|Born||13 Apr 1896|
|Died||10 Nov 1958|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseWanda Gertz von Schliess was born to Jana and Florentyny Gertz von Schliess of a Saxon German noble family who had settled in Polish lands. In 1913, she graduated from the Kuzienkowej Gymnasium in Warsaw, Russian Poland. During WW1, she was initially a member of the morale-raising organization Konfederacji Polskiej, then joined the 1st Brigade of the Polish Legion, a satellite unit of the Austro-Hungarian forces. In order to get around gender discrimination, she cut her hair short, dressed as a man, and adopted the nom de guerre of "Kazimierz 'Kazik' Zuchowicz" so she could fight on the front lines. She saw action with an artillery unit during the Brusilov Offensive in 1916 and then saw service as a horse-riding messenger. In 1917, she joined the women's branch of the Polish Military Organization (Polska Organizacja Wojskowa). From Dec 1917 to May 1918, she was in jail for having participated in a pro-Polish demonstration. In Nov 1918, she helped in the disarming of German troops in Poland. In Dec 1918, after Poland gained independence from Russia, she joined the Polish People's Militia. In Apr 1919, after the Soviet invasion, she enlisted in the Polish Army; during the Polish-Soviet War, as the commander of the 2nd Women's Volunteer Legion, she saw action and was awarded the Virtuti Militari. She was demobilized in 1921. She held several civilian jobs through the inter-war period, although more than once she still had connections with the military, such as her 1928 assignment as an instructor at the Women's Military Training organization. In Sep 1939, after the Russo-German joint invasion, she joined the resistance group Sluzba Zwyciestwu Polski, SZP. Under a new nom de guerre "Lena", Gertz initially assisted with communications, then became the commanding officer of the Women's Diversion and Sabotage unit, DISK (she also had a major role in the unit's founding). She was captured by the Germans in 1944 and was transferred through a series of prisoner of war camps until finally arriving at Molsdorf, ThÃ¼ringen, Germany in late 1944. On 5 Apr 1945, prisoners of Molsdorf were marched out of the camp as American troops neared; the group of prisoners Gertz traveled with ran into troops of the US 89th Infantry Division, thus became liberated. After the war, she helped locate displaced Polish women in Europe. Between May 1946 and Feb 1949, she was the Inspector of Women Soldiers of the Polish Resettlement Corps in northern England, United Kingdom. She passed away from cancer in London, England in 1958. Her ashes were taken to Poland in 1960, and were buried at the Powazki Military Cemetery in Warsaw.
Last Major Revision: May 2015
Wanda Gertz Timeline
|13 Apr 1896||Wanda Gertz von Schliess was born in Warsaw, Russian Poland.|
|8 Dec 1917||Wanda Gertz was arrested in Poland for participating in a pro-Polish demonstration; she would remain in jail for six months.|
|10 Nov 1958||Wanda Gertz passed away from cancer in London, England, United Kingdom.|
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