The story of one friendship, 1964.

Peasant Way Newspaper

Far and near
The story of one friendship

Original article at the bottom.

"Who knows this doctor?" - under such a title appeared a few weeks ago in the "Peasant Way" a letter arriving from distant Georgia. A partisan of the Great Patriotic War, Sh. S. Babunashvili, was looking for a Polish citizen, a veterinarian, who in 1943 in the village of Lipa, somewhere near Radom, helped a group of 20 Soviet prisoners of war escape from Nazi captivity. Thanks to this escape, they managed to organize themselves into a partisan group, cooperating with Polish partisans on the territory of our country. The author of the letter commanded it. "On behalf of those partisans from our group who remained alive," wrote Sh. S. Babunashvili, "I ask for help in finding this man, so that on the 20th anniversary of the Polish People's Republic we can express our deep gratitude and thanks to him. This gratitude was also expressed by the author of the letter to all Polish citizens who took part in the release of the prisoners of war and who helped them daily throughout their stay on Polish territory.

Footprint captured

The wounds inflicted by the hand of the occupying forces on the land of Radom and Kozienice have long since healed. Murdered villages have risen from ashes and rubble. The mutilated landscape was reborn. But time has not erased in human memory the experiences and memories associated with the hard years of occupation. People whose events, perhaps for a moment, were bound together to death.

A few days after the letter was published, we received a phone call. The caller was Antoni Lipiec from Glowaczow, in Kozienice district, vice president of the local GS. He announced that he was one of the three people who at one time took a direct part in organizing the escape of the Lipiec POWs mentioned in the letter. He gave the names of the others. The wanted veterinarian is Tadeusz Podbielski, currently living and working in Miedzyrzecz Wielkopolski. His wife's name is Zofia. The guide of the fleeing group was Piotr Mikos. He lives in Radom. He is the manager of a tile factory.

After this proclamation to a friendly call from faraway Georgia, we set off on the captured trail. In the memory of the author of the letter some details of the escape have faded, but the essence of the facts has remained unchanged. We are recreating them today on the basis of the accounts of the living participants in this daring enterprise, which was the escape of 20 Georgians from Liegenschaft Lipa.

Scribe and partisan

Truppen Ubungsplatz Mitte - this was the code name the Nazis gave to the area between the Vistula River and the Warka - Radom railroad line. Already in November 1940, peasants were completely displaced from here. The following year, several model land estates were established on the outskirts of this "central training ground" under German administration. One of these was the Liegenschaft in Lipa. Displaced peasants were allowed to return here, but only as farm laborers. Antoni Lipiec, who was stripped of his 4-acre farm, wandered outside the area for some time. When he found himself in the ranks of the underground organization, he was ordered by the organization to return to Lipiec and "bolt" for any work on the estate. Lipa managed to get a job as an assistant accountant, who was a Nazi named Klim. To the German management, Lipiec was thus an acerbic junior clerk - Herr Lipiec. In the underground, on the other hand, he was known as "Zygand" - a BCh district inspector. He kept store records, had access to the files of those employed - and conducted inspections of the training of forest troops, agitation and recruitment to the ranks of the BCh. Many of the young men employed at the estate owed him their absence from the list of those deported for labor deep into the Great Reich.

He contacted veterinary doctor Podbielski. The doctor, in great demand as a veterinarian, remained "Lomza" to insiders. He was a living newspaper. Through him, news spread that kept spirits up or signaled the occupier's dangerous moves for the area.

As time passed and the war prolonged, it became increasingly difficult for the Liegenschaft to perform its economic functions in an exemplary manner. In the Kozienicka Forest, BCh boys increasingly came to the fore. They even dared to attack Nazi property. So the Liegenschaft Lipa also received protection in the form of two dozen sentries. The armed crew changed frequently. Those who warmed up a bit left, handing over the post to others. One could not trust too much these foreign people, who now, in hard times for Hitlerism, had to be entrusted with guarding German property. And one had to, because the front was crackling and Herrenvolk was dwindling. A salutary wind was already blowing from above the Volga. With Paulus' army buried at the gates of Stalingrau, the hopes of the conquered grew. The oppressed were raising their heads. Liegenschft Lipa worked and listened.

