Show Less
Open access

Pogrom Cries – Essays on Polish-Jewish History, 1939–1946

2nd Revised Edition


Joanna Tokarska-Bakir

This book focuses on the fate of Polish Jews and Polish-Jewish relations during the Holocaust and its aftermath, in the ill-recognized era of Eastern-European pogroms after the WW2. It is based on the author’s own ethnographic research in those areas of Poland where the Holocaust machinery operated. The results comprise the anthropological interviews with the members of the generation of Holocaust witnesses and the results of her own extensive archive research in the Polish Institute for National Remembrance (IPN).

«[This book] is at times shocking; however, it grips the reader’s attention from the first to the last page. It is a remarkable work, set to become a classic among the publications in this field.»

Jerzy Jedlicki, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Show Summary Details
Open access

Chapter 3: The Trial of Tadeusz Maj. The History of AL Unit “Świt” in the Kielce Region

←94 | 95→

Chapter 3:The Trial of Tadeusz Maj. The History of AL Unit “Świt” in the Kielce Region

In his book on the Starachowice forced labor camp, Christopher Browning says that while the Jews hiding in the forests during World War II faced danger from nationalist groups such as Armia Krajowa, AK (Home Army) and the ultra-nationalist Narodowe Siły Zbrojne, NSZ (National Armed Forces), left-wing groups such as the communist-led Gwardia Ludowa, GL (People’s Guard) and its successor Armia Ludowa, AL (People’s Army) were in principle friendly toward the Jews.1 No matter how many examples can be cited to support this thesis,2 it is contradicted by the postwar trials of commanders accused of murdering Jews: Grzegorz Korczyński and his subordinates in the Lublin region,3 and Tadeusz Maj and his unit “Świt” in the Starachowice area of the Kielce region.4 This ←95 | 96→chapter addresses the history of Tadeusz Maj, kept under wraps in the climate of factional power struggles between Polish communists during the late Stalinist period.

The murders of which Maj and his people were accused had been committed in the woods near Iłża from late June to December 1944. The victims were Jewish escapees from the Starachowice forced labor camp who had evaded deportation to Birkenau by breaking out and escaping into the woods in late June 1944.5 The survivors’ recollections6 indicate that in these forests they encountered partisans from all the groups operating in the area – AK,7 NSZ, and AL. The survivors speak about robberies and killings they suffered at the hands of these units, but nonetheless emphasize that only left-wing units would accept Jewish members or in certain cases punish their members for robbing and killing Jews in allegedly unauthorized acts.8 The material from the trials of Tadeusz Maj and his subordinate Jan Kozieł, presented below, contradicts the view that these were unauthorized acts of which the commanders were ignorant. It also demonstrates the level of antisemitism among AL soldiers and shows that the problem of antisemitic attitudes – normally seen as a reaction to Stalinism – was causing a rift among Polish communists much earlier. One main player emerging from the testimonies quoted below is Mieczysław Moczar, whose political clout in 1968 contributed to the last great wave of Jewish emigration from Poland.

←96 | 97→

Part 1.The Political Context of the Trial

Tadeusz Maj, a leading commander of Poland’s AL partisan movement during World War II, served until September 1943 as a platoon commander (using the code-name “Róża”) in Związek Walki Zbrojnej, ZWZ (Union for Armed Struggle), the nationalist precursor of AK, in Rzeczniów, Starachowice county. After his promotion to AL unit “Świt” commander in 1944, he started using different aliases, “Rózga” and “Łokietek”. After the war, following a stint with Polska Partia Robotnicza, PPR (Polish Workers’ Party), he was appointed deputy commander of Korpus Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego, KBW (Internal Security Corps) brigade in Lublin, and in July 1945 the vice-chairman of a Wolność-Równość-Niepodległość, WRN (Liberty, Equality, Independence) chapter in Kielce. Between 1946 and 1949, he chaired Kielce’s Special Commission which, inter alia, investigated so-called “speculators”. From 1950 until his arrest in May 1951, Tadeusz Maj served as a public prosecutor in Łódź, though he had never studied law.

His file in the Archiwum Akt Nowych, AAN (Archive of New Records) contains a letter from 15 May 1945, marked ‘top secret’, addressed to Komitet Centralny PPR, KC PPR (PPR Central Committee), probably to its senior official and later a Politburo member Zenon Kliszko.9 The letter was sent by two KBW functionaries – Capt. Niewiadomski, head of the Personnel Department, and Maj. Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki, head of the Politics and Education Board.10

We are placing at your disposal Major Tadeusz Maj, who […] as commander for political–educational affairs of the Third KBW brigade failed to carry out his assignments…. In many areas [Maj] turned out to be a nationalist, and manifested ill-will toward people of other ethnicities (Jews). According to information from former AL partisans, he was involved in shooting to death Jewish escapees from German camps.11

←97 | 98→

Despite rumors, circulating soon after the war, of AL’s wartime antisemitic acts,12 investigation of AL partisans in connection with the murders of Jews13 was not launched until the autumn of 1948, when factional struggles in the PPR led one faction to seek incriminating evidence against the party’s First Secretary Władysław Gomułka and his associates, including Mieczysław Moczar and Grzegorz Korczyński. At the time, a special group headed by Public Security Vice-Minister Roman Romkowski was tasked with combating “Gomulkism” and the ‘nationalist right-wing deviation,’ which had been denounced at a KC PPR conference. On March 3, 1950, the group was transformed into the Special Bureau of Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, MBP (Ministry of Public Security) and, from 30 November 1951, it was known as Department X headed by Anatol Fejgin, with Józef Światło and Henryk Piasecki as vice-directors. Investigation of cases designated as “line 3” – which included ‘provocations and sabotage in the PPR and AL during the occupation’ – was supervised by Światło, who had been Fejgin’s deputy in the Special Bureau as well as in the special group.14

KBW’s Zarząd Informacji (Directorate of Information) began looking into Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki even before the outbreak of the PPR factional struggles that resulted in Gomułka’s removal from the post of First Secretary of the PPR.15 This interest is apparent from Orkan’s file, more specifically from his ←98 | 99→29 February 1948 statement about his superior, Eugeniusz Iwańczyk-Wiślicz,16 one of the most important officials in Kielce, after Moczar. Iwańczyk-Wiślicz had established the “Świt” unit and appointed Tadeusz Maj its commander and Orkan his deputy in 1944. Orkan wrote that not only had Wiślicz earlier been a member of AK, which in those days was tantamount to a dangerous accusation, but he also ‘maintained very friendly relations with a Gestapo agent, chief forester Krüger from Marcule, who was subsequently shot to death by the AK underground.’17 Orkan also implied that Wiślicz was involved in murdering an unnamed communist in Jasieniec.18 This statement likely marked the beginning of an investigation code-named “Jesion” (see below), which was later taken over by Department X.

This early interest in Orkan is also evident from a 30 August 1948 report by Capt. Lewicki, a senior officer in KBW’s Information Department IV. He informs his superior, Col. Punda, that upon his request he had quietly investigated Orkan on the basis of a ‘report received by sub-Lieut. Osiński, an officer in the Personnel Department of the KBW Regiment VII in Kielce.’19 The investigation showed that Orkan-Łęcki, like Iwańczyk, a former member of ZWZ, had been arrested by the Germans in 1940.20 When interrogated by them, Orkan allegedly gave away ‘the entire underground organization of ZWZ; as a result, several dozen people were arrested by the Gestapo’ and sent to Auschwitz. Among them was Capt. Lewicki’s source Stanisław Kosowski, who after the war served as head of municipal ←99 | 100→administration in Mirzec. Although Orkan also ended up in Auschwitz, ‘he became deputy block leader, handed out food to prisoners […] walked around in elegant clothes, and did not care about the terror reigning in the camp.’21 He was released after a year, which was deemed proof of his collaboration with the Germans.

When “Świt” partisans – considered Gomułka’s supporters by association with Moczar22 – were subjected to methodical questioning in connection with Gomułka’s ousting, the internal investigation revealed further and even more significant information. The key witness in the ‘matter of Tadeusz Maj’, as it was labeled in Orkan’s report, was his subordinate Adam Bakalarczyk “Dulka”.23 Although he did not submit his testimony until 1951, his file in Archiwum Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, IPN (Institute of National Remembrance Archive) contains evidence of a prior investigation, conducted two years earlier: a record of interrogation of Józef Bugajski “Azja”, a former “Świt” member.24 He lists the crimes committed by the unit:

  1. Robbing and shooting twelve Jews to death by the Kotyska River (participants: Maj, Wacław Tracz, Bakalarczyk, Jan Kozieł, and others);
  2. The murder of four Jews in the forester’s cottage in Lipie (participants as above, plus Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki);
  3. Murders of Jews committed by Wiślicz’s aide-de-camp, Edward Konopski “Ząbek”,25 “with the tacit consent of “Łokietek” and Wiślicz”;

    ←100 | 101→
  4. Hostility shown by Maj and Orkan toward a Jewish couple assigned to the “Świt” unit: Dr. Adam and Dr. Irka, physicians, whose last names are unknown. This hostility resulted in their expulsion and subsequent death while trying to break through the front lines near Baranowo in October 1944, with Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki playing an unclear role in this matter.26

In 1947 or 1948, while serving in KBW Directorate of Information, Bugajski reported these incidents to the Directorate’s deputy chief, Col. Władysław Sobczyński,27 whose name appears frequently in the investigation records. While serving a sentence for insubordination (details unknown), Bugajski was allegedly questioned in this matter by an officer from the Functionaries Affairs Bureau at the Ministry of Public Security in autumn of 1948.28

This is where the afore-mentioned Józef Światło comes into play. From October 1, 1950 he worked in MBP’s Department I (counter-intelligence) as the head of Section V29 and then, together with Henryk Piasecki, served as vice-director of the Special Bureau that handled Wiślicz’s case. In his book – published after his flight to the West – Światło says:

In 1949, I was summoned by Gen. Romkowski and instructed to gather information on Wiślicz and his associates. [I] put together a team [Orkan-Łęcki “Pióro” was among the agents recruited] and Wiślicz was put under surveillance.30

Adam Bakalarczyk’s personal file contains a summary of the investigation he supervised – the undated report is titled “The Code[-name] ‘Jesion’ Case”.31 The encrypted enquiry (with names filled into blanks by hand) regards Eugeniusz Wiślicz-Iwańczyk, the senior commander of “Świt”.

←101 | 102→

The report emphasizes that Wiślicz’s (hereafter referred to with code-name “Jesion”) men, ‘deriving from ZWZ, AK, and NSZ, infiltrated the Party and BP, MO, and WP structures after the war.’32 In fact, most of the former “Świt” members had earlier been in ZWZ: consider Tadeusz Maj, the ZWZ commander in Rzeczniów. His deputy Orkan, just like the afore-mentioned Bugajski, worked for the KBW after the war. Bakalarczyk, Maj’s second-in-command, worked as deputy chief of Powiatowy Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, PUBP (District Office for Public Security) in Radom. Another former “Świt” member, Jan Kozieł, was a commandant at the Milicja Obywatelska, MO (Citizens’ Militia) station in Skaryszewo,33 and another, Jan Świtek, was a policeman in Częstochowa.34

Similarly, Władysław Sobczyński,35 head of the PUBP in Rzeszów and Kielce at the time of the July 1946 pogrom, a Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye, GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate) employee and a paratrooper with ties to Wiślicz, had built an illustrious career. Other individuals from his circle, such ←102 | 103→as Mieczysław Róg-Świostek36 and Marian Janic,37 also rose to the top of the political hierarchy. Almost all these individuals had records of wartime murders of Jews.

Secondly, the report proves beyond any doubt that Wiślicz collaborated with the Gestapo,38 which led to the execution of three GL men – PPR members – by the German gendarmerie. This did not have an impact on his good relations with Gestapo agent and chief forester Krüger.

“Jesion” himself admitted before CKKP [Centralna Komisja Kontroli Partyjnej, Central Party Control Commission] to contacts with the Gestapo agent and chief forester Krüger and to the elimination of three GL members in his (i.e. Jesion’s) house, but he claimed that he was maintaining contact with Krüger for intelligence purposes, upon orders from his AK commander Henryk Lewoński.

