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Jerzy Tabeau (18 December 1918 in Zabłotów–11 May 2012) was a Polish medical student who was one of the first escapees from Auschwitz to give a fully detailed report on the genocide occurring there to the outside world. First reports in early 1942 had been made by the Polish officer Witold Pilecki. Tabeau's report was known as that of the "Polish major" in the Auschwitz Protocols. After the war he became a noted cardiologist in Kraków, until his retirement.
Tabeau was a member of Związek Walki Zbrojnej (ZWZ) and had worked in the Polish underground under the pseudonym "Jerzy Wesołowski" in Kraków, distributing underground press. He was captured and taken to the Gestapo's Montelupich Prison in Kraków. On 26 March 1942 he was transferred to Auschwitz, and - still under his false name - registered under the number 27273. He soon fell ill with pneumonia and pleurisy, and was placed in the camp hospital. After recovering he joined the hospital staff as a male nurse. In the summer of 1942 he came down with typhus and was selected by Nazi doctor Dr. Josef Klehr to be included in the list of patients to be killed in the gas chambers. However, thanks to intervention by the Polish block elder, Alfred Stossel, he managed to escape death.
Tabeau escaped with another Polish inmate, Roman Cieliczko, on 19 November 1943. The escape was pre-planned in July 1943 and originally intended to have five prisoners escape. As Cieliczko was not in the camp under a pseudonym, it was essential to first get a warning to Cieliczko's mother in Zakopane to enable her to hide. Escapees' relatives were often taken in their place. On 14 July 1943 a message was sent to Cieliczko's mother to go into hiding. Tabeau and Cieliczko escaped by cutting the camp's wire fence. They made their way to the village of Goczałkowice where local Resistance welcomed them, then continued on to Zakopane and stayed with friends of Cieliczko. Tabeau boarded a freight train to Kraków, while Cieliczko joined a partisan unit but was killed by German troops in a sabotage operation three months later. Tabeau contacted Teresa Lasocka-Estreicher, and later joined the underground Kraków PPS. In December 1943 Tabeau proceeded to prepare a report about the camp. The work was completed in early 1944.
In March, on orders of the Underground, he left Kraków on a mission to get to London in person to give testimony regarding the Polish resistance and confirm to the Allies the truth about the Nazi genocide. The journey took place without dramatic incident. After returning to Poland he went to Sądecczyznę to create a "Socialist Death Battalion." During one of the battles near Jordanów in October 1944 Tabeau was wounded in the head, leaving him partially paralysed. However he lived to see the end of the war. After 1945 he settled in Kraków, completing his medical studies and graduating from the Jagiellonian University. He became an assistant professor of medical science, and a well-known cardiologist in Kraków.
Reports on the general genocide were already widely available, including the 10 December 1942 Polish Government in Exile address to the League of Nations, and evidence such as from an escaped Jewish inmate from Majdanek, Dionys Lenard. However limited information about the death production line at Auschwitz was available.
Several escapees from the camp had already passed some information outside: On 20 June 1942 the three Poles Kazimierz Piechowski, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster, Józef Lempart and the Ukrainian Eugeniusz Bendera escaped, with a report of Witold Pilecki passing his information to the Polish Home Army (AK). On 27 April 1943 Witold Pilecki himself, a Polish Home Army agent who had deliberately infiltrated the camp in order to found Związek Organizacji Wojskowej (ZOW) cells inside it and to take measures against the German extermination policy of the Polish intelligentsia, escaped together with two other Polish soldiers, Jan Redzej and Edward Ciesielski. Each compiled a separate report for the Polish Home Army. Witold's report was translated into English but was filed away by the British government with a note saying there was no indication as to the source's reliability.
On 2 November 1943 Kazimirez Halori, another Polish prisoner, escaped and passed information to the Polish Socialist Party. Natalia Zarembina, another Polish escapee wrote a report entitled "Auschwitz—Camp of Death" which was published in English in 1943 in London.
Tabeau compiled his report between December 1943 and January 1944. It was copied using a stencil machine in Geneva in August 1944, and was distributed by the Polish government-in-exile and Jewish groups. This was presented in the Protocols as the 19-page "No 2. Transport (The Polish Major's Report)." The contents of the Protocols was discussed in detail by The New York Times on 26 November 1944.
- Hermann Langbein People in Auschwitz Page 433 2004 "The Pole Jerzy Tabeau owes his life to such a moment. In the summer of 1942 he was selected by Dr. Entress. Alfred Stossel, the Polish block elder, knew Tabeau and begged Klehr to take his name off the selection list. "Klehr ordered that I be brought before him," reports Tabeau. "He was sitting at a table in the small operating room, looked at me, and ordered me to get out."
- Aleksander Lasik, Wacław Długoborski, Franciszek Piper -Auschwitz 1940-1945: central issues in the history of the camp. ... - Volume 1 - Page 188 2000 "The request that Anna Cieliczko be warned to flee was justified. The families of escapees were sometimes arrested and incarcerated in the Auschwitz camp. Roman Cieliczko's mother would have been exposed to such a risk."
- Józef Buszko Auschwitz, camp hitlérien d'extermination - Page 162 1986 "A la veille de l'évasion de Roman Cieliczko on envoya, le 14 juillet 1944, un message secret ainsi libellé : « prière d'informer Cieliczko Anna, Zakopane G.G., Parkstrasse 935 qu'elle doit partir immédiatement, car elle peut être arrêtée » ")."
- Henryk Świebocki - London has been informed--: reports by Auschwitz escapees - Page 17 1997 "Roman Cieliczko accepted this without hesitation, but they could not tell Władysław Bielawski, who had not yet managed to meet them. There was no time to look for him. What happened next was a race of events. After grabbing the tools and ..."
- Henryk Świebocki, Wacław Długoborski, Franciscek Piper The resistance movement Page 188 2000 "534, account by F. Szlachcic. 513 APMAB, Mat. RO, vol. 1, p. 38, secret message of July 14, 1943, from Stanisław Kłodziński. The message is about the planned escape of five prisoners, including Roman Cieliczko and Jerzy Tabeau ("Jerzy ...)"
- Résistances juives à l'anéantissement - Page 84 Bernard Suchecky - 2007 "Roman Cieliczko et Jerzy Tabeau, deux Polonais, s'évadent le 19 novembre 1943'01. Le premier rejoint aussitôt un maquis et meurt au combat trois mois plus tard. Le second, qui était membre de l'Union de la Lutte armée (Zwiazek Walki ..."
- Les archives de la Shoah: - Page 189 Jacques Fredj, Centre de documentation juive contemporaine - 1998 "D'après les témoignages plus importants concernant la Shoah, le récit du Juif slovaque Dionys Lenard, publié en hébreu (et plus tard en polonais et en allemand), ainsi que le livre de Halina Birenbaum, publié en polonais, en allemand et en ..."
- Zoltán Szabó (2011), p. 90
- Martin Gilbert 1989 p305