80 years ago, on 31 March 1943, the Germans arrested Stanisław Zdanowski, the mayor of Siedlce. The arrest, which took place on his 44th birthday, was prompted by the fact that he had organised a funeral for the children of the victims of the Zamojszczyzna deportation, who had frozen to death during transport at the end of January 1943.
Stanisław Zdanowski was born on 31 March 1899 in Siedlce, then under Russian occupation. His family moved to the Kielce Governorate a few years later. After the outbreak of the First World War, the 15-year-old Zdanowski ran away to join the forming Polish Legions commanded by Józef Piłsudski, fighting alongside the Austrian army against Russia. Here, despite his young age, he was assigned to the famous First Brigade. His combat route ended in the Battle of Jastkow (31.07-03.08.1915), in which he was seriously wounded. Interestingly, his name appears on the plaque of the fallen in the local war cemetery. After recovering from his wounds, he was sent to conspiratorial work in the ranks of the Polish Military Organisation (POW). In November 1918, he took part in disarming German troops in the Łuków area, and then as a volunteer fought in the war against Bolshevik Russia (1919-1921).
In the inter-war period, Stanisław Zdanowski worked as a civil servant, first as a school inspector, and from 1931 until the end of September he was vice-mayor of Siedlce. Thanks to his commitment, new schools were built in the town, and the water supply and sewage system were developed. He was also active in social and veterans’ organisations.
After the aggression of Germany and later the Soviet Union against Poland in 1939, Zdanowski, together with other representatives of the administrative authorities in Siedlce, was taken deep into the Soviet Union, where he was imprisoned and sent to work until the end of January 1941, at which time he was handed over to the occupying German authorities. They appointed him to work in the municipal office in Siedlce, and from July 1942 he served as mayor of that town. At the same time, he joined conspiratorial work against the Germans as a member of the Home Army. At the beginning of February 1943, he was the organiser of a funeral ceremony for children deported by the Germans from the Zamojszczyzna region who had died during transport. This funeral became the largest demonstration in German-occupied Poland during the Second World War. Most probably for this reason, he was arrested by the Nazis on 31 March 1943 and later sent to Auschwitz Concentration Camp, from where he was transported to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. After the war he lived and worked in Wrocław. Stanisław Zdanowski died in 1966.