Naturally, the Special Bureau checked this information:

Questioned as a witness, Henryk Lewoński stated that he had never given “Jesion” instructions to carry out an intelligence mission. […] When asked why he had written a fake statement [that he allegedly gave him such instructions], he explained that “Jesion” had asked him for such a certificate, because he needed it in order to be decorated with the Cross of Valor. […] Lewoński had done this because he wanted to get a job [through Wiślicz’s lobbying in his capacity of Kielce Province Governor].39

←103 | 104→

Another important document pertaining to this case, also referred to by Józef Światło, is the request for permission to recruit for the “Jesion” case. In this document, Lt. Ludwik Sikora seeks Henryk Piasecki’s (vice-director of MBP’s Special Bureau) permission to recruit Orkan-Łęcki, whose involvement should facilitate the investigation into Wiślicz. Its text bears an uncanny resemblance to the above-mentioned “Jesion” report: names are scored out and then filled in with the same handwriting as previously. This document – which looks more like an indictment rather than a request to grant a secret informant status – lists Orkan’s many crimes, from the betrayal of ZWZ in 1940, to ‘antisemitism and murders of persons of Jewish origin.’ Among the crimes listed are the aforementioned deaths of Drs. Adam and Irka; an order to execute a Jewish woman who asked to join the unit near Marcule40; and, according to a now lost41 testimony by Tadeusz Maj, Orkan’s urging him (Maj) to eliminate Lt. Col. Bronisław Jaworski, a mine sweeper who had been assigned to the unit as a political advisor (for this testimony, see below42). The “Request for Permission to Recruit” is dated 29 September 1951. Only three weeks later, on 20 October 1951, Józef Światło wrote about Orkan in alarm:

Lt. Col. Piasecki,

Recruitment should not be pursued. First, O.[rkan] is one of the figureheads himself and his dismissal later would be impossible [i.e. it would be impossible to bring him to trial]; second, and this is the most important main thing (sic), he will not be able to approach Wiślicz inconspicuously, since hundreds of kilometers separate them, whereas the arrival of Orkan at Wiślicz’s residence following the dismissal of Łokietek will immediately arouse his [Wiślicz’s] suspicions once they get to talking about the past.43

Henryk Piasecki’s reply from 9 January 1952 says:

Orkan-Łęcki was recruited on 19 October 1951,44 having received the verbal consent of Vice Minister Lewikowski. The objection was submitted in writing post factum, which I reported to Vice Minister Lewikowski.45

←104 | 105→

Piasecki’s reply was clearly untrue,46 and reflects the tension between him and Światło.47 This tension would affect the further course of the investigation.

Piasecki’s decision, indefensible from the investigation standpoint,48 served to protect Orkan and was made even though the request for Orkan’s arrest had been ready since July 1 and was waiting for the signature of one of two Special Bureau vice-directors, who were rivaling with one another. The six-page arrest warrant lists the charges against him,49 based on the testimonies by Jan Barszcz (16 March 1951), Jan Świtek (21 March 1951), Tadeusz Maj (2 June 1951), Jan Kozieł (21 June 1951), and Adam Bakalarczyk (28 June 1951).

In another important document, Maj. Henryk Połowniak (commander of the 153rd Battalion of the Border Protection Corps (Wojska Ochrony Pogranicza) and a GL District commander during the war) not only corroborated the charges against Orkan, but also added a few more.50 In his 4 July 1951 letter to Minister Radkiewicz, Piasecki informed him in detail about the ongoing investigation of Kielce partisans, including Władysław Sobczyński, an NKVD agent.51

We should point out the differences in the phrasing of two contemporary official documents on the subject – the 29 September 1951 request for permission to recruit and the July 1951 preliminary plan for assembling a dossier in the case of “Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki”.52 While the latter, based on Maj. Połowniak’s testimony, states that the murders ‘were not approved by the AL Command, and amounted only to his [Orkan’s] licentiousness, as these individuals were probably aware [sic] of many of his misdeeds,’53 the October ‘Report’ asserts that Orkan ‘was one of the organization’s leaders from July 1944, and therefore was aware of the ←105 | 106→organization’s political direction and its leadership’s actions, and he had committed the aforementioned crimes with the tacit agreement of the leadership; alternatively he was aware of whether these actions were in tune with Świt’s aims.’54

How can this tone be reconciled with the immunity offered to Orkan? It appears his treatment was part of a larger design to lay all the blame on the unit commander, Tadeusz Maj, who carried out orders issued elsewhere. This is attested to by Maj’s behavior during the investigation, as well as by Orkan’s subsequent fortunes (see below).

Unfortunately, there are serious gaps in Maj’s 1951–1953 investigation files. In 1951 he was questioned twenty times, sometimes two or three times a day. Afterward, however – as far as we can tell from the contents of the files – the investigation reached an impasse. The authorities did not respond to numerous requests from Maj’s family, who did not know where Maj was being held. There is no record of any interrogation in the trial records from 1952,55 while the interrogations (Barszcz, Świtek, Tracz – see below) resume in March 1953.

Remarkably, in May 1953, seventeen records of interrogations and three statements made by Maj himself are excluded from the case on the grounds that ‘they are not relevant to the act of which the defendant is accused.’56 One of these documents has been found in Bakalarczyk’s file,57 (while Orkan’s file58 contains a reference to another). Given that Maj was interrogated three times on June 4, this document may contain information about the leads in the investigation. Strictly speaking, although Maj’s testimony indeed does not pertain to the crimes committed in the summer of 1944, it still has certain relevance due to its discussion ←106 | 107→of the Kielce pogrom.59 Interestingly enough, both Maj and Bakalarczyk were in Kielce on the day of the pogrom,60 as were Sobczyński, chief of the Kielce WUPB [Provincial Office of Public Security], and Wiślicz, the Kielce Province Governor. The Kielce pogrom lead in Maj’s case might have been related to the cases of Sobczyński and Wiślicz61 handled by the Special Bureau.

Maj’s trial files contain only one record each of the interrogation of Sobczyński and Wiślicz from the autumn of 1953, wherein Sobczyński, however, mentions an interrogation that took place two years earlier. Neither of them said much, and both denied responsibility for the murders by the Kotyska River. Wiślicz denied having ordered Maj to shoot the Jews,62 claiming that while he was with the unit, he [Wiślicz] was always in Sobczyński’s company, stressing his authority as an NKVD officer. He maintained that he learned that Maj had executed these Jews from Sobczyński, and added that Maj was directly subordinate to the ‘commander of the Saszko District and his deputy, Zygmunt [Henryk] Połowniak … while indirectly remaining organizationally subordinate to the Sub-district command, including myself.’ The word ‘including’ amounted to pointing a finger at the AL Sub-district III commander Mieczysław Moczar, who had been out of favor since 1948.63

By contrast, Sobczyński, AL Sub-district III chief of security, who also mentioned Moczar in passing, stressed that ‘in principle, Maj should have carried out ←107 | 108→only Wiślicz’s orders,’64 but he was insubordinate and sometimes refused to execute orders. ‘There was no official relationship whatsoever between myself and Maj,’ he added. He confirmed that while he was with the unit, he was always in Wiślicz’s company and claimed that he had learned that ‘Maj shot thirteen Jews to death’ only from a report submitted to him by Józef Bugajski in 1947 or 1948.65

In the autumn of 1953, Department X was working on a “splinter case”, completing its investigation of a “Świt” soldier Jan Kozieł, who had been arrested on charges of murdering Jews shortly after Maj’s arrest. The indictment was drawn up on 12 October and was approved by Światło’s direct superior, Anatol Fejgin.66 During interrogation, Kozieł said, ‘Łokietek’s troops were often called on by Moczar, Zygmunt [Henryk Połowniak], Sobczyński, and someone else (heavily built) whose name I don’t know.’67

After Światło’s emigration on 5 December 1953,68 the investigation into cases related to the “Świt” members suddenly lost its momentum, especially following Anatol Fejgin’s consequent dismissal on January 1, 1954. It was only then that the authorities decided to reply to the enquiries of Maj’s family and explain the delays in the trial. The change in atmosphere is also indicated by the authorities’ sudden interest in the prisoner’s health. In a January 4, 1954 memorandum (addressee not clear), prosecutor Władysław Dymant noted that Department X kept delaying his indictment “in connection with the cases of Sobczyński and Wiślicz.”69 Ten days later, on 14 January 1954, the records of interrogations of Sobczyński, Wiślicz, and Maj were handed over to chief military prosecutor, ←108 | 109→Gen. Stanisław Zarako-Zarakowski,70 and the indictment filed eight days later by Capt. Marian Szpiega fails to mention Maj’s superiors at all.71

Only Wiślicz was called as a witness in Maj’s trial (27 March 1954).72 When Maj requested calling Sobczyński as a witness, the prosecutor himself opposed this, demanding that Sobczyński’s testimony submitted during the investigation be read out instead.73 However, the testimonies of Bakalarczyk, Tracz, and Barszcz implicating them both, and even the conclusion of the judgment citing execution orders from his superiors as a reason for Maj’s reduced sentence74 failed to move the prosecutor to hold them accountable.

Power struggles revolving around Mieczysław Moczar constitute the most enigmatic element of Maj’s trial. Moczar’s name came up unexpectedly in Adam Bakalarczyk’s testimony on 28 July 1951: ‘During the occupation Łokietek told me that he had handed over the money and other things taken from the Jews to Moczar.’75 After that date, Moczar’s name does not reappear in the investigation ←109 | 110→files for three years, but this is hardly due to an oversight on the part of the investigators.76 This premise, combined with the exclusion of seventeen protocols from Maj’s case files, gives us grounds to suppose that in addition to ‘the Kielce pogrom case’, which incriminated Wiślicz and Sobczyński, Moczar’s name could also have appeared in them. In any event, this name reappears in Maj’s trial records only on 5 March 1954, in a letter by Maj’s defense attorneys, Aleksander Soroka and Jan Załęcki, asserting ‘the money taken away from the Jews was handed over [by Maj] to his superior, AL Sub-district commander Moczar.’77 Two weeks later the defense suddenly changed its position, filing for ‘admission of evidence from a witness, Gen. Moczar, currently Chairman of the WRN Presidium in Lublin, on the totality of the defendant’s partisan activity.’78 In response, one week later Maj dismisses his defense lawyers, preferring to defend himself.79

However, the Moczar lead continues. On 29 March 1954, Capt. Marian Szpiega, who had written the indictment, drew up an “Information Note” concerning Bakalarczyk and Wiślicz’s testimonies at Maj’s trial. In it, he cited Bakalarczyk’s testimony incriminating Sobczyński and Wiślicz. He then stressed that during the hearing Bakalarczyk ‘said that the money looted from the Jews was handed over to Moczar.’80 The authorities attributed so much significance to Bakalarczyk’s repeatedly voiced allegations that they resorted to forgery to prevent them from seeing the light of day. We know about it thanks to the “Official Note” by the head of Section IV of the Bureau for the Affairs of MBP Functionaries, dated May 10, 1954:

Because during the first questioning Bakalarczyk revealed a certain fact that did not significantly bear on the Maj case, and it would have been inadvisable that [this fact] come to light during the court hearing, a new record [of the interrogation] was drawn up with Bakalarczyk, omitting this fact. Nevertheless, during the court hearing Bakalarczyk mentioned this fact…. Taking the above into consideration I move for dismissing Adam Bakalarczyk from his post in the p[ublic] s[ecurity] apparatus….81

←110 | 111→

And what happened to the secret collaborator “Pióro” – Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki? Although he signed a consent to cooperate, thereby admitting to the deeds he was accused of,82 he was never punished for them. Granting him a secret collaborator status was not his first stroke of luck. In a May 20, 1953 letter to the Director of the Functionaries Affairs Bureau, there is an annotation by Capt. Kałkus next to his name: “dead.”83 In the margin next to this word an unknown hand (Józef Światło’s?) added: ‘He is alive and resides in Warsaw. Who is spreading this rumor about [his] death?’84

