WE ARE UNCOVERING THE PLACES OF THE COMMUNIST CRIME

MATEUSZ WYRWICH

We have not known till today where there are the places of the massacre of Polish heroes fighting against the Soviet and communist occupant. As far as we know most places of the imprisoned and the murdered by the Germans, we find, archive and commemorate places where the crime of genocide to Polish patriots were done by the Soviet and Polish communists

The Warsaw Secondary School of Władysław IV. In the basements where there are cloakrooms, for a few months in the years 1944-45 there was probably an arrest of the Soviet counterintelligence – Smiersz. In the auditorium of the school there were processes of the Soviet martial tribunal. On the school courtyard, in a wooden sheds and ditches covered with a barbed wire, there were prisoners, including Poles. It is likely that the bodies of some of them still lie on this courtyard. In the range of a few hundred metres there were other headquarters of the communist repression apparatus. At the street of Cyril and Method, in the previous building of the Orthodox Church, the functionaries of the Capital’s Office of Public Safety had their office from February 1945. Near the building of the previous general management of the Polish Public Railways there was a building of the People’s Commissariat of Inner Affairs (Russian: NKVD) protecting the agendas of the communist Government of the National Unity, whereas basements were used as an arrest. Paradoxically, it was in the direct neighbourhood of the buildings where in October 1945 the Polish communist authorities exhibited a monument of gratitude and friendship of the Soviet army – the so-called the four asleep, with the inscription ‘Glory to the heroes of the Soviet Army, the comrades of weapon, who gave their life for freedom and the independence of the Polish nation’. The Warsaw authorities do not want to get rid of this false monument even till today. A few hundred metres further, at the street of Sierakowski where today there is a hotel for policemen, since the second half of the year 1945 the post was held by the Provincial Office of the Public Safety. A few streets further, at the Strzelecka Street, in an inconspicuous house there was the first headquarters of gen. Iwan Sierów in Warsaw. About 1000 prisoners have probably been in its basements which originally were to serve to the tenants as pantries. In the same building – in flats changed into the headquarters of investigators- the arrested were interrogated, tortured and on the courtyard their dead bodies were probably hidden. They were transported from here to the camp of People’s Commissariat of Inner Affairs in Rembertów from where they were taken to the Soviet camps. The tragedy of these people is proven by hundreds of inscriptions which cover the walls of most basements. Later this building was passed to the Provincial Office of Public Safety as a ‘handy’ arrest, whereas later for flats of functionaries of the Safety office or later Security Service. Some of them or their children live there till today. It was just here where a procurator of the Institute of National Remembrance had to intervene, so that scientific workers of the Institute could take photos of prison cells – basements. For the functionaries and their descendants did not allow for taking photos of then for documentary purposes.

A communist crime

This notion appeared in the Polish law not earlier than after ten years of the existence of the Third Polish Republic. For in the parliament and media there were still communists responsible for these crimes. And till today there are their descendants there. Nor were the buildings or rooms secured properly till now where communist crimes had taken place; like the ‘monumental substance’ of the custody at Rakowiecka Street in Warsaw, existing 6-8 years ago. There is no trace after ‘Gęsiówka’ either, after the barracks being a part of the German KL Warschau. In 1945 these places were used by the People’s Commissariat of Inner Affairs (Russian: NKVD), whereas in the next years by the Ministry of Public Security. It was liquidated as a penitentiary in 1963.

Although after the war communists created a museum of the German place of torture in Szuch Alley, till today, despite over twenty years of the independent Polish Republic, there is no a museum of the communist place of torture at Rakowiecka Street where, as it is known today, over 600 soldiers of the independent underworld were murdered; whereas every year the places of the communist crime are often liquidated because of trivial reasons – refurbishments of old houses, penitentiaries, adjusted to the standards binding in the EU.

