AUTUMN SOVIET ‘ORDER’

JAN ŻARYN

In autumn 1944 soviet armies got to the Vistula river, and then, after an unsuccessful landing about 1000 ‘Berlings’ soldiers’ rushing to help uprising Warsaw, stayed on the Praque side of the city till January 1945. During a few autumn months of the year 1944, armies of the Red Army and NKWD units, looking at the capital city being attacked in shooting, had a possibility to install their headquarters, custody places and camps, which were filled in with political prisoners at once – in fact with soldiers of the National Army or activists of the civilian administration of the Polish Underground Country. The centre of the repression apparatus was today’s Vilnus Square, situated near a railway station, where in 1945, to the request of Bolesław Bierut, the first monument of ‘weapon brotherhood’ and ‘gratitude’ to the Soviets was put up for introducing totalitarian regime in Poland. The place at the monument – popularly called: ‘the four asleep [Soviets], the three fighting [‘Berling’s soldiers’] – were chosen deliberately and righteously from the point of view of the raison d’etat of the Bolshevik empire. On its plinth an inscription was engraved: ‘Glory to heroes of the Soviet Army, compatriots of weapon who devoted their life for freedom and independence of the Polish Nation. This monument was erected by inhabitants of Warsaw.1945’. One can see a lie in each part of this inscription, which historians described many times.

The most important buildings taken over for the needs of the Soviets, undoubtedly included the building of the Polish National Railways at the converge of Wileńska St., the mentioned square and Radzymińska St., where there were a strongly staffed facility of NKWD and a proxy of leadership of the Red Army, supervising work of the Municipal Public Security Office functioning also in this building. In the same house – for security reason – the whole staff of NKWD had its headquarter, which had arrived from ‘freed’ Lublin before. In the cellars of this enormous building there were prison cells, similarly as in other buildings situated next to the square, for example, in cellars of the VIII Secondary School named King Władysław IV (from the side of the square there were roads leading towards buildings situated at the converge of Strzeelcka and Środkowa streets, where the NKWD authorities with gen. Iwan Serowic settled in autumn 1944. It was the place where soldiers of the Polish independence underground were imprisoned in cellars, and next they were transported to the East – via a nearby railway station and a transitory camp of NKWD in Rembertow. It was where a plan of an insidious arrest of Trial of Sixteen in Pruszków in march 1945 – in one of villas grabbed by NTWD in the first weeks of the January offensive. At Strzelecka street there were also other buildings grabbed by the Soviets, some of them – after deporting tenants from them – they took over families of officers of the Red Army and NKWD. Not far from Strzelecka street there were other buildings captured by NKWD custodies, among whom ‘Toledo’ was the most famous, the custody at 11 Listopada street. Practically the whole quarter of Praga was filled with institutions of the Soviet army, including the procurators, the Military Tribunal and prisons and places of executions – from a railway station, through Namysłowska street, to Jagiellońska and Grochowska streets. At the same time, central structures of NKWD and Smiersza, were supervising works of local custodies, situated near Warsaw – from Mińsk Mazowieccki to Otwock or the mentioned Rembertów. One can say that in autumn 1944, till the moment of opening the frontier in January 1945, on areas near Warsaw invaded by the Red Army from the East, there were more Soviets than Poles persecuted by them. The burden of the fight against soldiers of the Red Army was the responsibility of NKWD functionaries, because appearing structures of Polish Committee of National Liberation and Municipal Public Libraries were still weak here. So, they deserved gratitude! But why did Bierut dare to represent Warsaw inhabitants, and make the words ‘independence’ and ‘freedom’ equal to the more adequate ones: captivity and independence. As dr. Tomasz Łabuszewski from the National Remembrance Institute writes, when hundreds and thousands of soldiers and underground activists were in soviet custodies, the Municipal Office of Public Security in Praga had arrested about 20 people. It was how liberation of the Prage part of Warsaw and its nearby areas looked like. The Soviets were so busy with murdering Poles, that – indeed –they could not get engaged with the Germans. At the same time, on the other side of the Vistula, the Germans had first murdered at least 120 thousand civilians of the city, then they chased away a few hundred thousand survivors from homes, so that in the eyes of the Red Army, set fire to the monumental part of the European capital city of the Polish country.

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„Niedziela” 49/2014

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