Marzenna Schejbal, the Warsaw Insurgent, celebrated her 95th birthday in London

October 29, 2019

Lieutenant Marzenna Schejbal, nom du guerre “Marzenna”, a participant in the Warsaw Uprising, celebrated her 95th birthday today. Mrs Schejbal is a legendary lady and all Poles who live in the UK know her. Even if they did not meet her in person they certainly heard about her. Her fascinating life stories were re-told many times and she deserves to have her biography written and published.

During the Warsaw Uprising, Marzenna was a liaison officer and a nurse in the “Łukasiński” Battalion of the Home Army. At the end of Uprising, she escaped via sewers from the Old Town to Śródmieście district. After the war, she was detained in the Ożarów transit camp, and later became a prisoner of war in Germany, where she spent seven months. From January to April 12, 1945, she was a POW in the female camp in Oberlangen, together with other 1726 participants of the Warsaw Uprising. On April 12, 1945, she and other prisoners were liberated from the camp by the General Stanisław Maczek’s Army. After the war, she emigrated to Great Britain with her sister and mother. From the first moment of her life in England, she was engaged in all sort of patriotic activities organised by the Polish diaspora, in particular in the studies on the Underground Polish State and co-operated with various veteran’s organisations. In 2001 she was elected a chair of the London Branch of the Polish Home Army Ex-Servicemen Association.

Birthday ceremony was organised at the POSK by the ‘Poland Street’ and 95 well-wishers gathered for her birthday celebration including Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Arkady Rzegocki, Consuls Mateusz Stąsiek and Radosław Gromski, as well representatives of various veteran’s organisations, the Polish Diaspora and a bunch of close friends.

Ambassador read the hand-written note sent by Jacek Czaputowicz, a Minister of Foreign Affairs, followed by the concert of insurgent’s songs by Mariola Świetlicka and Andrzej Kotowicz, delicious dinner served by Łowiczanka restaurant, speeches, ocean of flowers, memories-sharing, family-like photographs taking.

Emotions were flowing with many birthday wishes accompanied by the singing of the traditional Polish birthday song with ‘200 Years’ modified title to accommodate the occasion.

Mrs Schejbal listened carefully to everything with obvious joy, she expressed her gratitude to all her guests and concluded the evening sharing the memories of the happy moments of liberation from the Oberlagen camp.

“Today, I would like to share with you my memories from 64 years ago about unexpected moments of liberation from the Oberlagen  camp on April 12th 1944. Out of the blue, a unit of soldiers entered camp premises simply by smashing the gate and barbed wire fences. One of the watchtowers immediately responded with machine-gun series of shots, but soon after these soldiers in English uniforms were shouting orders and started to disarm German guards who did not put any resistance.  We were all very surprised by the loud noises and we had run out of the barracks to see what was going on. We saw a soldier on the motorcycle who was driving quickly around the place and his tanned and sweating face was oddly familiar and looked quite Polish. He got out his vehicle and shouted in Polish: “OMG, so many chicks here”! My goodness, tears of joy were flowing in abundance after this unexpected encounter and we stood there watching this young Polish soldier in the English uniform who was greeting us joyfully – “Cheerio, ladies”.

Our camp commandant, Home Army Lieutenant Jagna Milewska was quickly squeezing through the crowd and looking for Colonel Koszutski, who was in charge of the camp liberation. We lined up pretty quickly and efficiently, some of us wearing forage caps and uniforms others in various assortments of clothes, but we stood still and as upright as strings of the violin. The drill command followed – “ATTENTION, EYES RIGHT”, and Jagna reported to Colonel Koszutski: “I REPORT TO YOU, COLONEL, 1726 FEMALE SOLDIERS OF THE POLISH HOME ARMY”. The white and red flag was unfolded before our eyes and put high on the mast, the new flow of emotion followed, tears of joy, pride and hope were running down our faces. At this moment we knew perfectly well, that ‘Freedom has no price, and that God is just.’

It was a beautiful ceremony and we hope that many birthdays are still to come for Marzenna and we wish her many more years in health and peace of mind.

On behalf of the British Poles portal and our readers we wish Marzenna: “200 years!”

Maria Byczynski

Photos: British Poles

Translation: Jolanta Pitera

Exchange rates