After Światło’s flight abroad, Orkan could sleep soundly. On 16 February 1954, a senior official in Section I at Department K of MBP, Ludwig Sikora, drew up an “Official Note”, in which he wrote:

Cooperation with the informer “Pióro” has so far not yielded good results because the subject of interest [“Jesion”] resides in Lublin and informer “Pióro” has no means to contact him. The motion to arrest Orkan-Łęcki Tadeusz is irrelevant because of his poor health.85

Orkan’s crimes were never investigated, even though as late as 1968 SB (Security Service) authorities once again reviewed the charges leveled against him by MBP’s Department X.86 Orkan, Łokietek’s deputy and Moczar’s confidante, lived undisturbed at least until late 1960s, writing his memoirs and, in 1967, a narrative to the film about Moczar’s people, Blisko lasu.87

←111 | 112→

Part 2.The Trial of Tadeusz Maj: The Ideology of the “Świt” Unit as Reflected in Witness Testimonies

According to Maj’s testimony given the day after his arrest,88 the combat force of “Świt” under his command numbered twenty-two people89 in April 1944. The group was set up by Eugeniusz Wiślicz-Iwańczyk as a combat unit of the organization by the same name; Wiślicz was its founder. He appointed Maj, a graduate of officer cadet school and a former soldier in ZWZ and AK,90 as its commander.91 Although the memoir literature published in the communist period,92 especially the late 1960s,93 presented Świt as a sui generis proto-AL movement, the memoirs contain allusions to Iwańczyk’s shady past94 and the ideology to which his group subscribed. According to Maj,

At the time, Świt’s ideological stance on the Jewish question was the same as that of ZWZ. Switching to Świt, people carried a certain ballast originating in ZWZ from hostile propaganda […], because when the issue of eliminating a group of jews [sic] came up, no one opposed it.95

←112 | 113→

I was acting upon clear orders from Eugeniusz Iwańczyk, who told me that Jews should not be accepted into the group. Iwańczyk issued this order to me after two Jews were shot to death [by the Kotyska River].96

Even its own members were not sure of the organization’s character. According to Jan Barszcz,

When I joined Łokietek’s unit [in May 1944], I was convinced that it was an AL unit, but after about two months […] I learned that in addition to the name AL our unit also carried the name “Świt.” […] Pastuszko Edward [“Ptak”] commented on this appellation by saying that it was something related to AK.97

I didn’t know the exact name of the organization; Dulka-Bakalarczyk only told me that it was a military–peasant organization.98

For his part, the founder of “Świt” himself considered it natural that “in contrast to the human resources at the disposal of GL, which lacked proper education, we were considered an intellectual group.”99

The attitude of the “Świt” members toward Jews, at best ambivalent, is reflected in the treatment of two physicians of Jewish origin, Dr. Adam (surname unknown) and his wife,100 who were assigned to Maj’s unit in September 1944. “Świt” member Józef Bugajski testified:

In September 1944…a surgeon and a woman physician of Jewish origin were assigned to the brigade. Right away Łokietek showed hostility, which manifested itself in ignoring these two, ridiculing them in front of others, and when the surgeon asked Łokietek to assign him with a pistol, Łokietek turned him down, laughing. This was recounted to me by the surgeon, who complained about Łokietek’s behavior toward him and toward the ←113 | 114→woman doctor, who was his wife. …harassment on the part of Łokietek and Orkan,101 telling all kinds of lewd jokes in their presence and using filthy language was designed to drive these people out of the unit, which finally did happen, and they left the unit probably in mid-October 1944, and as far as I know these two persons perished while breaking through the front in the Baranów-Sandomierz area.102

Jan Kozieł corroborated this information:

The attitude of the unit members toward Jews was not friendly, rather hostile. […] in the summer of 1944 two people approached our unit. They were doctors, probably of Jewish nationality. The man’s alias was Adaś, whereas the woman was called Irka. They were very good at what they did. I heard that when our unit was passing through the front, Irka was killed, whereas Adaś shot himself.103

“Świt”, its Composition and Stationing

According to Maj, in spring 1944, shortly after its formation, the unit was merged with a GL unit under the command of Czesław Byk-Borecki “Brzoza”.104 At that time it comprised two groups, one led by Jan Pocheć “Sosna” from Świślina near Starachowice, and the other by Dziubiński “Dąb”, who was killed shortly thereafter. When asked about other members of the unit, Maj listed the following:

←114 | 115→

1. Bakalarczyk Adam “Dulka” from Rzeczniów; 2. Maj Jan “Sęk” from Rzeczniów;

3. Węgrzecki Edward [“Komar”] from Rzeczniów (dead); 4. Ołowiak Ireneusz [“Huragan”] from Rzeczniów (dead); 5. Maj Bolesław from Rzeczniów (dead); 6. [Bolesław] Warszakowski [“Jeleń”] from Rzeczniów; 7. Tracz Wacław “Skóra” from Rzeczniów;

8. Bugajski Józef “Azja” from Rzeczniów; 9. Józef Pyrciak “Pocisk” from the Grochów colony near Rzeczniów (died); 10. “Kruk” from Jasieniec [Iłżecki], I don’t remember his name, nor how many others there were […].105 After it returned from the Janów woods [the force went there in May 1944 to take delivery of weapons from Soviet air drops106] the unit was under the direct command of Eugeniusz Wiślicz, contact with whom was maintained via messengers, or he would come directly to the unit.107

Among the sites where the unit was stationed in the period between its return from the Janów woods and the establishment of the 2nd AL Brigade “Świt”, Maj mentions, among others, the following: in mid-July, the Kotyska River near Jasieniec Iłżecki;108 immediately afterward Piotrowe Pole near Borsuk; and in early August a forester’s cabin called Lipie, near Wierzbnik.109 All of these were places where Jews were murdered.

←115 | 116→

The Kotyska River110

During the first interrogation after his arrest, Tadeusz Maj described the murder as follows:

In July 1944111 a group of about ten112 people of Jewish origin (including one woman) arrived.113 The group was brought over by “Szczęśliwy”114 with a view to joining our ranks. I agreed with “Szczęśliwy” that all of them should be accepted. At that time Władysław Sobczyński and Eugeniusz Wiślicz arrived and asked me why this group was hanging around the unit. I told them that they wanted to join our unit, and said that “Szczęśliwy” had brought them over,115 and that he had been with my unit for three days. Władysław Sobczyński responded to this by saying that all of them had to be eliminated. Wiślicz stressed that among them there are Jews from Iłża who know people from the unit and can inform on our unit by identifying them. On departing, Sobczyński stressed that the entire group must be completely eliminated. After Sobczyński and Wiślicz departed, I selected a group of people with automatic weapons to help me out, namely Bakalarczyk Adam “Dulka”,116 Tracz Wacław “Skóra”, and others whose names I don’t recall.117

←116 | 117→

Together with the above-mentioned, we went to the group of Jews and I told them to surrender all their money and valuables. After we collected the valuables, we searched them and found money [a single Polish banknote] on one of them.118 He was known from Wiślicz’s description. I shot him in the head with a pistol. He crumpled to the ground immediately. Then the second one, who stood next to him, stepped out and said, “Shoot me too.” So I shot him in the head, killing him then and there. I told the others to undress and fold their clothes neatly, which they did. I would like to mention that not all of them [stripped down] to their undergarments because [only] the clothing that was deemed worth wearing was taken away from them.119 After taking their clothes away, I told them to run while telling my people to shoot past them. I also did some shooting. I do not rule out the possibility that people who were with me shot the escapees.120 After about a week, I met with Sobczyński who reproached me for not eliminating the entire group of Jews then and there.121

←117 | 118→

When the interrogating officer suggested that the reason for killing the two Jews was that they had collaborated ‘with the Gestapo,’ Maj stated categorically that this ‘was not the key issue. I received an order from Sobczyński to eliminate the entire Jewish group.’122 He explained he had not questioned Sobczyński’s orders because ‘he was considered an NKVD spokesman, who came from the Soviet Union [and therefore] represented the correct political line.’123 Toward the end he reiterated: ‘Wiślicz added that the two Jews from Iłża who allegedly knew everyone in the unit could thus pose a danger to us. I considered Wiślicz putting it this way as a pretext for murder.’124

Only two years later, Maj began to stress that the man on whose elimination Wiślicz insisted so stringently was Kamiński from Iłża.125 Bakalarczyk had already mentioned this name, but in the beginning Maj categorically dismissed the “espionage argument”. From 1953 onward Kamiński’s name appears in the files with growing frequency.126 MBP functionaries were seriously investigating the hypothesis of Kamiński’s possible collaboration with the Gestapo two years later, and even though they failed to prove it, this ultimately led to Maj’s early release and the sweeping revision of the sentence.

Meanwhile, in the course of intensive interrogations in 1951, Maj added further grim details to his testimony about the execution by the Kotyska River. For example, he mentioned a conversation with a young woman in the group of executed people.127

←118 | 119→

I asked her insultingly whether she was a virgin, whether she had relationships with men, and which one of us she would want as a boyfriend. Because of her shyness, the woman did not answer and then I told her I would shoot her if she didn’t answer, and fearing this, the woman chose me as her boyfriend.128

The Jewish woman asked me to let her go together with her brother, but I turned her down and just told her to run alone.129

On April 20, 1949, an MBP officer in Marcule recorded the testimony of Józef Giemza, a forester from Małuszyn.130 It corroborates Maj’s contention that not all the Jews were shot to death during the first encounter with “Świt” by the Kotyska River. Refugees from the Starachowice camp had long been in hiding in the Jasieniec Iłżecki area. They had built bunkers in the woods, and helped peasants with farm work in exchange for food.

Just before the harvest two Jews [żydek, diminutive form] from this group came to my apartment…they asked me for food…. One of them…about thirty years old, had been shot in a hand and started complaining to me that partisans took them away at night…. Then…these partisans brought them into the woods beyond the locality of Kotyska Pogórze (i.e., quadrant131 no. 155) and once they got there they told them to flee as a group, while they started shooting at them. He didn’t tell me what had happened to the remaining Jews, because, as he explained…he had been shot in a hand, [and] he ←119 | 120→had managed to escape; as for the others, he supposes they were shot to death. After being wounded, this Jew set out for Lipie, where cit. Jankowska, who has a son Edward, dressed his wound. Then this Jew, his hand bandaged, came to me to get bread. This Jew told me that in the evening hours several partisans took them away. They told them they were taking them to a partisan unit, and then they started shooting at them. After this Jew left my apartment, I never saw them again. A long time afterward, passing through quadrant no. 155, I noticed corpses of murdered people, which had been dug out by foxes. As I figured out, these corpses lay uphill132 near the turn of the little river, in the place indicated by the Jew with an injured hand […]133

That the Jews were murdered after being given hope of acceptance into the unit is corroborated by Jan Barszcz’s 1951 testimony. He said that at first ‘two, perhaps one Jew’ volunteered for the unit and after a conversation with “Łokietek”, he was assigned to ‘my group. He was with our unit for two days, slept together with me, expressed great satisfaction with his acceptance, and was saying that the unit command agreed to bring in his acquaintances.’134 Two days later the Jew who was accepted by “Łokietek” ‘did in fact bring in a group of people of ten to twelve persons of Jewish origin… they all looked good, i.e., they were well-dressed.’ They were told to wait at some distance away from the unit for the commanders’ decision. Barszcz claimed that at that time ‘Wiślicz arrived on a bicycle and spent about an hour in Łokietek’s shack.’135 He did not know what they had talked about, but noted that after the conversation “Łokietek” came out of the shack with Wiślicz, Bakalarczyk “Dulka”, and Edward Konopski “Ząbek”, and they set out toward the group of waiting Jews. After half an hour, the witness heard automatic fire and several single shots, after which everything went quiet. ‘I would like to mention that the entire unit was disturbed by those shots, and people thought that perhaps the Germans had surrounded the unit.’

