Nikodem Sobik

career’s officer, entrepreneur

He was born on 15th September 1884 in the village of Rowień (a part of Żory now). After finishing agricultural school, he started to work in the rolling mill in Paruszowice. In 1913 he went to Essen where he worked in the factory until he was called up into the Prussian Army. After the end of the war in 1918 he came back to Silesia and started to work in the mine, and a year later he joined Polish Military Organisation of Upper Silesia. In the First Silesian Uprising he fought in Goczałkowice and Godów, and sheltered in Poland after its downfall. After the announcement of the Polish-German amnesty agreement, he came back and started his plebiscite activity under a pseudonym – Werner Reitzenstein. In May 1920 he was put in prison in Racibórz, and after 8 weeks he was released as a result of the intervention of the Governing and Plebiscite Commission in Opole. In August of the same year he took part in the Second Silesian Uprising. After the plebiscite when the adverse proposals for the division of Upper Silesia for Poland were revealed, the Third Silesian Uprising broke out. Nikodem Sobik, as the commander of the II battalion of 2 Żory Insurgent Regiment, showed a great military talent. The insurgents under his command captured Żory and Rybnik, they also took part in a fight over Paruszowiec. After the annexation of the part of Upper Silesia into Poland on 28th August 1922, he was honoured with the Silver Cross of the War Order of Virtuti Militari. He got the decoration during the ceremony on the Rybnik market square from the Chief of State Józef Piłsudzki personally. He also got: the Cross of Independence with Swords, the Gold and Silver Cross of Merit, the Star of Upper Silesia, the Cross on the Silesian Brace of Brave and Merit, the Silesian Cross of Valour, the POW Cross, the Plebiscite Cross, the Medal of the Decade of Regained Independence and Commemorative Medal for the War for his services.

Later he was a professional soldier, first in the 11th Infantry Regiment in Tarnowskie Góry, and then in the 65th Infantry Regiment in Grudziądz. In 1923 he was promoted to lieutenant. In autumn 1923 my father with two other officers visited Głuchowo estate nearby Toruń where Mr Elsner was an administrator. It was a courtesy visit (…). The eldest of Elsner’s three daughters, seventeen-year-old Małgorzata was serving to the table. Already then she caught his fancy – recalled his daughter Mira. A year later on 15th November 1924 in the garrison church in Tczew, Nikodem Sobik married Małgorzata Elsner, who became a mother of his two children: Mira and Dagobert. In 1925 Nikodem Sobik was transferred to the reserve and he started a forwarding and transporting business in Rybnik. During the interwar years he was active in community life, for example: in the Polish Red Cross, Catching Brotherhood, and also in the Union of Reserve Officers and especially in the Union of Silesian Insurgents in which he served as a district commandant for 10 years.

In 1938 Nikodem Sobik helped to mobilize about 3800 men in 8 battalions of the Insurgent Battalions of Defence. Just before the outbreak of the Second World War on 26th August 1939 he was called up into the army and took command of the marching company of the 73rd Infantry Regiment. He had earlier put his wife with his children in Chmielnik in Kielce Voivodeship because he was afraid of German repressions. He fought in defence of Silesia, and then he went through the combat trail Sandomierz – Rozwadów – Tomaszów Lubelski. On 22nd September 1939 after the defeat of his regiment and after he miraculously avoided being taken prisoner, he went eastward because he was afraid of being captured by the Germans. After the war, it turned out that his name had been in Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen with an annotation that he should be handed over to the disposal of Secret State Police in Berlin (Geheimes Staatspolizeiamt).

At the turn of September and October Knapczyk, a restaurateur from Rybnik, met Nikodem Sobik on the platform of the Lviv railway station: He was wearing an officer uniform with captain’s insignias and the War Order Of Virtuti Militari and the Cross of Independence on his chest which he brought to the war. When I exhorted him to take off his uniform, he answered: “I am a Polish officer and I will not pretend to be a civilian”. On 3rd May 1940 his family still staying in Chmielnik got a postcard: My dear wife, Miruś and Bubuś [a little Dagobert was called this way]. I haven’t heard from you. (…) It’s very good that you didn’t go to Rybnik. I am healthy, and I wish you the same. (…) As long as you are optimistic, everything will be all right. (…) With all my love and best wishes. CCCP Gorod Starobielsk, pocztowyj jaszczik nr 15, Sobik Nikodem Janowicz. Only in 1992 after Małgorzata Sobik’s death, the Polish Red Cross informed the family that Sobik Nikodem born in 1884 figured on the prisoners of war list of the Starobielsk camp at number 3057. The list was prepared by the camp commandant according to whom the prisoners left (Russian ubyli) from the NKVD camp (…) . It should be assumed that Sobik Nikodem (…) was murdered in 1940 [in Charków].