August Agbola Browne – the only black participant of the Warsaw Uprising

September 8, 2020

There were many foreign-born volunteers foreign-born volunteers who fought with the Poles against the Germans. One of them was August Agbola Browne (or O’Browne), probably the only black participant of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

The Warsaw Uprising, after 63 days of heroic fighting by the insurgents against German troops, was brutally crushed by Germans. It was the largest resistance action of WW2. Without proper equipment or help from outside The heroes of the Warsaw Uprising fought for 2 months. As a result, over 200.000 people were killed by Germans. Warsaw was almost totally destroyed. Soviet troops who had arrived on the outskirts of Warsaw in their westward push against Hitler’s forces remained on the city’s outskirts without helping the Poles who were supposed to be their allies – long viewed as a deep betrayal in Poland.

In the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, Polish deaths exceed Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

A stone was unveiled 2019 in August’s memory in Warsaw, on Chmielna street

“Ali” was born in Nigeria and came to Poland at the age of 27, in 1922. He worked as a jazzman in many music clubs in Warsaw. In 1939 he probably fought defending besieged Warsaw. During the Uprising he fought as a member of the “Iwo” Battalion of the Armia Krajowa (Home Army) in the district of Śródmieście Południowe (Southern Srodmiescie).

His story was told by Dr Zbigniew Osiński from the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising in the book “Powstaniec z Nigerii” (Insurrectionist from Nigeria) and “Afryka w Warszawie” (Africa in Warsaw).

August, together with his Polish wife and 2 sons, moved to the UK in 1958. He passed away there in 1976 and was buried in the Hampstead Cemetery.

August’s grave in the Hampstead Cemetery.

3 years ago Ali’s grave was found and renovated by the members of IPP club London. On August 2nd 2019 a stone was unveiled in his memory in Warsaw, on Chmielna street: “In honor of Augustine Agboola Browne, nom de guerre “Ali”, a jazz musician and a participant in the Warsaw Uprising of Africa origin. Poland was the country he chose to live in”.

A stone was unveiled in August’s memory in Warsaw, on Chmielna street

Nel Badowska

Pictures: IPP Club London, British Poles

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