Wozniak, Rev. Karol
Priest of the Katowice Diocese, major, participant of the Silesian Uprising
Dorn on January 19, 1893 in Rozndzien (presently Katowice). Son of Franciszek, a miner and Franciszka nee Habryka.
He finished high-school in Katowice, the attended the Seminary in Brussels where in 1914 was ordained a priest. After the outbreak of World War I he went to the United States to avoid being inducted into the German army. He volunteered for service in the American army. He was placed in the reserves under the rank of captain. In 1917, in France, he signed up for the army being formed by Gen. Jozef Haller. He came to Poland with this army; participated in the Polish-Bolshevik War, including the expedition on Kiev.
In 1920 he came to Upper Silesia and took part in the 2nd Silesian Uprising. Before the outbreak of the 3rd Silesian Uprising he formed a storm battalion in the Katowice Regiment named for Jozef Pilsudski. He was instrumental in the taking of Kedzierzyn, Klodnica and Gora Swietej Anny, pushing German untits beyond the Oder River. He was wonded during the fighting at Kedzierzyn. As a cleric fighting with arms-in-hand he was condemned by Fr. Jean Baptiste Ogno-Serra, the apostolic delegate in Upper Silesia. He was on the "black list" of 29 individuals deemed most dangerous to the Germans maintaining majority among the out-of-diocese priests, composed by the pro German priests and then sent to Cardinal Adolf Bertram in Wroclaw. He was also criticised by the Polish clergy in the Pastoral Department of the Polish Plebiscite Commission.
Sent to Upper Silesia where before the 2nd Uprising in which he took part inspiring the spirit of the other fighters. After the conclusion of the 2nd Uprising he was given orders to form a storm battalion of which he accomplished well, totally to the satisfaction of his superiors. At the moment of the outbreak of the 3rd Uprising he conducted negotiations with the French -- which were favorable for the Polish side and let the storm batallion he organized to the attack near Katowice with great bravery. His example inspired others, just as it did at Kedzierzyn, where his extraordinary courage and good leadership led to the taking and holding of this most important place. The battles at Swietochlowice and Zabrze in wich he participapted also showed his extraordinary abillities and let to the quick unification of Upper Silesia with Poland. For these exploits he was decorated with the Virtuti Militari Cross V Class number 7868 (given June 27, 1922 by the Military Commision of the Virtuti Militari Order).
After the fighting ended he represented the leadership in negotiations with the Inter-allied Commission. After Upper Silesia was united with Poland he was the assistant pastor in Dolne Rydlutowy, and then taught languages at the Rozdzien high-school. He was active in the "Sokol" Polish Gymnastic Society.
He died on December 6, 1923, in Szopienice. He is buried in the Silesian Uprising section of the szopienice cemetery. He also received the Cross for Bravery, and Cross on the Silesian Ribbon for Courage and Merit, 1st Class.
Sources: AAK personnel files; CAW, VM 78-7558, KW 136/W-2733; Encyklopedia Powstan Slaskich [Encyclopedia of Silesian Uprisings] edited by: Franciszek Hawranek, Opole 1982, p. 204, 213, 614-14; Julian Humenski, Wojskowa sluzba w powstaniach (in:) Wojskowa sluzba slaskich duchownych w latach 1918-1980, [Military service in uprisings, in Military service by Silesian clergy in the years 1918-1980] Katowice 1999, p. 26-38; Kozlowski, Wrzosek, Historia oreza [History of arms], p. 606; Fr. Michal Lewek, Gornoslaski plebiscyt w roku 1921 oraz udzial w nim duchowienstwa katolickiego [The Upper Silesia plebiscite in 1921 and the participation of Catholic clergy] Chorzow 1991, p. 588; Jan Ludyga-Laskowski, Zarys historii trzech powstan slaskich 1919-1920-1921 [Historical sketch of the three Silesian uprisings 1919-1920-1921], Wroclaw 1973, p. 244, 258, 267; Lukomski, Polak Suchcitz, Kawalerowie Virtuti Militari [Cavaliers of the Virtuti Militari] p. 337; Odziemkowski, Sluzba duszpasterska [Pastoral service] per index; Janusz Odziemkowski, Wojskowa sluzba duszpasterska III powstania slaskiego [Militray service by clergy in the 3rd Silesian uprising] "Niepodleglosc i Pamiec" [Independence and Memory] no. 2, 1997, p. 78; Jozef Piernikarczyk, Ilustrowana Ksiega Pamiatkowa Gornego Slaska [Illustrated Memorial Book of Upper Silesia] Katowice 1992. p. 19; Radziwillowicz, Blekitna Armia [Blue Army] p. 134; Waclaw Ryzewski, Trzecie Powstanie Slaskie, Geneza i przebieg dzialan bojowych [3rd Silesian Uprising, Genesis and conduct of military operations] MON, Warsaw 1977, p. 208, 267 69; Antomi Steuer, Wozniak Karol (in:) O dusze polska [Wozniak Karol, in For the Polish soul] p. 142; Antoni Steuer, Wozniak Karol (in:) SBKDS, p. 469; Sztarek, Kapelani wojskowi [Military chaplains] p. 6; Waszkiewicz, Duszpasterstwo [Pastoral service] per index; Wesolowski, Order Virtuti Militari, p. 359, 513.
From: Boguslaw Szwedo, Zawsze w Pierwszej Lini. Kaplani Odznaczeni Orderem Virtuti Militari 1914-1921,1939-1945 [Always in the Front Rank. Priests decorated with the Virtuti Militari Order 1914-1921,1939-1945] RYTM, Warsaw, 2004
Translation by: Peter Obst (2009) for Poles in America Foundation Inc.