Wikipedia: After Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union he was imprisoned in a German work camp in Ternopol, from which he made several attempts to escape. He received a death sentence for his second attempt to escape, but managed to escape again after killing his guard with a shovel when taken to dig his own grave. This became the subject of his most famous poem. After that he participated in partisan warfare within the communist formations of the Gwardia Ludowa and the Armia Ludowa, and eventually served in regular units of Polish army until the end of the war, which he finished in the rank of major and was awarded the order of “Polonia Restituta”.
According to Clifton Fadiman‘s introduction to Lec’s book Unkempt Thoughts (Myśli nieuczesane):
Lec has led the strange (to us), hunted, haunted life of thousands of Central European intellectuals, their experience inexorably shaped by war and revolution. At the outbreak of the war he was imprisoned in a German concentration camp. There he stayed until July 1943 when the camp was liquidated by mass executions. Escaping in a German uniform, he succeeded in reaching Warsaw where he joined the underground fighters. After the war he continued his writing, varying his career by brief service as cultural attache of the Polish Embassy in Vienna. He has also spent two years in Israel.
- Beyond each corner new directions lie in wait.
- The exit is usually where the entrance was.
- He who limps is still walking.
- In a war of ideas it is people who get killed.
- The mob shouts with one big mouth and eats with a thousand little ones.
- Even a glass eye can see its blindness.
- To whom should we marry Freedom, to make it multiply?
- I am against using death as a punishment. I am also against using it as a reward.
- You can close your eyes to reality but not to memories.
- Optimists and pessimists differ only on the date of the end of the world.
- Is it a progress if a cannibal is using knife and fork?
- If a man who cannot count finds a four-leaf clover, is he lucky?
- No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.
- All is in the hands of man. Therefore wash them often.
- Do not ask God the way to heaven; he will show you the hardest one.
- If you are not a psychiatrist, stay away from idiots. They are too stupid to pay a layman for his company.
- Thoughts, like fleas, jump from man to man, but they don’t bite everybody.
- The first condition of immortality is death.
- Suppose you succeed in breaking the wall with your head. And what, then, will you do in the next cell?
- When smashing monuments, save the pedestals—they always come in handy.
“Why is it that in a society with a Puritan heritage we have such completely ambivalent feelings about Work? We feel guilty, do we not, if not busy? But we feel somewhat soiled, on the other hand, if we sweat overmuch?
I can only suggest that we often indulge in made work, in false business, to keep from being bored. Or worse still we conceive the idea of working for money. The money becomes the object, the target, the end-all and be-all. Thus work, being important only as a means to that end, degenerates into boredom. Can we wonder then that we hate it so? Nothing could be further from true creativity.”