Before the war

– I was looking for hero-like qualities in him. Didn’t find any. He was still the same smiling, cheerful and gentle-natured Janek. [...] Maybe only deep at the bottom of his smile there were flashes of steel, typical for people who have been through hell – this is how Jan Rodowicz is remembered by Jan Suzin, fellow student from the Warsaw University of Technology, where both of them studied right after WWII. 

Jan Rodowicz “Anoda” – slim, tall and handsome blonde man was spontaneous, sometimes roguish when with his peers but always gallant with women. Always in a hurry, but responsive to the needs of others, ready to help. Witty friend but composed and reliable soldier. Last but not least – talented student of architecture, who upon finishing his studies could have influenced the way the capital’s urban space was shaped. 

All he was granted were twenty six years of life (born on 7 March, 1923, died on 7 January, 1949 in unexplained circumstances). But what he managed to do in his short life, one could divide among at least several of his peers.

Mariusz Malec directed a theatrical play about his life for the Television Theatre, there are plaques honouring him, a street was named after him in Warsaw and there is an award in his name granted by the Warsaw Rising Museum. The only thing still missing is a monument... 

– That boy was dynamite! High-spirited, with a sense of humour, active and always busy – remembers Stanisław Krupa “Nita”, a fellow soldier. – One day he came running to me but refused the coffee I offered him: „No, I only dropped by to tell you a good joke”. He told me the joke and left.

This story of a boy scout, soldier, student and friend, insurgent commander, who perished when the war had already ended but was arrested and interrogated by the secret police, was kept secret by the authorities in the communist Poland (PRL). It survived however in the memory of his closest family who have nurtured their knowledge about the so-called Jan Rodowicz Case.

Family and school

“Anoda’s” family displayed patriotic attitudes at various moments in Poland’s history. 

His grandfather, Teodor Rodowicz, as an eighteen year old boy took part in the January Uprising and was held prisoner in Sankt Petersburg;

His grandmother, Zofia, nee Kałużyńska, Bortnowska, was a singer and organized a secret “Education” Society in Żytomierz and a Polish choir; 

His mother’s brother, Gen. Władysław Bortnowski fought in the Polish-Soviet War and in 1939 commanded the “Pomerania” Army; 

His father’s brother, Reserve Major Stanisław Rodowicz fought in the war of 1920 and 1939 and was killed in Katyń; 

Jan’s seven years older brother Zygmunt, 2Lt. in the Polish Army serving in the artillery was killed in the Warsaw Rising on 30 August, 1944; 

“Anoda’s” father, Kazimierz Rodowicz specialized in the field of water engineering, worked at the General Directorate of Waterways (since 1927 as director), lectured at the Warsaw University of Technology, authored a complex regulation project for Wisła River and designed a few Polish river ports. From him Jan inherited his passion for science and after the war entered the Warsaw University of Technology.

When the war broke out, Jan Rodowicz was a high school student (he graduated during the war in 1941), who joined the fighting straight from the scouting movement.

When still in elementary school he joined the 21. Gen. Ignacy Prądzyński Warsaw Scouts Troop, and in 1935 when he entered the Stefan Batory Gymnasium and Liceum at Myśliwiecka Street joined the famous “Orangery” (23. King Bolesław Chrobry Scouts Troop), which got its name from the colour of their scout scarves. 

In the Batory Lyceum he befriended Tadeusz Zawadzki, Maciej Aleksy Dawidowski and Jan Bytnar – subsequent heroes of the “Grey Ranks” and “Zośka” Battalion, described by Aleksander Kamiński in his book Kamienie na szaniec.

In underground classes, organized in the flat of Mr and Mrs Saski at Filtrowa, he made friends with Józef Saski, called Ziutek. They shared a passion for electrotechnics which was reflected in their underground codenames, when the time came, Rodowicz became „Anode” and Saski – „Cathode”.

 – Janek was right-handed, Ziutek left-handed, when they designed cables they met in the middle of the blackboard approaching from two different directions. They represented unity through contradiction, they were totally different. But they were friends – remembers Anna Saska, “Cathode’s” wife. 

Both of them took part in the famous operations of the Storm Troops; however “Cathode” was disqualified from participating in the Rising because of tuberculosis. But their friendship survived the war. “Cathode” became an advocate and died in 1979.