Jan Nowak-Jeziorański

Stanisław Borawski
Young Talent Management

The Courier of Warsaw

 

Jeziorański as an officer cadet in 1936

 

Jan Nowak Jeziorański was actually born as Zdzisław Jeziorański on October 2nd in 1914. He took on his alias “Jan Nowak” during his service in Poland’s Home Army in World War II, which he later used as his nom de plume.

 

Jeziorański was the director of RFE
from 1952 to 1975

Frequently proclaimed as the voice of “Free Poland” and a “model patriot”1, Jeziorański has been involved in a number of patriotic activities from a young age. In 1939 he fought bravely in the doomed “September campaign”, after which he was captured by the Nazi troops but managed to escape, while being transported in a train. He then quickly joined the Polish conspiracy and took part in many operations designed to spread Anti-Nazi propaganda among ordinary people.

 

In 1943 Jeziorański became the courier for the Chief Commander of Poland’s Home Army and travelled through Nazi Europe in order to get to London. Whilst in England, Jeziorański met with its Prime Minister Winston Churchill on a number of occasions and provided him with reports on the situation in Poland at the time, including the Holocaust. One year later, in 1944, he took part in the tragic, casualties-filled Warsaw Uprising, which constituted a disastrous loss for the Polish underground army. After the disaster Jeziorański migrated to London and started to work for BBC and then Radio Free Europe. It was the first broadcasting organization, which provided reliable information about current situation in Eastern-Europe whose citizens were cut off from the outer world due to Soviet censorship.

 

In 1952 Jeziorański conducted the first broadcast in Polish from Munich. During the historic podcast an important statement was given, igniting hope in Polish hearts for a better future.

 

Jeziorański while conducting the
first broadcast of RFE, Munich,
1952

After resignation from the post of Radio Free Europe Director, on December 1975, Jan Nowak was deeply engaged in promoting help for his homeland’s democratic opposition, including, from 1980,“Solidarność” alongside Zbigniew Brzeziński. To this end he utilized his position as the Head of the Polish-American Congress. Furthermore, he was one of the top advisors for the American Security Council, solidifying his moniker as a “Warsaw Courier”. After Poland regained freedom in 1989 the massive lobbying conducted by Jeziorański paid off - in 1999 Poland, alongside the Baltic states, started to be recognized as a candidate for a membership of NATO. As a result, Jeziorański received several honorary medals and awards such as Lithuania’s honorary citizenship, Polish Order of the White Eagle and above all, in 1996, the presidential Medal of Freedom given by President Bill Clinton.

 

After 58 years of expatriate life Jan Nowak returned to his homeland and  continued his involvements in Poland’s political life, championing, among other things, its membership in the European Union as he feared that without it, Poland might easily fall back under the Russian influence. He passed away in Warsaw in 2005 at the age of 90 years. In a rare tribute, the US Embassy in Warsaw flew the Stars and Stripes at half-mast for three days after Nowak-Jezioranski's death.

 

1 Professor Władysław Bartoszewski, August 1989.

 

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