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Marek Jan Chodakiewicz: The Dialectics of Pain: The Interrogation Methods of the Communist Secret Police in Poland, 1944-1955. Glaukopis, vol. 2/3 (2004-2005).

Part IV

In 1948 in Starachowice UB Lieutenant Marian N. tied up and suspended naked from the ceiling more than a dozen AK and WiN soldiers whom he tortured. Aleksander W., Henryk K., Marian P., Tadeusz M., Zdzisław M., Paweł S., Zbigniew I., Jan T., Zygfryd K., Mieczysław T., Mieczysław W., Aleksander K., Jan M. and others were also beaten with a truncheon and a chair, deprived of food and sleep, forced to sit on a leg of an upturned chair, and tied with a wire to a window. The UB officer also jammed needles under their fingernails. As a result, some of them confessed to their crimes and were subsequently sentenced by a Communist court. At least four of them received the death penalty and were shot.[113]

In April 1948, the secret police seized AK-WiN post commander Franciszek Słowik (“Smoła”) of Chwałowice near Tarnobrzeg. Słowik, who was also a populist activist (PSL), recalled his experience as follows:

The prison cells of the Tarnobrzeg UB were simply moldy and damp basements and dungeons without any windows or beds. One slept on the cement. There was a barrel in the corner where one relieved oneself. It was emptied every few days. One had trouble breathing because of the stench and odor of the wet and unventilated prison cells as well as the smell of the decomposing feces. The screams and moans of the individuals tortured and maltreated under interrogation caused us to cower in the corner stressfully awaiting our own turn to be tortured. Our daily allotment of food consisted or a piece of plain bread, half a liter of coffee, and a helping of rye kasha that we had to eat out of an old tin can…. We had no spoons at all. I spent five long weeks in the dungeons of the UB in Tarnobrzeg… I was subjected to brutal and even sadistic interrogation. Beating was a daily occurrence. Often the UB men applied an ingenious torture to me, for instance, the so-called ‘riding like Anders’ [jazda na Andersa]. It went as follows: the interrogated person was stripped naked and placed upon the leg of an upturned stool. So this was quite like in medieval times – one was impaled. Also, two or three secret policemen would get on me and beat the soles of my feet with a rubber truncheon or a wooden stick. The interrogators and their subordinates also specialized in beating the genitals…, tearing off fingernails, and crushing fingers. After each interrogation the victim was unable to return to the cell on his own. I still remember the names of some of the torturers: Sikora, Świderski, Chudzik…., [and] Tworek…. After five weeks of relentless interrogation and torture, I confessed to everything they accused me of.[114]

Jan Wyszyński (“Jędruś”) fought in the insurgent “Huzar” unit. The secret police attempted to force Wyszyński’s brother Józef to reveal the whereabouts of the insurgents. According to him,

In 1948 I was arrested once again on account of the AK, because I knew where the partisans were hiding. The interrogation started. They stripped me naked, beat me unconscious with sticks, and kicked me. One of the Polish officers, or rather officers wearing Polish uniforms, sat on my head, and another on my legs…. On April 10, 1948, acting on the orders of [Russian] Lieutenant [Jan] Aleksiej, the KBW dismantled and destroyed our entire farmstead in Lubowicz: the house, shed, pigsty, granary, and barn.[115]

In April 1948, a secret police trooper forced a 12-year-old child to reveal the hiding place of his insurgent brother. On May 1, 1948, the KBW discovered weapons hidden at a farmstead in Radziszewo-Sieńczuchy. They tortured Mr. Komorowski. Although innocent, he was forced to denounce the owner of the secret cache. On May 22, 1948, following a fire fight, the police troops wounded and captured Tadeusz Domżalski (“Rekrut”). He was tortured and denounced a number of insurgent supporters. Nonetheless, on July 15, 1948, he was sentenced to death and later shot.[116]

In 1948, the UB arrested Józef and Stanisław Naumiuk along with their father of Czeberaki near Parczew. All three had been AK soldiers during the war and later joined the WiN. The Naumiuks were tortured horribly at the UB headquarters in Radzyń Podlaski:

I even sat on an electric chair with some sort of an apparatus. They attached clamps to my hand and ear. Once they turned it on, blood flowed from every crevice in my body… They also pumped water into me. They suspended me upside down from a beam attached to the ceiling. They gagged my mouth and dunked my face in a bucket full of water. And I would freeze. They told me only to give them a sign that I had hidden weapons. When I did, they freed me and told me to sign my confession. I’d tear them up. So they continued to torture me. They poured kerosene into my brother’s bucket [before they dunked his head in]. In comparison to that the beating all over one’s body was pleasure.[117]

Józef Naumiuk persevered but his brother Stanisław broke down and confessed to having cached weapons for the insurgents. He was promptly tried and shot as a “bandit.”

