The Patron

Aleksander Węgierko (born in 1893, died in 1941 or 1942) – theater actor and director

He was born in Warsaw to Mieczysław Węgierko (gardener at the Jewish cemetery on Okopowa Street) and Justyna nee Ostblaum. His brother, Jakub Węgierko, was a general practitioner and a diabetologist.

He made his stage debut in 1912 in Vilnius. Since 1913-1914 he performed in Warsaw, mainly at Polish Theater. In 1939 he became the co-founder and the art director of the National Polish Theater of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic in Grodno (Państwowy Teatr Polski Białoruskiej Socjalistycznej Republiki Radzieckiej w Grodnie).

Węgierko came to Białystok in July 1940. Enjoying respect from the Soviet authorities, he managed to receive funds and extend the edifice in Białystok. Soon, it became one of the best prospering Polish scenes. Here are the titles of a few plays which were extremely popular among the audience: “Intrigue and Love” by Friederich Schiller, “Dożywocie” [“Life Sentence”] by Aleksander Fredro, “Pygmalion” by G.B. Shaw, “Panna Maliczewska” [“Miss Maliczewska”] by Gabriela Zapolska, “The Marriage of Figaro”.

Węgierko became the most prominent animator of theater in Białystok. During his six-month-long reign, the theater’s crew achieved so much that their presence could have been perceived as an honor to many capital-city theaters in their golden era.

It is unknown how he died. Most probably, since the German troops entered Białystok Węgierko was in hiding for a period of time as an organist at a local village’s parson. When the situation was becoming more and more dangerous, the parson decided to save Węgierko by sending him somewhere else. The cart in which he was traveling was stopped by the Gestapo and Węgierko, being questioned by the officers, finally broke down and confessed to being a Jew. He was arrested immediately and sent to a concentration camp where he died a year later. A different version says that he perished in the theater’s ruins.