Janusz Pogonowski was born on 9 August 1922 to a doctor’s family in Cracow. He attended the Henryk Sienkiewicz Gimnazjum No. IV. In May 1940 he was arrested in Szpitalna Street as a result of a largescale German operation against the Polish Intelligentsia (Action AB). Although Janusz had no charges pressed against him, for one and half months they kept him in prison, Montelupich in Cracow and next in Tarnów. On 14 June 1940 he was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. He was only 17 years and 10 months old at the time. As a reprisal for the escape of three prisoners from the Surveyor’s Kommando, Janusz and eleven other prisoners were hanged during evening roll call on 19 July 1943.
He left behind secret letters where he describes the Gehenna of Auschwitz, his dramatic experiences, a young man’s yearning for freedom and kinfolk from whom he had been separated. They are a moving testimony to the bestiality inflicted on the Polish nation by the German occupant, ruining the harmony and lives of millions of Polish families. The inflicted wounds have left painful memories and to this day cast a shadow over the lives of those who experienced the war and occupation.
“… Sell everything apart from Father’s belongings. Also give my clothes to anyone who might need them. Keep only my photographs and Mother’s portrait. Keep the piano too. I might just play it again…”