During several days in late July 1948 alone, the UB men interrogated Second Lieutenant Henryk Wieliczko (“Lufa”) of the “Łupaszko” unit 22 times. Sometimes the torture sessions took place twice daily. After half a year of torture, the insurgent officer broke down, revealed at least 50 hiding places (meliny) of his civilian confederates, and confessed his own “crimes.” However, Wieliczko refused to denounce any of his living comrades-in-arms. He was tried and sentenced to death on December 9, 1948. He was shot on March 14, 1949.[118]

At the end of 1948 the UB arrested Witold Orczyk (“Lipski”) of the Union of Armed Struggle [Związek Walki Zbrojnej – ZWZ], Peasant Battalions [Bataliony Chłopskie – BCh], and, finally, WiN. He commanded the Słoszów post near Cracow. On January 19, 1949, Orczyk was brought back to his farmstead. According to his recollections,

my neighbors were forced at gunpoint to come to the farmstead. They were to tear off the roof from all the buildings. The pretext was to search for weapons and ammunition in the straw roofs…. The UB officer Siekiera smashed the floor in the kitchen and the living room and broke the windows and window frames with an ax. Another one climbed up to the attic and smashed the wooden ceiling with a hatchet…. At that point a provocation took place. The adjutant of Colonel [Teodor] Duda came up to me and showing me a piece of paper asked: ‘Do you know this?’ ‘I do not know what this is,’ I responded. ‘This is an identification card of a female Soviet parachutist, whom you murdered, and you hid her ID in your roof! Where did you bury the body? Talk!,’ he commanded hitting my face. They threw me to the floor and began beating me with an iron fire-poker all over my body, on the soles of my feet in particular. After a while, they lifted me up, yelling: ‘Where did you bury her?’ When I regained my senses, I asked: ‘What kind of a parachutist carries an ID on her?…’ ‘You are so smart,’ he yelled, while hitting my face.[119]

Between April 1948 and April 1949, the secret police arrested 48 members of the underground Polish Military Organization (Polska Organizacja Wojskowa – POW). UB functionary Wilhelm A. tortured six of them in Sławno, Darłowo, and the adjacent localities. Torture included sleep deprivation, beating, and forcing the victims to sit on the upturned leg of a stool.[120]

Izabella Kochanowska (“Iza”) served as a medic and liaison both in the AK-WiN “Zapora” unit and in the NSZ company under Captain Wacław Piotrowski (“Cichy”) in the Lublin area. She was arrested on May 1, 1949. “Iza survived horrible interrogation sessions. She confessed nothing. She gave no one away.” Kochanowska was sentenced to six years.[121]

Between March and July 1949, two insurgents, Józef Olek and Stanisław Rydzewski, were beaten by the UB until they confessed to a murder they did not commit. This was done so that they and their commander, Roman Szczur (“Urszula”), could be tried as common bandits and executed in infamy.[122]

In the summer of 1949, the UB captured Father Władysław Gurgacz and his underground soldiers. They were tortured horribly; most confessed to their “crimes.” Father Gurgacz chose to incriminate mostly himself to spare his followers. He was sentenced to death and shot on September 14, 1949.[123]

From September 19 to December 19, 1949, secret police officer Janusz B. of Lębork tortured mercilessely teenage members of the Polish Underground Scouting organization (Polski Skauting Podziemny). “During multiple-hour night interrogation sessions he beat his victims all over their bodies, especially on their heads, while cursing them and threatening to kill them.” Likewise, secret police officer Jan L. meted out a similar treatment to the arrested members of the secret group “ Lech ” of the Home Army in Kłodzko near Wrocław.[124]

Between October 1949 and April 1950, in Jarocin UB, Second Lieutenant Adam G. beat on the calves and soles of their feet Henryk A., Edward P., Marian B., and Wincenty J., who as members of the underground youth group White Rose (Biała Róża) had disseminated anti-Communist leaflets. The UB man also forced them to sit on the upturned leg of a stool.[125]

In 1949, Tadeusz Kopański joined the underground Union of Active Struggle (Związek Walki Czynnej) in Cracow, which was a part of the Insurgent Army (Armia Powstańcza) in Wolbrom. He was arrested in 1950 and was subject to torture during numerous interrogation sessions at the UB headquarters at Monteluppi Street in Cracow, in Wronki prison, and in Jaworzno, a hard labor camp. According to Kopański, “they were beating me. I was forced to sit on an upturned stool. Its leg went straight into my rectum…. When they rushed into my cell, they beat me so much on my head and ears. I’m completely deaf on one ear and I use a hearing aid for the other. Blood kept flowing from my ears… I urinated blood.” To force him to talk, Kopański was also thrust naked into a bunker during the Christmas holidays. Later, having received a 10-year sentence, Kopański (along with other prisoners) was beaten upon his arrival in prison and frequently afterward “for fun” (dla zabawy) in the hard labor camp. The officers responsible for the torture were Krupa, the “Frenchman,” and Zieliński.[126]

At the end of the 1940s and in the early 1950s, Major Mieczysław M. of the Military Intelligence in Gdynia tortured at least 22 sailors suspected of being “enemies of the people.” He beat them with his fist and a stick, crushed their fingers with a rifle rod, forced them to sit on an upturned stool leg, doused them with water, and confined them to a tiny solitary cell where a prisoner was unable to stand up.[127]

In Szczecin in 1949 and 1950, secret policeman Franciszek B. tortured at least two men suspected of underground activities: Wacław B. and Marian D.[128] Also in Szczecin, between January 25 and February 4, 1951, the secret police arrested 15 members of the Youth Resistance Movement (Młodzieżowy Ruch Oporu – MRO ), which had just barely begun functioning in Wolin, Rembertów, Ursus, and Warsaw. All suspects were tortured, forced to confess, and sentenced up to 10 years in jail. The most brutal secret police officer in the MRO case also dealt with a group of teenage scouts: The National Front of Polish Youth (Narodowy Front Młodzieży Polskiej – NFMP). Jan S. for instance “tore the hair out of Stanisław K.’s head, kicked him on the head, and broke his fingers.”[129]

