Pressured to Join the Communist Party










In 1956 the government in Poland changed to a stronger communist bent.

Until 1956 I was fairly secure in my position. I was ‘suffering in German concentration camps’ so they respected me and leave me alone. Premier Cyrankewiecz was also in Auschwitz. I had two cousins who were very high in the communist party; but I never even saw them. I am an athlete – I don’t give a shit about politics and I don’t know nothing about communists. I acted like I was with them (the communists), but I wasn’t.

I remember Władysław Gomułka became head of the communist party in 1956. He was from the labor party. It was about this time they started pressuring me to join the communist party. Now I was older. I was a national athletic coach, traveling for Poland, but I was not a member of the communist party. Party officials took notice and started to single me out.

“What? You are a teacher and a trainer for Polish Army and you’re not a communist?   

It is time we send you for two months of reeducation on Marx and Lenin.”

So, I begin to make plans to escape to the West. – Henry Zguda

Photo above is from Henry’s scrapbook.  This one is fairly large (over 5×7); unfortunately Henry kept it folded so there’s a permanent crease. As coach, Henry is to the far left in a white bathing cap – marked with an ‘+’.

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