Stefan Filipkiewicz

Stefan Filipkiewicz was an important painter, graphic, and saviour of Polish refugees and Jews in Hungary. He was born on July 28, 1879 in Tarnów and was murdered together with other important comrades of the Citizen´s Committee for the Care of Polish Refugees in Budapest on August 23, 1944 at Concentration Camp Gusen.

Stefan Filipkiewicz

Stefan Filipkiewicz

As a great painter he was notable for his landscapes inspired by the Young Polish movement and he was a leading representative of the Polish Art Nouveau style of painting. In the years 1900 to 1908 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow under Professor Jan Stanis?awski who had great influence on his creativity. He made his debut in 1899 with a series of landscapes of the Tatra Mountains and the region of Podhale that was shown at the Palace of Art in Krakow. He exhibited also at Lvov. From1903 being its member, he also exhibited at the Varsavian Society of Fine Arts. From 1905 he was a member of Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs – Wiener Secession and from 1908 a member of Sztuka, the Association of Polish Artists. He took part in Art Nouveau exhibitions in Berlin (1904), Munich (1903, 1907, 1909), Vienna (1905, 1911, 1913), and in international exhibitions among others in Dresden (1912), Rome (1911) and Venice (1905, 1907, 1910, 1914, 1920, 1926). He took part in collective exhibitions of Polish art in the United States (1906), London (1906), Vienna (1908, 1915) and in Paris (1921) [1].

From 1913 he taught painting courses at the Industrial School in Krakow and served in the Polish Legions in the years 1914 to 1917. That is when he designed a model of a legionary uniform and the legion’s shields. After having returned to his pedagogical work, he painted in his free time. In 1929 he was awarded a Golden Medal at the Universal Exhibition in Pozna?. From 1930 he lectured at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and was awarded by the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences for his lifetime achievement in 1933. In 1936 he was finally appointed an extraordinary professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow.

In 1939, during the Invasion of Poland, he fled to Hungary with his family. In that period he was a secretary of the Citizens’ Committee for the Care of Polish Refugees in Budapest – the agenda of the Polish government of General W?adys?aw Sikorski. Under the leadership of Henryk S?awik, the citizens’ committee organized assistance to the interned military and civilian refugees in Hungary and also sent troops to the Polish Army in western Europe. It also helped many Poles of Jewish descent. They were saved from the extermination by receiving false documents and new identities with non-Jewish Polish names and baptismal testimonies. The Committee rescued 30,000 Polish refugees and 5,000 Jews.

Mass Execution of 13 members of the Citizen´s Committee for the Care of Polish Refugees Budapest on August 23, 1944 at Concentration Camp Gusen.

Stefan Filipkiewicz and 12 other activists were hanged on order by RFSS at Concentration Camp Gusen I consecutively in the afternoon of August 23, 1944 within only one hour!

His personality was best described by the situation witnessed by the Hungarian politician Joseph Antall senior [3]. According to him, Stefan Filipkiewicz was visited by a German representative who said that the Führer loves artists and proposed him an art studio in Vienna. But Filipkiewicz firmly refused this proposition.

Instead, Stefan Filipkiewicz was arrested by the Gestapo with his daughter Anna for their activity in the Committee on April 27, 1944 in Budapest. Finally also the rest of the managment of the Citizens’ Committee was arrested In 1944 and sent to Concentration Camp Gusen.

Stefan Filipkiewicz was murdered in the collective execution of the managment of the Citzen´s Committee together with Henryk S?awik, Andrzej Pysz, Edmund Fietz, and Kazimierz Gurgul on August 23, 1944 on the order of the Reichsführer-SS RFSS, Heinrich Himmler. [4].

Stefan Filipkiewicz was decorated with the Independence Medal for his service in the Polish Legions. He was a noble, honest, courageous, hard-working person and a caring husband and father.

He was a great patriot for whom the fate of Poland was of the great importance.

Roxana Golebiowska,

[1] According to Irena Kossowska, Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences, November 2002
[2] According to information from the ITS Archives in Bad Arolsen
[3] Joseph Antall Senior (28.03.1896 Oroszi – 24.07.1974) – hungarian politician. Director of IX Department of the Ministry of Social Affairs. In 1939 the Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Kingdom of Hungary for War Refugees.
[4] According to information from the ITS Archives in Bad Arolsen