Pawel Zenon Wos

Pawel Zenon Wos

Born: December 22, 1920

Warsaw, Poland

Pawel was the oldest of four children born to Roman Catholic parents in Poland's capital of Warsaw. Pawel's father had worked for the Polish merchant marine before starting his own textile business in 1930. The family moved to a comfortable apartment near the Royal Castle and the Vistula River. Pawel excelled in sports, including basketball and tennis. His favorite sport was rowing.

1933-39: In May 1939 I became an army reserve officer and went to training camp near Augustow. On the morning of September 1, 1939, German planes bombed our camp in a surprise attack. We retreated, moving by night to avoid German air attacks. Then on September 17 our unit was attacked by the Soviets; we surrendered 3 days later. With 20 zloty and a watch, I bribed a Soviet guard and escaped from a POW camp.

1940-44: Back in Warsaw I went to work for my father after he had been allowed to reopen his textile factory. Business required that we visit the Jewish ghetto. Twice I was caught smuggling food into the ghetto and twice my father bribed the Germans to get me released. In 1942, I joined the Polish Home Army and fought in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Thirty-two days into the uprising, the Germans arrested my family, and deported my father and me to the Flossenbürg concentration camp as political prisoners.

Pawel was liberated in Flossenbürg by American troops in April 1945. After the war, he returned to Warsaw. In 1961 he emigrated to the United States.