To find the places of crime

Five year ago, thanks to the support of the late dr. Hab. Janusz Kurtyka, a chairman of the Institute of the National Remembrance the realization of the program ‘On the traces of the crime’ was started. Dr. Tomasz Łabuszewski from the Warsaw department of the Institute of the National Remembrance became its coordinator. The purpose of the enterprise was to find and document the places connected with the activity of the communist –soviet and Polish repression apparatus. After five years, within this project, their photographs with short descriptions of the heroes of the events will be included in this album, which will probably come out this year. – Our interest has comprised the provincial and district Offices of Public Security and also prisons and camps being in the management of the Ministry of Public Security. We were also interested in the conspiratorial places of NKWD, often existing only for a period of a few months in 1944 or 1945 – says dr. Łabuszewski. – However, not all of them were identified by us. In this outline, considering the availability of these places, in our search we considered the places used by the Military Information of the People’s Polish Army. There is also one more special category, mainly the burial places, among the others, on the Wroclaw Osobowicki graveyard or Powąski graveyard ‘Łączka’; also the prison victims at the previous South Road in Białystok. These investigations gave us a kind of a picture of enormous crime committed by the first 10 years of the communist governments. However, we still have not got a full knowledge about it. Some estimated data, allowing for disputing the previous findings, are given by the investigations at a district level and they are not complete. As far as the headquarters of the district offices of public security are concerned, we say about the places whose original purpose of building was quite different. They were mostly residential houses till 1939, which in many cases were first adapted by the Germans as repression places, later they were taken over by the Russians. For example, it was so in Siedlce, Busko-Zdrój or in Majdanek which was used by the Soviets, or the German camp in Warsaw in Skaryszewska Street which was POW camp where Warsaw inhabitants were imprisoned from raid and transported for works to Germany. Later it was a camp of NKVD. Similarly as Rembertów, during the war, it was the POW camp for the Soviets. In the residential buildings like, for example, in the first headquarter of the Management of the Information of the General Leadership of the People’s Polish Army in Warsaw Italy. In this villa about thousand people were imprisoned from February 1945 to October 1945. Similarly it was so in the places in Ciechanów, Sokołów Podlaski and Węgrów.

However, this titanic work which was done by the workers of the Institute of the National Remembrance does not give a full image about the crime committed by the native or the Soviet communists. For, as dr. Łabuszewski emphasizes, till today we know little about the networks of contemporary soviet arrests organised by NKWD in summer and autumn 1944 in the boundaries of pre-war and the present Poland. There is also much probability that we will never get to know about it, not having the soviet documentation of these places. – My friends often met with the last witnesses who were able to say something about it – says dr. Łabuszewski. The ascertainment is so high that in every bigger town, not only a district but commune, in bricked buildings with basements there were organised the soviet repression places, the so-called camps of filtration where the Soviets transported the arrested from the nearest area. Filtration was done there, that is, classification of the arrested on these areas. Later there were only dispositions: shoot or transfer to collective points, such as, for example a stadium in Sokołów Podlaski, a camp in Warsaw Rembertów, Field III in the post-German camp Majdanek or a castle in Lublin where transports were formed and people were sent to the soviet camps. We know on the basis of partial investigations that there was an enormous network of temporary repression establishments belonging only to the Soviets.

Some penitentiary buildings were liquidated by Polish communists, like ‘Gęsiówka’. Little can also be found in the historical literature about the camp in Auschwitz where from 1945 to 1947 both civil people and soldiers of the National Army were imprisoned. However, many of the so-called civil buildings remained. For the communists, thinking that they would be in authority continuously, did not care about removing the traces of their crimes.

– The only such wilful traces of removing the crime were the burial places of the murdered prisoners in a prison in Rakowiecka Street., Mokotów I where the documentation was not probably carried out on purpose – emphasizes dr. Łabuszewski. – whereas as far as the headquarters of the establishments of MBP are concerned, also the People’s Commissariat of Inner Affairs (Russian: NKVD) did not remove the traces of the crime and in many places workers of the Institute of the National Remembrance came across material testimonies connected with these crimes; mainly in the form of inscriptions chiselled in the walls of basements changed into prison cells. Unfortunately, there is a kind of a sad statement which I could notice during works over a project. A big part of these places have been renovated, read: destroyed after the year 1989. At a lack of interest of the institution, the responsibility for it was given to, for example: the Council of Monument Conservation, the Main Conservator of Monuments or provincial conservators. It concerns especially the 90s. There were courtesy things. We, as the Institute of the National Remembrance, organised meetings with the representatives of the state institutions 5-6 years ago, and they did not show any bigger interest in engagement with the protection of these buildings; whereas in the direct environment there are places which would require at least a kind of symbolical mark, like a table with the inscription: ‘Place sanctified with the blood of Poles’. Now if they are, most of them are on the walls from the initiatives of local combatant environments. I did not notice that the state would have a coherent plan in this respect connected with the maintenance or commemoration of these buildings.

(AA)

"Niedziela" 22/2012

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl