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Stanisław Kasznica ‘Wąsowski’

Stanisław Kasznica was born to a family of lawyers in Lvov on 25 July 1908. His father, Stanisław Wincenty Kasznica, a descendant of Antoni Trębicki, who was a deputy to the Four- Year Sejm, was a Doctor of Law, a member of the National Democratic Party, and a senator of the Second Republic of Poland.

After his family moved to Poznań, where his father was appointed rector of the University of Poznań, young Stanisław finished the local Karol Marcinkowski Lower Secondary School, and then graduated in law from the University of Poznań. During his studies, he became a member and one of the leaders of the All- Polish Youth. He was also a member of the student organisation “Brotherly Help”, the Academic Fraternity “Helionia” (as its president from 1938), as well as the Poznań Academic Aero Club. In 1934, he joined the National Radical Camp. As the party was declared illegal, he joined its clandestine multi-level leadership structure called the Polish Organisation.

He performed his military service in the Artillery Reserve Officer Cadet School in Włodzimierz Wołyński, and served as a lieutenant of the reserve in the 7th Greater Poland Horse Artillery Division (DAK) in Poznań. Until the outbreak of the war, he worked at Ignacy Weinfeld’s law office in Warsaw and as a legal adviser in Gniezno. In the defensive war of 1939, he was in command of a battery platoon in the 7th Horse Artillery Division, which was subordinated to the Greater Poland Cavalry Brigade assigned to the “Poznań” Army. He fought in the battles of the Bzura, Laski, and Sieraków and defended Warsaw. For bravery in the battlefield, he was awarded the Virtuti Militari Grand Cross Order Class V.

After the September defeat, he focused on pro-independence activities in the clandestine Polish Organisation. In 1942, he participated in the establishment of a new military organisation – the National Armed Forces (NSZ). Its primary objective was to fight both the Germans and the Soviets, counteract the communist influence, and establish Poland as a national-Catholic country after the war.

Stanisław Kasznica was among those who refused to accept integration with the Home Army. In July 1944, he was appointed Head of the 1st Section of the National Armed Forces Headquarters. Even though he opposed the launch of the Warsaw Uprising, he fought in the Ochota district. After the failure of the Warsaw Uprising, he conducted anti-communist activities in the fields of army, intelligence, politics, and among youth. In August 1945, he was appointed as acting chief commander of the National Armed Forces. At the turn of 1945, along with part of the surviving staff, he joined the National Military Union. He was one of the Enduring Soldiers most wanted by the UB (Poland’s Department of Security) and the NKVD (the Soviet secret service agency) – a high reward was offered for his capture. How much the Soviets wanted to seize Kasznica is shown by the fact that reports on efforts to capture him were requested by Lawrientiy Beria, People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the USSR.

The last chief commander of the National Armed Forces fell into the hands of the communists on 15 February 1947 in Zakopane, where he was staying with his family. The brutal interrogation in the prison at Rakowiecka Street in Warsaw was conducted for nearly a year. On 2 March 1948, he received four death sentences. He was murdered on 12 May 1948.

In 1992, thanks to the efforts of his family, the sentence was overturned. Pursuant to the decision made by Lech Kaczyński, President of the Republic of Poland, on 20 August 2009, Stanisław Kasznica was posthumously awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for his outstanding contribution to the independence of the Republic of Poland. His remains were exhumed in 2012 and transferred to “Łączka” (“The Meadow”) in the Powązki Military Cemetery in Warsaw.

Tadeusz Płużański