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Stefan Starba-Bałuk Honorary Citizen of Warsaw

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fot. Sławomir Paszkiet

Stefan Starba-Bałuk,  (born 15 January in 1914, died 30 January in 2014)
Honorary Citizen of Warsaw since June 2008.

Born on 15 January 1914 in Warsaw, he completed the J. Zamoyski Lower Secondary School and graduated from the Faculty of Finance and Economics of the School of Political Sciences in Warsaw. In 1939, when the war broke out, he was a third-year student of the Faculty of Law of the University of Warsaw. In September 1939 he was assigned to the 9th armoured battalion in Lublin, and then, after successfully getting to France, he served under the 10th Mounted Rifles Regiment of the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade.
In 1944, after graduation from the Polish Secret Service School in Glasgow, and a parachuting course in Ringway, he was parachuted into Poland. During the occupation he worked in the Legalisation Department of Section 2 of the Headquarters of the Home Army, where his tasks included document counterfeiting. In the Warsaw Uprising he fought in the “Agaton” platoon of the “Pięść” (Fist) battalion, then in the covering party of the Home Army Headquarters. After the fall of the Uprising he was detained in an oflag in Grossborn, from where he escaped by the end of January 1945. After he came back to Poland he returned to conspiracy activities in the “Agaton II” Legalisation Department. Documents issued there saved hundreds of people from the NKVD. On 1 November 1945 he was arrested for his membership of the Home Army and sentenced to many years in prison. After the amnesty of March 1947, deprived of his civil rights, he earned his bread and butter as a taxi driver in Warsaw.
In 1950 he started work as a photographer, organising many exhibitions dedicated to the heroic struggle of Polish soldiers during World War 2. He was also a volunteer worker for the community of war veterans.
He initiated the construction of the Monument to Home Army in front of the Polish Parliament, and he has been the chairman of the committee for its construction for many years, eventually leading to its completion. In 2001 he initiated the restitution of the association named the Club of the Knights of the War Order of Virtuti Militari, of which he was president for 6 years. He is currently a member of the Chapter of the War Order of Virtuti Militari.
He has been awarded many distinctions, including the Order of Virtuti Militari of the V class, the Cross of Valour (twice), the Warsaw Cross of the Uprising, the Golden Cross of Merit with Swords, the Order of Polonia Restituta (three times). On 10 November 2006 he received promotion from the President of Poland to the rank of retired Brigadier General. He is the author of many famous military albums, such as “Miasto nieujarzmione” (Untamed City), “Tobie Ojczyzno” (For You, My Homeland), and “Życie dla Niepodległej” (Life for Independence).