Sendłak Stefan

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The story of Stefan Sendłak

A social and political activist with socialist views, a participant in the fight for Polish independence, a member of the Polish Socialist Party and active in the defence of peasants and workers. For many years, he was employed in local government. He wrote articles for the worker and socialist press. He was the founder and chairman of the Zamojsko-Lubelski Committee to Aid Jews. From 1943, he managed the local branch of the Council to Aid Jews "Żegota".

Read the history of the Council to Aid Jews "Żegota"

From 1919, in the 9th Legions' Infantry Regiment in Zamość, he fought in the war against the Bolsheviks. He was one of the region's leading activists in the PPS. A good speaker, he was unapologetic with respect to the authorities. Already in 1919, he was arrested for taking part in a workers demonstration. In 1931 and 1937, he was sentenced to several months gaol for "offending the authorities". Among the protests he organised were against the pacification of the peasants strike (1936) and against the destruction of an Orthodox church and against the conversion of Orthodox peasants to Catholicism by force (1939).

In 1922-1926, he managed the municipal baths in Zamość. Then, until 1939, he served as a City Councillor. In 1922, he became a member (and from 1934, Chairman) of the Zamość Regional Workers Committee of the PPS. He also managed the Youth Organisation of the Workers University Association (OM TUR) and, from 1925, sat on its Central Committee. He was a board member of the Workers University Association. He co-founded the "Robotnik" Co-operative and was a member of its board. From 1930, he was Secretary of the Polish Smallholders Trade Union in Zamość. He was Chairman of the Zamość branch of the Polish Union of Free Thought.

In the autumn of 1940, with the Germans intending to take him hostage, he fled to Warsaw. He joined the "Freedom Barricade" of the PPS. He attended the meeting which established the party of Polish Socialists (PS) and worked with the Socialist Fighting Organisation (SOB). He distributed the underground press and the publications which he edited included "Chłopskiej Sprawie" (1942) and "Miasto i Wieś" (1943-1944). In 1943, he joined the PPS - Freedom, Equality, Independence.

At least from 1941, he would often travel to the provinces using false papers of an employee of the "Łączność" Co-operative. Even then, he was helping the Jewish populace by delivering false papers to the ghetto in Zamość. In Lublin, he organised help for Jewish Polish Army prisoners in the camp on Lipowa Street.

His broader activities in helping Jews began in the autumn of 1942, following the final liquidation of the Zamość ghetto and with the appearance, in Warsaw, of a few escapees. At that time, he established the Zamojść-Lublin Committee to Aid Jews. The number of similar committees grew rapidly – from 10 in the autumn of 1942 to 272 in the autumn of 1943. Thanks to his work with Ignacy Barski, he was invited to work with "Żegota", where he was chosen to chair the Local Department. He managed to make contact with Jews in Radom, Starachowice, Skarżysko-Kamienna, Kielce, Piotrków Trybunalski, Częstochowa and Białystok. People hiding in the country were also aided, for example in Hutków near Krasnobród.

During the Warsaw Uprising, he served as the deputy regional delegate of the Government in Region III (Śródmieście-Północ). After the War, he fought to continue being politically and socially active. In 1948, he was expelled from the PPS for opposing its union with the PPR. He then withdrew from active political life. He died without leaving any family. He was buried in Warsaw's northern community cemetery.

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