Marian Główka


He was born on 3rd August 1908 in Gniezno. After graduating from Male Teacher Seminar in Rogoźno nearby Poznań, he passed his school-leaving examination. Then he started to work as a teacher at school in Rydułtowy in Rybnik district in Upper Silesia where he worked till the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1917 he became a member of Scout Team in Gniezno and in autumn 1928 he became a founder and a leader of the III Józef Poniatowski Male Scout Group attached to Primary School number 3 in Radoszowy. In subsequent years he acted in the scouts, first as a scout instructor and from 1934 as a sub-scoutmaster. From 1933 till 1936 he was the Commander of the Detachment Polish Scouting Association in Rydułtowy. From 1937 till 1939 he studied extramurally pedagogy and philosophy at Jagiellonian University in Cracow.

In Rydułtowy he met Maria Gaszyńska and on 1st August 1931 they got married. In 1934 his daughter Krystyna was born and a year later his son Aleksander. At the end of August 1939 he with his family went to Straconka (a district of Bielsko-Biała now) where his parents-in-law lived. At the outbreak of the war he tried to join Polish military squads: In the morning rumours spread that an officer cadet arrived on the horse at the forester’s named Żmija and he ordered all the men over 18 to go to the Soła river and sign up for Army Recruiting Command. (…) we crossed the Soła river climbing the summits but when we got to Kęty, the Polish state authorities were not there – Marian Główka recalled. From Kęty he got to Równe where he found out that the Soviet Army were entering Poland and he decided to come back to his wife and children. At the end of October after his coming back to Straconka and after registering and registration in Arbeitsamt in Bielsko he tried to find work without success.

(…) On 24th April 1940 a month after the birth of our third child Andrzej, at 3.00 in the morning, the house in which we lived was surrounded by the SS officers. Their officer came into the kitchen and he read personal information using the book held in his hand and next he said a formula „Sind Sie verhaftel” – you are arrested. Accompanied by two SS-men I was taken to the restaurant in Straconka where 11 men arrested before, were standing facing the wall and with their hands up. I was the twelfth. They were still looking for the headmaster’s son but as he had escaped, his father – Gustaw Kleja – was brought as a hostage. He was supposed to be the hostage till his son came forward. When after 24 hours his son appeared, they were both arrested and then taken to the camp.

The arrested were taken from Straconka to prison in Bielsko and then to the transition camp in the Thonet Mundus bentwood furniture factory in Cieszyn. “Death’s Heads” made us enter into the big room using the iron spiral stairs, it probably was not used for a long time because there were a few centimetres of dust on the floor. There was a command: “hein legen” – “lie down” – facing the dust! The interrogation started but in fact it was a German “play”! They hit the rascal with the riding whip and demanded that they stood at attention and answered the questions.

The mayor of Bielsko informed in the letter dated on the 7th of May 1940 that Marian Główka had been arrested because of political reasons. Next the family got a letter from which it appeared that he was in the Dachau concentration camp and got the 6638 camp number. When her husband was kept prisoner, his wife with their children lived off her outwork and her parents’ help. She regularly sent money transfers to her husband’s next places of stay in the Mauthausen-Gusen, Dachau, Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen and Hersbruck camps. Marian Główka managed to survive the death march from the Hersbruck camp to the Dachau camp from 3rd till 27th April 1945. Two days later the camp was liberated by American Army. After regaining his freedom he founded and ran schools for children of Polish former forced labourers in Karlsfeld and Freiman nearby Munich. He came back to Poland in September 1945. He still worked as a teacher, he died in 1975.