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Poland marks 77 years since Olympic runner, WWII hero shot by Germans

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 21.06.2017 12:51
The 77th anniversary of the execution of Janusz Kusociński, Polish Olympic gold medallist runner and a soldier in World War II, was marked on Wednesday.
Janusz Kusociński (1937)Janusz Kusociński (1937)Foto: Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Kusociński was a footballer until fate saw him spontaneously fill in during an 800 metres race which showed his true talent.

He went on to win Olympic gold in the 10,000-metre race in Los Angeles in 1932 and the same year set 3,000-metre and four-mile race records. He went on to set 24 Polish records in various races.

His sporting career was cut short when Nazi German troops launched an attack on Poland on 1 September 1939, starting World War II.

Kusociński joined the army and defended Warsaw as an infantryman. He was wounded twice and awarded the Cross of Valour before Warsaw was occupied.

He then took part in an underground opposition movement which was uncovered by the Gestapo in March 1940. He was imprisoned and tortured until he was transported to Palmiry, in a forest north of Warsaw, and shot.

Warsaw expert Leszek Bartelski, also a member of Poland’s underground opposition during WWII, said: “The Germans undoubtedly knew who he was. I think they killed him when he refused to coach German athletes. They thought they could break him. They put him in solitary confinement.”

An international athletics competition has been held in his memory every year since 1954. (vb/pk)

Source: Polskie Radio

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