Maksymilian Basista


Maksymilian Basista was born on August 7, 1883 in Górki, in the Rybnik poviat. His parents were farmers Jan and Franciszka, née Kałuża. Polish traditions were cultivated in his family home. In the years 1889–1896 he attended the folk school in Górki, after which he started working in the “Silesia” steelworks in Paruszowiec. In 1899 he left for Westphalia, where he worked as a miner in the Prosper II mine in Bottrop. He took part in the social and cultural life of the local Polish community. In Bottrop he founded the “Sokół” gymnastic society and the “Wyspiański” singing unit. In 1903, he joined the circle of the “Eliusis” society, founded by prof. Wincenty Lutosławski. In the years 1903–1906 he served in the 56th Infantry Regiment of the German Empire, stationed in Cleve and Wessel on the Rhine.

In 1906 Maksymilian Basista was selected by members of the club to participate in an instructor course for social and national activists, organized at the National Education Seminar in Krakow. The pseudonym “Klin” was suggested by prof. Wincenty Lutosławski: You will be a Bassist called Klin. The Prussians, taking Silesia, broke into the territory of Poland with a wedge. An old proverb says: The wedge breaks out with the wedge – so you will be the wedge by which we ban the Germans from Silesia.

After completing the course in 1907, he stayed in Kraków. There he completed a printing course at the W.L. Anczyca, a book course at the Gebethner and Wolff publishing house and a higher trade course at the Academy of Commerce. In 1910 he moved to Rybnik. There, he vigorously started organizing Polish societies, continence circles and singing societies. In the same year he founded the “Polish Bookshop”. Then he organized a network of mobile libraries of the People’s Reading Room Society. He also led to the establishment of continence societies, which in January 1911 merged into the “Zgoda” Society. On his initiative, in 1913, the “Seraf” Singing Society, operating in Rybnik, emerged from the Society’s singing section.

During World War I, he was incorporated into the army of the German Empire. He fought on the Western Front at the Battle of Verdun, where he was badly wounded. Despite the declaration of his incapacity for further service, he was not dismissed as a potentially dangerous person: M. Basista Pole – uncertain – a dangerous Polish agitator – was emphasized in one of the German reports.

After his return, he joined the main command of the Polish Military Organization of Upper Silesia. On March 23, 1919, along with other activists of the POW GŚl., He was arrested in his bookshop by Grenzschutz and sentenced to nine months in prison. After his release, he served as the head of the propaganda department of the General Headquarters of POW GŚl. During the First Silesian Uprising, he took part in local actions in the vicinity of Rybnik. After the fighting ceased, he managed to get to Sosnowiec, and after the amnesty, he continued to operate in Rybnik, conducting a plebiscite action. He was also a member of the Parity Committee.

In the interwar period, he joined the City Council and became its chairman (until 1934), and then vice-mayor of the city. For his activities, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, the Cross of Independence, the Cross on the Silesian Ribbon of Valor and Merit and the Upper Silesian Star.

After the outbreak of World War II, he left Rybnik and hid in the vicinity of Krakow. However, on September 3, 1943, he was arrested. He stayed in the concentration camp in Auschwitz, then in the labor camp in Bavaria, and after its liquidation – in the forest camp in Mattheim. Liberated on May 2, 1945 by the American army, Maksymilian Basista returned to Rybnik, where he reopened his bookshop. However, in 1948 he was forced to hand it over to cooperative bodies. In the new reality, he also withdrew from social activity. Maksymilian Basista died on November 3, 1967.