September 8, 1939
Their scoutmaster’s chair squeaked as he shifted his weight. “What I am about to ask from all of you is a personal sacrifice on behalf of Poland. Your final decision is, of course, up to you. You must each make your own decision.”
A hush filled the room. The Scouts’ pale faces betrayed the struggle that plagued them all.
Tadzio broke the spell. “I mean no disrespect, Professor. I don’t know why my father had to leave, but since he’s gone, my family is my priority.”
Squaring her shoulders, Magdalena inched forward on her chair. “And earlier this week my father’s brother and his wife were killed when a bomb hit their apartment building in Warsaw.” Her voice quivered. “Now, we’re also caring for our orphaned 11-year-old cousin, Józefina.”
Tadzio nodded. “Since I am the eldest son, my first responsibility is to my family.”
“Well spoken, son.” Professor Handelsman studied Tadzio over the top of his glasses. “What about the rest of you?”
Tadzio’s patrol leader, Andrzej, spoke first. “This is what we’ve prepared for all summer. The Scout training we received in the Kampinos Forest these past few months-first aid, food storage, water purification, map reading skills, Morse Code, riflery-it all prepared us for this moment. I will give my all for Poland.”
Lech smoothed back his thick, black hair. “Andrzej’s right. It’s time to take a stand.”
First Lech, then Andrzej, and finally Lech’s younger brother, Stefan, rose to their feet with raised chins, they punched their fists into the air and shouted in unison. “Czuwaj!
Be vigilant! Stay awake! Be prepared!”
Tadzio and Magdalena weren’t prepared for their Polish Scoutmaster’s challenge. Not until their parents disappeared. A Young Adult historical novel, Underground Scouts brings to light the brave efforts of Polish Boy Scouts and Girl Guides who fought alongside the Polish Underground during World War II.