"We were 345 in a prison administered by the Gestapo. On June 13 they shot 115. They just took them out in the morning and shot them. Three weeks later they transported 160 more to Auschwitz. . . . Of the 345 caught in 1939, I know of only one other who survived."
John Damski survived by his wits. A Pole arrested by the Germans in '39 while trying to flee his country to join the Polish Forces in Exile, he ad-libbed his way out of the prison. He pretended to be German.
"I lied like crazy to the SS interrogator. I asked him, 'Did you ever see a Pole who speaks German--this marvelous language, this beautiful mother tongue--like I do?' I didn't tell him I'd been born in Germany. It didn't seem essential at the time."
Having escaped, did Damski lie low for the duration? Not exactly. For the next six years, Damski, a Roman Catholic, worked with the Polish Underground helping Jews escape the Warsaw ghetto or remain hidden behind forged documents. Three more times he was imprisoned. Three more times he escaped.