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, in Gdynia, the Communist military counterintelligence officer Mikołaj Kulik made sailor Franciszek Branecki stand on one leg for long periods of time. Further, Kulik beat petty officer Tadeusz Korba with a whip and forced sailor Kazimierz Sabadasz to sit on the stool leg and on an upturned bottle. He also beat sailors Janusz Kumik and Tadeusz Mosiej. (Both were later sentenced to 15 years for having listened to Radio Free Europe.) Tadeusz Rogoziński recalled that after Kulik deprived them of water he and his fellow prisoners were forced to drink their own urine. Mieczysław Albrychowicz testified that Kulik and Lieutenant Miczysław Mocek suspended him from a beam with his hands tied behind his back.[130] According to Włodzimierz Sobański, who was arrested in May1949, Kulik

immediately addressed me in a vulgar manner and then asked: ‘What band did you belong to?’ I responded that I belonged to none. He told me that we would see and ordered me to approach him. I came up to his desk and he hit me with the flat of his hand on the ear. Then, he hit me again. So I kicked him. He kicked me back on my stomach. Then the guards led me down to the cell.[131]

Between September 1949 and May 1950, in Bielsk Podlaski, UB Second Lieutenant Paweł T. tortured Szczepan Jan C., who was suspected of supporting the underground. The prisoner was beaten all over his body, deprived of sleep, and forced to sit on the leg of an upturned stool.[132]

Home Army Major Julian Krzewicki was arrested in January 1948 in Gorlice for having passed on to a friend a single anti-Communist leaflet. Released quickly at first, he was rearrested on February 2, 1950.

I was interrogated with the use of the most imaginative torture non-stop for 14 days and nights in the Gorlice prison of the UB. The interrogators changed in shifts. I remained sleepless and almost completely without any food. I was beaten on my face and kicked on my legs and my kidneys…. I was often beaten by several tormentors at once…. They wanted me to confess that I belonged to the WiN, collaborated with the Germans, murdered Jews and Soviet prisoners, and hid weapons and ammunition… After 14 days of such torture I was hallucinating and losing consciousness…. Despite the torture, I refused to confess to the crimes I did not commit. Therefore on April 29, 1951, I was released from jail for lack of guilt.[133]

In March 1950 in Gdańsk, the secret police arrested at least a dozen boy scouts, members of the underground Young Poland (Młoda Polska) group. The boys were interrogated non-stop and tortured. For example, Janusz Gielb, whose father, a Home Army soldier, had perished in Auschwitz, was beaten and had his toes crushed with the jackboots of the interrogating officers. Headed by Lieutenant Colonel Jan Amons, the UB men involved in the interrogation were: Edward Solański, Zygmunt Czaja, Leon Kwak, Wacław Chrustowski, Roman Płużyński, Kazimierz Jackiewicz, Hieronim Wiewióra, Józef Śladewski, and others.[134]

In July 1950, dissident poet Wojciech Bąk was locked up in a psychiatric hospital, where the secret police beat him on the head and, in particular, on the part of his skull wounded during the Second World War. Bąk was never formally charged with any crime. The torture was a punishment for his intended demonstration during a congress of Polish literati, where he threatened to make an anti-Communist and anti-Jewish statement.[135]

For four days straight, between October 22 and 26, 1950, an officer of the Krosno UB, Władysław B., beat Antoni B., while forcing him to do sit-ups and jump up and down.[136]

Between October 24 and 27, 1950, in Ełk UB chief Paweł T. tortured Witold S., who was accused of “spreading gossip-propaganda and listening to an American radio program.” The man broke down and incriminated his wife, who was involved with the underground. Halina S. was arrested and also broke down under the interrogation which continued non-stop for two days until she either committed suicide or was killed by the UB.[137]

In 1950 in Bochnia, the UB functionary Stanisław B. routinely tormented arrested ex-Home Army soldiers. The torture methods applied included “beating with a rubber truncheon, cable or a steel line on the soles of their feet and elsewhere all over their bodies, hitting them on their heads with the butt of his gun, and threatening death.”[138]

Also in 1950, in Gdańsk the secret police arrested a number of members of the clandestine Polish Underground Battle Action (Polska Akcja Podziemna Bojowa). Led by Mieczysław J., the secret policemen tortured the captives. “They beat them with their hands, clubs, and ropes as well as kicked them all over their bodies. [The prisoners] were kept in solitary confinement and forced to exhaust themselves in physical exercises. They were compelled to sit on an upturned leg of a stool and threatened with death and violence against the members of their families.”[139]

On January 20, 1951, UB Colonel Józef Światło arrested Bishop Czesław Kaczmarek of Kielce. His interrogation sessions, which lasted up to 40 hours at a stretch, were personally overseen by UB Colonel Jacek Różański. The bishop was tortured. He lost 19 of his teeth because of the beating. His tormentors also kept him in a tiny dark cell; deprived him of food and sleep. Kaczmarek was charged with collaborating with the Nazis and was accused of taking part in the post-war pogrom in Kielce in July 1946, even though the ecclesiast was absent from the town at the time. The bishop broke down and confessed the untruth. He was sentenced to jail but, after 1956, his sentence was overturned.[140]

