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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January, 2005, 15:59 GMT
Polish WWII underground hero dies
By Adam Easton
BBC correspondent in Warsaw

Jan Nowak-Jezioranski
The voice of Jan Nowak-Jezioranski was known across Europe
A Polish underground courier who smuggled information about Nazi atrocities from Warsaw to the West during World War II has died, aged 91.

Jan Nowak-Jezioranski later took part in the Warsaw uprising against the Polish capital's German occupiers.

After the war, Mr Nowak-Jezioranski worked for Western radio stations broadcasting to Communist Poland.

For 25 years he was the Voice of Freedom, probably the best-known voice on the airwaves.

Mr Nowak-Jezioranski was a legendary figure in his native Poland.

In a mark of respect, MPs stood up for a minute's silence at the start of the day's work in parliament. It had not been planned.

Warfare department

For many people here, he was best-known for his post-war career as a radio broadcaster, rather than for his heroic wartime achievements.

After the war, he worked for the Polish section of the BBC in London. His talents were then poached by the US-funded Radio Free Europe in Munich.

For 25 years, no amount of Soviet jamming of the airwaves could stop his broadcasts behind the Iron Curtain. It gave him probably the best-loved voice in Poland as people across the country defied the Communist authorities and tuned in on their crackly transistor radios.

During the war he worked for the underground Home Army's psychological warfare department, known by the letter N. He and other couriers smuggled themselves in and out of occupied Poland, bringing news to London.


In 1943, he delivered a report about Warsaw's Jewish ghetto uprising and the Nazi slaughter of the Jews. In all, he made three runs to London.

A Royal Air Force plane would parachute him back behind enemy lines. In 1978 his best-selling memoir "Courier from Warsaw" did much to popularise his and his colleagues' death-defying work.

In his later years he moved to the United States, where he was a consultant to the National Security Council during the Carter and Reagan administrations. He returned to Poland in 1989 after the fall of Communism.

He died on Thursday in a Warsaw hospital.

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