←120 | 121→

On that night the unit set out for Piotrowe Pole, a distance of about fourteen kilometers (almost nine miles) from Kotyska. According to Barszcz,

On our way, as we were marching on, “Galant” – Kozieł Jan told me that all the Jews who had wanted to join our unit had been “done in,” or shot to death.136 […] During the day, I noticed that some of our people had different clothes and shoes. For example, I recognized with certainty a pair of trousers that Tracz Wacław “Skóra” wore; they were a bit too tight. Besides, Tracz laughed when he showed me these trousers, saying, “Look, this is from the Jews who were supposed to be taken into the unit.” Ząbek also wore officer’s boots from the Jews, as well as many others did, mostly people from Rzeczniów, with whom Maj clearly sympathized.137

Piotrowe Pole

According to Barszcz’s testimony, the second murder of Jews took place shortly afterward, when the unit quartered for one day in the village of Piotrowe Pole. The murder was perpetrated by Jan Kozieł “Galant” and another member of Świt known as “Smotek,” whose real name remains unknown, and ‘who was generally known for not liking Jews.’ Barszcz said “Smotek” spoke freely about the murder, adding that they had taken ‘a lot of money and gold.’ After this incident, he personally saw “Smotek” and “Galant” with

a lot of paper money. I didn’t see gold on the afore-mentioned, but I recall that after the incident Smotek had a necklace, probably very expensive. According to Smotek, they carried out the murder on their own initiative. However, this matter was the talk of the unit, so it could not have escaped the attention of the high command.138

Tadeusz Maj did not deny hearing about the murders that his men were committing of their own accord. He attributed these killings to demoralization precipitated by the act of shooting dead the Jews at the Kotyska River and acknowledged his responsibility.139 However, it is not clear whether Maj had the same incident ←121 | 122→in mind as Barszcz did. Maj testified that one week after the Kotyska incident Orkan-Łęcki ‘told me that “Smotek”… together with “Ptak” – [Edward] Pastuszka had murdered one Jew in the area of the Starachowice forest.’140 Two years later Maj added:

I heard…that one of the partisans under my command was returning from some assignment and in the woods encountered a group of people of Jewish origin, the same ones who were in the woods near Kotyska. I don’t know whether this partisan, “Smotek”, murdered these people. But knowing “Smotek”, I should say that he did kill those people, because telling the partisans about his encounter with these people “Smotek” wore a strange smile.141

In his testimony at the trial of Jan Kozieł, who was accused of the crime at Piotrowe Pole, Jan Barszcz chose his words more carefully than before:

I recall that a few Jews died at the time [at Piotrowo Pole]. I only heard that “Smotek”, Tracz [“Skóra”], “Dulka” [Adam Bakalarczyk], “Ząbek” [Edward Konopski], and “Galant” [Jan Kozieł] had seen those Jews. “Smotek”, who later changed his alias to “Klawisz”, told me that he had “done in” those Jews – he said that he had lined them up and shot them dead.142

Immediately after his arrest the accused Kozieł related a different version of events:

Sometime after the incident by Kotyska our unit was camped in the woods near the village of Piotrowe Pole. A group of Jews came to us, about 5–7 people, who asked to be taken into the unit. They were only men. They made their plea to the commander of our unit. The commander told them to wait until the evening. When the evening came, the unit marched off and the Jews stayed behind. I don’t know what happened to them.143


The third incident Jan Barszcz related in detail happened at the forester’s cabin in Lipie near Wierzbnik. At that time the “Świt” unit was returning from Wykus ←122 | 123→in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains.144 The Jews were discovered in a barn near the cabin. Witnesses estimated the group was between three145 and thirty people.146 Apparently, there was one woman among them.147 According to Barszcz,

We went […] together to see them and talk to them. They asked what kind of group it was, who was the commander, and all of them expressed a desire to join our unit. However, “Łokietek” refused to take in so many people – there were some thirty of them altogether – I didn’t see any women. I don’t know what happened with them. I can only say that when our unit set out in the direction of Klepacz, the entire group of Jews followed us. In response “Łokietek” assigned several people, I don’t remember who, the task of stopping them and preventing them from tagging along. I don’t know what happened to this group, nor did I hear any comments on the subject in the unit.

Jan Świtek, another of Maj’s soldiers, confirmed Barszcz’s version:

At the time our unit was returning from Wykus […], we encountered at the forester’s cottage in Lipie a group of Jews hiding in a barn – there were about fifteen or twenty of them. They expressed a desire to join the unit but were turned down. When our unit set out, the group of Jews kept following, and they were stopped by our people who prevented them from following the unit. I do not know any more details regarding these people.148

Tadeusz Maj related the incident in rather vague terms:

Not long after this operation [by Kotyska], when my unit was camped near Lipie […], a few Jews were brought over to me for a talk. These Jews declared that they wanted to join the unit. Orkan-Łęcki, Dulka-Bakalarczyk, and Edward Wiślicz-Iwańczyk were present during this conversation. After this conversation, we decided jointly not to take them into the unit. Despite this decision […] after my unit left the forester’s cottage, these Jews, walking in a thickly packed group, kept following the unit. As a result, I ordered Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki to stay behind and push back the Jews who were following us. Then Orkan, together with several soldiers, stayed put. Shortly afterward, he rejoined the unit and said he had chased the Jews away. I didn’t ask him how he did it, and for his part he didn’t say anything about it to me.149

←123 | 124→

Two years earlier another “Świt” member, Józef Bugajski testified about this incident:150

The incident took place about a month after the previous one [Kotyska], probably in the middle of August 1944, in the locality of Lipie, Starachowice county. Our unit, numbering about fifty people, was returning from the Świętokrzyskie Mountains and in the morning we stopped by a forester’s cottage in Lipie. Łokietek and his most trusted people such as Skóra, Dulka, Galant, and his deputy Orkan were inside the cottage, whereas the troops took up quarters in the barn. In that barn, there were also four Jews who were brought to Łokietek. I don’t know what happened with these people, but in any case, I didn’t see them again. They couldn’t have been let go, because it was daylight, and their release would have pose a danger of betrayal [sic] of the unit’s security, and the Jews could not go away out of concern for their own safety. I didn’t hear shots then, but it should be mentioned that our unit had silencers and said people could have been killed in this fashion. At that time there was [a member called] “Ząbek” in our unit, who was favored by Iwańczyk “Wiślicz”, and it was common knowledge in the unit that “Ząbek” shoots Jews. The opinion about this was well known, but it didn’t harm him…. I think that Ząbek’s actions were effected with Łokietek and Wiślicz’s tacit consent. Judging by their statements, which I often heard, and their behavior, I can say with certainty that Łokietek and even Orkan were hostile toward persons of Jewish origin.151

Men and Women

At the end of the summer of 1944, the forester Józef Giemza came across the bodies of two men in the vicinity of the forester’s cottage near Lipie (quadrant no. 190). His testimony was taken in 1950. On their bodies a note was found in ‘partly Russian’ language, reading: ‘for collaboration with the Germans.’ In his testimony Giemza also mentioned other corpses dragged about by foxes near Kotyska. They could have been the bodies of the two Jews killed in early July near the Kotyska River, which had been buried earlier by Bolesław Warszakowski and Jan Maj “Sęk”.152 It appears that Jan Bugajski was in fact referring to the burial of these people:

One of the victims was missing an eye – from the comments made on this subject in Łokietek’s unit, it could be concluded that it was one Josek from Iłża, and the other one, young, twenty-five at the most. … After we lowered them into the pit, Tadeusz Maj “Łokietek”, Bakalarczyk Adam “Dulka”, and Tracz Wacław “Skóra” searched the pockets ←124 | 125→of the victims. They removed five wristwatches, rings, and money, which they appropriated. I asked Łokietek to give me a watch but he didn’t respond and didn’t give me the watch. Then all of us gathered leaves to cover the bodies. While the bodies were being covered, Łokietek Maj addressed all those present with these words: “Never say a word about what you saw here, even after the war ends. Clear?”153

Forester Giemza also mentioned the discovery of the bodies of two murdered women – one in quadrant no. 119 and the other in quadrant no. 154.154 One of them could have been the victim of the murder that was witnessed by Jan Świtek.

I know of a specific case of murdering Jews in the woods between Marcule and the Lipie forester’s [cabin]. It was at the end of July 1944; we were traveling to Marcule to take a delivery of sugar for the troops – myself, “Orkan”Łęcki Tadeusz, “Galant”–Kozieł Jan. In the woods we met a Jewess, about 28–32, very poorly dressed, in a well worn-out kerchief, such as is worn by women in those areas, of middle height, slender, auburn hair. This Jewess wept when she approached us, asking us to take her in. Jan Kozieł “Galant” jumped off the wagon and said, “Come on, I’ll lead you to the unit,” and pointed the direction to her into the woods, while he followed her. When she entered a copse, about twenty meters away from the road, he let off a brief burst from his automatic weapon and returned to the wagon. After he got back, Galant said “I guided her to the unit.” Laughing, Orkan asked Galant, “She won’t cry any more, right?” and Galant replied, “Definitely not.”155

Jan Kozieł presented a different version of this incident at his trial:

I was going with Orkan and the others to get supplies. Some woman accosted Orkan, and he told me to shoot her, which I did. […] I don’t remember how I shot her. […] The incident with the Jewess made a great impression on me. However, I carry too many memories, which is why I can’t remember the circumstances of her death. […] I think I shot her with an automatic weapon. […] The Jewess was middle-aged – neither young nor old.156

←125 | 126→

However, under interrogation on 10 June 1951, the accused revealed more details affirming Świtek’s testimony. He remembered, for example, that the woman ‘was wearing red clothes.’157

She asked Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki to accept her in the unit. Orkan turned to me and said, “Galant, get her to the eternal unit,” which meant I should shoot her. I then told the woman to go to the copse nearby. She asked me whether we were going to the unit. I replied yes, we were, and pointed the direction to her. In the thicket I let off automatic fire into the woman walking ahead of me, killing her instantly. Afterward I returned to the wagon and reported to Orkan that the order had been carried out, after which we moved on to Marcule.158

When sentencing Kozieł, Judge Z. Kaczyński acted exactly as he did in sentencing Tadeusz Maj. Even the phrasing is identical:

The court failed to establish with exactitude whether the accused acted on orders from Orkan, the group’s commander, or on his own initiative with the approval of Orkan as [his] superior.159 […] In view of the doubts that emerged, the court adjudicated in the spirit of the principle in dubio pro reo, favoring the accused, accepting that he acted on his military commander’s orders.160

The last case, which surfaced in the testimonies of Maj’s deputy, Adam Bakalarczyk, was particularly brutal. In September or October 1944, three people allegedly approached the unit: two men said to be Jews and one woman named Basia. According to Bakalarczyk,

After several days, one of the men disappeared, and as a precaution our unit changed its campsite. An investigation into the woman and the man who stayed was carried out. I don’t know anything about specific results. The woman and the man were shot dead by ←126 | 127→the people assigned by Łokietek. On the subject of this elimination, there was talk in the unit that before the execution the man said he was a Jew.161

Jan Kozieł added graphic details:

On one occasion we were camped in the woods near Skarżysko. While camping there I heard that Orkan had shot two people to death who had stayed with our unit for about two weeks. It was one “Basia”, and a man (I don’t know his alias). It was told that Orkan was fooling around with Basia, holding her in his lap. When she laughed loudly he shot her in the mouth with a pistol. They say that Orkan had had an affair with her before that. Basia and this man were said to be German spies, as reported by AK. Apparently, Łokietek was present during the murder of the two.162

Zygmunt Połowniak’s testimony also highlights these aspects of Orkan’s criminal activity:

I have heard it said that Lt. Col. Łęcki, while relocating with his unit in the Małogoszcz-Kielce area, accepted into his unit a young woman named Basia, allegedly a member of AK. She was exceptionally beautiful, and Lt. Col. Orkan started having a closer relationship with her. After several weeks he went for a stroll in the woods with her and there he personally executed her with a short-barreled weapon. When the afore-mentioned was reproached about it, he said she was a German spy. As far as I know, his mistress Basia was not suspected of the collaboration with the Germans.163

