Nothing is better than memories

He jumped onto a period cupboard in a friend’s house and… we had to pull him out of it, because the top collapsed. He didn’t know any German but offered to join a group of fluent speakers of the language when his commander asked for volunteers – just because his friends come forward. He knew how to place an explosive charge; he fought in spite of his wounds....

Jan Rodowicz... who were his brothers in arms, who did he get his pistol from, who did he play ball with, whom did he secretly fancy?

The Oral History Archives at the Warsaw Rising Museum (MPW) gathers interviews with participants of the Warsaw Rising. Among them are thirty two conversations, which mention the famous “Anoda”. Some of them are brief and succinct; others provide extensive coverage of the fighting and personal meetings, also from before the Rising.

Stanisław Krupa „Nita” remembers, that right after the war “Anoda” helped him obtain a war disability pension, Henryk Olszewski “Jodła” owes to Rodowicz an introduction to the underground scout movement.

Stanisław Krawczyk „Stanisław” remembers the famous operation of rescuing POWs near Celestynów:

We, the so-called crowbar section carried a bar to open [the carriage] and other tools as well. We waited near the station. It was cool. The train arrived, we started to struggle with the door, having first eliminated the guards – two SS men [...] It was going slow. “Anoda” Rodowicz jumped to the door in one leap. He placed an explosive charge and blew the door up. All ran out from the inside. It was a small charge, so only the lock got damaged. This was the end, at least for us, the “crowbars”.

Stanisław Sieradzki “Świst” talks about insurgent fighting in the Wola district: Janek Rodowicz “Anoda” got shot through his thigh, which did not stop him from fighting. After his wound was dressed he fought on with us. [...]

We were positioned in an entry gate into Smętna Street in the direction of Młynarska. Most often it was Janek Rodowicz who was on duty there with different sections. During one of his duties German tanks approached from the direction of Obozowa, entered Sołtyka Street and fired towards our barricade, we had to jump for shelter among the graves. [...] As we lay there, Janek Rodowicz together with “Kuba”, commander of “Felek” platoon decided to launch a counter-attack on the Germans...

“Świst” recalls how daring Rodowicz was during training: I remember that the commander of “Felek” platoon in which we served, Konrad Okolski “Kuba”, during an evening assembly called for three people who spoke German fluently to come forward. I volunteered as one of the three because I knew German very well. Janek Bagiński “Bajan” also came forward. I was surprised to see the third volunteer - Janek Rodowicz “Anoda” who knew no German. Later he said that he volunteered to be with us. I have to admit that he pronounced the phrase “Jawohl, Herr Leutnant” quite well, but was no good for a longer conversation.

There are also less commendable accounts of “Anoda’s” temperament: He was such a great boy! Crazy too! – tells Danuta Winiarska, nee Gawin, codename Słoninka. – Once we got invited to “Fijoł”, his last name was Nowakowski.

A very pleasant house, lovely period furniture, everything beautiful, mom prepared a splendid party. I don’t know what made Jaś mount a period cupboard; he just got on top of it. Mom enters with coffee, the cupboard cracks, its top collapses and Jasio falls in while trying to hang on. We were dumbfounded, mom looked but did not say anything, we got Jasio out. But we were never invited there again. He was completely crazy sometimes. But simply charming …

From the stories of Danuta Winiarska we learn which young lady, apart from his future fiancé Alicja Arens, struck his fancy: Hanka “Biała” Zakrzewska visited often, we were great friends, she was a beautiful girl and very brave. Jurek [brother, Lt. Jerzy Gawin “Słoń”] fancied her. Later I learned that “Anoda” liked Hania too and the boys vied with each other. Finally they decided that, the one who kills more Germans will be the first to make advances to her. Unfortunately, Jurek got killed, later “Anoda” died and Hania was killed a lot earlier anyway.

More stories are in the Oral History Archives.