Karol Rożniewski


Karol Rożniewski was born on January 28, 1905 in Gniezno. His parents were Teofil and Aleksandra née Wysocki. After completing his education, at the age of 16, he left home and moved to Silesia, to Lubliniec, where his two older brothers, Bogdan and Romuald, lived for some time. In 1921, as a sixteen-year-old with patriotic views, he took part in the Third Silesian Uprising, fighting for the Polishness of Silesia. After its completion, he started working in a shop run by his eldest brother Romuald. In the years 1924–1926 he served in the army, initially in the 5th Automobile Division, and then as a writer in the 6th Light Artillery Regiment. After serving, he met Emma Goluzda, whose parents ran an inn-restaurant in Lubliniec. Her family came from Stare Siołkowice in the Opole region. After part of Upper Silesia was incorporated into Poland in 1922, she had to flee her hometown due to German repressions for her many years of involvement in promoting Polishness. Karol and Emma moved to Chropaczów, where they opened their own grocery store. There, on July 10, 1932, they got married. A year later their daughter Krystyna was born, but she died soon after, and in 1934 their eldest son Tadeusz was born. Then the family moved to Brzozowice-Kamień, where they lived and also ran a grocery store.

Karol Rożniewski, as a participant in the Third Silesian Uprising, often demonstrating his patriotic views, together with his wife took part in the construction of the Liberation Mound in Piekary Śląskie, and on February 27, 1934, he was awarded the National Loan Commemorative Badge in recognition of the selfless organizational work devoted to the implementation of the National Loan.

After the outbreak of World War II, Karol Rożniewski was called up for service in the Polish Army, but he did not manage to reach his unit. In the meantime, after the entry of Wehrmacht units to Brzozowice-Kamień, his shop was confiscated and his wife and son were thrown out of the apartment by the Germans. Emma found refuge in Chorzów with her mother Franciszka. Afraid that her son-in-law would be handed over to the Gestapo by the new tenants of his apartment, she went out on the road leading to Brzozowice-Kamień every day, hoping that she would meet him and warn him. So it happened and one day she brought him to her apartment, where he found his wife and son.

Probably on April 13, 1940, Karol Rożniewski was arrested in Chorzów as part of the “Intelligenzaktion” and imprisoned in the German concentration camp in Dachau. He stayed in block 16 / I and received the camp number 13053. At that time, his wife made intensive efforts to release her husband by correspondence with many German institutions and sending funds for the prisoner. After five months, Karol Rożniewski was transferred to the German concentration camp in Oranienburg. The postcard sent from the camp on September 30, 1940 shows that he was in Blok and had the camp number 31529. His wife’s efforts turned out to be successful and on February 25, 1942, Karol Rożniewski was released.

When he arrived in Chorzów and rang the doorbell, he was so exhausted that his wife recognized him only by the clothes in which he had been detained two years earlier. The father came back exhausted, weighed only 48 kilograms and was over 170 cm tall – recalled his son Janusz. When the military situation of the Third Reich became critical, in September 1944 Karol Rożniewski was conscripted de Wehrmacht, and in March 1945 his second son, Eugeniusz, was born. Karol Rożniewski was initially stationed in Ostrava, and then he was transferred to Yugoslavia, where in May 1945 he was captured by the Yugoslavs. After the end of World War II, he was released and on August 28, 1945 he reached Sanok, where he crossed the Polish border. Soon, on September 11 of the same year, his third son, Janusz, was born. After the end of the war, the family returned to an apartment in Brzozowice-Kamień and to run a shop. As the authorities tried to eliminate private economic activity, there were constant difficulties making it practically impossible to run the shop. In such conditions, a decision was made to hand over the store to the state and take up employment in the socialized structures of trade. In the following years, after moving to Bytom in 1948, Karol Rożniewski was an employee of the Powszechna Spółdzielnia Spożywców “Społem”. He died in 1967.