Maciej Aleksy Dawidowski (codename “Alek” or “Glizda”) and Jan Bytnar (codename “Rudy”) were boy scouts and the leaders of Gray Ranks during World War II. Both of them died on March 30th 1943 during “Operation Arsenal”. Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, honoured them in a Facebook post.
“Alek” and “Rudy” were born in the “Generation of Columbuses”, the generation that grew up in free Poland, but whose coming-of-age period lined up with the breakout of World War II. They were good friends who attended the Stefan Batory Lyceum in Warsaw and belonged to the same boy scouts group. During World War II they joined Gray Ranks, an underground paramilitary organization that fought the German occupation of Warsaw and sabotaged Nazi actions.
On the night of March 18/19th, 1943 Gestapo arrested Henryk “Heniek” Ostrowski in his apartment, where they found documents of intelligence and resistance activity, as well as a note with Jan Bytnar’s address. “Rudy” was arrested on the night of 22nd/23rd of March, and later tortured. Since he was such an important person, but also a great friend to many Gray Ranks members, his interrogation shook the group to the core. They organized a rescue action on March 26th codenamed “Operation Arsenal”. During the action, “Alek” was seriously hurt. They died on the same day, March 30th, from their wounds. They are buried in the same grave in the Powązki Military Cemetery.
Morawiecki brought back this historical event, relating it to the current situation in Ukraine. He prefaced it with two lines from Juliusz Słowacki’s poem “My Last Will” that Jan Bytnar wanted to have declared a few hours before his death.
“As we’re reading these words today, we picture the scenes from the current war in Ukraine. Russians are murdering women, children, the young and the old without hesitation. Not so long ago, Poles also fought with barbaric invaders. Everyone was fighting for freedom, even the youngest, paying the highest price for it.”