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Tall salute to Polish heroes

Michael Madejski and Jerzy Waleszkowski were Polish boy scouts who found little time for arts and crafts after Germany invaded Poland in 1939 to ignite World War II and further propel The Holocaust.

Instead, they joined Poland’s underground resistance, the Armia Krajowa, and spent most of their time fighting the German Army of occupation.

For his role in combating fascism Madejski and Waleszkowski were at the Polish Consulate in New York City as the Republic of Poland honored Madejski with its Officer Cross of Merit for his many contributions to the cause of a free and independent Poland during and after the war.

Madejski is president of the New York Chapters of the Polish Veterans of World War II (SPK) and the Polish Home Army Veterans. Both organizations are affiliated with the Polish American Congress, the umbrella organization of the Polish American community.

Waleszkowski is a neurological surgeon in Lodz, Poland and came to New York to be present at the ceremony paying tribute to his longtime friend.

Poland’s underground resistance was the largest and most effective anti-Nazi resistance in all of German-occupied Europe. Madejski became part of it right from the beginning in 1939.

During the Warsaw Uprising of August, 1944, Madejski and Waleszkowski were members of the Scout Troop Zoska, and at the height of the battle, the scouts of Zoska reached the Gesiowka German concentration camp inside the city and liberated 350 Jewish prisoners.

For their heroic act, the State of Israel has honored the Polish scouts of Zoska at its Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem. There, those who went out of their way to rescue Jews during the Holocaust are commemorated at “Righteous Among the Nations.”

While many individuals from various countries are given this distinction, by far, the greatest number of them are from Poland.

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