In Lublin, in April 1951, secret policemen interrogated Lieutenant Kazimierz Poray-Wybranowski (“Kret”) of the National Military Union (NZW) by breaking his teeth with a gun butt, pouring industrial alcohol down his nostrils, and shoving a chair leg into his rectum. At one point during a torture session, the presiding interrogator had sex with a female officer in front of the suspect. [141]

Captured in the field in the early 1950s, Mieczysław Dudanowicz (“Ponury”) of the WiN was subjected to sleep deprivation, despite his injuries. He recalls that

I had a head wound, but I was interrogated non-stop, even at night. When I was talking, I was falling asleep but they effectively woke me up. I was so tired that I did not know what I was signing…. They kept asking me about my connections to Western states and the source of the inspiration for our unit.[142]

In Przemyśl, the UB-man Jan S. interrogated Leszek W., a participant in the General Confederacy of Independent Poland (Generalna Konfederacja Niepodległej Polski – GKPN).[143] The secret policeman “beat Leszek W. with a wooden cane on his back near the kidneys. He forced him to sit for long periods of time on the leg of an upturned stool, shaking him so that the leg would enter the rectum of the interrogated man. Next, as the victim was screaming with pain, he [the secret policeman] forced onto his head a gas mask to increase the pain.”[144]

In the Podlasie region the secret police pursued insurgent Captain Władysław Łukasiuk (“Młot”), who was handicapped: he had a lame left leg. Security men often arrested random persons with similar handicaps and tortured them in hopes of catching “Młot”.[145]

In Zamość, UB Second Lieutenant Mieczysław Wybraniec tortured dozens of prisoners, including Wacław Jałowicki, Leonard Kalmus, Aleksander Panas, Zygmunt Daniluk, and Edward Kudyk (“Prędki”) of the AK-WiN. Aside from the customary beating and other similar “means of persuasion,” Wybraniec applied electroshocks to at least four of his victims and burned out with hot irons the fingernails of at least one, Aleksander P. Wybraniec kicked many of his prisoners with jackboots and bludgeoned others (e.g. Stanisław J.) with a rifle butt. Wybraniec also beat to death a prisoner of Jewish origin, who was suspected of assisting the underground. That death was officially ruled as “heart failure.” At least once Wybraniec presided over the execution of his prisoners. His underling in the secret police in Zamość, Tadeusz Gałecki, not only tortured prisoners but also carried out several executions, including the shooting of eight AK soldiers in a single day.[146]

Between March and May 1951, Józef R. and other secret policemen tortured Witold T. and his friends of the underground National Armed Forces of Young Poland (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne Młodej Polski). Aside from beating, Józef R. electrocuted, crushed the skull, and squeezed the genitals of at least one of his prisoners who consequently attempted to commit suicide. Between January and March 1954, in Koszalin UB, the very same officer Józef R. tortured several members of the underground KWP, including Henryk B. The UB man beat his victims with a truncheon, crushed their hands with his jackboots, and conducted marathon interrogation sessions during the night.[147]

Captured in May 1952, Witold Białowąs (“Witold”) of the WiN unit of Captain Kazimierz Kamieński (“Huzar”) withstood the torture and refused to incriminate his confederates.[148]

Former pre-war minister and provincial governor, and a leader of the anti-Nazi and anti-Communist civilian underground, Henryk Józefski, upon his arrest in 1952, “was interrogated for twenty one months straight every day twelve hours per day.”[149]

In 1952, the secret police arrested about 200 persons in the so-called “Berg affair.” At least some of them were connected with an American-backed espionage network consisting of Polish underground members. One of the arrested couriers, Jan Szponder of the SN- NOW -AK, implicated under torture as his assistants several Catholic priests of the Cracow curia. The UB interrogators in charge of the case, Captains Florian Mederer, Leon Wilczyński, Władysław Zdanowicz, and Leon Midro, commenced arrests. At least 20 persons were apprehended and seven of them were eventually tried. Most of the prisoners broke down. For instance, Father Bolesław Przybyszewski confessed after he was interrogated non-stop day and night, deprived of sleep, and subjected to psychological torture. The interrogators delighted in yelling at the priest: “You whore!”. Three persons were sentenced to death, including Father Józef Lelito, who confessed under duress.[150]

Three prisoners did not give in and, subsequently, two of them were released. Interrogated between December 1 and 24, 1952, Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak refused to talk. He was not physically abused but “only” threatened despite his very serious heart condition. According to the interrogation records, the archbishop responded repeatedly: “I cannot answer this question because my conscience prevents me from revealing the name of this particular person.”[151] Father Czesław Skowron persevered as well. He believes he succeeded because he was coached by his fellow prisoners who psychologically prepared him for the ordeal:

And indeed the investigative officer Kasza began yelling at me: “You prick,” “You whore.” He told me to talk because they know everything anyway. Officer Mederer hit me with his fist a couple of times. He also liked to spit directly at my face. But otherwise they did not torture me.[152]

Arguably, lay Catholic activist Stefania Rospond experienced the most ruthless treatment of all prisoners of the Cracow curia case for she refused to confess and held fast until the end. Nonetheless, she received six years in jail. Rospond recalls that

