Stanisław Kaszyński – a silent hero
What would you do if the enemy took over your beloved land and used it as another cog in the killing machine by establishing an extermination camp?
Stanisław Kaszyński risked his own life to stop the ongoing murder – and he became a victim himself.
Before the Second World War, he was a local government official and a social activist. He was very active in the Chełmno commune, being its long-term secretary. Stanisław Kaszyński was a well-educated man, respected and liked among the locals. Secretly, he collaborated with the Polish Underground State. From 1942, units of the Union for Armed Struggle and the Home Army started to operate in the area of Chełmno.
The same year, Stanisław Kaszyński decided to act and pass information about the genocide ongoing in Kulmhof am Ner (Chełmno on the Ner) Nazi German extermination camp. He addressed a letter to the International Red Cross in Switzerland, which was intercepted by the SS. Kaszyński was then arrested and sent to prison. During his escorted transfer, he attempted to escape during which he was shot dead. The exact date of his death remains unknown, but it is speculated that it could have been February 2 (or 3), 1942. Probably, Kaszyński died near the palace which housed the undressing room for camp prisoners and the entrance to Gas Vans (mobile gas chambers). He was buried in an unknown place in the Rzuchowski Forest, where the mass graves of the victims of the camp were situated.
Karolina Kaszyńska, Stanisław’s wife, was pregnant at that time. She was deported to a German women’s camp in Litzmannstadt (Łódź) and then murdered in one of the Gestapo prisons. The couple orphaned four children, who were taken care of by Karolina’s friend, Cecylia Sońta.
Today, you can see Stanisław Kaszyński’s monument in the Rzuchowski Forest. It was unveiled in 1991.