Wanda Woś Lorenc, the aunt of IWP Trustee Amb. Aldona Woś, recently shared her story about fighting for freedom in Poland for a video in the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s “Witness Project” series. Ms. Lorenc’s story is that of determination and struggle against tyranny in all forms, including Nazi fascism and Soviet communism.
Caught in the crosshairs of the Nazi-Soviet joint invasion of Poland in 1939, Ms. Lorenc immediately took up the fight against Nazi occupation in Warsaw. Only 16 years old, Ms. Lorenc joined what she described as an “underground army, Polska Walczy (Poland Fights),” which used urban warfare tactics in attempts to break the Nazi grip. Ms. Lorenc participated as a messenger and nurse during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, which was brutally suppressed by the Nazi occupiers. Soon after she was captured, she and her family were taken to the Flosenburg and Ravensbruck concentration camps, where she was separated from her loved ones. The hardships continued as the Soviet Red Army came closer and closer to those Nazi camps, as Ms. Lorenc was forced on a “Death March” away from the frontlines and any possible civilian witnesses. Soon, the Red Army approached those who survived the Death March and claimed to “liberate” them. Ms. Lorenc then witnessed the tragic mass rape inflicted on the women and children by the Red Army.
Ms. Lorenc soon built a family of four with her husband in what became the Polish People’s Republic, the Soviet-sponsored satellite government founded on communist ideals of oppression and state-sponsored terror. After years witnessing numerous underground resistance movements being crushed by the communists, Ms. Lorenc and her husband decided to free themselves and their children from their “second-class citizenship” status. They took advantage of the 1967 Soviet ease of travel restrictions within the Eastern Bloc, attempting to seek refuge in free Austria by traveling through socialist Yugoslavia. After confronting the horrible reality that their previous lives in Poland were “finished forever,” she and her family crossed into Austria through the barbed wire fencing on the border.
Reflecting on the innumerable sacrifices that she, her husband, and their friends made in those years, Ms. Wanda Woś Lorenc emphasized to her children the innate human desire for freedom. Soon after rebuilding her family’s life in Austria, Ms. Lorenc described to her children why exactly she decided to escape their beautiful home country: it was because the communists denied their inherent right to education. She said that once her children have access to holistic education, it “can never be taken from [them].” For this reason and many more, Ms. Wanda Woś Lorenc was “very happy that I’m very far from communism.”
The “Witness Project” series is a groundbreaking project that documents the stories and hardships suffered under communist regimes around the world. To find more information about the “Witness Project” series and the overall mission of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, visit https://www.victimsofcommunism.org/witnessproject/.
Ms. Lorenc’s story is very close to home for Amb. Aldona Woś, who is herself is the child of Polish victims of both Nazi and Communist oppression. She now serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. In addition, Amb. Woś has shown her tireless dedication to the mission of IWP through service on its board for over a decade and through the establishment of the Louis DeJoy and Aldona Woś Family Foundation Scholarship.
IWP recently held an event on the history of Soviet-sponsored governments in Eastern Europe and the ideology of Marxism with Dr. Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. In his lecture, Dr. Edwards described how the “freedoms” espoused by Communist doctrine and leaders inevitably turned into oppression and suffering.