Cieśla Władysław

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Story of Rescue - Ciesla Wladyslaw

Władysław Cieśla was born in Żołynia. He was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army and fought on the Italian front. He was captured and subsequently returned to Poland in 1919. Upon his return, he was called up into the Polish army where he fought in the Polish-Bolshevik war and served as the adjutant to a colonel. Following that war, he was referred on to a police academy in Lwów and became a policeman. He worked in, what is now, the Niżański district of Jarocin, Ulanów, Pysznica and Jeżow.

Following the outbreaks of war in September 1939, Władysław attempted to cross into Rumania – he succeeded thanks to meeting up with a Jewish family heading to Hungary by car. In Rumania, as an internee, he ended up in the castle at Fagaras, where he was imprisoned until the entry of the German army. He was then deported for work in Germany, from which he was unexpectedly released and in the spring of 1943, he ended up in Zarzecza. His release was thanks to acquaintances within the Home Army who were officially worked in institutions supervised by the Germans Władysław began work as a Polish policeman, thanks to which he was able to obtain vital information for the Polish underground which continued to maintain contact with him.

Thanks to his work as a Polish policeman, Władysław also knew about transports of Jews from Zarzecza to nearby Janów Lubelski. He used this knowledge in order to save them. He informed the partisans of planned transports and they then organised rescues of the prisoners. They attacked a wagon transporting Jews. In cases such as this, the driver had to suffer (sometimes Cieśla himself or other, unaware of their role) – maintaining an appearance was vitally important. During such an attack, the Jews were given the opportunity to escape. However, they were unaware of the fact that the whole point of the attack was to enable them to escape.

Among those who escaped in such a manner was 12-year-old Tema Herskovits who, for a time after such an attack, held a grudge against Władysław Cieśla, who had told her to leave a village on one of these carriages. She was unaware of the fact that the whole thing was planned in such a way so as to allow Cieśla to save her life. It is difficult to say just how many people were saved in this way.  Władysław Cieśla’s son estimates the number as in excess of ten.

After the War, Władysław Cieśla was arrested by the security service and was questioned in the prison of Rzeszów castle. A letter from Tema Herskovits, in which she thanked him for saving her life, enabled his release. Her efforts and those of Władysław’s son, Tadeusz Cieśla, led to Władysław being honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations in 1991.


  • Paulina Berczyńska, Story of rescue - Wladyslaw Ciesla, 1.08.2013
  • Natoński Waldemar, Władysław Cieśla z Żołyni. Sprawiedliwy Wśród Narodów Świata (Fakty i Realia)