Although he was entitled to an officer rank, he voluntarily served as a private. He got a gun for himself. It worked so well that he was entrusted with a replacement in command of the entire squad. Why, instead of limiting himself to bringing spiritual comfort to others, he decided to reach for a rifle?
Antoni Czajkowski, because we are talking about him, came from a rural family from the vicinity of Wysokie Mazowieckie. He was ordained a priest four days before the war broke out. They were given to him by Archbishop Stanisław Gall, a long-time field bishop of the Polish Army. This fact can be considered symbolic:as it turned out later, a large part of Tchaikovsky's priestly service was related to the army. At the beginning of September 1939, he volunteered and became a chaplain at the Infant Jesus Hospital in Warsaw.
The Warsaw insurgents were accompanied by numerous priests, who mainly provided spiritual support. One of them, however, decided to fight. A fragment of the cover of the book "Duch 44" by Stanisław Zasada.
About a month later, in October, Father Antoni was imprisoned by the Gestapo for three months as part of preventive arrests of clergymen. Later, perhaps to remove him from the eyes of the German police, his superiors from the curia sent him to Piaseczno. It did not help much, because the enterprising priest got involved in the conspiracy there as well. He launched a transfer point for people going to Hungary, and in March 1941, together with other activists, he reactivated the local branch of the National Party. It is possible that he also joined the National Armed Forces there; at least that's what he stated in his memoirs written after the war.
A priest disguised as a railwayman
The activity of the priest in the underground obviously attracted the attention of the Germans, so he had to flee. He often changed places of residence, parishes and identity. Some of his biographers write that during this period, around June 1941, he was arrested again. Even if that was the case, fortunately, Tchaikovsky was bought out of the hands of the Gestapo. Later he found himself in Białystok, where he served as a chaplain in the 13th District of the National Armed Forces. It is known, however, that in 1942 he returned to the capital and moved to his former workplace - the Infant Jesus Hospital. At that time, he was serving as a priest at the school for nurses at Koszykowa Street. At the same time, he started law studies at the secret University of Warsaw.
At the beginning of September 1939, Fr. Antoni Czajkowski volunteered to become a chaplain at the Infant Jesus Hospital in Warsaw (the picture shows the hospital complex, 1908).
In Warsaw, his commitment to underground work made itself felt again. At the Infant Hospital, Jesus set up a scout team, and at the nurses' school - a team of nurses. He lectured in the underground cadet school, he also belonged to the Secret Field Curia of the Home Army. In the latter, he became the secretary of the chief chaplain of the Home Army, Father Tadeusz Jachimowski. As his envoy, he visited partisan units operating in Białystok and Kielce.
His functions required him to cross the border between the General Government and the Reich. He did it ... disguised as a railwayman! When traveling, he carried weapons and documents. He picked up weapons purchased illegally from German soldiers and smuggled them to the capital. He provided false documents for people wanted by the Gestapo. He also served as Jachimowski's liaison with the dean of the Home Army's Warsaw Area, priest Stefan Kowalczyk, pseudonym "Biblia".
"Rola" boasts a gun
The real test hour for Tchaikovsky came during the Warsaw Uprising. On August 1, before the "W" hour, he still managed to confess his charges - nurses from the nurses' school. He himself had previously been assigned to divisions gathering in the buildings of the municipal courts in Leszno. It was agreed that he would serve as a chaplain with the rank of lieutenant and with the pseudonym "Badur".
Along the way of his unit, in Aleje Jerozolimskie, the clergyman was arrested by insurgents from the platoon of second lieutenant Bolesław Niewiarowski, nicknamed "Lek" from the "Golski" Battalion. They asked him to be their chaplain. A conversation ensued, during which one of the young soldiers, nicknamed "Rola", was eager to show off his pistol.
Let us remember that at the beginning of the uprising, having a gun could indeed be a reason to be proud. Father Antoni joked that the boy would not be able to cope with German tanks with such a short weapon. Unfortunately, a moment later the prey of "Rola" accidentally burned out, severely wounding him in the chest. The unlucky man was immediately transferred to the Infant Jesus Hospital, where he was operated on.
From the private officer
Moved by this incident, the priest decided to join the "Leka" platoon and thus replace the wounded soldier. He obtained the consent of the commander, and to commemorate his predecessor, he took the pseudonym "Rola II". He removed the crosses from the lapels of his jacket, took the wounded's pistol and began his service with the rank of private.
Tchaikovsky's unit initially defended the building of the Military Geographical Institute in Aleje Jerozolimskie. Then he acquired more tenement houses and the building of the Water and Sewage Management Board at Starynkiewicza Square. The priest fought first with the weapon of "Rola", but soon he got the German Mauser rifle with his own hands. He distinguished himself in fights with courage and ingenuity.
Having a gun in early August '44 was something to be proud of. The photo shows the youngest participants of the uprising while learning how to shoot.