←127 | 128→

Ząbek’s Case

As noted above, Wiślicz’s aide-de-camp was platoon leader “Ząbek”.164 Jan Świtek remembered his presence by the Kotyska River at the time of the first murder. “Ząbek” was in the group that went to the execution site with Maj:

When I arrived at the camp, I saw Ząbek near the kitchen. He gave me a pair of boots [officer’s boots made from thick leather], and said, “Here, take [them], you won’t be walking barefoot.” When I asked him where he got the boots, he replied, “Just shut your trap and walk in the shoes.” I recognized the boots that Ząbek gave me; these were the same boots that “Szczęśliwy” used to wear. I wore these shoes until I was wounded in the town of Włoszczowa, during the destruction of train tracks. Ząbek was also wearing new officer’s boots, which he didn’t have before the Jews were brought to the woods, and also new trousers.165

Jan Maj “Sęk” told the aforementioned Bugajski that “Ząbek” ‘was eliminating Jews on his own,’166 whereas Tadeusz Maj recalled that ‘Ząbek was escorting the Jews to the headquarters and allegedly liquidated them.’167 During the trial Warszakowski testified that “Ząbek” ‘was mocking Jews. Once, while escorting a Jew to the headquarters, he shot him to death en route.’168 Jan Barszcz testified that in October or November 1944, a quarrel broke out between Maj and deputy commander Orkan-Łęcki, and it ended with some of the people, including Barszcz, leaving the unit. The mutineers went back to their homes. After his return to Rzeczniów, Barszcz met with “Ząbek”, who had been staying in the village with Bugajski for quite a while due to his cold and abscesses. “Ząbek” revealed to Barszcz that there was a death warrant on him (Ząbek). He guessed that “the commanders whose orders he had carried out and about whom he knew plenty, condemned him out of fear that he would betray them.”169 This conjecture was correct. In early November Orkan-Łęcki, accompanied by Kurek from Lipie and ←128 | 129→Marceli Cukierski, arrived in the village of Rybiczyzna and took Barszcz and “Ząbek” to the woods near the village:

In the woods Orkan’s unit was lined up in two rows. After I arrived, I started talking with Józef Bugajski “Azja”, who served in Orkan’s unit. At that moment I heard a series of shots behind me. I turned around and saw Ząbek, killed by Orkan, lying on the ground. I was terrified by this incident, as I wasn’t sure whether I would not meet the same fate as Ząbek. Orkan told me to bury Ząbek’s body right in this place, nowhere else, and to stay put and wait for further orders. I didn’t see Orkan after that. I would like to mention that Ząbek worked in the headquarters of the 2nd AL Brigade “Świt” and was under the direct command of Wiślicz – he was his aide-de-camp.170

Another witness to Ząbek’s execution was Bolesław Warszakowski, who testified the following:

The execution was carried out in the woods, near the locality of Borsuki. Ząbek […] was executed in front of the unit […] in the autumn. Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki addressed Ząbek, saying he had an order to execute him for selling firearms and committing robberies. He then fired a few shots from his automatic weapon, killing Ząbek on the spot. He told Barszcz “Grab” from the village of Rybiczyzna to bury Ząbek’s body. I would like to point out that the day before Orkan carried out the sentence on Ząbek, two people came over to see our unit: [Mieczysław] Świostek “Róg”171 and Maj Tadeusz.172 Both of them spent a long time talking to Orkan.173

Ząbek’s murder was probably related to the leadership’s policy changes, taking effect in August 1944, and unrelated to the murders that had been or would have been committed. When the unit was camped in Wykus in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, Wiślicz addressed his assembled troops and ‘denounced looting and ←129 | 130→using weapons against innocent people. He stressed that those who carried out such actions would be punished by death.’174

Wiślicz and Sobczyński

Wiślicz’s presence in the unit on the day the Jews were executed by the Kotyska River is confirmed by Jan Barszcz (sl. 383), Adam Bakalarczyk (sl. 455), and Wacław Tracz, who testified that

Eugeniusz Wiślicz-Iwańczyk…arrived and gave a speech to the unit (we were all lined up in two rows). I don’t remember the subject of the speech. We were also asked if any of us needed something, i.e. boots or clothes.175

Members of the unit also remember Władysław Sobczyński. In addition to Maj, who keeps mentioning him most persistently, his presence among Świt members on that critical day is also confirmed by Bakalarczyk176 and Kozieł.177 Bakalarczyk also mentioned that Maj complained to him that ‘Wiślicz and Sobczyński gave him an order to execute the whole group, but he shot only two of them. They should take care of these matters themselves, as he put it.’178

Throughout the entire investigation, Maj consistently insisted that he had executed the two Jews by the Kotyska River on his superiors’ orders. In the final interrogation in 1953, he refers to a conversation with Orkan, which took place in Wiślicz’s presence.

←130 | 131→

[In] 1946 there was a casual conversation on this subject during Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki stay in Kielce. Having met me and Róg [-Świostek], he asked me what kind of business I had regarding the liquidation of Jews during the occupation. I replied to him that this was Wiślicz’s business. He [Wiślicz] was standing next to us, and hearing my words he turned his back on us and didn’t say anything.179

During the last interrogation in 1953, Maj requested that Sobczyński and Wiślicz be questioned.180 Sobczyński was the first called on 18 September 1953. He stated that ‘in principle he did not belong to any partisan group and just moved alongside them, carrying out his special [intelligence] assignments that he had received while in the USSR.’181 It was not until July 1944, after the loss of his radio man who conveyed his reports to the Soviets, that he accepted ‘an offer to join the command of AL Sub-district III, headed by Moczar.’ He was appointed “chief of security”. He added that “Świt”, commanded by Wiślicz- Iwańczyk, was in this sub-district’s jurisdiction. The company was divided into units, including Maj’s.182 Unlike Wiślicz,183 Sobczyński said he had never seen any group of Jews in the vicinity of the unit.

Sobczyński recalled that after the war, he spoke with Bugajski about the execution of ‘13 Jews,’184 and that he sent all the documentation to MBP. In 1951 he was investigated in connection with this case by the MBP.185 He also recalls that in 1952, while on a visit to an agricultural state farm, he spoke with Wiślicz about ←131 | 132→Maj and the murder he had committed. ‘I noticed that Wiślicz spoke unwillingly about this subject.’186 It was only in 1958 in the course of an extraordinary appeal of the sentence from five years before, that the Prosecutor General asked Sobczyński directly whether he had given Maj an execution order. Sobczyński denied this, adding that he knew about cases of liquidation of ‘people who hung around partisan units and betrayed their location.’187 He did not rule out that during his stay with Świt, he expressed an opinion that such people should be liquidated. However, he suggested that ‘Maj could have shot these Jews on Wiślicz’s order.’188

One month later Wiślicz was summoned for questioning. He confirmed that Maj was an insubordinate soldier, recalled his desertion in the autumn of 1944, and added that he had refused to eliminate Antoni Heda “Szary”, ‘who actively fought PPR forces by carrying out murders,’189 as well as two other AK operatives. He claimed he had no idea about the murder Maj’s unit had committed by the Kotyska River; he learned about the incident only two or three weeks later from Sobczyński, who told his comrade Foremniak190 that Jews had been ←132 | 133→wandering about in the unit’s vicinity and that they ‘spied on this unit.’191 He remembered that ‘Foremniak replied to this using the word “speculators” by which he meant those Jews.’192 He maintained that after some time he told Sobczyński that ‘Łokietek’s conduct was not to his liking either, to which Sobczyński said nothing.’

Toward the end he states categorically that ‘this is complete untruth that he allegedly gave Łokietek an order to shoot the Jews,’ and that he did not know ‘any Kamiński from Iłża.’193 During the trial he states: ‘in all likelihood I wasn’t with Łokietek’s unit on the day of the murder.’194 Only once will he add unexpectedly: ‘On one occasion the three of us, i.e., myself, Sobczyński, and Foremniak went to see Łokietek’s unit; he said to us that he had taken money from the Jews, and settled the score with those who didn’t want to surrender their money.’195

How the Defendant Maj Viewed His Conduct

During the initial interrogations, Maj explained his conduct as ‘bourgeois influences’ to which he yielded, and also in terms of being incited to crime by his superiors.

While murdering the Jews by Kotyska I was guided above all by an order…and, furthermore, I was still in the grip of prewar prejudice toward the Jews as speculators196 and exploiters, which was caused by the Sanation regime propaganda. Accordingly, my ←133 | 134→attitude toward Jews was disdainful, and I believed that there was no place for the likes of them in the new Poland.197

Under the influence of a bourgeois upbringing, I treated Jews as enemies of the new order and didn’t want them to come into power in Poland.198

Murdering these Jews by carrying out Sobczyński’s orders [sic] without any resistance was a kind of offshoot of the antisemitic influences and nationalist upbringing and social environment in which I found myself during the war.199

During the March 1954 hearing, Maj, who by then had realized the futility of blaming his superiors, tried to make allegations against the murdered Jews, saying he had in fact heard ‘a subversive group was being organized by the Germans, which included also Jews’ and that he ‘was not certain that these Jews had escaped from a camp.’200 This version was also confirmed by another witness, Tracz, whose involvement in the execution was attested by everyone who testified. ‘There were stories going around that the man who had been shot was a German spy,’201 he said. ‘I heard the boys say that one of the victims was a Gestapo agent.’202 Bakalarczyk followed a similar path. He claimed that Kamiński, whom they had executed, was a distinctive ‘man without a nose’203 and could easily be recognized.

Soon afterward, a witness from Iłża named Winiarski testified at the hearing that during the occupation he lived opposite the police station in Iłża, and often saw Kamiński enter the gendarmerie post. He was alleged to be a Jewish policeman: ‘People said he had been killed because he had informed on people to the Germans. He was killed in spring 1944, when the ghetto was established [sic].’204 In view of the obvious doubts concerning said Kamiński’s date of death, Winiarski’s testimony failed to achieve the expected result. The case was saved by another witness, Szepietowski from Iłża. When informed by a woman liaison ←134 | 135→about a body found in the woods, he allegedly sent over a ‘PPR secretary,’ who determined that one of the people killed was ‘Kamiński … [whose] brother was a mayor; people said that the killing had been settled higher up.’205 The conclusion of the judgment indicates that the court ultimately rejected the thesis that these Jews were Gestapo informers.206

←135 | 136→

When the hypothesis about Jews as German spies fell apart, Maj resumed his efforts at self-critique, stressing that the act belies his character.

I’ve never been an antisemite; neither by deed nor by word did I ever manifest an antisemitic attitude. The decision to carry out executions was influenced by an erroneous judgment based on an indifferent attitude toward the Jews, which fashioned my opinion that Jews were people of lower character. I am sure that this incident would never have occurred had it not been for the incitement on the part of Wiślicz and Sobczyński.207

As proof of his veracity, he reminded the court that his unit had included several Jews.208 In fact, from August 1944, six persons of Jewish origin served with the 2nd AL Brigade “Świt” – among others a doctor, “Adam”, with his wife Irena;209 Basia, whose name appears earlier; as well as two men whose names remain unknown, ‘a cook and a barber.’210 Bakalarczyk also mentioned them in his testimony.211 ←136 | 137→Bronisław Jaworski, who had been assigned by the high command, also served with the unit;212 he was the only Jew who survived his stint in the AL unit “Świt”.

