Konstanty Ćwierk

writer, publicist

He was born on 21st November 1895 in Sosnowiec. His parents were Paweł who was a mining carpenter and Emilia who was a housewife. In his early childhood he became an orphan and Piotr and Maria Lange adopted him. When he finished the business school at the age of 17, he started to work as a proof-reader for “Kurier Zagłębia” – a daily newspaper published in Sosnowiec. However, the job for the newspaper did not give him any satisfaction. I can earn my living and get to know writing craft while working at the proof-reader’s desk. It is an interesting job, it gives a lot of satisfaction. But I dream about performing on stage, about a theatre where I feel best –Konstanty Ćwierk wrote. In 1912 he went to Warsaw to study acting in Academy of Dramatic Art attached to the Grand Theatre. Unfortunately after the First World War outbreak, he was forced to stop studying and to come back to Sosnowiec due to lack of money. There he got involved in the Association of Dramatic Artists activities performing in most of their performances.

During his cooperation with the Association, he met Antonia Zofia Kowalska whom he married in 1916. In the same year his first daughter Justyna was born. His short adventure with acting ended because of financial reasons and when he had passed his pedagogical exams in the Teacher Seminar in Zawiercie, he became a teacher, first in Sosnowiec and then in Gniazdów near Koziegłowy. In 1919 the Ćwierk family returned to Sosnowiec. Konstanty soon gave up his work at school and got affiliated to the organ of National Workers’ Union – “Głos Pracy” newspaper. During Silesian Uprisings and the plebiscite he was active in the committees supporting insurgent activity dealing with raising money and food. At that time he got in close touch with Father Teodor Kubina and Wojchech Korfanty who involved him in the editorial office of “Polonia” published in Katowice.

After the Second World War outbreak Konstatnty Ćwierk left Sosnowiec because he was afraid of being arrested by the Germans and he hid at his wife’s stepsister’s in Zawada in Mazowsze. However, after a few weeks he came back to Sosnowiec. He wanted to start work to help his wife and children. On 1st May 1940 he was arrested by the Gestapo officers at his home at 16a Ostrogórska Street. Just like the other detainees in Sosnowiec as part of In­tel­li­gen­zak­tion, he was put in the transition camp in the former Schoen factory in Sosnowiec, then he was moved to the Dachau concentration camp, next to the Mauthausen-Gusen one. He devoted himself to writing and organising cultural life in the camp. He wrote many pieces about the camp to which melodies were created with time. In the camp people knew and sang “Marsz gusenowców”. (…) I also sang enlivened by hope. Finally, I lived to see… When I was getting into the American lorries and I took the last look at “the world of stone blocks” – I was accompanied by Ćwierk’s song. (…) – Grzegorz Timofiejew recalled.

After four years in the camp the poet’s health deteriorated seriously. His friend from the camp Roman Grzyb described the 20th of August 1944 in such a way: His face turned black because of dark facial hair and his magnificent bushy eyebrows made him a vision of the martyr who hanged on and believed that some day it had to be over although he would probably not live to it. Then I often heard the words of the poem – prayer “Mother of God, Feeding Mother, give my children a slice of bread every day”. It was his daily prayer. (…) The disease was consuming his strength. Polish doctors did their best to save him but his organism was weaker and weaker. (…) Suddenly Kostek raised himself and cried out in despair “I am dying, and my Zosia…, where is she? She isn’t here, everything in vain…” and his head dropped on the pillow. I propped up his head. He wheezed, he did not recognise anybody and he died in this way. I closed his eyelids because I was not able to look at his eyes burning with passion and longing.