Independence fighter General Elzbieta Zawacka dies at 99


General Elzbieta Zawacka

General Elżbieta Zawacka, the only female member of the Unseen and Silent - Special Force Paratroops of the Polish Underground Army - has died in Toruń, two months prior to her one hundredth birthday.

Elżbieta Zawacka will be remembered as an outstanding fighter for Poland's independence. She was the only female member of "Cichociemni" (The Unseen and Silent) - an elite secret unit of the Polish Army abroad during Second World War, and one of two female generals of the Polish Army.

A math teacher before the outbreak of the war, Elżbieta Zawacka became a war time courier between Poland and abroad, parachuted to the occupied Poland to fight the Nazis and organize resistance within the country. She also took part in the Warsaw Rising.

After the war, general Elżbieta Zawacka was active in the Freedom and Independence movement, continuing her education at the same time. When she returned to her job as a teacher, she was arrested by the communist secret services and sentenced to ten years for her patriotic activities. As a result of the 1956 amnesty, she was freed, and returned to her work as a math teacher.

Twenty years later she retired and devoted her life to promoting the true history of Poland. In 1990, after the collapse of the communist system, she was able to start a foundation "Fundacja Archiwum Pomorskie AK" (The Pomeranian Archives of the Home Army). The foundation has been a very important contribution to preserving the memory of the Home Army and of the female service in Poland's fight for independence.

Elżbieta Zawacka in 1943 (age 34)

General Elżbieta Zawacka has been awarded the Virtuti Militari Cross and five times the Cross of Valor. In 1995 she received the Order of the White Eagle. In 2006 she was made a brigadier general. She was also the honorary citizen of her birth town of Toruń in central Poland.

General Elżbieta Zawacka will be buried the 17th of January in Toruń, where she was born. The funeral ceremonies at the local cathedral and cemetery will be held according to military rites. The city of Toruń will organize special commemoration ceremonies.

Click on the audio icon to listen to the report by Joanna Najfeld.