Temporary Exhibition: Józef Gabriel Jęczkowiak – a Forgotten Hero of November 1918

World War I was particularly important for Polish history. The events of that time not only crucially changed Europe, but, most of all, enabled independent Polish state to reborn in 1918. It would have not been possible without geopolitical changes that occurred then, nor without the activity of key political and military figures like Józef Piłsudski, Roman Dmowski or Wojciech Korfanty.

Dozens, or even thousands, of other people, whom we may call forgotten heroes today, played not less important role. Their actions, although absent from newspaper headlines, crucially contributed to Polish independence restoration. 

Józef Gabriel Jęczkowiak (1898-1966) from Greater Poland was one of such individuals. Brought up in a craftmen's family, he joined scouting movement at the age of 15 and as soon as several months later he was arrested for taking part in a Polish manifestation at Adam Mickiewicz monument in Poznań. As a result, he was inprisoned for one month and expelled from school. Having turned into private eductaion, he continued being an active scout, including conspiracy actions. After the outburst of World War I, subject to the law of German Reich, he was incorporated to the German army and fough in France and Belgium. In August 1918 he deserted, for which he was in absentia condemned to death. He returned to Poznań and instantly involved in independence activity of Polish Military Organisation of the Prussian Partition. He was a liaison with Polish Military Organization Headquarters and recruited Poles serving in German army. In relation to his activity, he met Józef Piłsudski in Warsaw in November 1918. Following his advice, he provoked a rebellion among Polish soldiers in German garrison. After having succeeded in his mission, he fought in the Greater Poland Uprising and in spring 1919 he set off to the rescue of Lviv. Already then he proved to be a great organiser in the field of military security, which resulted in his obtaining an officer rank at the age of 21. In 1927, however, he left the army at his own request. In the same year he moved to Gdynia, where he was ana active member of the Board of the Maritime District of the Union of Reserve Officers of the Republic of Poland, and since 1935 he was also a city councillor. In August 1939, as part of universal mobilization, he was appointed head of the military police of the Pomeranian Army operational group. During the September campaign, he was wounded and imprisoned in the Oflag VII A Murnau camp for officers in Bavaria, where he remained until the U.S. Army released him in April 1945. Then he joined Polish troops operating at the headquarters of the 7th American Army. He returned to Poland in May 1946 and started working in the Gdańsk branch of the Controlling Bureau at the Presidium of the National Council, and in January 1950 he became employed at “Baltona” Foreign Trade Company in Gdynia. At that time, the Municipal Public Security Office in Gdynia began an “investigation” which led to his dismissal. Intimidated by the public security officers, he left Gdynia in September 1953, finding shelter by Ludwik and Stefania Kalota, siblings from Budy Wielkie. After October 1956, in the era of “thaw”, Jęczkowiak left for Szczecin, where he started working in a branch of “Baltona” Foreign Trade Company at 40 Gdańska Street as the manager of local warehouses and shops. He retired in 1964 and after a short illness, on June 21st 1966, he died at the age of 68 in one of Szczecin hospitals.

The exhibition is an attempt to present the role and meaning of individuals in rebuilding the Polish state illustrated by the life and activity of Józef Jęczkowiak. This hero's fates caontibuted to depicting the permanence of patriotism and its value in the Polish society. The aim of the exhibition is also to save the memory of Józef Jęczkowiak and to popularize his life and activities for independent Poland among both citizens of Szczecin and the wide audience. 

The exhibition consists of numerous archive materials complemented by everyday items used by Józef Jęczkowiak for work and personal purposes. A vital supplement are objects of military and maritime character, related to historic events.

 

Jozef Jeczkowiak 1

        Józef Jęczkowiak, Poznań, 1915
        black and white photograph fromthe collection of Ludomir Niemiec

 

JÓZEF GABRIEL JĘCZKOWIAK, A FORGOTTEN HERO OF NOVEMBER 1918

The National Museum in Szczecin–The Szczecin History Museum
8 Księcia Mściwoja II St. (Old Town Hall)

The exhibition open: November 12th 2019 - February 9th 2020
Vernissage: November 11th 2019, Monday, 5:00 P.M.

The exhibition opening is to be followed by a meeting on a new book by Dr. Jacek Jekiel entitled Józef Gabriel Jęczkowiak – zapomniany bohater listopada 1918 roku. Zarys biografii, published (in Polish) by The National Museum in Szczecin

Curators: Dr. Anna Lew-Machniak, Małgorzata Peszko
Curatorial support: dr Jacek Jekiel

Organizer: The National Museum in Szczecin
Partners: The State Archive in Szczecin, The National Digital Archives, Polish Historical Society, Branch in Szczecin

 

partnerzy mniejsze

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Selected Exhibits:

 

 Fot 2
7th American Army mess kit used by Józef Jęczkowiak, 1944 metal, from the collection of Ludomir Niemiec
photo by Grzegorz Solecki

 

Fot 3
Józef Jęczkowiak's Erika typewriter made by A.-G. vorm. Seidel & Naumann Company Dresden, Germany, 1928-1932
metal, from the collection of Ludomir Niemiec
photo by Grzegorz Solecki

 

 Fot 4
Cross of Valour, 1920
bronze, minting, from the collection of Ludomir Niemiec
photo by Grzegorz Solecki

 

Fot 5
Decorations awarded to Józef Jęczkowiak in the Second Polish Republic:
– 10th Anniversary Independence Medal
   bronze, minting, from the collection of Ludomir Niemiec, photo by Grzegorz Solecki
– Cross of Indepnedence
   gilt bronze, minting, from the collection of Ludomir Niemiec, photo by Grzegorz Solecki
– 1918-1921 War Medal
   brass, minting, from the collection of Ludomir NIemiec, photo by Grzegorz Solecki



 

Fot 6
Decorations awarded to Józef Jęczkowiak after World War II:
– Greater Poland Uprising Cross
   bronze, minting, formthe collection of Ludomir Niemiec, photo by Grzegorz Solecki
– Medal of Victory and Freedom
   bronze, minting, from the collection of Ludomir Niemiec, photo by Grzegorz Solecki
– Golden Pomeranian Griffin
   tombac, minting, from the collection of Ludomir Niemiec, photo by Grzegorz Solecki