Basin of Disappearing

The Kozienice Forest and its riverside environs were the specters of other shocking facts, still indelible in the memory of the residents of the former Ubungsplatz Mitte. Here, in the summer of 1941, uniforms the color of feldgrad swarmed. Here the enemy forces concentrated their divisions for the assault on the Land of the Radium. Here later, hosts of starved and shabby Soviet prisoners of war worked to erect new buildings and develop the land for the organized Liegenschafts. No one will count those who laid their bones in this land, on which rye later hummed. About 200,000 Soviet soldiers of various nationalities passed through Frontstalag 307 in the not-too-distant city of Deblin, ranked as one of Poland's largest prisoner-of-war camps. Nearly half of them stayed there forever. They were laid to rest for any offense by salvos of firing squads, devastated by disease and starvation. People were likened to living skeletons. In this vast mass of misery, the enemy carried off not only bodies, but also sought to break souls. He shattered POW solidarity and unity. With hunger and terror, he sought to make the captives a slow tool in his hand for his unholy purposes.

Postwar literature has already partially conveyed the enormity of these crimes committed against people who were supposed to be protected as prisoners of war by international convention. Soviet writer J. M. Korolkov, in his novel "Through Forty Deaths," presented a shocking picture of Nazi perfidy, and at the same time paid tribute to those who showed greatness of character during the inhuman ordeal. He described the heroic story of the illustrious Tatar poet Musa Djalil, organizer of the uprising in the Tatar battalion in Jedlnia. From Lipa it is not far to Jedlnia. Its residents remember that camp of Mohammedan legionaries, formed on the orders of the ideologue of Hitlerism Rosenberg. This camp was closely guarded by German field police.

And one didn't keep track.

The perverse enemy tried to enslave some of the defeated to act with arms against their homeland, while forcing others to serve in paramilitary units in the rear. During the period in question, the partisan movement in the Kozienicka Forest region was gaining strength. Contacts of underground units even reached beyond the wires of prisoner-of-war camps. Leaflets in Polish, Russian and German were smuggled in, and maps were provided. Many Soviet prisoners of war volunteered to serve in the rear in the hope of seizing the first opportunity to confuse the Germans' vigilance and find themselves in the ranks of those fighting for the common cause.

Last change of guard

One spring day, a new detachment of 20 raven-haired men took up guard over Liegenschaft Lipa. They were vigilantly supervised by Feldfebel Rose, a civilian lawyer with the grandiose manners but venomous habits of a soldier. The estranged mother, having lost two sons on the Ostfront, managed to "settle" the third in quiet service, away from the swish of bullets. The Feldfebel carefully watched the course of duty performed by the black-haired Georgian. He kept a handy store of weapons under lock and key, and made sure that the shift coming off duty immediately handed in rifles and segregated cartridges. The Georgians were quiet. They hummed occasional longing songs. But they were distrustful and secretive. Feldfebel Rose looked after the shifts at the posts, at the stacks, at the warehouses, at the barn. Accountant Klim calmly added up the farm accounts.

Soon official relations between the Georgians and the Poles employed at the estate warmed considerably. The sentinels' tongues were loosening. Dr. Podbielski and his Russian-speaking wife learned closer details about the fate of the group, which in the fall of 1942 was taken prisoner during the fighting on the Kerch peninsula. One of the captives Tamaz Kunchulia was from Batumi on the Black Sea. He was a naval officer. After the sinking of the ship, he was still fighting on land. One of the youngest of the group was the lively and mobile, though full of dignity, Sh. S. Babunashvili. It is not known when the threads of sincere trust were forged between him and the Podbielskis. The doctor's wife, Mrs. Sophia, knew Georgia from the stories of her father, who stayed there years ago. That's probably where the affection came from. They began to show kindness to the Georgians and the peasants, who had never experienced any unpleasantness on their part. Slowly things matured to their successful conclusion. The Georgians did not taili before their friends the thought of fleeing. Before they found themselves here, they underwent torments where the sand was gnawed by 40,000 of their comrades-in-arms in the Goryn POW camp.

