Jerzy Ziętek

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Jerzy Ziętek
Memorial in Kattowitz to Jerzy Ziętek portraying him as a kindly old man instead of the thug he really was.

Jerzy Jan Antoni Ziętek (b. 10 June 1901, Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia, Prussia, German Empire; d. 20 Nov 1985 in Kattowitz, Upper Silesia, Poland) was a Polish communist and fanatical nationalist thug as well as a politician and officer, made a Brigadier-General in 1971. He was also a terrorist who participated in the Polish insurgencies and raids on German Upper Silesia 1919-1921. In a poll taken by the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza he was voted the second most important Silesian of the 20th century after the leading Silesian terrorist Wojciech Korfanty, and before the film director Kazimierz Kutz.


He was a member of the Polish Sejm (Parliament) several times, first from 1930 to 1935 as a BBWR representative, then, under the Soviet Communist puppet government, from 1947 to 1952 and from 1957 to 1985. In 1939, after the Poland campaign, he fled to the east and found himself in the areas annexed by the Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union, he decided to cooperate with the Polish nationalists. In 1943 he enrolled in the Union of Polish Nationalists and joined the Polish Army, where he had the rank of pułkownik (colonel) and was the vice-commander of the Polish 3rd Infantry Division.

In 1945 he became a member of the communist controlled Polish Workers Party (PPR), which later became the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR). In 1945-1950 he was vice-voivode (Governor) of Silesia and from 1950 to 1964 a representative, and from 1964 to 1973 chairman of the National Voivodeship Council in Katowice (Kattowitz). In 1973-1975 he was a voivode in Katowice and at the same time a member of the state council from 1963 to 1980 and served as Vice-Chairman from 1980 to 1985.

Anti-German activities

Under Ziętek, Germans whose families had lived in Upper Silesia for up to 900 years were discriminated against, placed in concentration camps – including nuns and priests; German monuments were destroyed and castles and country estates centuries old looted and torched; German cemeteries were also desecrated and destroyed. Speaking the German language was forbidden and not taught in any school and the history of German Silesia was erased. He participated in the Expulsions during which approximately a third perished, notably women and children.[1][2] Under him, Upper Silesians could not enter higher educational institutions without declaring that they were good communists.


  • In 1959, the People's Republic of Poland awarded him the Order of the Builders of People's Poland.
  • In 1977, he received honorary PhD diploma from Silesian University.
  • His life was also the basis of the 1979 movie by Antoni Halor: Man with the cane (Człowiek z laską).


Ziętek died on November 20, 1985 in Katowice.

Further reading

  • Silesia Revisited 1929 by Lt.Col. Graham Seton Hutchison, D.S.O., M.C., F.R.G.S., London, 1929.
  • The Polish Corridor and the Consequences by Sir Robert Donald, G.B.., LL.D., London, 1929, chapter XVII, 'Upper Silesia'.
  • Germany Under The Treaty by William Harbutt Dawson, London & New York, 1933, chapters V & VI, 'Upper Silesia'.


  1. The Expulsion of the German Population from the Territories East of the Oder-Neisse Line edited by Professor Theodor Schieder, with Dr. Adolf Diestelkamp,Federal Archivist, Professor Dr. Rudolf Laun, Professor Peter Rassow, and Professor Dr. Hans Rothfels, published by the German Federal Ministry for Expellees, Refugees and War Victims, Bonn, 1954.
  2. A Terrible Revenge - The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans by Alfred Maurice de Zayas, UN Commissioner for Human Rights, English translation, New York, 1993/4, 'Upper Silesia' - see index, paperback ISBN 978-1-4039-7308-5