My confrontation with angry 'Stan': Was grumpy old man really Nazi killer on run?
A cantankerous old man living in a quiet suburb in Shropshire was allegedly a wartime murderer and evil executioner.
The discomfort of the street confrontation made me warm with embarrassment. I cast glances and shrugged at witnesses in a show of bemusement and innocence.
Some flashed an apologetic “we know, mate” smile back, a brothers-in-arms gesture suggesting they, too, had been slashed by the pensioner’s sharp tongue.
Still the old man raged, waving a stick while astride his mobility scooter. He protested I’d blocked his disability carriage with such red-faced venom that spittle fell from his mouth.
“It’s just Stan,” one person told me after the tirade eventually subsided and the apoplectic OAP had fled the scene – actually, mechanically limped from it at around 8mph.
Stan was a sour-faced, then octogenarian, belligerent to the point of bad manners and beyond feisty to the point of being simply rude.
It was best to give Stan a wide berth, particularly when he chugged towards you on his scooter.
To me Stan – resident of a sheltered housing complex in Hadley, Telford, only yards from my first marital home – was an extremely ill-tempered, elderly foreign gentleman, curmudgeonly and crabby.
To others, many, many miles away, he was something much darker. They claimed he was a monster.
I knew him as something of a nuisance.
“We knew him as a butcher,” said Alexandra Davelsky, who stated her husband, Jan, was shot by Stan as he fled a firing squad.
Stan – Stanislaw Chrzanowski, Hadley’s public menace on a mobility scooter – was accused of being a wartime murderer, an evil executioner for the Nazi regime. He was even linked to war crimes by the House of Commons in the dying embers of his long life.
Throughout, Chrzanowski vehemently protested his innocence.
And he died from kidney failure in 2017, aged 96, as a possible trial loomed.
Following an investigation, clearance had been given for the long-time fugitive to face 30 murder charges in Germany.
Police in that country were awaiting the go-ahead to raid Stan’s home.
To his accusers, Stan Chrzanowski was the Hitler henchman living on the fringes of Hadley’s crescent.
I had been in a stand-up row with one of the Third Reich’s alleged sadists: a sadist on a mobility scooter.
And, when the revelation became public, I was astonished by tabloid newspaper interviews with residents who described Chrzanowski as pleasant, an individual who kept himself to himself and lived for his garden.
The description “jolly” surfaced.
You take as you find, I suppose. And I found him confrontational. Don’t believe everything you read: I was not alone.
The case against Stan – helped and supported by his own stepson, John Kingston – stirred a hornets’ nest just two years ago when the BBC said it had evidence that he had been recruited by our own secret service during the Cold War.