alright, let me tell y’all a story about two badass gay (allegedly, but who are we kidding) resistance fighters in nazi occupied poland.
(rudy is on the left and zośka is right)
tadeusz zawadzki (aka “zośka”) and jan bytnar (aka “rudy”) met in 1937 at age 16, being classmates in high school in warsaw. they were also members of an underground polish scouting association called gray ranks (pol: szare szeregi) and they were both active in resistance actions and sabotages. some of the actions included ripping down nazi flags and putting up polish ones, painting “PW” on walls, symbolizing “polska walcząca” (”fighting poland”), blowing up train tracks or writing slogans over nazi propaganda.
rudy was arrested by gestapo (nazi police) on march 23rd and interrogated to get information out of him about gray ranks and the resistance. and by interrogated i mean beaten until he lost consciousness and then woken up to be beaten some more. but rudy was like “screw you i ain’t tellin you shit” and basically acted like he didn’t know anything. he was injured so severely that on the second day of his arrest he had to be taken to the prison hospital and transported back for interrogation on a hospital stretcher. so zośka decided “fuck this” and gathered a team of 28 people to rescue him from arrest. the action was succesful on march 26th when they rescued rudy and 20 other prisoners during their transportation to a different location. rudy died from his injuries on march 30th with zośka being right by his side. before his death, rudy managed to tell others the names of the two main officers who were interrogating him, one of which was herbert schulz who was shot a month later by zośka.
aleksander kamiński, also a resistance fighter, wrote a book called “stones for the rampart” which describes the history of zośka, rudy and other people from their scout team fighting in warsaw. the title, “stones for the rampart”, comes from a poem “my testament” by juliusz słowacki, which zośka has read to rudy on his deathbed and has insisted on calling the book that. (also because another book, rudy’s favorite, was called the same way)
“But I beg you – let the living not lose hope ever
And bear the torch of learning before their compatriots;
And when called, go to their death one after another,
Like the stones tossed by die Lord onto the ramparts…“
zośka died 5 months after rudy during a resistance action. they were both 22 when they died and both were awarded with the war order of virtuti militari (latin: “for military virtue”) which is poland’s highest military decoration for heroism and courage at war.
alright, you might say, but why do some people think they were gay? well,
elżbieta janicka from the institute of slavic studies said “because we’re talking in a homophobic culture, where questioning someone’s heterosexual orientation
isn’t an ascertainment but an accusation, i’d compare zośka and rudy to achilles and patroclus, a couple of legendary warriors.” in her opinion, a particularly telling part from “stones for the rampart” was where after rescuing rudy from arrest, zośka lies down next to rudy in bed and they talk about moving in together after the war and living in a countryside where they would spend unforgettable and happy days. zośka also says that during that time “when we were together, he enjoyed me holding his hand or petting his hair.” there were also rumours about the boys’ sexualities during the war, said zośka’s liaison officer.
but whether they were gay or not, they were still bomb-ass resistance fighters and you should read “stones for the rampart” by aleksander kamiński (there’s also a movie from 2014)