'Our life is a warning to you, not a legend!' - In memoriam Aleksander Szymański

08.01.2018

The Mauthausen Memorial mourns the death of Aleksander Szymański. The resistance fighter and concentration camp survivor died in Poland on 27 December 2017 at the age of 90.

'Our life is a warning to you, not a legend!' - In memoriam Aleksander Szymański
(photo credits: Mauthausen Memorial)

Aleksander Szymański was born on 12 December 1927 in Przemyśl (Poland) into a patriotic family. After the attack on Poland by the German Wehrmacht, he became politically active and a member of the Polish resistance movement Armia Krajowa (AK).  He distributed leaflets against the Nazi regime and acted as a go-between for the local AK groups.

On 20 September 1943, the 15-year old schoolboy with the codename 'Korab' was arrested by the Gestapo on account of his underground activities. He was imprisoned in Przemyśl and Tarnów (Poland) and deported from there to several concentration camps; first to Auschwitz, then to Mauthausen and Gusen.

As prisoner no. 153401 of the Auschwitz concentration camp he was forced to dig drainage ditches. In the Mauthausen and Gusen concentration camps he was assigned to work in the quarries. Later, at Gusen concentration camp, he was forced to manufacture aeroplane parts for the arms industry.

On 5 May 1945, Aleksander Szymański was liberated from Gusen concentration camp by the 3rd US Army. After the war he campaigned on behalf of those imprisoned by the National Socialists and veterans of the AK and was the recipient of numerous honours for his efforts.

Throughout his life, Aleksander Szymański sought to share his story with young people. In doing so he wanted to remember the lives of the victims of Nazism and make people understand that: 'Our life is a warning to you, not a legend!' ('Życie nasze jest dla was przestrogą, nie legendą!')

Aleksander Szymański increasingly withdrew from public life over recent years. On 27 December 2017 he died in his homeland, Poland. The 90-year old was buried on 30 December 2017 at the Wilkowyja Cemetery in Rzeszów. Aleksander Szymański will be greatly missed.