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Polish WWII spy commemorated in Athens

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 08.01.2013 10:45
A Polish spy who was active in Nazi-occupied Greece during World War II is being commemorated today in Athens.

Statue of Iwanow-Szajnowicz in Salonika: photo - wikipedia

Jerzy Iwanow-Szajnowicz was shot seventy years ago on 4 January 1943 while trying to escape from a German prison on the outskirts of Athens.

Besides being a committed agent, Iwanow-Szajnowicz had represented Poland's national water polo team prior to the war, yet in spite of his achievements, he is largely a forgotten figure in today's Poland.

Dr Jan Ciechanowski, who is taking part in the tributes as head of Poland's state-backed Office for Combatants' and Victims of Oppression, has told Polish Radio that it is time to redress the balance.

“Such heroes of the Second World War like Jerzy Iwanow-Szajnowicz should be restored to Poles' memories,” he said.

Iwanow-Szajnowicz had a Greek stepfather and spoke six languages. Owing to his talents, he was transferred to work under Poland's British allies in Nazi-occupied Greece.

Ciechanowski describes Iwanow-Szajnowicz as one of the most effective saboteurs to have worked for the British during the Second World War.

Besides passing on intelligence to the British, he sank a number of German U-boats and ships, and destroyed or damaged about 400 aircraft in Athens factories.

He was eventually captured on 8 September 1942, having been betrayed by an associate.

Commemorations began yesterday with a mass in his honour, and today, delegates will pay tribute at the site where Iwanow-Szajnowicz was shot. (nh)

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