Remember those who passed away,
Who went to the eternal watch,
Let their name in your memory,
It will remain eternal for ever...
For the fact that they wanted to build Poland,
For the fact that freedom Their eternal call,
To them ... HEROES ... Respect!
— Edward Górecki
One of the heroes the poem is talking about is definitely Tadeusz Cisek - Siberia-veteran, paratrooper of General Stanisław Sosabowski's Independent Brigade, soldier of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, commander of the 94th SWAP outpost in Milwaukee, member of the Polish American Congress, Polish community activist. He passed away on December 8, 2021, at the age of 98. His fate is an individual record of Polish history after regaining independence in 1918.
He was born on June 23, 1923, in the eastern borderlands of Poland, in the village of Horodenka in the Stanisławów district. The parents had a small farm, raised a group of children and led a quiet life in reborn Poland until September 17, 1939. Then, not of their own free will, they became citizens of the Soviet Union. Tadeusz was only 17 years old when on February 10, 1940, Russian NKVD men knocked on the door, gave them two hours to pack the most necessary belongings, rushed them to the nearest railway station, packed them into a cattle wagon and drove them into the unknown, to the Far East.
On the way, he experienced his first drama. His tiny baby sister died. Then others have died. Five more members of his family. Only he, one sister, and his mother survived. He himself, in Siberia, was locked in a makeshift prison and sentenced to death for lighting a fire in order to warm himself. Fortunately, his life was saved by the attack of Germany on the Soviet Union. The Soviet authorities needed soldiers, therefore, under the agreements of General Władysław Sikorski and Ambassador Ivan Majski, they agreed to release Poles from the camps and to form an army with them.
Tadeusz and his two colleagues went to the Polish army, to the army organized by Władysław Anders, on foot, through the steppes full of wild animals. They reached the assembly point. After a long journey through the Middle East, Tadeusz Cisek was sent to Canada, and then to Great Britain, where the Independent Parachute Brigade was being formed from September 1941 under the command of Colonel Stanisław Sosabowski. In the summer of 1942, he was already a paratrooper of this Brigade.
In September (17-25) 1944 he was one of the soldiers taking part in the Operation Market Garden. The operation was poorly prepared, the area was not accurately scouted, and the weather was not conducive to the landing of the gliders. They did not manage to save the English fighting for the bridges on the Rhine in time. Many soldiers were killed then, too many. His platoon was on the verge of a deadly collapse. Corporal Tadeusz Cisek survived.
After the end of hostilities, he served under the command of General Klemens Rudnicki in occupied Germany, securing the fate of prisoners liberated from concentration and labor camps. After the operation ended in 1947, because he had nowhere to return, he decided to emigrate to the United States. His native village did not belong to Poland anymore. Together with 150 thousand Polish displaced persons, he came to America. He first worked in Chicago at a General Motors factory, then bought a small farm in Milwaukee. Here he worked with his wife Leokadia and raised two children — son Edward and daughter Elizabeth.
Tadeusz Cisek was a very modest man. He was involved in social work for the Polish diaspora, shared his experiences with the young generation of immigrants, helped veterans in troubles and through the Polish Army Veterans Association (SWAP) supported them financially and took care of their social status. Until the end of his days, he was a member of the Polish Congress in America (PAC). On November 11, 2021, the Congress honored him with the Congressman Klemens Zabłocki Heritage Award.
For us, Tadeusz Cisek is an example of a Polish patriot. He showed us that one can love Poland while living in a foreign country. For everything he has left us, we thank him from the bottom of our hearts.
You lit a candle in our hearts — we promise to protect its flame. RESPECT TO YOUR MEMORY! MAY YOU REST IN PEACE!
Photos: «The Arnhem Boys» Facebook fan page.