The first time I heard about Otton Schimk was during the hunger strike in Podkowa Lesna [held last year to protest the sentencing and imprisonment of Marek Adamkiewicz for refusing to take the military oath of service]. This young Wehrmacht soldier from Austria was executed for refusing to carry out an order. He did not want to kill people.
It was a legal act, legal murder, in full compliance with the law in force. He was executed on Nov. 14, 1944, in Lipiny near Tarnow. He was then 19 years old. To refuse to carry out orders and to be guided by the inner voice of one's own conscience -- this means the end of totalitarianism, of any unacceptable power, whether it be fascist or communist.
Participants in the "Freedom and Peace" movement . . . wished to place flowers on his grave and to participate in a special mass celebrated in his memory at the church in Machowa, near Tarnow. But . . . on Nov. 17, 1985, we were stopped at the bus station in Tarnow. Only a few of us managed to avoid arrest and to reach the church where mass was to be celebrated. The roads leading to Machowa were all blocked by the police and participants of "Freedom and Peace" who were bringing the wreath and coming by car were detained.
We were released after the mass in Machowa church was already over. The police released us only a few at a time, every half hour or so. That night, we placed the wreath on Otton Schimk's grave.
Why were we stopped? Are the authorities afraid of a peace movement in Poland, or of the spirit of Otton Schimk?