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Polish Underground Leader Mieczyslaw Thugutt (1902- 1979) Sent Friend a Food Parcel in Auschwitz With Tragic Consequences

Located in the former Roman Catholic section of Brockley cemetery near to the Brockley road boundary lies the Thugutt Family grave. There is a small presence of graves from the Polish diaspora within this area of the cemetery. When Mieczyslaw Thugutt died in exile at Wickham Road, Brockley aged 76, his ashes were interred here.

Mieczyslaw Thugutt (1902- 1979) Polish Underground leader

Mieczyslaw Thugutt trained as a mechanical engineer and was the son of the famous peasant leader and social activist, Stanisław Thugutt, who served as a soldier in the famed Polish Legions in the First World War and later became Vice -Prime Minister of Poland before escaping into exile to Sweden after the German Invasion of 1939. During World War II,  Mieczyslaw was also exiled in Sweden and after his father's death in 1941. He travelled to London and mediated between the Polish government-in-exile based in the capital and the underground movement in Poland. In 1942 he helped to supervise clandestine radio broadcasts codeword ' Swit' ( Dawn)  from Great Britain to occupied Poland.  He refused to return to Communist led Poland after the Second World War becoming politically active in Polish emigre politics until ill -health resulted in his death in 1979.

During a  Commission for the Investigation of German War Crimes held in Warsaw in 1948 a tragic story from an eyewitness emerged on the fate of one of Mieczyslaw's close school friends , Stanisław Dubois. Following his arrest as part of the polish resistance movement in Warsaw in 1940 he was transported to Auschwitz -Birkenau Camp. During an interrogation , he was asked if he knew Mieczysław Thugutt – he answered that he was his friend from school. Finally, he heard that Mieczysław Thugutt had sent him a food parcel and it was given to him. Prisoners were not allowed to receive parcels at the time. One-kilogram parcels were only allowed in December 1942. The interrogating Gestapo officer had all of Dubois’s personal files and treated him brutally. On Monday, 22 August 1942 , two SS men from the Political Department called out his number and took him from his workplace. They led him to block 11. The prisoners of the hospital block 21 saw Dubois passing by, he even smiled and waved his hand goodbye. He was walked into the baths, where the prisoners always had to undress completely before an execution. That’s where two Leichenträgers (prisoners used for carrying corpses) saw him. I learned from them that Stanisław Dubois, brought onto the yard without his clothes, a moment before he was hit by the bullet, shouted: “Poland is not yet lost.” Dubois was executed by being shot him in the back of his head with an automatic rifle.

Wondering what caused the death of Stanisław Dubois, the eyewitness came to the conclusion that the food parcel that came from Mieczyslaw Thugutt (then in exile in Stockholm), with Dubois’s name and the number assigned to him, was the reason for which Dubois was executed.
Zakopane, L to R, Stanisław Dubois, Stefan Korbonski & Mieczyslaw Thugutt
Mieczyslaw is also referenced in the recent remarkable book on Witold Pilecki , The heroic Polish Resistance leader and escapee from Auschwitz who in a another tragic twist of fate was executed in the same brutal manner in 1948 by the Communist Government for amongst other charges espionage for "foreign imperialism" (British intelligence)-

The Volunteer: One Man's Mission to Lead an Underground Army Inside Auschwitz and Stop the Holocaust ( 2019 ) Author, Jack Fairweather.

Mieczyslaw Thugutt will feature as one of the lives in the forthcoming  'A third brief biographical guide to thirty of the illustrious deceased buried in Brockley and Ladywell cemeteries' due to be published in May 2020 by Mike Guilfoyle Vice-Chair : Foblc.