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Zygmunt Sowiński „Ostoja”

Sgt. Major Cadet Zygmunt Sowiński „Ostoja” was born on 13 January 1912 in Warsaw. Since September 1923 he was a member of boy scout movement. Before the war he completed secondary business school and underwent military training. In 1939 he fought in the defence of Kowel. On 15 January 1940 he joined the underground Union of Armed Struggle (ZWZ), later renamed Home Army (AK). In 1943 he completed the underground Infantry Cadet School and served in „Kameleon” intelligence group. During Warsaw Uprising he fought in „Chrobry” Battalion in Wola and then in the Old Town. He served as the platoon commander and later deputy commander in the 1st Company, fighting in the Simons Passage, Krasiński Gardens and Mostowski Palace, where on 12 August he was wounded. After evacuation through sewers to city centre he was put in hospitals at Konopczyńskiego and Śniadeckich streets. On 25 September he returned to his unit and until the fall of the Uprising he acted as administrative officer. After the surrender of the Uprising he left the city among civilians and lived near Cracow. Coming back to Warsaw he was engaged in corpse exhumation in Simons Passage, organized burials in Powązki Military Cemetery and collected money for grave maintenance. This activity came to attention of communist secret service – in January 1949 he was arrested and sentenced based on false testimony for 8 years for alleged attempts at „overthrowing political system of People’s Poland”. The sentence was later reduced by 3 years following the amnesty. After liberation Sowiński worked in petty industry enterprises. In the sixties and seventies he was decorated several times with – among others – Home Army Cross and Polonia Restituta Knight’s Cross. He died in Warsaw on 22 June 1978.

 

  • The insurgent photographs of Zygmunt Sowiński „Ostoja” constitute the amateur documentation of „Chrobry I” Battalion’s combat trail. They show soldiers in training, during rest, with a captured anti-tank gun, as well as places where they fought: Krasiński Gardens, Arsenal, Simons Passage. In field hospitals in city centre Sowiński took photos of other patients and medical staff, and after returning to his unit streets, barricades and destroyed buildings.The collection of post-war photographs illustrates destroyed buildings mostly churches in the Old Town. Especially valuable is a series of photos showing ruins of Holy Family Church at 7/9 Fr Siemiec Street, that has not been rebuilt after the war. A separate group is the documentation of corpse exhumation in Simons Passage that was superviserd by Zygmunt Sowiński.

MPW-IN/8668
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