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Tribute to Polish Olympic skier who was sent to Auschwitz 80 years ago

15.06.2020 07:00
Polish officials and athletes have paid tribute to Bronisław Czech, an Olympic skier who was sent to Auschwitz 80 years ago.
A plaque to commemorate Bronisław Czech in Polands southern mountain resort of Zakopane.
A plaque to commemorate Bronisław Czech in Poland's southern mountain resort of Zakopane.Photo: PAP/Grzegorz Momot

Top state officials on Sunday attended events to mark 80 years since the first deportation of Poles to the Nazi German death camp.

On June 14, 1940, the Germans brought 728 Polish political prisoners, among them Czech, to the Auschwitz camp, which was still under construction at the time, from a prison in the southern city of Tarnów.

Polish cross-country skier Maciej Staręga, a three-time Olympian, said in a social media post ahead of the anniversary that Czech “was one of the greatest and most versatile Polish skiers.”

Before World War II, Czech represented Poland at three consecutive Winter Olympics in various skiing events, including Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing and ski jumping. He competed without medaling at St. Moritz in 1928, Lake Placid in 1932, and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936.

After the start of the war, Czech became a courier for the Polish underground from German-occupied Poland to the West. He was captured by the German Gestapo secret police in 1940.

He died in Auschwitz on June 5, 1944.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has noted that Czech was not only an outstanding athlete, but also an ardent patriot who was part of a resistance movement organised at Auschwitz by Polish war hero Witold Pilecki.

(gs)