Col. Jaworski (Michał), weapons specialist and ordnance supplies advisor in Maj–Łokietek’s unit in the autumn of 1944, and an employee of the Ministry of Defense after the war, testified during Maj’s trial:

The AL assigned me to the “Świt” Brigade…. The accused didn’t know at first that I was of Jewish origin, he didn’t learn about that until later. The defendant’s attitude toward me changed after some time. In the beginning I was his right hand, his private advisor, and then I was sidelined. I came to the unit at the beginning of August … at that time news was reaching me that there were allegedly robberies of Jews who were returning from the camp in Starachowice, but I don’t know who committed them. … I was with the brigade from August to October; my prolonged sojourn in the brigade turned out to be unnecessary, because I was “unmasked” [as a Jew], so I turned to Moczar, who told me to go back to the high command. I was assigned to the brigade as an advisor to the unit’s commander. The fact that I was Jewish would have undermined his authority as an officer of the People’s Army, and after my “unmasking” I could no longer perform my duties.213

The verdict in the trial of the commander of “Świt” was passed on 30 March 1954. Tadeusz Maj was sentenced to eight years in prison and three-year loss of civic rights.214 The conclusion of the judgment was that ‘the Polish people…with the exception of a small number of traitors from NSZ and AK, did not let itself be forced down the Fascist-Nazi path and under the leadership of revolutionary organizations it fought for the freedom of all Polish citizens, regardless of denomination, ethnic origin, sex, or religion.’215

←137 | 138→


The resonance of the archival material dealing with murders of Jews committed by members of Świt, and subsequently the 2nd Kielce AL Brigade bearing the same name, is summed up in the words of one of the murderers. Jan Kozieł said: ‘Considering the executions that were carried out and the attitude of the command to these incidents, one can conclude that the attitude of the Świt unit toward the population of Jewish origin was hostile.’216

The story of Tadeusz Maj’s trial reconstructed in this article, as well as other investigations concerning murders of Jews that never came to trial, document the tensions tearing apart the fabric of the communist power apparatus, which was unwilling to search for the truth about the Holocaust. Investigations were launched in order to target political rivals, and because in the period immediately preceding Stalin’s death the configuration of political forces kept changing, the relevant cases were pursued tardily and inconsistently. Józef Światło, vicedirector of the Special Bureau at Department X of MBP, who supervised the case code-named “Jesion” investigating Eugeniusz Wiślicz and a group of Świt partisans, was an exception to this trend. We cannot rule out that the knowledge he gained during this investigation of the extent of wartime and prewar antisemitism may in part have led to his flight to the West.

Translated from the Polish by Jerzy Michałowicz


The oral history collection in the personal archive of Michał Chęciński, who has recently passed away in Haifa, includes interview number 50,217 which merits special attention. In this interview, Chęciński talks to Polish Army Colonel Adam Kornecki, who from January to November 1945 served as the first chief of the Kielce WUBP. Kornecki, a paratrooper deployed in the Kielce region in 1944, claims to have acted as an intermediary between Moczar and the Russians during ←138 | 139→Moczar’s conflict with Kasman.218 His account contains the following characteristic of Moczar from this period: ‘When the partisans were collecting watches, he would pick the best watch for himself and his lover. In a word, he acted like a batiuszka, doing what he wished. […] It was common practice to disarm various Jewish groups in the forests. Not only would they take their weapons, but also their money, which they [the Jews, transl. note] were using to buy food. It was usual for the Polish partisans to come to a village [and] stock up on food without paying, but the Jews had to pay, because they didn’t want anyone to get on their trail.’219

‘Antisemitism was already flourishing in the partisan units during the war. E.g. Łęcki, a former KBW commander, why, he did time for murdering Jews. And Łokietek – Maj, didn’t he do time? They discovered a girl at a farmer’s house; she was hiding there with a little boy. And this son of a bitch Łęcki brought her with him, slept with her for 8 days, and then he took her out to the forest and shot her dead himself. They were afraid of me, because they didn’t know that I was Jewish. But once they discovered that someone was Jewish, they killed him.’220

‘Question: Why did Sobczyński give orders to murder Jews, how did he justify that? Answer: That those Jews were Gestapo agents and that’s it. That was enough, that was his excuse. So we asked: and that 12-year-old boy whom you murdered, was he a Gestapo agent, too?’221

1 Browning, Christopher R.: Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp. W. W. Norton: New York 2010, p. 252: Although some groups of “forest fighters” – normally those associated with the Communist People’s Army – would accept Jews into their ranks, partisans connected with the conservative and nationalist Home Army usually refused to do so. What is worse, there were cases of units belonging to the Home Army or National Armed Forces robbing Jews or killing them on the spot. See chapter 9 of this book.

2 See reports of Jewish partisans, mainly from Record Group 301, Jewish Historical Institute Archive (Archiwum Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, AŻIH), collected in Diatłowicki, Jerzy (ed.): Żydzi w walce. Opór i walka z faszyzmem w latach 1939–1945, 2 vols. Żydowski Instytut Historyczny: Warsaw 2009–2010.

3 Gontarczyk, Piotr: “Z genealogii elit PZPR. Przypadek Stefana Kiljanowicza vel Grzegorza Korczyńskiego”. Glaukopis 1, 2003, p. 214–229; investigation and trial materials relating to the case of Grzegorz Korczyński, Institute of National Remembrance Archive (Archiwum Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, AIPN), AIPN BU507/221. Gontarczyk was also the first author to discover and publish materials of the trial of Tadeusz Maj. See for example, id.: Polska Partia Robotnicza. Droga do władzy 1941–1944. Fronda: Warsaw 2004, pp. 346–348; see also footnote 13.

4 The records of this trial are in the Archive of New Records (Archiwum Akt Nowych, AAN) in Warsaw, records of the Prosecutor General (Prokuratura Generalna, PG), PG 21/99; and Tadeusz Maj’s personal file, 8185; as well as in various collections in AIPN, such as documents concerning Adam Bakalarczyk, AIPN 0703/1132; and also complementary materials concerning the trial of Jan Kozieł, State Archive for the Capital City of Warsaw (Archiwum Państwowe, APW), Voievodeship Court for the Capital City of Warsaw (Sąd Wojewódzki dla, SW), IV3K.126/53, no. 6.

5 Browning, Remembering Survival, pp. 246–255.

6 In ibid., Browning quotes escapee testimonies, which can be found in Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, University of Southern California (VHA); see also Wierzbnik.html#TOC332, pp. 331–333, 362ff, retrieved 5.5.2012. One testimony by Louis Leib Feintuch from 1998, concerning a murder committed by an unidentified partisan group, certainly regards Maj’s unit Świt; see sub-section Kotyska below.

7 On the murder of a group of Jews by an AK unit commanded by Wincenty Tomasik “Potok”, see Skibińska, Alina: “‘Dostał 10 lat, ale za co?’ Analiza motywacji sprawców zbrodni na Żydach na wsi kieleckiej w latach 1942–1944”. In Engelking, Barbara / Grabowski, Jan (eds.): Zarys krajobrazu. Wieś polska wobec zagłady Żydów 1942–1945. Stowarzyszenie Centrum Badań nad Zagłada Żydów: Warsaw 2011.

8 See Browning, Remembering Survival, pp. 250–254, for the story about the sentence Mieczysław Moczar passed against the murderers of a Jewish soldier. David Sela’s testimony contains a similar account; see “In the Woods of Wierzbnik (with the Partisans)”. In: Shutzman, Mark (ed.): Wierzbnik-Starachowitz: A Memorial Book. Public Committee of the Wierzbnik-Starachowitz Society in Israel and the Diaspora: Tel Aviv 1973, p. 333; available in English at This case is possibly connected to the Ząbek murder case discussed below.

9 Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki as a secret UB collaborator code-named “Pióro” (AIPN, BU 00945/170/Jacket) indicates in a letter that he submitted “a written report [on the Maj case] to KC PPR, handing it in to comrade Kliszko,” ibid., p. 43.

10 From mid-1944 Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki was Maj’s deputy commander. During his trial for murdering Jews, held concurrently with Maj’s trial, Świt member Jan Kozieł “Galant” accused Orkan of antisemitism and ordering murders of Jews, APW, SW, IV3K.126/53, p. 61.

11 AAN, 8185, p. 7. In “Notatka służbowa” from March 28, 1951, officer Ludwik Sikora writes that Adam Bakalarczyk “Dulka” told Wacław Tracz “Skóra” that “Łokietek [Tadeusz Maj] was summoned to the Central Committee by comrade Zambrowski.”

12 For example, see the statement by Roman Przybyłowski, the WUPB deputy commander in Kielce, recorded during the IPN investigation into the Kielce pogrom (July 4, 1946), claiming that the Kielce district chief Eugeniusz Wiślicz-Iwańczyk was an antisemite who had ordered that Jews who tried to join his units be shot. “Przesłuchanie świadka Romana Przybyłowskiego”, undated, in Żaryn, Jan / Kamiński, Łukasz (eds.): Wokół pogromu kieleckiego I. Instytut Pamięci Narodowej: Kielce 2006, p. 377.

13 Some documents originating from these investigations were published in Chodakiewicz, Marek J. et al. (eds.): Tajne oblicze GLAL i PPR. Burchard Edition: Warsaw 1997–1999. Some historians, such as Ryszard Nazarewicz, tried to undermine the credibility of Światło’s material, suggesting it has been fabricated as a result of political pressure. Beside the testimonies of Świt soldiers, other documents also contradict this theory: the 1945 report cited in the beginning of this chapter; Józef Bugajski’s interrogation from 1948, corroborated by Władysław Sobczyński (see below); Roman Przybyłowski’s testimony cited in footnote 32; and the contents of Tadeusz OrkanŁęcki’s file (code-name “Pióro”).

14 The chronology is based on Paczkowski, Andrzej: Trzy twarze Józefa Światły. Przyczynek do historii komunizmu w Polsce. Prószyński i S-ka: Warsaw 2009, pp. 112, 130, 148ff.

15 He was replaced by Bolesław Bierut at the KC PPR meeting which took place on August 31 – September 3, 1948.

16 Iwańczyk-Wiślicz “Stary Jakub” was a member of prewar right-wing groups and the AK platoon commander of the “Wola” Sub-district before founding Świt. From May 1944, he was chief of staff of AL’s Third Radom-Kielce Sub-district. When Mieczysław Moczar assumed AL Sub-district command at the end of June 1944, Wiślicz became his deputy; after: Wieczorek, Mieczysław: Armia Ludowa. Działalność bojowa 1944–1945. MON: Warsaw 1984, p. 94. After the war he served as a Kielce voievode until he was deposed in 1948. See Akta osobowe Eugeniusza IwańczykaWiślicza, AAN, 8500. See Wiślicz-Iwańczyk, Eugeniusz: Echa Puszczy Jodłowej. MON: Warsaw 1969.

17 See footnote 39.

18 AIPN, BU 00945/170, p. 20. To be precise, two PPR members.

19 “Sprawozdanie kapt. Lewickiego dotyczące przeprowadzonego wywiadu w sprawie ppłk. Orkana-Łęckiego ze sztabu KBW do szefa Zarządu Informacji KBW, płk. Bundy, 30 sierpnia 1948” AIPN BU 00945/170, p. 20. Sub-Lieut. Osiński’s report is probably the unsigned “Notatka” from August 9, 1948, ibid., p. 19.

20 The incomplete “Wyciąg ze sprawy ‘Jesion’” from February 12, 1952 contains a mention (not corroborated elsewhere) that the NOW intelligence chief Jerzy Pyzialski, who perished in Auschwitz, allegedly claimed that Łęcki belonged to NSZ; AIPN, BU 00945/170, p. 45.

21 Ibid., p. 21.

22 See Paczkowski, Trzy twarze Józefa Światły, pp. 110–112.

23 Adam Bakalarczyk (born 1921) was a ZWZ squad leader in Rzeczniów and later deputy commander of Świt and chief of security in the Second AL Brigade. See reports about robberies he committed while working in this capacity in 1946, AIPN BU 703/1132, s. 7–74. He was later a lecturer and department head in the Central Training Office of the Ministry for Public Security Affairs, dismissed in June 1954; AIPN, BU 703/1132, s. 205. His complaint made to the Public Security Matters Committee was handled from October 16, 1956 by his former fellow partisan Marian Janic; AIPN BU 703/1132. Bakalarczyk returned to public life after Mieczysław Moczar’s comeback in 1956 and wrote his version of events in his memoirs; Bakalarczyk, Adam: Leśne boje. MON: Warsaw 1962.

24 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Bugajskiego Józefa, Sokołów”, September 22, 1949, AIPN BU 703/1132, s. 126. At that time Bugajski was in prison, serving a sentence pursuant to art. 118 §2 of the Polish Army Penal Code in connection with art. 115 §1 of the Polish Army Penal Code. Copies of this interrogation record were also included in the Maj trial files, AAN, PG 21/99 and can also be found in the file of secret collaborator “Pióro” – Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki, AIPN, BU 00945/170, s. 17.

