Camera of the Home Army soldier Ryszard Witkowski pseud. Orliński went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum. During World War II, on plates he immortalized underground patriotic events, the departure of refugees from Warsaw in the fall of 1944 or the destruction in the capital after the uprising and destructive actions of the occupant.
The Warsaw Uprising Museum announced that the ceremonial handing over of the Leica camera took place on Wednesday evening at the facility’s headquarters. The equipment was part of the drop set for making enlargements and diminutions and belonged to Ryszard Witkowski pseud. Orliński, who, as a soldier of the National Military Organization and the Home Army, photographed it throughout the entire period of World War II. The collection of his photos shows, among others, German railway transports, underground patriotic events, actions of the Home Army soldiers in Milanówek, refugees from the insurgent Warsaw and the capital destroyed after the Uprising. Currently, it is in the collections of the MPW and in the resources of the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow.
Photographer, Home Army soldier and one of the first helicopter pilots in Poland
Ryszard Witkowski was born in Milanówek in 1926. His mother ran the only photography shop in this town. Before the war, Witkowski belonged to the scouting movement, and at the beginning of the occupation he became a member of the underground National Military Organization under the pseudonym “Romuald”. After the merger of NOW with the Home Army, he was sworn in as a soldier of the Home Army “Orliński” in the VII District “Obroża” of the Warsaw District of the Home Army.
He was a distributor of the secret press, and in 1944 he participated in covering the Allied airdrops at the “Solnica” facility near Grodzisk Mazowiecki. During the Warsaw Uprising, his family sheltered three Jewish refugees from Warsaw. One of them was a prisoner of Pawiak, the other two were brothers, liberated by insurgents from the “Gęsiówka” concentration camp. However, the Witkowski family were awarded the “Righteous Among the Nations” medal in the 1990s.
After the collapse of the uprising, “Orliński” collaborated with the “Foto” cell of the Government Delegation for Poland. After the war, however, he began studies at the Aviation Section of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Wawelberg and Rotwand. “He was a glider pilot, and in 1947 obtained a plane pilot license. In 1949 he started working at the Central Aviation Institute in Warsaw, but in 1950, when he was arrested by the Security Office because of his activity in the Home Army, he lost his job and his permit to fly. He returned to the Institute of Aviation in Warsaw. 1955, he also regained his pilot qualifications. He piloted helicopters, he was one of the first in the country to obtain a helicopter pilot license. He participated in gliding competitions many times “- we read in the biography on the MPW website.
Witkowski is also the author and translator of articles and books on aviation. The Warsaw Uprising Museum invited him to join the jury of the photo competition Memory “In” Kadra. During the Wednesday ceremony, the awards were presented to the winners of the third edition of the competition.
Watercolor by Krzysztof Baczyński
Main photo source: MPW