I remember those three months that followed my arrest until the trial started as a single, long interrogation session…. I fell on the floor; sometimes they dragged me to my cell and at other times they woke me up by kicking and beating me. The first interrogation session took place still at the UB headquarters. It lasted from Friday to Sunday past midnight, when I collapsed. During the first night about 30 functionaries took turn interrogating me. They rotated. They were male only. However, a woman performed a full body search on me. I kept telling them that I did not know anything and anybody. … Hitting me on my face, sitting on a leg of a stool, standing at attention for 48 hours straight until one collapsed. Then I was taken to the solitary cell [karcer]. At times, I started hallucinating; some kind of visions appeared before my eyes. They extinguished their cigarettes on my hands and on my face…. I do not remember the names of the interrogators but I can still see their faces today. They probably thought that if they took a simple peasant girl and threatened her, she would talk and implicate others.[153]

In an unrelated case, Second Lieutenant Julian Czerwiakowski (“Jerzy Tarnowski”) of the NSZ and WiN was arrested by the UB and accused of “murdering Communist activists and collaborating with the Gestapo.” After prolonged torture, Czerwiakowski broke down and confessed “partly” to some of the “crimes” alleged against him. He was sentenced to death and shot in January 1953 but five years later a Communist court cleared him completely of any wrongdoing.[154]

In Nowy Sącz, led by UB Lieutenants Stefkowski and Popiołek, the secret policemen suspended suspects on a hook and beat them with a whip. They inserted the fingers and genitals of their victims into desk drawers and slammed them. They also jammed pencils and needles under one’s nails, according to one of the victims, Władysław Małek of the WiN.[155]

In December 1952, after the UB captured and tortured Kazimierz Radziszewski (“Marynarz”) of the WiN unit of Captain Kazimierz Kamieński ("Huzar”), in the course of a single interrogation he revealed the names of 63 civilian supporters. “Marynarz” was sentenced to death and shot. Soon, the civilian supporters saw their property confiscated and children taken away to orphanages, while they were carted off to jail.[156]

In February 1953, a few teenagers founded the Underground Scouting Organization (Harcerska Organizacja Podziemna – HOP) in Osieczna near Leszno. The leadership included Stanisław Bućko, Andrzej Mateia, and Bronisław Gewert, who was the eldest at 19 and had served in the AK during the war. Having co-opted a few younger boys and girls, the HOP cut the phone link to their locality and expropriated a radio at a local “culture center” (świetlica) to stop propaganda broadcasts. The UB arrested everyone within a month. The youngsters were tortured mercilessly. Teresa Żybura recalls that the secret policemen Maksymilian S., Walenty B., and others called her names – “You whore, you bitch” – and hit her on her face with their fists. “They threatened me, if I did not confess, they would put me in a stove and burn me alive.” Another teenager, Krystyn Tomaszewski, remembers that “they beat me with their fists, blinded me with a flashlight, and yelled. However, the beating with fists and sticks was the worst.” Teresa Hope was “only” tortured psychologically. Most confessed and they were tried in December 1953. The sentences ranged from two to six years in jail. At least some of their secret police tormentors are still around leading comfortable lives on generous state pensions.[157] That holds true for some of the other torturers described above.


The evidence presented here strongly suggests that torture was not only an acceptable but also a desirable method that allowed the Communist masters of Poland to project their power onto the conquered political opponents and the population at large. Torture was intended to weaken the victim physically and psychologically. The act of confession was an indispensable element of the process because it broke the spirit of the victim. Notwithstanding whether the prisoner was confessing the truth or not, by yielding to the interrogator the victim often became a mental slave who could now be made to obey most of the bidding of his Communist master.

The cases presented here are just the tip of the iceberg. For example, in November 2002, the Katowice Office of the Institute of National Remembrance announced that it was investigating 36 cases with multiple offenders and multiple victims of torture, as well as murder, perpetrated by the Communist secret police between 1944 and 1956.[158] These cases continue to multiply as historians discover new documents concerning the Communist crimes and newly emboldened victims and witnesses keep coming forth.[159]

So far the focus has been overwhelmingly on the Stalinist period. However, in time it will undoubtedly shift to more recent events, including the suppression of “Solidarity.”[160] For restoring the historical record is inexorably tied to a larger question of moral and legal responsibility for the atrocities of Communist totalitarianism.[161] If the Poles avoid addressing this and other ugly aspects of their past, they also will eschew debunking themselves from those practices in their public life.[162] After years of pseudo-nationalistic symbolism created by the Communists through ruthless torture, false confessions, and mendacious propaganda, the Poles need to restore the proper meaning of the words “honor, patriotism, and independence.” Otherwise, they will cynically continue on the noxious path of false consciousness imposed on them by the Stalinists with dire consequences to their newly found freedom. For as Edward Peters aptly put it

Societies that do not recognize the dignity of the human person, or profess to recognize it and fail to do so in practice, or recognize it only in highly selective circumstances, become, not simply societies with torture, but societies in which the presence of torture transforms human dignity itself, and therefore all individual and social life. And a society which voluntarily or indifferently includes among its members both victims and torturers ultimately leaves no conceptual or practical room for anyone who insists upon being neither.[163]

To build a new Poland in a new Europe entails first dealing with the nation’s totalitarian past, including torture.

* * *

[113] See Mirosław Wąsik, “Stan zdrowia byłego ubeka oceni komisja,” Rzeczpospolita, 16 February 2002; “Dwa lata dla śledczego,” Rzeczpospolita, 8 July 2004; Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Marianowi N., posted at [up]

[114] See Franciszek Słowik quoted in Mariusz Krzysztofiński, “Historia Franciszka Słowika,” Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, no. 5 (May 2002): 77.

