Karol Bytomski


Karol Bytomski was born on July 10, 1885 in Rudziniec in the Opole region. His parents were Karol and Klara, née Kania. He attended school in Rudziniec, and […] from his early youth he was active in Polish organizations in Opole Silesia. Before World War I, he moved to Wirk [Ruda Śląska]. Around 1910, he married Maria, née Ogaz, with whom he had four children. After her death, on June 17, 1918, he married her sister Albina, who became the mother of seven children.

Karol Bytomski was one of the most active Polish swordsmen […]. He founded the “Sokół” Gymnastic Society in Wirk. He also participated in the establishment of the “Wawel-Wirek” Sports Club. During the rally on February 28, 1919, he was among the initiators of the “Słowiczek” Singing Society. At the most important time for Polish Upper Silesia, where the heart of every Pole is beating higher and higher, expecting every moment of the liberation of our Piast Homeland, a group of compatriots with faith in our better future decided to create this Society – noted the chronicler of this organization. During the Plebiscite, [Karol Bytomski] was the plebiscite commissioner for the Katowice poviat. He was a leading activist of the local P [olska] O [organization] W [Ojskowa] and the organizer of all three uprisings in Wirk. During the Third Silesian Uprising […] he went on a combat route up to Góra Św. Anna.

After annexing part of Upper Silesia to Poland in 1922, he initially became the head of the Wirek commune. In the following years […] he started working at the General School No. 6 in Wirek as a school janitor. He devoted a lot of time to social work in the Association of Silesian Insurgents and social organizations. In view of the aggravating international situation in 1939, Karol Bytomski took an active part in organizing the Wirków self-defense units, which included, among others, former Silesian insurgents. My father had a [insurgent] uniform and when the holiday on May 1 came, he dressed it and carried the banner in it during the parade. […] My older sisters belonged to the scouts. When I was 8-9 years old and the national anthem was broadcast on the radio, then all family members had to listen to it standing at attention. My father loved Poland above all […], recalled his daughter Aniela.

Shortly after the outbreak of World War II and the occupation of Silesia by the Wehrmacht, Karol Bytomski lost his job. In addition, he was thrown out of his apartment with his wife and children. The whole family had to move rooms in the basement of the school building. Soon, on September 10, 1939, he was arrested. Two men in civilian clothes came for my father. They asked if Karol Bytomski was there and told him to dress. Then my mother said that they took my father for questioning to the police – recalled his daughter Aniela. After his arrest, the Silesian activist was initially sent to the prison in Mikołów, and then, on April 9, 1940, to the German concentration camp in Dachau. Like many other Poles, previously held in the German concentration camps of Dachau and Mauthausen-Gusen, on December 12, 1940, he was transferred to Auschwitz, receiving the camp number 7258.

The fate of the Bytomski family left in Silesia was very difficult. After my father was arrested, our family was moved to an old building or a barrack in a building on the side street Hintergasse 3, where there was no heating and terrible conditions, including water and moisture.

Karol Bytomski, imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp, died on April 13, 1941. I remember that the telegram sent information that my father was burnt in Oświęcim on April 15, 1941 and for 19 marks my mother, “if she is German”, may receive an urn with her father’s ashes . […] I had six brothers and four sisters, of which only some of the elders were provided for by forced labor, and then some of the brothers were conscripted into the German army and sent to the front line. I remember that my father’s personal belongings were sent from the camp. They were bloodied and my mother was very upset when she received these items, which testified to the treatment of her father in the camp, recalled her daughter Aniela.