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Wacław Micuta receives the Polonia Restituta award from the Polish president Lech Kaczyński on April 10, 2007

Wacław Micuta, also known as Wacek (December 6, 1915, Petrograd - September 21, 2008, Geneva) was a Polish economist, functionary of the United Nations and a World War II veteran. He was a participant in the Invasion of Poland and served as a commander of one of two Polish tanks (captured from the Germans) in the Warsaw Uprising with the rank of first lieutenant.

Life[edit]

Warsaw Uprising: Wacław Micuta "Wacek", commander of the armored platoon of batalion Zośka on a captured German "Panther" tank

Micuta was born to a Polish family from the Kresy in Petrograd, Russia. In 1922 his family moved to Poznań where he finished secondary school and studied economics.[1] He was also active in the scouts movement. He finished his military enlistment in Włodzimierz Wołyński with a rank of second lieutenant. After finishing his studies in June 1939 he became the secretary to the voivode of the Silesian Voivodeship, Michał Grażyński although he held this position only briefly, due to the beginning of World War II.[2]

Mobilized, he took part in the Polish September Campaign of 1939, fighting, among others, at the Battle of Bzura. On 19 September, during an attack on German positions in Laski he suffered a serious wound to his right hand. Subsequently he was captured and sent to a German POW camp from which he escaped in 1940 and came to Warsaw.[2]

There he was brought into the Polish underground by Jan Nowak-Jeziorański. At first he was the adjutant of Major Jan Włodarkiewicz, however, in September 1940 he became one of the instructors of the Szare Szeregi. After 1941 he continued his instructions in Lwów until July 1942 when he was arrested by the Gestapo. During the interrogations he was tortured although he did not confess to anything nor did he give up any of his co-conspirators. Due to efforts made by his friends on his behalf he was freed after several months. He returned to conspiratorial activity and was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant.[2]

Captured German Panther tank - armored platoon of batalion Zośka

In the summer of 1944 Micuta came back to Warsaw where he became an officer for special tasks of Armia Krajowa's Scouting battalion "Zośka". During the Warsaw Uprising the battalion captured two German Panther tanks and Micuta was made the commander of a newly formed armored platoon (one of its kind on the insurgents side in the uprising) which fought in the Wola section of Warsaw.[2] Wacław Micuta was the actual commander of one of the captured tanks which was nicknamed "Magda" and used it in an action which liberated the Gęsiówka concentration camp.[3][4] This action freed around 350 Polish, as well as Greek, Hungarian and French Jews.[5] One of the freed inmates, Henryk Lederman organized a battalion composed of the liberated Jews which he presented to Micuta. This unit fought under Micuta for the remainder of the uprising and according to Micuta: "They fought like mad...I think only three of them survived" [3]

On 11 August the Polish insurgents had to abandon the captured tanks which by that time had been heavily damaged and evacuated Wola for Warsaw's Old Town through the sewers.[6] In further fighting during the Uprising, Micuta was wounded in his left lung but after a short stay at the insurgent's hospital he returned to the battle, later taking part in the fighting in the Czerniaków and Śródmieście districts. During the Uprising he was promoted to the rank of captain.[2]

Postwar[edit]

After the war Micuta decided to keep his activities with the Armia Krajowa secret from the Communist authorities [7] who were prosecuting AK's former members.[8] He worked in Zakopane and Łódź as a driving instructor. From 1946 he worked in the Ministry of Central Planning. In 1948 he managed to obtain permission to travel with his family to Switzerland where he decided to stay. He began working for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and afterwards in other UN commissions. His tasks included compiling economic data and writing economic reports about Poland and other countries of the Eastern Bloc. In 1960 he volunteered to take part in a UN peace mission to the war-torn Belgian Congo. He also participated in other missions in Rwanda and Burundi. Between 1965 and 1968 he was the vice president of UN's Development Program for Europe. He served as UN's representative in the Republic of Chad. In 1971 he served as Deputy Director of Operations for UN's Division on Narcotic Drugs.[9]

After retiring in 1976, Micuta continued his activism on behalf of developing countries. He was also a pioneer in and a tireless supporter of renewable energy and the founder of Renewable Energies Development Institute in Geneva.[10] While working for institute he developed a low cost fuel efficient stove which could be easily constructed and used in poor countries. This stove design was published by HEDON Household Energy Network in their journal Boiling Point.[11]

He was the author of numerous professional publications and a laureates of a number of awards. He was active in the Organization of Poles in Switzerland and in organizations concerned with Polish-Jewish relations. In February 2000 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel of the Polish Armed Forces on inactive duty.[12]

He died on 21 September 2008 in Geneva.[13]

Awards[edit]

For his part in the Polish September Campaign, Micuta received the Cross of Valour and the Order of Virtuti Militari. He was awarded a second Virtuti Militari for his part in the Warsaw Uprising. On 10 April 2007 he was awarded the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta.[2]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Daniel Tollet, Marie-France Baron, "Les vérités des uns et celles des autres", Les Editions du Cerf/University of Michigan, 1995, pgs. 19-20,226 [1]
  2. ^ a b c d e f Odznaczenie dla Wacława Micuty, Prezydent RP, 2007-04-10
  3. ^ a b Warsaw Rising - The Forgotten Soldiers of WWII, CNN Documentary, [2], @5:34, accessed on 3/30/09
  4. ^ Red Runs the Vistula, The Warsaw Uprising of 1944, radio transcript
  5. ^ Wojciech Rostafinski. How the Last Jews in Warsaw Were Saved. Courtesy of Heralds of Truth, Michigan. [3]
  6. ^ Waclaw Micuta. From Old Town to Zoliborz. In: Andrzej M. Kobos, "Kanaly w Powstaniu Warszawskim" (Sewers in the Warsaw Uprising). Zeszyty Historyczne, No. 109, Instytut Literacki, Paris, 1994.[4]
  7. ^ Katarzyna Madoń-Mitzner, "Wacław Micuta — ps. „Wacek”", Instytut Pamięci Narodowej (Institute of National Remembrance), [5]
  8. ^ Rzeczpospolita, 02.10.04 Nr 232, Wielkie polowanie: Prześladowania akowców w Polsce Ludowej (Great hunt: the persecutions of AK soldiers in the People's Republic of Poland), last accessed on June 7, 2006
  9. ^ Who's who in the United Nations and related agencies, Arno Press/University of Virginia, 1975 [6]
  10. ^ Renewable Energies Development Institute (Institut pour le Développement des Énergies Renouvelables) Webpage, accessed March 30, 2009, [7]
  11. ^ Waclaw Micuta, ""Miha" Institutional Stove - HEDON Household Energy Network",REDI, Boiling Point Journal 18, [8]
  12. ^ Edward Kossoy, "The Gęsiówka Story: A Little Known Page of Jewish Fighting History", [9]
  13. ^ Ambasada RP w Bernie (Polish Embassy in Bern) "Zmarł Wacław Micuta - uczestnik Powstania Warszawskiego", [10]
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