Many people in Poland saw the 1st of August 1944 as a call for change. By 1944, German occupation of Poland had persisted for five years, yet the Polish Home Army, an underground resistance group, took it upon themselves to liberate the capital of Warsaw. Jadwiga Klarner-Szymanowska, a 22 year old student, awaited this announcement for months. With just a first aid kit, she left her family home, and presented herself to the Polish Home Army.

It is difficult to imagine the quality of life a young woman, such as Jadwiga, would have had in occupied Poland. During the years of occupation, Jadwiga studied humanities meaning that in order for her to sit her exams, she had to take the risk of sitting them in a private apartment. She was totally unaware of her results until she stumbled into one of her professors who told her to pick her diploma up. 

Jadwiga was selfless and stubborn. She helped in the resistance, and – as a means of survival – she reported herself as a lost nurse to a village police station. Jadwiga was then sent to an unused boarding school in Warsaw in which she was ordered to set up a hospital for the resistance army. To minimise the risk of exposure, all personnel were given pseudonyms. Jadwiga’s pseudonym was ‘Aniolek’, meaning ‘little angel’. This name came from her time working at this hospital; when soldier Henryk Rozniewski – whose pseudonym was ‘Zakapior’, was severely injured in a blast, Jadwiga cared for him. Upon his awakening, he remarked ‘Aniolek’ as he saw Jadwiga, and from this moment on the pseudonym stuck.

In a turn of events, the hospital was raided by German soldiers on the 16th of September 1944. The hospital ceased to exist, and Jadwiga was detained. She managed to escape her detention by bribing German guards, and sought to find her family whom she had not seen since the outbreak of the uprising. Jadwiga found her brother first, and they later found their parents by setting out on a fifty mile bike ride. Upon the reunification, Jadwiga did not admit her participation in the uprising to her parents, and once Nazi surveillance was no more, she became a doctor.

Of the fifty thousand rebels, eleven thousand of which were females. When this level of participation is considered alongside the stringent social expectations placed upon females, it is apparent that females had an outstanding impact on the resistance and Jadwiga Klarner-Szymanowska was a monumental driving force behind that impact.