Captain Józef Rzepka (noms de guerre "Krzysztof", "Rekin", "Stefan", "Znicz") was born in 1913 in the village of Bratkowice (now in Rzeszów County, Subcarpathian Voivodeship). He graduated from the 1st High School in Rzeszów, then went to Warsaw, to study law at the Warsaw University.
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During the Polish September Campaign he fought as colonel of the Polish Army, then became a member of Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej (later: Home Army), in the area of Rzeszów. In the summer of 1944, Rzepka was commandant of the Home Army field forces around Rzeszów, which took part in the Operation Tempest. When Red Army captured Rzeszów, he decided to continue fighting for Poland’s freedom. On the night of October 7/8, 1944, Rzepka participated in a failed attempt to free members of the Home Army, who were incarcerated by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD in the Rzeszów castle prison.
In mid-1940s Rzepka joined anti-Communist organization Wolność i Niezawisłość (WiN), as a member of its Information Department. Some time in the fall of 1945, he moved to Upper Silesia and settled in Zabrze. While there, he became a member of the 4th Headquarters of WiN, led by Łukasz Ciepliński. Arrested in 1948, along with a group of other members of WiN, he was transported to the infamous Mokotów Prison in Warsaw. Brutally tortured, in 1950 he was sentenced to death. His appeal for clemency sent to then president of Poland Bolesław Bierut were rejected. Captain Rzepka was executed by Staff Sergeant Piotr Śmietański on March 1, 1951, at 8:45 pm. His body was never returned to his family and remains buried in an unknown location.
In 1992, Warsaw Military Court voided the 1950 sentence and posthumously cleared Rzepka of all charges.
Notes and references
- (English) Polish secret police torture methods
- (English) WiN | Freedom and Independence - A Historical Brief by Dr. Janusz Marek Kurtyka, Ph.D., Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, IPN, Poland.