One day Babunashvili even obsequiously gabbed Podbielsky: "Give a guide so we can go to the world." The doctor took action. He turned to "Zygand" to pass on where needed, that "Lomza" had people about to metastasize. "Zygand" dropped the news in the wilderness. After a week, he receipts the doctor to complete the task. That day and that day, there will be someone standing under the forest with yellow flowers in his hand. Let one of the Georgians go to meet him at this and that hour holding yellow flowers in his hand as well. That someone will throw the slogan "Tbilisi" to the person passing by. The Georgian should give the response "Batumi". The man. With whom this meeting took place was Piotr Mikos - the head of the BCh diversionary group - "Ptak". The technique of escape was discussed to the smallest detail. Dr. Podbielski arranged with Babunashvili the entire scenario of the dangerous undertaking so as not to endanger the Polish employees of the estate. Everything was to happen during a dinner at the manor, the date of which would be communicated to all insiders in the plot.

A memorable supper

Dr. Podbielski created the opportunity himself. By virtue of his profession and his function at the estate, he reported the need to slaughter "sick" non-horns. Such an opportunity was only awaited by members of the German estate's management. The pig-slaughtering ceremony was already one of the time-honored events in the boring life in Liegenschaft Lipa. A hog was made. The giblets and giblets smoked in the roasting pans.
Dinner began at dusk. It was then September 1943. The revelers gathered in the dining room. The place of honor was taken by the German administrator of the estate. On his left hand sat the accountant Herr Klim, on his right feldfebel Rose. Mr. and Mrs. Podbielski, the administrator's children and the foremen took their places. In all, more than a dozen people. A cracking decanter of frontal moonshine went in a circle. And suddenly, just as the temperature of the arranged dinner reached its warming heights, there was a short and rapid rumbling at the door, which immediately opened with a slam. On the threshold stood Babunashvili with an automatic in his hand. Briefly and sharply his voice rang out: "Ruki w wierch!" The revelers, with their hands raised, obediently lined up in a row facing the wall as the next order demanded. The hall filled with armed Georgians. One of them approached the first of the administrators to tie his hands behind his back. To carry out this operation more easily, he held the automaton with his knees. Feldfebel Rose took advantage of the moment of inattention. He rolled up, gave a dive between those standing, splashed into the open door to the other room, and from there through the window into the park. A moment later, several rapid shots rang out outside. What Feldfebel Rose didn't expect was that the entire house had been cased. The escape attempt was eliminated.

The shots were not to the liking of the fugitives. They posed the danger of prematurely alerting the gendarmerie, whose volatile patrols often haunted Linden. Haste dictated another solution. It was to lock everyone in the basement. The order not to leave the room on pain of death was followed. At one point, Babunashvili, as if he remembered something; he ran up to Dr. Podbielski and, without sparing him excuses, kicked him with such force that he collapsed on the couch. This happened in front of the frightened Herr Klim. The last point of the directed spectacle came to an end. The Georgians slamming the door ran outside. A broken telephone dangled pitifully in the hall. Feldfebel Rose's handy ammunition storeroom was ringing empty. Mazynava weapons were seized by the fugitives.

Beyond the Vistula into the unknown

Jumping out of the building, they reached a horse-drawn wagon. On it lay loaded heavy weapons, provisions for the road and some uniforms. They moved in a row behind the creaking cart. It was already night. Nearby "Zygand" was waiting for them. When they passed the manor buildings, "Ptak" took over from "Zygand". From now on, he was responsible for the safety of the people who trusted him and their happy leading to the saving river. Forty kilometers they traveled in two nights. During the day they sank into the woods. They were led by "Bird" to the Vistula River, somewhere opposite Janowiec. They burdened themselves with valuable equipment taken from the wagon. The agreed carrier ferried everyone one by one to the other bank. On it, someone from the Lublin BCh, who had been designated for the action, was already waiting. They put themselves under his care and set off in the direction of the Parczew woods.

It was only hours after the accident in Linden that the gendarmerie was notified. A meticulous investigation found no culprits. The testimony of the accountant Klim, the testimony of a reliable German about Babunashvili's battering of Dr. Podbielski, removed the burden of suspicion from the organizer of the escape. Life in Liegenschaft Lipa went on its beaten track. A German guard had already taken up watch over the non-German property. Two weeks after the escape, "Zygand" delivered a clumsily written note in Russian to the Podbielskis: "Proszli. Alive and well. Send priwiet. B."

