Story of two loves: Warsaw Rising insurgent from famous photo found in NYC

Bolesław Biega, nom de guerre “Pałąk”, the commander of the “Kiliński” battalion during the Warsaw Rising 1944, became main hero in a tale of two loves - both in different, yet in difficult times.

He was wounded on the first day of the fights hit by a machine gun bullet in the Warsaw Uprising. In the field hospital, he was visited by his fiancée, Alicja Treutler, alias “Jarmuż” (Kale).

His commander persuaded him to decide on a war time wedding. It took place in a shop, next to a makeshift altar in the centre of fighting Warsaw. Although there were hundreds of wedding ceremonies taking place during the Rising, only this one was immortalised on film and became a symbol. Many years later, after the Rising, the photo became iconic.

After the war, Bolesław Biega and his wife left for the USA. In August 2019, they celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. Alicja Biega died a month later.

Representatives of the Polish diaspora in New York City for a long time were trying to get in touch with Mr Biega, but this turned out to be more difficult than anticipated.

Finally, “Pałąk” was found once the American press told a story of another love - love in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic in a nursing home, with Bolesław Biega and his new love - Iris Ivers - in the leading roles.

"We used to visit each other in our rooms. A security guard caught us one night. He said we were either staying in our rooms or staying together," Mrs Ivers said.

During the Warsaw Uprising that started on August 1st 1944, in German-occupied Poland, there were many soldiers of the Polish Home Army that decided for a wedding in the face of possible death. Many stories of the Uprising marriages were archived by the Museum of Warsaw Uprising in the form of videos in which the married share their memories.