[115] Krajewski and Łabuszewski, "Łupaszka”, "Młot”, "Huzar”, 736.

[116] Krajewski and Łabuszewski, "Łupaszka”, "Młot”, "Huzar”, 742, 745-46, 754, 756.

[117] See Jerzy Morawski, “Teczki goryczy,” Rzeczpospolita, 8 June 2002.

[118] Krajewski and Łabuszewski, "Łupaszka”, "Młot”, "Huzar”, 865-67.

[119] See Witold Orczyk, “Rewizja-pacyfikacja,” Zeszyty historyczne WiN-u, vol. V, no. 8 (February 1996): 127-29. Orczyk’s farmstead was completely dismantled. The WiN soldier was sentenced to several years in jail.

[120] See Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Wilhelm A., posted at

[121] See Kurek, Zaporczycy, 372.

[122] See Tomasz Balbus, “‘Polski bandyta’ z Zamojszczyzny,” Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, no. 11 (December 2001).

[123] See Krajewski, Żołnierze wyklęci, 478; Danuta Suchorowska-Śliwińska, Postawcie mi krzyż brzozowy: Prawda o ks. Władysławie Gurgaczu SJ (Kraków: Wydawnictwo WAM Księża Jezuici, 1999), 96-102.

[124] See Wojciech Wybranowski, “IPN oskarża,” Nasz Dziennik, 18 September 2002.

[125] See Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Adam G., posted at

[126] See Tadeusz Kopański interviewed by Andrzej Kumor, “Co mi ich teraz nienawidzić,” May 1998, posted at

[127] See Piotr Adamowicz, “Kara po pół wieku,” Rzeczpospolita, 15 November 2000.

[128] “IPN: Zbrodnia sądowa,” Nasz Dziennik, 16 January 2003.

[129] Wojciech Wybranowski, “Dzieci ‘wrogami PRL’,” Nasz Dziennik, 7 January 2003. Jan S. was finally indicted in 2005. See “Znęcał się nad zatrzymanym,” Nasz Dziennik, 18 May 2005. For the recollection of an MRO member see Edmund Radziszewski interviewed by Maciej Walaszczyk, “O działalności Młodzieżowego Ruchu Oporu,” Nasz Dziennik, 7 January 2003. According to Radziszewski, the Mazovia branch of the MOR had about 30 members, mostly high-schoolers. They were active between 1948 and 1950, when the secret police destroyed their organizations. At least 4 managed to flee to Wolin, where they continued their activities, recruiting new members.

[130] See J.O. “Kulik: Dziennikarze to psy,” Rzeczpospolita, 2 February 2002; Agata Łukaszewicz, “Relacje prasowe w interesie społecznym,” Rzeczpospolita, 11 December 2001; J.O., “W informacji elegancji nie było,” Rzeczpospolita, 17 November 2001; J.O., “Świadek był wieszany pod sufitem za ręce,” Rzeczpospolita, 12 October 2001; Jan Ordyński, “Kiełbasa dla ‘dobrze’ zeznających,” Rzeczpospolita, 29 September 2001; J.O., “Enkawudzista numer jeden,” Rzeczpospolita, 13 June 2001; J.O., “Chamstwo i choroba Kulika,” Rzeczpospolita, 2 February 2001; Maciej Walaszczyk, “Stalinowiec w areszcie,” Nasz Dziennik, 23-24 March 2002.

[131] See Jan Ordyński, “Przeczytał Rzeczpospolitą i został świadkiem,” Rzeczpospolita, 23 October 2001.

[132] See Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Pawłowi T., posted at; E.P., “2,5 roku więzienia dla byłego funkcjonariusza UB,” Rzeczpospolita, 12 February 2003; Adam Białous, “Skazany komunistyczny oprawca,” Nasz Dziennik, 12 February 2003.

[133] See Julian Krzewicki, “Wspomnienia,” Zeszyt Historyczny: Fundacja Studium Okręgu AK Kraków, no. 3 (September 1998): 43-86, and, especially, pp. 84-85.

[134] See Piotr Szubarczyk, “Zginą ludzie słabej wiary,” Nasz Dziennik, 8-9 June 2002.

[135] See Krzysztof Masłoń, “Nic prócz rękopisów nie wezmę,” Rzeczpospolita, 20 April 2002.

[136] See mat, “Bił kablem do utraty tchu,” Rzeczpospolita, 31 October 2001; Józef Matusz, “Podsądny mówi o barbarzyństwie,” Rzeczpospolita, 25 April 2002; “Ubek przed sądem,” Nasz Dziennik, 25 April 2002; Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Bronisławowi P.; and Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Władysławowi G., posted at

[137] See Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Pawłowi T., posted at; E.P., “2,5 roku więzienia dla byłego funkcjonariusza UB,” Rzeczpospolita, 12 February 2003; Adam Białous, “Skazany komunistyczny oprawca,” Nasz Dziennik, 12 February 2003.

[138] J. Sad., “Ubek skazany na trzy lata,” Rzeczpospolita, 17 February 2005.

[139] PAD, "Dwa lata dla byłego ubeka,” Rzeczpospolita, 13 January 2005.

[140] Jan Śledzianowski, Ksiądz Czesław Kaczmarek biskup kielecki 1895-1963 (Kielce: No publisher, 1991), 64-66; Jan Józef Kasprzyk, “Kaczmarek Czesław,” Encyklopedia „Białych Plam”, vol. 9 (Radom: Polskie Wydawnictwo Encyklopedyczne, 2002), 99-105.