Memory does not perish

He lives again in his hometown of Lipa, Antoni Lipiec - "Zygand" - who donates his skills to the developing Community Cooperative in nearby Głowaczów. Piotr Mikos - "Ptak" - makes sure that the best possible tiles come out of the Radom plant he manages for the benefit of the peasants under construction. There is no more Ubungsplatz Mitte area. There are no more Liegenschafts. Since 1945, Dr. Podbielski has settled in the Western Territories, precisely in Lubuska Land, in the old Polish town of Miedzyrzecz. He is a respected professional and a widely respected man. He lives in the same house on Staszica Street where he stayed nineteen years ago for his first overnight stay in the city, and where he assembled an old bicycle the day after his arrival to set it off in the field and fulfill the task he had been given. Since then he has been providing veterinary care for the property of the Międzyrzecz district.

She enjoys the comforts of home. Ms. Zofia does community work for the Polish Social Welfare Committee. She is a councilor of the MRN. Her passion for social work has followed her since she was young, since she was the commander of a scout troop in Lomza. She met her husband there, and that's where his nickname, which he used during his time in Liegenschaft Lipa, originated.

When I visited this esteemed married couple, following in the footsteps of Sh. S. Babunashvili's letter, I didn't think I would find living proof of those threads that connected real people with real people. I was shown an easel with a heartfelt entry in Russian, whose author was Tamaz Kunchulia, that Georgian from Batumi. What are his words about? Precisely about the friendship forged between those who did not lose their human dignity, and valiantly resisted the madness of barbarians, that such friendship never dies. And hence the friendly call from faraway Georgia in search of a druid, hence the response of druids who value such friendship higher than gold.


The escape reported above was not an isolated fact. Historical materials from the area prove that in the Kozienicka Forest there was organized cooperation between local BCh outposts and Soviet prisoners of war . They established contacts with them and enabled them to leave the forest. At the end of March 1943, the first group of 10 Tatars escaped with full armament from the Jedlnia camp. A second group, also from Jedlnia, numbering 50 people, also armed, escaped in May. This group, thanks to contact with the BCh, eluded pursuit. At the end of June, 150 Soviet prisoners of war in Kruszyn were released with weapons in hand. And further: at the beginning of July - 30 POWs from Wierzchowina; on July 26 - 27 POWs from Grachovka; on July 29 - 12 Tatars from Swierże Górne (these joined the BCh unit under the command of "Biloff"). The escape of the Georgians from Lipa was the last. The guide of the 4 prisoner-of-war groups that escaped from Kruszyna, Wierzchowina, Grachówka and Lipa - was Piotr Mikos. The Soviet staff conspirated in the POW camp, which inspired these escapes, also managed to get out.

P.S. Even after writing this article, we were notified by Dr. Podbielski that on July 8 he received a heartfelt letter from his Georgian friend. He forwarded the letter to our editorial office.

Here are its excerpts:

"Today is a day of joy for me. I often think of you," writes Sh. S. Babunashvili, "and recall our meetings. The comrades who, thanks to you, were able to escape with me and who remained alive, remember you with gratitude and your heroic, risky act of organizing the escape of our group. We were very worried about your further fate. After all, the Germans, at the slightest suspicion of your participation in the killing of a German officer, would not spare you....

After we escaped, we stayed for some time in the forests of Lusk and Parczew and often fought battles with the Germans. Local Polish citizens always informed us about the raids that the Germans often organized to capture our group. After crossing the Bug River, we joined Soviet partisan units operating in the Brest region. In 1944 I was seriously wounded and taken to Moscow to a hospital....

I would like to ask you very much to pass on the expressions of remembrance and gratitude of our group. You have introduced me to this comrade. Please also pass on our warm thanks to that carrier who ferried us across the Vistula River. We would also like to thank all the members of the underground organization and the participants of the dinner organized to make our escape possible.

Give me, please, your home phone number and the time when you can be called. My home phone: 7-3-66.

With great respect and cordiality - Shalva Babunashvili.

If you agree to come to us, I am ready to approach your Embassy in Moscow to settle the matter."

Vladimir Olszewski

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