The incredible story of the Nigerian who was the only black man in the Polish Resistance against the Nazis
Among the hundreds of thousands of patriots that Poland celebrates for serving in the resistance movement in World War Two there is one black, Nigeria-born man
Nigerian jazz musician August Agboola Browne was in his 40s and has lived in Poland for 17 when he joined the fight against the country’s Nazi occupation in 1939. He was the only black man to figure forever in the history of Polish resistance, according to a BBC article of today’s edition. Under the codename “Ali”, Browne fought for his adopted country during the Siege of Warsaw, when Germany invaded the country, and later in the Warsaw Uprising, which ended 76 years ago.
Surprisingly, August Browne survived the war in which 94% of residents of the Polish capital were killed or displaced, and continued to live in the devastated city until 1956, when he emigrated with his second wife to Britain.
A small stone monument in Warsaw now commemorates Browne’s life. But the scant details that there are may never have been known were it not for an application he made to join a veterans’ association in 1949.
The document was filed away for six decades, until 2009, when Zbigniew Osinski from the Warsaw Rising Museum came across it.
This form, filled out in beautiful cursive handwriting and with a passport-style photo attached to one corner, is his Rosetta Stone – the documentary fragment that led researchers to interpret isolated facts about his life and locate living descendants.
By this time he was in his fifties, as the form reveals that he was born on 22 July 1895 to Wallace and Jozefina in Lagos – then part of the British Empire.
He arrived in England aboard a British merchant ship with his longshoreman father. From there, he joined a theatre troupe touring Europe and ended up in Poland via Germany.
This article is available in: Português