Stanislaw Jamrosz, 83, banker, soldier in WWII, active in Polish community

January 13, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Stanislaw Jamrosz, a retired banker and decorated World War II soldier who defected from the Polish government during the Cold War and later worked with American intelligence, died in his sleep Thursday of complications after surgery at the Deaton Rehabilitation Center in the Inner Harbor. He was 83 and lived in the Belair-Edison section of Northeast Baltimore.

Mr. Jamrosz spent almost 25 years in a geographical and political odyssey through World War II and Cold War military and intelligence activities, which took him from a Siberian prison camp to North Africa and Italy, and finally to safety in America, according to family and friends.

After World War II, Mr. Jamrosz returned to Poland and joined the Polish Foreign Trade Ministry and was posted to Frankfurt, West Germany, as an economic attache, said his son, Ivo Jamrosz, of Federal Hill. In the midst of the Cold War, he was recruited by several foreign intelligence agencies.

"All this history that affected so many lives. These are stories that he told me, that his friends told me, and some of the story I lived myself," his son said. He recalled the family fleeing to America in 1962 when he was 12 years old, and living in Washington and Easton after his father's counter-intelligence work was exposed.

Later settling in Baltimore, Mr. Jamrosz began as a bank teller and eventually rose to become Maryland National Bank's manager of coin and currency. He retired in 1988 as an assistant vice president.

Born and raised in Kolomyja, Poland - now in Ukraine - he joined the Polish army in 1939. He was wounded by German soldiers and was reported as dead, family members said, but he managed to make his way home - only to be captured by the Soviet army in 1940 and shipped in a rail car to a prison camp in Siberia for two years.

"Only about 1 percent survived the camp," his son said. "He was strong enough and wily enough."

When word reached him that a free Polish army was being formed, Mr. Jamrosz escaped from the Siberian camp by forging a document. He made it to Iran and joined the Polish 2nd Corps under Gen. Wladyslaw Anders, the Polish commander in chief, then wound up in Egypt, said Stanley A. Ciesielski, president of the Polish Heritage Association of Maryland Inc. and a friend since 1961.

After training in North Africa, Mr. Jamrosz arrived in Italy under British 8th Army command and became a tank commander, Mr. Ciesielski said. He was wounded in the battle for Monte Cassino. After the end of hostilities, he was discharged from the British Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He received many awards and decorations for his military service, family members said.

"He was a warrant officer, mustered out in Italy. Then the new Polish government organized by the Soviets came around ... trying to induce soldiers to go back to the new Poland. He did," Mr. Ciesielski said.

Back in Poland, Mr. Jamrosz discovered his gift for accounting, Mr. Cieselski said. In 1961, Mr. Jamrosz was sent to Germany as a finance officer at the Polish mission - and defected, fleeing with his family to the United States.

In 1964, Mr. Jamrosz moved to Baltimore and joined Maryland National Bank.

Despite failing health, Mr. Jamrosz was active in the city's Polish community. He was a founding member of the Polish Heritage Association in 1974, serving as its first treasurer for eight years. He was a past commander of SPK - Polish Combatants Group 32, a past president of the Polish Veterans of World War II, and a member and benefactor of the Katyn Memorial Monument Committee.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, 400 S. Chester St., where he had been a member.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 54 years, the former Alfreda Wienckowska; a daughter, Anna Jamrosz Davis of Baltimore; a sister, Maria Jamrosz of Wroclaw, Poland; and a grandson.

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