25 See sub-section Ząbek’s Case below.

26 See sub-section How the Defendant Maj Viewed His Conduct below.

27 Sobczyński confirmed this, but may not have informed his superiors, “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Władysława Sobczyńskiego”, September 18, 1953, AAN, PG 21/99, pp. 428431.

28 So far, only copies of some investigation material have been discovered in the IPN archives, in the personal files of Adam Bakalarczyk and secret collaborator “Pióro” – Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki. The latter contains copies of the testimonies of Józef Bugajski (September 22, 1949), Jan Świtek (March 21, 1951), Zygmunt Połowniak (May 21, 1951), Jan Kozieł (June 23, 1951), and Tadeusz Orkan himself (February 29, 1948 and March 22, 1951).

29 After: Paczkowski, Trzy twarze Józefa Światły, p. 111.

30 Błażyński, Zbigniew: Mówi Józef Światło. LTW: Warsaw 2003, p. 130.

31 AIPN, BU 703/1132, pp. 144–156. The last name of the person who wrote the report is unknown. It is part of a larger document, which is missing the first twelve pages.

32 See Roman Przybyłowski’s statement, referred to in footnote 13: “the UB and MO posts in the Kielce region were mostly filled with former AL partisans, mostly ‘Garbaty’s’ (Stanisław Olczyk) and Wiślicz’s (Eugeniusz Wiślicz-Iwańczyk) men, as well as with [men] from some of the BCh units, such as Ozga-Michalski’s.” Cited in Żaryn and Kamiński, Wokół pogromu kieleckiego I, p. 377.

33 APW, SW, p. 43.

34 APW, MBP, [copy of a copy], March 21, 1951, “Akta sprawy nr 113/51 przeciwko Koziełowi Janowi”, no pagination.

35 Władysław Sobczyński (1904–1986), known as “Jurand”, “Kłych”, or “Władek”, was a member of the prewar Polish Communist Party in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. In 1939– 1940 he worked for the Soviet police in Hrubieszów and then in Rożyszcze. From June 1941 he worked with the NKVD, received Soviet intelligence training, and was transferred to the Baranowicze region, and from February 1944 he was chief of counterintelligence in the “Janowski” group led by Leon Kasman. He was in the Parczew and Janów forests in the Lublin region in the spring of 1944, and from there he moved into the Kielce region. In his personal questionnaire, he listed the following organizations he had belonged to: PPR, WRN, BCh, AL, and the right-wing ZWZ, AK, and NSZ [!]. See “Ankieta personalna Władysława Sobczyńskiego”, in Żaryn, Jan / Kamiński, Łukasz (eds.): Wokół pogromu kieleckiego II. Instytut Pamięci Narodowej: Kielce 2008, p. 412. From June 27, 1945 to January 1946, he served as the WUBP head in Rzeszów and then in Kielce. Following the Kielce pogrom he was dismissed, arrested, and reprimanded “for lack of vigilance and for helplessness.” On January 20, 1952, he was dismissed from the security apparatus, following charges that he participated in murdering Jews while in the AL. AIPN, BU 0305/388; AIPN, BU 0193/7009 v. 1–2 (7591/V). See Wiślicz on Sobczyński in Wiślicz-Iwańczyk, Echa Puszczy Jodłowej, pp. 186–189.

36 He describes them in his book Czas przeszły, czas teraźniejszy. Książka i Wiedza: Warsaw 1982. Świostek, from 1949 editor-in-chief of Chłopska Droga, was a reserve Lieutenant-Colonel and a board member at ZBOWiD; ibid., pp. 16, 227.

37 Janic became head of the Bureau of Complaints and Grievances of the Committee for Public Security Affairs in 1956, in which capacity he reviewed the records of the Tadeusz Maj trial, see AIPN, BU 703/1132, p. 205.

38 The author of the report cites the testimony of Stanisław Daniszewski and others. See also Błażyński, Mówi Józef Światło, p. 130. Investigation files [“Sprawa kryptonim ‘Jesion’ ”, AIPN, BU 703/1132, p. 148] corroborate his testimony, including prisoners’ names.

39 In addition to Lewoński, Antoni Heda “Szary”, the AK commander in the area where Wiślicz operated, was also questioned. He had been under Wiślicz’s command in ZWZ and confirmed Wiślicz’s collaboration with the Gestapo (AIPN, BU 703/1132, p. 149). See also Heda, Antoni: Wspomnienia “Szarego”. Oficyna Wydawn. Interim: Warsaw 1992, pp. 44–45, quoting AK Sub-district chronicler Marian Langer, son of a forester from Klepacze: “In a nearby village of Jasieniec [a Gestapo agent] together with the gendarmerie killed three PPR delegates from Radom […]. It took place in the presence of a local resident, Eugeniusz Iwańczyk “Wiślicz” (the future post-war Kielce voievode) who was under Krueger’s protection as his man, which is [confirmed by] eyewitness accounts.” See also ibid., p. 45, describing Krueger’s funeral after his assassination by AK: “a solemn funeral took place at the cemetery […] those who made a speech included also ‘the great Pole’ Iwańczyk-Wiślicz, who highlighted what a loss it was for the Third Reich.”

40 She was shot dead by Jan Koziel; see sub-section Men and Women below.

41 AIPN BU 00945/170, s. 13. It mentions one of the records that were excluded from Maj’s case, as reported by Capt. Jan Grzęda; see footnote 57.

42 See sub-section How the Defendant Maj Views His Conduct below.

43 AIPN BU 00945/170, p. 11.

44 In fact, the recruitment took place on October 22, 1956; see below.

45 AIPN BU 00945/170, p. 11.

46 The actual commitment to collaborate, written in Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki’s own hand, is dated October 22, 1951; AIPN BU 00945/170, s. 16.

47 On the rivalry between Światło and Piasecki, see Paczkowski, Trzy twarze Józefa Światły, p. 135.

48 Światło was correct in pointing out the distance separating Orkan and Wiślicz. It was confirmed by the subsequent cessation of cooperation after Światło’s emigration, as “the subject of interest [“Jesion”] resides in Lublin and informer ‘Pióro’ has no means to contact him.” See Ludwik Sikora’s “Notatka służbowa dotycząca informatora ‘Pióro’”, February 16, 1954, AIPN, BU 00945/170, s. 49.

49 AIPN, BU 00945/170, pp. 33–39.

50 AIPN, BU 00945/170, pp. 26–27.

51 “Meldunek dotyczący Sobczyńskiego Władysława”, July 4, 1951, in the form of a letter from Henryk Piasecki to the Minister of Public Security Radkiewicz, AIPN, BU 703/1132, pp. 166–169.

52 AIPN, BU 00945/170 p. 39.

53 AIPN, BU 00945/170, p. 39.

54 AIPN, BU 00945/170, p. 13.

55 The preserved fragments of “Charakterystyka agentury w sprawie ‘Jesion’”, January 12, 1952, indicate that in addition to Wiślicz, Department X was also working on Mieczysław Róg-Świostek, AIPN, BU 00945/170, p. 46.

56 Decision to exclude documents dated May 30, 1951 (two with this date); May 31, 1951 (two with this date); June 1, 1951; June 2, 1951; June 3, 1951; June 4, 1951 (three with this date: one of the three interrogation transcripts from that day is in the file of Adam Bakalarczyk; see footnote 57 below); June 5, 1951; June 6, 1951; June 8, 1951; July 6, 1951; as well as Maj’s own testimonies from June 11, 12 and 13, 1951; signed by Capt. Jan Grzęda, May 18, 1953, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 369.

57 The document in question is “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Tadeusza Maja”, June 4, 1951, AIPN, BU 703/1132, p. 95 and others.

58 Interrogation from June 2, 1951, regarding Orkan-Łęcki and his attempt to talk Maj into eliminating miner Michał Jaworski, is mentioned in the “Raport o zgodę na werbunek”, AIPN, BU 00045/170, s. 13.

59 Maj describes the street incidents that he had witnessed, and also makes note of the astonishing passivity of Sobczyński, the then chief of WUPB in Kielce; “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Tadeusza Maja”, June 4, 1951, AIPN BU 703/1132, s. 95–75.

60 He worked in Radom until June 1946, at which time he was transferred to WUPB Kielce, and from there a month later he was sent to MBP Training Center in Łódź; “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Antoniego [sic] Bakalarczyka”, June 29, 1949, AIPN BU 703/1132, s. 55.

61 Franciszek Maj wrote a letter to the State Council on June 25, 1954, reminding them that “none other than him [Tadeusz Maj] took active part in defusing the situation during the Kielce pogrom. He organized transport for wounded Jews, for which he was commended. It should also be mentioned that by accusing Sobczyński and Wiślicz, Łokietek concluded that the sources of the Kielce pogrom should be traced back to the occupation,” AAN, PG 21/99, p. 552.

62 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Eugeniusza WiśliczaIwańczyka”, October 16, 1953, ibid., pp. 432–435.

63 On the circumstances of Moczar’s falling out of favor during the period of struggle against the “right-wing nationalist deviation,” see Lesiakowski, Krzysztof: Mieczysław Moczar “Mietek.” Biografia polityczna. Rytm: Warsaw 1998.

64 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Władysława Sobczyńskiego”, September 18, 1953, Warsaw, AAN, PG 21/99, pp. 428–431.

65 See sub-section Wiślicz and Sobczyński below.

66 “Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Koziełowi Janowi”, October 12, 1953, APW, SW, p. 4. The trial was scheduled to begin on January 24, 1954, and the sentencing took place on March 16, 1954, one week before the beginning of Maj’s trial. Kozieł was sentenced to five years and one month imprisonment and loss of civic rights for two years. In 1956 Kozieł was pardoned. The two defendants were tried by the same judge, K. Kaczyński.

67 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, June 10, 1951, APW, MBP, no pagination.

68 See Paczkowski, Trzy twarze Józefa Światły, pp. 173–175.

69 In “Notatka” from January 4, 1954, AAN, PG 21/99, s. 217.

70 On March 16, 1954, the documentation was supplemented with a transcript of Bakalarczyk’s testimony from February 16, 1954, and a letter by Kazimierz Kostirko, director of MBP department from March 16, 1954; ibid., p. 176. Andrzej Paczkowski describes the general’s views as antisemitic; Paczkowski, Trzy twarze Józefa Światły, p. 103.

71 “Akt oskarżenia przeciwko Majowi Tadeuszowi”, January 22, 1953, written by Capt. Marian Szpiega, ibid., pp. 148–151.

72 “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko Tadeuszowi Majowi”, March 27, 1954, PG 21/99, s. 424. At the hearing, Wiślicz also said: “Socbczyński told me that Jews were wandering about the forest, endangering the units, which means that he had a rather positive opinion on what Łokietek has done.”

73 Ibid., pp. 526–527: “The defendant requests the questioning of witness Sobczyński. The prosecution opposes this request and requests that Sobczyński’s testimony be read. The Court has decided not to grant the defendant’s request regarding the questioning of Władysław Sobczyński, as the Court will determine the circumstances that the witness could describe himself, during the verdict phase [of the trial].”

74 Voievodeship Court for the Capital City of Warsaw: “Sentencja wyroku w sprawie przeciwko Tadeuszowi Majowi”, March 30, 1954, AAN, PG 21/99, s. 537, 538: “Considering the logical assumption that Sobczyński and Wiślicz, in case they did indeed issue this order to [Maj], will not confess to it anyway […] the Court has not sufficiently clarified this issue, so crucial in this case […] and therefore, according to the rule in dubio pro reo, it has ruled in the defendant’s favor, admitting that he had acted upon orders from Sobczyński and Wiślicz.”

75 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Bakalarczyka Adama”, June 28, 1951, AIPN, BU 703/1132, s. 101. Witnesses (e.g. Barszcz) testified that it was Bakalarczyk who gathered the money and valuables taken away from the Jews by the Kotyska River.

