Jerzy Bielecki Poland
Auschwitz, Poland… Summer 1944 – Jerzy Bielecki was in the first transport of Polish political prisoners that left Tarnow, Poland, for Auschwitz on June 13, 1940. Upon arriving at Auschwitz, Jerzy was given number 243. During his more than four years as an inmate at Auschwitz, Jerzy worked in several places, including the grain warehouse. There he met and fell in love with Cyla Cybulska, a Polish Jew. Although men and women were not allowed to communicate with each other, Jerzy and Cyla were able to exchange a few words every day.
During the winter of 1944, Jerzy decided to attempt to escape from Auschwitz. He begged Cyla to join him. “You are the only one left in your family,” he told her, “maybe I can save you.” Cyla’s parents and brothers, who had also been deported to Auschwitz, had already been murdered. Although she initially did not take Jerzy seriously, she eventually decided to join him. Over several months Jerzy made the necessary arrangements by securing food, documents, clothing, shoes for Cyla, and a SS uniform for himself.
On July 21, 1944, Jerzy, dressed in the stolen SS uniform, arrived in the laundry room where Cyla worked. He told the SS woman in charge that he was summoning Cyla for interrogation. Together they began walking through the camp. As they approached the guard house, an SS guard stopped them. Jerzy showed him a stolen pass authorizing one guard and one prisoner to return to a nearby work farm. The guard let them through. At this point, Jerzy and Cyla had passed the guarded area of the camp. They were still in grave danger, however, because they both had camp numbers tattooed on their arms that would have easily identified them as Auschwitz escapees. Capture by the Germans would have meant certain death.
They walked for ten nights, hiding in the fields during the day. Cyla and Jerzy eventually reached the home of one of Jerzy’s relatives. They stayed there for several days. In one of the towns that they stayed in, Jerzy coincidentally reunited with his brother Leszek, a member of the Polish underground. Jerzy decided to join his brother in the underground. Jerzy found Cyla a permanent hiding place with a Polish family. They lost contact, and when the war ended, each assumed that the other was dead.
After several years, Cyla married and moved to the United States to find some distant relatives. Jerzy also married and remained in Poland. In 1983 Cyla learned that Jerzy was still alive and traveled to Poland to visit him. Jerzy greeted her with 39 red roses, one for each year they were apart. Following their reunion, Cyla and Jerzy saw each other fifteen more times until Cyla died in February 2005.
Jerzy Bielecki died in October 2011 at the age of 90.