wladyslaw volunteered to fight but was rejected as too old. In early September, when Germany overwhelmed Poland's western defenses, he fled, hoping to fight in the defense of eastern Poland. In mid-September, a day before the Soviets invaded Poland, he was given a chance to leave the country and go to Great Britain but chose to stay and fight with the Polish resistance.

1940-42: Wladyslaw became chief of staff of TAP, one of the groups of the Polish underground. In the summer of 1940 he was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. As prisoner #2759 he worked as a surveying engineer in the camp's construction office. His work enabled him to go outside the camp. He used his status to smuggle letters and, by October, to help organize a military underground. In November 1941 he was released on the intercession of a former German engineering colleague, but was immediately rearrested and put in Warsaw's Pawiak Prison.

Wladyslaw was taken to a forest near Magdalenka and machine-gunned along with 223 Poles on May 28, 1942. They were buried in mass graves and later moved to the local cemetery.

 

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