[141] The victim fought in September 1939 and later joined the ZWZ, NSZ, AK, and, finally, NZW. See Leonard Zub-Zdanowicz rozmawia z Kazimierzem Poray-Wybranowskim, TMs, no date [1979?], the Zub-Zdanowicz Family Collection, Oakville, CT; Kazimierz Poray-Wybranowski “Kret,” “Wspomnienia z UB,” Szczerbiec [Lublin], no. 11 (June 2002): 71-120 posted at; Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, “’Kret’ a sprawa polska,” Ład, 5 December 1993, Dodatek historyczny 12 (December 1993): IV.

[142] Pasiuk, Ostatni “leśni” Suwalszczyzny, 127.

[143] Mariusz Kamieniecki, “Skazali ubeka,” Nasz Dziennik, 25-26 January 2003. In 2003 the UB man was found guilty and sentenced to 1 ½ years (suspended for 2 years) and a $220.00 fine.

[144] See Dorota Angerman, “Podejrzany funkcjonariusz UB,” Nasz Dziennik, 29 November 2001. For more information on the Security Office in Przemyśl see Dariusz Iwaneczko, Urząd Bezpieczeństwa w Przemyślu (Warszawa: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2004); and an interview with Dariusz Iwaneczko by Mariusz Kamieniecki, “Kaci przemyskiej bezpieki,” Nasz Dziennik, 5 November 2004.

[145] Krajewski and Łabuszewski, "Łupaszka”, "Młot”, "Huzar”, 548 n. 8.

[146] In 2004 Wybraniec was sentenced to 6 years but he remains free, pending an appeal. See Jerzy Morawski, “Kat Zamojszczyzny,” Rzeczpospolita, 20 February 2002; Robert Horbaczewski, “Kat Zamojszczyzny nie stawił się w sądzie,” Rzeczpospolita, 22 February 2002; Robert Horbaczewski, “Zbyt chory, by stanąć przed sądem,” Rzeczpospolita, 9 May 2002; Adam Kruczek, “Kpiny z sądu,” Nasz Dziennik, 9 May 2002; Adam Kruczek, “Kat Zamojszczyzny doczekał się wyroku,” Nasz Dziennik, 11 June 2004; Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Mieczysław W., posted at

[147] See Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Józef R., posted at

[148] See Krajewski and Łabuszewski, "Łupaszka”, "Młot”, "Huzar”, 844-45.

[149] See Stefan Kisielewski, Dzienniki (Warszawa: Iskry, 1996), 551.

[150] Wojciech Czuchnowski, Blizna: Proces Kurii Krakowskiej (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Znak, 2003), 17-21, 26, 38-42, 52-53 [afterward Blizna]; Wojciech Czuchnowski, “Krakowscy księża przed sądem,” Gazeta Wyborcza, (2 parts), 9-10 and 16-17 November 2002; Krzysztof Masłoń, “Sąd nad Kościołem,” Rzeczpospolita, 1 February 2003.

[151] Czuchnowski, Blizna, 45.

[152] Czuchnowski, Blizna, 44.

[153] Czuchnowski, Blizna, 43-45.

[154] Sebastian Bojemski, Poszli w skier powodzi: Narodowe Siły Zbrojne w Powstaniu Warszawskim (Warszawa: Glaukopis, 2002), 276-77.

[155] See Marek Dereń, “Niemy krzyk murów,” (3 parts) Nasz Dziennik, 17-18 November 2001, 26-27 January, and 2-3 February 2002.

[156] Krajewski and Łabuszewski, "Łupaszka”, "Młot”, "Huzar”, 821.

[157] Wojciech Wybranowski, “Czeka ich sąd,” Nasz Dziennik, 25 February 2003.

[158] See Ewa Koj, “Informacja o śledztwach w sprawach zbrodni komunistycznych,” Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, no. 6 (June 2002): 26-28.

[159] Other investigations are under way as well. For instance, 29 prison guards have been identified who tortured Polish independentists in Rawicz prison near Poznań between 1945 and 1956. The most sadistic guards were the prison warden Kazimierz Szymanowicz, Jerzy Cymbalista, Bronisław Łukasiewicz, Bronisław Komar, Tadeusz Kulik, Jerzy Precel, Stanisław Bochenek, and Jerzy Utrata. Many of the 19,173 prisoners were abused, beaten, and tortured. Approximately 200 were killed through maltreatment, including most likely Kazimierz Pużak, Poland’s leading Socialist politician and a staunch anti-Communist. See Wojciech Wybranowski, “Dwudziestu dziewięciu oprawców: Śledztwo w sprawie tortur w więzieniu w Rawiczu,” Nasz Dziennik, 6 December 2004. Two secret policement of Białogard (Mieczysław W. and Edward Ż.) have been indicted for torturing Sylwester D. at the local Security Office. See “Oskarżeni o zbrodnie,” Nasz Dziennik, 7-8 May 2005.

