Jan Nowak-Jeziorański

Jan Nowak-Jeziorański

Jan Nowak-Jeziorański (October 3, 1914 Berlin – January 20, 2005 Warsaw) was a Polish journalist, writer, politician, social worker and patriot. He served during the Second World War as one of the most notable resistance fighters of the Home Army. He is best remembered for his work as an emissary shuttling between the commanders of the Home Army and the Polish Government in Exile in London and other Allied governments which gained him the nickname "Courier from Warsaw", and for his participation in the Warsaw Uprising. After the war he worked as the head of the Polish section of Radio Free Europe, and later as a security advisor to the US presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.

He was born Zdzisław Antoni Jeziorański, (Jeziora Coat of Arms) but used a number of noms de guerre during the war, the best known of which was Jan Nowak which he later added to his original surname.


Zdzisław Jeziorański was born in Berlin . After finishing his studies in economics in 1936, he worked as a teaching assistant at Poznań University. Mobilized in 1939, he fought in the Polish Army as an artillery NCO. He was taken prisoner of war by the Germans in Volhynia, but managed to escape and returned to Warsaw. Most of his colleagues were taken prisoners of war by the Soviets and later killed in the Katyn Massacre.

He quickly joined the Polish resistance. After 1940 he became the main organiser of the Akcja N, a secret organisation preparing German-language newspapers and other propaganda material pretending to be official German publications, in order to wage psychological warfare against German troops.

He also served as an envoy between the commanders of the Home Army and the Polish Government in Exile and other allied governments. During his first trips to Sweden and Great Britain he informed the Western governments of the fate of Poland under German and Soviet occupation. He was also the first to report of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. During one of such missions, in July 1944, he returned to Warsaw only a few days before the Warsaw Uprising broke out.

During the Uprising he took an active part in the fights against the Germans and also organised the Polish radio that maintained the contact with the Allied countries through daily broadcasts in Polish and English. Shortly before the capitulation of the Polish capital, he was ordered by Home Army's commander-in-chief Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski to leave the city and find his way to London. He managed to evade being captured and reached Great Britain, bringing with him large quantities of documents and photos. For his bravery and his travels through the German-occupied Europe he was awarded with the Virtuti Militari, the highest Polish military medal.

After the war Jan Nowak-Jeziorański stayed in the West, initially in London and then in Munich and Washington. Between 1948 and 1976 he was one of the most notable personalities of the Polish division of the BBC radio agency. In 1952 he also became the head of the Polish section of the Munich-based Radio Free Europe. Through his daily radio broadcasts he remained one of the most popular radio personalities, both in communist-held Poland and among the Polish diaspora in the West. After giving up his posts in 1976 he became one of the most prominent members of the Polish American Congress and headed the organisation between 1979 and 1996. He was also working as an advisor to the American National Security Agency and the presidents of the USA Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Through his contacts with many notable politicians in the USA, he was one of the proponents of Poland's membership in NATO (achieved in 1999).

In the 1990s he started his cooperation with the Polish Radio and wrote a series of broadcasts titled "Polska z oddali" ("Poland from Distance"). Since 1990 he was also present on Polish television as writer/presenter of monthly programs. In July 2002 he returned to Warsaw for good. He was an active supporter of Poland's entry into the European Union. Most of his books, published abroad as well as those published in Poland after 1989, were best-sellers and gained him even more popularity.

For his writings he was awarded some of the most prestigious Polish literary awards, including the "Kisiel Award" (1999), "Ksawery Pruszyński Memorial Prize" of the Polish Pen-club (2001) and the "Superwiktor" award for television personalities. In 2003 he was also awarded the "Człowiek Pojednania" prize by the Polish Council of Christians and Jews for his part in the Polish-Jewish dialogue. Finally, he was made the doctor honoris causa of many Polish universities, including the Warsaw University, Jagiellonian University and his alma mater, the University in Poznań.

He died in Warsaw on January 20, 2005. He donated all his archives to the Ossolineum institute.


* Virtuti Militari (1944, highest Polish military award)
* Krzyż Walecznych
* Order of the White Eagle (1994, highest Polish award)
* Nagroda Kisiela (1999)
* Lumen Mundi (2001)
* Ksawery Pruszyński Award (2001)
* "Man of Reconciliation" (2002)
* Wiktor and Superwiktor (2003)
* Business Centre Club Prize (2003)
* Polonia Restituta
* Presidential Medal of Freedom (1996, highest civilian award in the United States)
* Grand Cross of Duke Gediminas (the highest Lithuanian civilian award)
* Honorary citizen of Warsaw


Among other books, he wrote:

* "Polska droga ku wolnosci, 1952-1973", London, 1974. ISBN 090134219X
* Courier from Warsaw ("Kurier z Warszawy", published in London 1978, Polish underground edition 1981, official edition in 1989, published in English in 1982 by Wayne State University Press) ISBN 0814317251
* "Ideological competition in United States' strategy", Polish American Congress, 1980.
* "Polska została sobą", 1980. ISBN 0902352164
* "Wojna w eterze" ("War on the Radio", memoirs 1948-1956), 1986. ISBN 0903705532
* "Kryptonim "Odra" ("Code-name Odra"), Warsaw, 1986. ISBN 8311073589
* "Polska z oddali. Wspomnienia 1956-1976" ("Poland from the distance"), 1988
* "Poland and Germany (Occasional paper / East European Studies)", Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1991.
* "Z dziejów Armii Krajowej w inspektoracie Płocko-Sierpeckim", Płock, 1992. ISBN 8390060906
* "W poszukiwaniu nadziei" ("In Search for Hope"), 1993
* "Rozmowy o Polsce", Warsaw, 1995. ISBN 8307024668
* "Polska wczoraj, dzis i jutro" ("Poland today, tomorrow and the day after"), Warsaw, 1999. ISBN 8307026806
* "Listy 1952-1998" ("Letters 1952-1998"), Wrocław, 2001. ISBN 8370950523

ee also

* Polish Secret State

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4195401.stm BBC Polish WWII underground hero dies] accessed 21 January 2005
* [http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=7391323 Reuters Polish WW2 'Courier from Warsaw' Dies, Aged 91] accessed 21 January 2005
* [http://www.rferl.org/releases/2005/01/296-210105.asp Radio Free Europa Legendary RFE Polish Service Director Jan Nowak Dead At 91] accessed 21 January 2005

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