A Chronicle of Valor: The Life and Times of Otton Hulacki
Early Life and Initiation into the Riflemen’s Union
Our story begins with the birth of Otton Hulacki on January 2, 1922, in Lwow. As a young man, Hulacki joined the “Orlęta” organization, which was under the umbrella of the Union of Riflemen. The Riflemen’s Union was a Polish paramilitary organization that trained young men in military tactics, preparing them for potential future conflicts.
In September 1939, as the world was teetering on the brink of the Second World War, Hulacki joined one of the Polish units heading east. It was during this time that he had his first encounter with the Soviet forces. He vividly remembers the disheveled state of the soldiers, some of whom were barefoot, their rifles hanging from strings. This sight left a profound impression on him.
Service for Poland’s Victory and Deportation
In November of the same year, Hulacki took an oath and became a member of the Service for Poland’s Victory, a secret Polish organization that opposed the German and Soviet occupation. However, life soon took a turn for the worse. His father, a pre-war police officer, was arrested by the NKVD, the law enforcement agency of the Soviet Union, on April 10, 1940. In the same month, Hulacki, along with his mother and siblings, were deported to Kazakhstan, a rough journey that many Poles were forced to undertake during this dark period.
Life in Kazakhstan was harsh. Hulacki fell seriously ill with typhus and recalls waking up one day to find himself lying between two deceased individuals. He mentioned in an interview that people were dying daily, painting a grim picture of the conditions they were forced to endure.
Enlistment in the Polish Army in the East
In March 1942, Hulacki enlisted in the Polish Army in the East, showing his unwavering dedication to his country. He served in the 6th Armored Regiment “Children of Lwow”, where he completed non-commissioned officer school, demonstrating his potential for leadership. In 1944, he was assigned to the command of the 2nd Armored Brigade of the 2nd Polish Corps. His journey with this corps took him to Italy, where he fought in the legendary battle for Monte Cassino, a key German defensive line blocking the allied advance on Rome during the Second World War.
Post-War Life in Great Britain
After the war, Hulacki chose to remain in Great Britain. He explained that he had no other choice due to his family’s experience with the NKVD in Lwow, which made him known to communist authorities. Returning to Poland was not an option for him.
Despite his geographical distance from Poland, Hulacki remained actively connected with his heritage. He was a frequent participant in the ceremonies commemorating the anniversary of the battle at the cemetery at the foot of the Monte Cassino monastery, with his last attendance recorded in May 2023. He was also active in veteran organizations, maintaining an unbreakable bond with his fellow soldiers and compatriots.
Subscribe to BNN Breaking
Sign up for our daily newsletter covering global breaking news around the world.