[160] The trial of secret policemen who tortured “Solidarity” activists in Konin during martial law in 1982 may be an early indication of such a trend. See Wojciech Wybranowski, “Tortury za ‘Solidarność’,” Nasz Dziennik, 13 March 2003; Wojciech Wybranowski, “Gra na zwłokę: Kolejne odroczenie w procesie funkcjonariuszy SB z Konina,” Nasz Dziennik, 16 May 2003. For as yet still unsuccessful attempts to hold Communist secret police accountable for various crimes committed during martial law see, Kazimierz Groblewski, “Winni są niewinni,” Rzeczpospolita, 13 December 2001; Grzegorz Majchrzak, “Jeden z filarów stanu wojennego,” Rzeczpospolita, 13 December 2001; “IPN: znęcał się nad zatrzymanym,” Rzeczpospolita, 16 March 2005; MA, “Zarzuty wobec byłego esbeka,” Nasz Dziennik,” 29 April 2005; r.b., “IPN oskarża esbeków,” Rzeczpospolita, 5 May 2005; r.b., Michał Stankiewicz, “Internowali bezprawnie,” Rzeczpospolita, 11 May 2005; “Z powodu nieobecności obrońcy,” Nasz Dziennik, 10 May 2005; “Oskarżony nie przynaje się do winy: Proces Lubin ‘82,” Rzeczpospolita, 17 May 2005; “Śledztwo przeciw prokurator,” Rzeczpospolita, 25 May 2005; “Zarzuty dla esbeków,” Nasz Dziennik, 1 June 2005; “W obronie krzyży,” Nasz Dziennik, 8 June 2005; and on the lackluster prosecution of the policemen guilty of beating the protesters during the 1976 riots in Radom see “Proces ruszy od nowa,” Nasz Dziennik, 21 May 2003; as well as on similarly lenient handling of the perpetrators of the Baltic Coast massacre in 1970 see j.o., “Sąd usprawiedliwił Jaruzelskiego,” Rzeczpospolita, 10 May 2005.

[161] In the case of torture of General Franciszek Skibiński of the Free Polish Armed Forces in the West, the authorities were “unable” to find a suspect, Colonel Władysław Kochan, for several months, even though he resides in a building literarily next door to the court house and his address is listed. Kochan refuses to testify against the main accused in the case, Colonel Henryk O., and, instead, blames the practice of torture on his own Soviet advisor, Colonel Anton Skulbashevskii, who left Poland for the USSR in 1956. See Jan Ordyński, “Naciskał aż przesłuchiwany chciał umżeć,” Rzeczpospolita, 15 October 2003; Jan Ordyński, “Wiedział, że bito więźniów,” Rzeczpospolita, 12 February 2004. In a more complicated case, Poland’s authorities have been unable to prosecute several persons implicated in the judicial murder on trump-up charges of killing Jews, Communists, and Soviet POWs of General August Emil Fieldorf (“Nil”) of the Home Army. The persons involved in the sordid affair include Kazimierz Górski, Alicja Graff, and Witold Gatner, who reside in Poland, and Stefan Michnik and Fajga Mindla Danielak aka Helena Wolińska, who live abroad. A few participants in the murder lived unmolested until their recent deaths in independent Poland after 1989 (Igor Andrejew and Maria Zand-Górowska) or abroad (Beniami n Wajsblech, Emil Mertz, and Gustaw Auscaler). See “Investigation against Ms. Helena Wolińska-Brus,” posted at; Anne Applebaum, “The Three Lives of Helena Brus,” The Sunday Telegraph, 6 December 1998; Maria Fieldorf and Leszek Zachuta, Generał “Nil”: August Fieldorf (Warsaw: PAX, 1993); Andrzej Kaczyński, “Mord sądowy na szefie Kedywu,” Rzeczpospolita, 24 February 2003; Maria Fieldorf-Czarska interviewed by Małgorzata Rutkowska, “Liczyła się dla niego postawa moralna,” Nasz Dziennik, 22-23 February 2003; Anna Surowiec, “Nikt nie przeprosił,” Nasz Dziennik, 1-2 March 2003; Andrzej Kaczyński, “W szponach bezpieki,” Rzeczpospolita-Karta, 1 March 2003, 12-13; AKA, “Marcowe tematy,” Rzeczpospolita, 23 May 2003; Zenon Baranowski, “Zbrodniarze wyemigrowali,” Nasz Dziennik, 23 May 2003; Tadeusz M. Płużański, “Polski Pinochet: Czy dojdzie do ekstradycji Heleny Wolińskiej?” Tygodnik Solidarność, 15 June 2001; Tadeusz Kowalik, “Włodzimierz Brus: W czyśćcu historii,” Gazeta Wyborcza, 24 August 2001; Tadeusz A. Płużański, “Prześladowczyni ‘Nila’ żyje w Anglii,” Życie Warszawy, 8 October 1998; Leszek Żebrowski, “Ludzie UB – Trzy pokolenia,” Dekomunizacja i rzeczywistość (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Amarant, 1993), 51-60.

[162] In a way, the ugly practices continue with impunity not only because of the lackluster effort to prosecute the torturers but also because they often enjoy state pensions and benefits far above anything that their surviving victims can dream of. Also, there is often no closure for the families of prisoners who were tortured to death or executed stealthily. Their bodies have not been found and the perpetrators steadfastly refuse to identify the secret burial grounds. See Wojciech Wybranowski, “Za umiłowanie Polski – kula w łeb!” Nasz Dziennik, 7 June 2005; Adam Białous, “Odnaleźć miejsca pochówku ofiar UB,” Nasz Dziennik, 8 June 2005.

[163] Peters, Torture, 187.