Should he have fought with a weapon as a chaplain? This is how Stanisław Zasada writes about it in the book " Duch "44. Strength over weakness ":
"The rule that the chaplain is to remain a chaplain and cannot run around with a gun was strictly observed," says Karol Mazur in an interview with the Catholic Information Agency. "He is there to keep an eye on spiritual things." And yet, Father Antoni Czajkowski shoots the Germans ...
After the activities on Aleje Jerozolimskie, "Rola II" was directed to the troops besieging the building of the Grodzki Starosty at Nowogrodzka Street. As it was later indicated in the application for the award of the Cross of Valor, he showed there:
(...) great dedication and courage, not leaving my position even during the march of eighty tanks and armored cars through the Avenue. The crew in the Starosty, consisting of only three poorly armed men, including the Rola II shooter, keeps 6 well-armed Germans in check, preventing them from escaping.
How much others appreciated Tchaikovsky's courage and abilities is evidenced by the fact that he replaced the platoon commander, "Lek", when he was wounded during one of the operations. The clergyman, however, fought with a weapon in his hand for only two weeks. After this time, in the presence of numerous volunteers joining the ranks of the battalion, he decided that he could return to the priesthood.
On August 14, he went to the priest, Colonel Stefan Kowalczyk of "Biblia", who was then already the head chaplain of the Home Army. He was promoted to captain and, as Stanisław Zasada writes in his book " Duch 44. Strength over weakness " ", He assigned ..." to the units of the "Chrobry II" Group, with which he previously fought as an ordinary soldier. In the new role, the former "Rola II" confessed the soldiers, sustained their spirits, and gave the last rites to those in need. For his services during the uprising he was awarded the Virtuti Militari and the Cross of Valor.
Fr. Antoni Czajkowski not only fought in the Warsaw Uprising, but at some point took over the command of the unit. The photo shows an insurgent barricade at the intersection of Żytnia and Karolkowa Streets.
After the collapse of the uprising, Czajkowski evacuated from the city along with some of the staff of the Infant Jesus Hospital. He ended up in Częstochowa, where he lived to see the entry of the Red Army. In March 1945, he applied to the general dean of the People's Army of Poland, priest Stanisław Warchałowski. Ultimately, however, due to his health condition, he resigned from chaplaincy. Instead, he started law studies at the Catholic University of Lublin, which he successfully completed.
However, it was not the end of the clergy's underground activity. At the turn of September and October 1946, he met in Warsaw Captain Witold Pilecki. He had known him before - they had met during the uprising, in the building of the Military Geographical Institute. Pilecki, an envoy of the Polish II Corps, had just brought from Italy an instruction recommending the disbanding of forest units and the transition of soldiers to civilian life.
The priest offered to pass on the message to the group of Kazimierz Kamieński operating in his home country, pseudonym "Huzar". He did so, urging some of his soldiers to take advantage of the amnesty. However, when the captain's net was worked out by the secret police, the former chaplain was also among the detained ...
22 years in prison
Father Czajkowski was accused of creating intelligence and propaganda cells in WiN branches. He was also accused of intelligence activities and disseminating the underground press. During the trial, the clergyman admitted to passing the press and instructions from Pilecki, but only to reveal the detachment of "Huzar". Unfortunately, the translations were of no use. The court sentenced him to 22 years in prison. He spent six years in a heavy plant in Wronki. In 1953 he was released due to his health condition.
After the war, Fr. Antoni Czajkowski did not give up his patriotic activity. When the UB arrested Pilecki's network, he was also among the detained. In the photo Witold Pilecki during the trial.
In freedom, he returned to the priestly ministry. Until his retirement, which he retired in 1978, he served as pastor in various parishes. At the end of his life, in the 1980s, he collaborated with the underground Katyn Committee and the Circle of National Remembrance. He participated in patriotic ceremonies organized in places sensitive to the authorities. In December 1981 it was he who consecrated the cornerstone for the new Katyn Monument at the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw. He was also active in the underground opposition movement. He died on April 4, 1985 at the age of 76.
Meeting with "Role"
Father Antoni was one of 150 chaplains who took part in the Warsaw Uprising. This is what Stanisław Zasada writes about them in the book " Duch 44. Strength over weakness ":
Everyone in the field celebrated masses for insurgents and civilians in the capital, served in insurgent hospitals, wedded insurgent couples, and conducted funerals for those killed in combat and during German air raids. Forty will die during 63 days of fighting in Warsaw left in a lonely battle. (...) Those who survived were harassed after the war, just like all other participants of the Warsaw Uprising, who swore allegiance to the Home Army. For several decades, they were denied the title of heroes. They were recognized only in free Poland.
And what, you can ask at the end, happened to the unfortunate shooter, "Role"? Czajkowski met him again in the spring of 1945 in Milanówek near Warsaw. The unlucky braggart was then the commander of the local Civic Militia post ...