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August Emil Fieldorf alias „Nil”

August Emil Fieldorf was born on 20 March 1895 in Kraków. He graduated from the men’s college of St. Nicholas and later from a men’s seminary there. In 1910, he joined the Sport and Gymnastic Society ”Strzelec” (Shooter), where he finished the school for non-commissioned officers.

On 6 August 1914, Fieldorf volunteered to join the Polish Legions and set out for the Russian front, where he served as a deputy commander of an infantry platoon. In 1916, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and a year later he was sent to the officer training school. After the oath crisis, he was forced to join the Austro-Hungarian Army and transferred to the Italian front. He deserted and joined the Polish Military Organisation in his home city of Kraków in August 1918.

After the Republic of Poland regained independence, Fieldorf served in the Polish Army from November 1918, first as a platoon commander, and from March 1919 – as a commander of the heavy machine gun company in the Polish Legion’s First Infantry Regiment. In the years 1919-1920, he participated in the campaign of Vilnius and – as a company commander – in the Polish-Bolshevik War, when he participated in the liberation of Dyneburg and Żytomierz, the expedition to Kiev and the Battle of Białystok.

After the war, Fieldorf remained on active duty, was promoted to the rank of major and as such he was posted to the Polish Legion’s First Infantry Regiment as a battalion commander. In 1931, he became its second-in-command. In 1932, he became a lieutenant colonel. Three years later, Fieldorf was transferred to the position of a commander of the “Troki” independent battalion of the Border Guard Corps (KOP) in the KOP’s “Wilno” Regiment. In 1936, he was made the district commander of the Polish Riflemen’s Association in France.

In March 1938, Fieldorf became the commander of the 51st Giuseppe Garibaldi Riflemen’s Regiment in Brzeżany in the eastern fringes of Poland. He was with the regiment for the whole military campaign during the Polish Defensive War of 1939. After the battle of Iłża, he reached his native Kraków. He was stopped at the Slovak border during an attempt to get to the West to join the Polish Army under formation. He was interned, but managed to escape from a camp and reached France, where he later completed staff courses and was promoted to full colonel on 3 May 1940. After the capitulation of France and after the Polish authorities and the army moved to the United Kingdom, he was appointed the first emissary of the Government-in-Exile and Commander-in-Chief to Poland. On 17 July 1940, Fieldorf set out from London to Warsaw, which he reached on 6 September.

Fieldorf was active in the Union of Armed Struggle in Warsaw and later, from 1941, in Vilnius and Białystok. In 1942, he was appointed a commander of Kedyw (directorate of underground sabotage operations) of the High Command of the Home Army. It was on his order that the German SS General Franz Kutschera was assassinated in Warsaw.

In April 1944, Fieldorf started to form a highly secretive Niepodległość (NIE) organisation, which was designed to continue operations during the expected Soviet occupation of Poland. On the order of the Supreme Commander Kazimierz Sosnkowski of 28 September 1944, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. In October 1944, he became the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Home Army under General Leopold Okulicki and kept the post till 19 January 1945 when the Home Army was disbanded. On 7 March 1945, Fieldorf was arrested by the Soviet NKVD in the town of Milanówek under the false name of Walenty Gdanicki. Unrecognized as a general, ‘Nil’ was transferred from the NKVD headquarters in Włochy to a camp in Rembertów, and on 21 March 1945 he was sent to the labour camps of Bieriozovka, Stupino and Hudiakowo, in the Ural Mountains . After serving his sentence, he was released and returned to Poland in October 1947. Under his assumed name, he settled in Biała Podlaska, abandoning his underground activities. After moving between Warsaw and Kraków, he finally settled in Łódź.

On 10 November 1950, he was arrested by the Regional Military Replenishment Unit in Łódź, transferred to Warsaw and placed under arrest in Rakowiecka Street. On 16 April 1952, he was sentenced to death as a ”fascist-Hitlerite criminal”. The sentence was carried out, by hanging, on 24 February 1953.

In July 1958, the Prosecutor’s Office discontinued the investigation against General August Emil Fieldorf, citing lack of evidence of guilt. In March 1989, he was rehabilitated after it was found that “he had not committed the crime he was accused of”. The remains of the hero have not been found until today.

by Tadeusz Płużański