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    36 years ago Zieliński brothers from Żyraków escaped from communist Poland to Sweden

    On October 23, it was 36 years since the spectacular escape of the Zielinski brothers from Zyrakow to Sweden. In 1985, Adam, then 15, and Krzysztof, then 12, escaped from communist Poland by hiding in a truck on its way to Sweden. This story was adapted for film by Maciej Dejczer in the movie “300 Miles to Heaven”.

    In 1985, the Zieliński brothers from Żyraków near Dębica, 15-year-old Adam and 12-year-old Krzysztof, hid under a truck and made their way to Sweden. Their initial plan was to escape by plane to the United States, but it turned out that when they arrived at the airport all the planes were guarded by the military.


    Then they decided to go to Świnoujście and get on the ferry there. In Świnoujście trucks were standing in front of the entrance to the ferry and the boys hid on the axle of one of them and there they spent 26 hours. They didn’t know where the truck was going. Frozen, because it was already the end of October, and hungry, after 26 hours of travel they reached another country, which turned out to be Sweden.


    In Żyraków before their departure, they left their parents a letter in which they asked them not to go to the militia for three days. “Dear parents! We apologize in advance for what we did. We have some reason to do so. We went away for three days. Please don’t call the militia. We’ll be back Friday or Saturday at the latest.”


    However, Adam and Krzysztof did not return home, and when it turned out that they illegally crossed the border and are in another country the parents of the boys faced great unpleasantness, and Polish authorities tried to bring the brothers to Poland by hook or by crook. Since the parents did not request extradition, believing that they should decide about their fate, Tadeusz and Józefa Zieliński had their parental rights suspended. The boys were adopted by two foster families in Sweden.


    The parents complied with the information contained in the letter and did not go to the police until Monday, October 28, 1985, reporting their sons’ escape. The militiamen ignored the report assuming that the boys would soon return home alone and did not take any action at that time. The officer at the station told the parents not to worry because if the boys ran out of money they would go home.


    The boys went through a refugee camp where they stayed for 3 months before being placed in foster care. They both say they were lucky that the Swedish government decided to leave them in the country and as they said in numerous interviews for the press, radio and television, they never regretted having fled abroad at the time.


    After coming of age, they both remained in Sweden. They have acclimated to their new country. Krzysztof graduated in economics in Stockholm and worked as a researcher, earning a PhD in economics. He began to miss Poland and finally decided to return to his homeland after more than 20 years.


    11 years ago, he returned to Żyraków for some time and lived with his parents. He returned to Poland in 2010 and lives in Warsaw with his partner, actress Magdalena Smalara, known, among others, from the TV series “Przepis na życie”.


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