76 This is mentioned expressis verbis in a letter to Col. Siedlecki regarding Bakalarczyk’s testimony from May 1953, signed by Capt. Kałkus, head of Section I Department IV of the Functionaries Affairs Bureau at MBP: “the case in question cannot be investigated separately from the entirety of issues which are of interest to Department X.”

77 AAN, PG 21/99, p. 444.

78 Ibid., p. 474.

79 Ibid., pp. 476–478.

80 AIPN, BU 703/1132, p. 158. Let us note that Bakalarczyk first mentioned this fact in the course of an interrogation on 28 June 1951.

81 Signed by Capt. Kyzioł, AIPN, BU 703/1132, s. 192.

82 This follows from a comparison between two documents, “Raport o zezwolenie na werbunek”, AIPN, 00945/170, p. 14, and “Zobowiązanie do współpracy”, ibid., s. 16.

83 AIPN, BU 703/1132, copies: s. 178, 179, and 180. It is possible that Kyzioł meant another Tadeusz Łęcki (“Żak”), who had indeed perished during the war; see Róg-Świostek, Czas przeszły i teraźniejszy, pp. 60–62.

84 AIPN, BU 703/1132, s. 173. An annotation in the same handwriting appears on the margins in another place: “Was Maj questioned about this incident [homicide by the Kotyska River]? Did he report to someone about this incident? And who in the Central Committee did he talk to about this incident?” July 5, 1951, ibid., s. 161.

85 AIPN, BU 00945/170, s. 49. He was ousted from the network of secret collaborators on March 29, 1954, ibid., s. 52.

86 Ibid., s. 53, 54. His file was filmed in 1975.

87 Film studio Czołówka, 1967, consultant Marian Janic. On Janic, see also Róg-Świostek, Czas przeszły i teraźniejszy, p. 86.

88 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 26, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 315.

89 Wiślicz wrote about the number of partisans in the unit in his Echa Puszczy Jodłowej, p. 81: “In the spring of 1944, our Strachowice AL group grew to the size of at least a batallion of soldiers.” The coincidence of the name of the organization and the partisan unit under Maj’s command enabled Wiślicz to overstate the group’s numbers and strength. Other witnesses estimated Świt’s manpower at thirty soldiers. See e.g. “Przesłuchanie podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, June 10, 1951, APW, MBP, unpaginated.

90 For Wiślicz on Maj, see id., Echa Puszczy Jodłowej, pp. 69, 132–134.

91 Most members of the group had earlier been members of ZWZ; see e.g. “Przesłuchanie świadka Warszakowskiego Bolesława”, Warsaw, April 13, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 406.

92 See Działalność organizacji “Świt” i II Brygady AL Ziemi Kieleckiej na Kieleczczyźnie w latach 1942–1945, typescript (1968), file of Wiślicz Iwańczyk, AAN, 8500.

93 Garas, Józef Bolesław: Oddziały Gwardii Ludowej i Armii Ludowej 1942–1945. MON: Warsaw 1963, pp. 232, 245; Józef Garas et al. (eds.): Wspomnienia żołnierzy GL i AL. MON: Warsaw 1962. See ibid. for reference to Orkan-Łęcki; also Róg-Świostek, Mieczysław: II Kielecka Brygada AL “Świt” – Wspomnienia partyzantów. Wojskowy Instytut Historyczny: Warsaw 1970; Wieczorek, Armia Ludowa, p. 94.

94 See e.g. Kornecki, Adam: Spadochroniarze. Unpublished typescript: “I soon met the Sub-district III chief of staff, Capt. Wiślicz […] before the war Wiślicz was not a member of the revolutionary movement and, like he told me, he met our people completely by chance.” Personal file of Adam Kornecki, AAN, 7774, s. 7.

95 AAN, PG 21/99, pp. 323–324. During the trial Maj admitted that he “regarded ZWZ as a left-wing organization”; “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 16, 1954, ibid., p. 507.

96 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 27, 1951, ibid., p. 332.

97 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Barszcza Jana”, March 16, 1950, ibid., p. 378.

98 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Tracza Wacława”, March 27, 1951, ibid., p. 399. During interrogation, Bakalarczyk gives the year as 1943 instead of 1944 (see WiśliczIwańczyk, Echa puszczy jodłowej, p. 142). “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Bakalarczyka Adama”, Warsaw, February 16, 1954, ibid., p. 454.

99 Działalność organizacji “Świt” i II Brygady AL Ziem Kieleckiej na Kieleczczyźnie w latach 1942–1945. Unpublished typescript, 1968, p. 25, in Wiślicz-Iwańczyk’s file, AAN, 8500.

100 Wiślicz: “It must be said that paramedics and doctors of Jewish origin were invaluable; they treated partisans with great dedication. I also knew two others – they were a couple – unfortunately they perished during the war, while crossing the front on the Vistula River,” “Działalność AL na Kielecczyźnie. Relacja Eugeniusza Iwańczyka -Wiślicza. Nagrana w Zakładzie Historii Partii”, September 9, 1965, ibid., p. 122.

101 The witness verified the information at the hearing; Sąd Wojewódzki m. st. Warszawy. “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27, 1954, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 513. On Maj’s conduct, see also the testimony of Col. Bronisław Jaworski “Michał”, Sąd Wojewódzki m. st. Warszawy. “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27, 1954, ibid., p. 520: “The doctor and his wife complained to me about the particular attitude displayed toward them by all the members of the unit, including the defendant, who had allegedly refused to issue them with weapons”; see below.

102 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Józefa Bugajskiego”, September 22, 1949, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 376. During Jan Kozieł’s trial in January 1954, Bugajski reformulates his statement: “The attitude toward that Jewish doctor was good, but toward the end deputy commander Orkan behaved improperly toward them; as a result, the doctor and his wife transferred to another unit, where later he perished.” “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko Janowi Koziełowi”, January 23, 1954, APW, SW, p. 44.

103 “Przesłuchanie podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, June 10, 1951, APW, MBP, unpaginated.

104 See personal file of Czesław Byk-Borecki in AAN 8181, p. 4. See also Wieczorek, Armia Ludowa, pp. 290, 340–343, 344, 345, 417. At first Borecki headed the PUBP in Radom, then MUBP in Kielce, WUBP in Kielce and Zielona Góra; see Żaryn and Kamiński, Wokół pogromu kieleckiego II, p. 95. During his term in office in Radom and Kielce, he was accused of repeated embezzlement and robbery, including the charge that “gold was dug out in the ghetto, and it was split among ourselves”; “Przesłuchanie świadka Czerwińskiego”, AIPN, BU 703/1132, pp. 71, 73.

105 E.g. Władysław Dąbrowski, Wincenty Krzos, Jan Zaremba “Okrutny”, Stanisław Chmurzyński “Topór” (p. 34), Edward Pastuszko “Ptak”, Jan Kozieł “Galant” from Iłża (see Wiślicz, Echa puszczy jodłowej, p. 136, and NN “Smotek” from Starachowice. “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 27, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 371. In his 1949 testimony Józef Bugajski “Azja” added several noms-de-guerre of unit members: “Grom” [Jan Stanecki?, after Wiślicz, Echa puszczy jodłowej, p. 135] and “Zapałka” [Jan Świtek, after: ibid.; or Jan Latala, after: ibid., p. 260] PG 21/99, p. 371. In his 1951 testimony Jan Barszcz added “Przychodni” (“currently with the Special Commission in Kielce”; perhaps Stanisław Olczyk- Garbaty might be concerned here), Edward Konopski “Ząbek” from Milanówek near Warsaw; “Orkan himself shot him to death with a machine gun,” s. 381, see below. Wiślicz, Echa Puszczy Jodłowej, pp. 134–135, 201 lists also Jan Zaremba “Okrutny”, Bolesław Balcerowski “Trzcina”, Tadeusz Borek “Wywrot”. It also gives Przychodni’s real name: [Stanisław] Rokita, Maj’s aide-de-camp (idem, 201). In Tracz’s testimony there also appears one Teodor Stępień “Glina”; “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Tracza Wacława”, Warsaw, March 27, 1951, PG 21/99, s. 400.

106 At that time Maj joined forces with the units of Brzoza-Burecki “Wrzos” and “Góral”; “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Tracza Wacława”, Warsaw, 27 March 1951, PG 21/99, s. 399.

107 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 27, 1951, PG 21/99, p. 3.

108 “In a spruce copse, we had shacks made of branches, keeping the rain out. Our shacks were placed willy-nilly on an area of about 100 m2, with four or five checkpoints positioned around them,” “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Barszcza Jana”, Starachowice, March 16, 1951, PG 21/99, p. 382.

109 PG 21/99, p. 316.

110 Kotyska is a small river by which the murder took place; there is also a hill of the same name. See Heda, Wspomnienia “Szarego”, p. 69.

111 Józef Bugajski confirmed the date and the number of Jews they encountered (“eleven Jews, and one Jewess”); “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Bugajskiego Józefa”, September 20, 1949, PG 21/99, p. 370.

112 Maj referred to twelve Jews in his testimony; “Protokół przełuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 27, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 328.

113 These people escaped from the Starachowice forced labor camp, which the Germans did not guard well after April 1944, ibid.; this is confirmed by everyone who testified on the matter.

114 For more information, see sub-section Ząbek’s case below.

115 One of the Jews who “assumed the nickname ‘Szczęśliwy’, was of medium height, wore a white sports jacket, thick leather officer’s boots, and special trousers for the shoes – breeches.” On Szczęśliwy’s boots, see sub-section Ząbek’s case below. “Protokół zeznania świadka Świtka Jana”, March 21, 1951, PG 21/99, pp. 393–394.

116 He later testified that he had ordered Bakalarczyk to select people for this operation; “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 28, 1951, PG 21/99, p. 336.

117 On May 27, 1951, he added the name of Edward Pastuszko “Ptak” and “Smotka” (PG 21/99, p. 326), Jan Kozieł “Galant” and Jan Maj “Sęk” (PG 21/99, p. 332). On March 30, 1953, he also listed Józef Bugajski “Azja”; PG 21/99, p. 366. See “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Bugajskiego Józefa”, September 22, 1949, PG 21/99, p. 370. Jan Świtek named the following as the shooters: Tadeusz Maj, Bakalarczyk, Kozieł, Tracz, “Smotek” and Wiślicz’s aide de camp, Ząbek; “Protokół zeznania świadka Świtka Jana”, March 21, 1951, PG 21/99, p. 383. Warszakowski named Bakalarczyk, Tracz, and Tadeusz Borek “Wywrot”; “Przesłuchanie świadka Warszakowskiego Bolesława”, Warsaw, April 13, 1951, PG 21/99, p. 410. Jan Kozieł named himself, Bakalarczyk, Tracz, Tadeusz Borek, “Smotek”, “Trzcina” and “Łokietek”; “Przesłuchanie podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, June 10, 1951, APW, MBP, unpaginated.

118 It was “one banknote of Polish money”; “Protokół przełuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 27, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 330. In subsequent testimony, he said it was “probably 500 złoty sewn into the jacket.” Two years later (March 30, 1953), he said that it might have been a dollar bill. See also Tracz’s testimony: “Then one Jew said he had money sewn in the jacket. Łokietek replied that because he didn’t reveal the money right away he would be shot,” “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Tracza Wacława”, Warsaw, March 27, 1951, PG 21/99, s. 399. See also Leib Fajntuch, cited in Browning, who also described this incident of forcing a group of fugitive Jews to surrender their valuables, the shooting of one who had kept one bill sewn into his clothing, and forcing the rest to scatter and run; Browning, Remembering Survival, pp. 249–250.

119 “Łokietek was the one to order who should take off which [clothes]”; “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Tracza Wacława, Warsaw”, March 27, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, pp. 402–403. “[T]here were rumors going around that they had all been undressed and Łokietek ordered them to run up the hill into the blackthorn bushes in pairs, and then the escapees were shot at.” “Przesłuchanie świadka Warszakowskiego Bolesława”, Warsaw, April 13, 1951, PG 21/99, p. 412. “The money and jewellery handed in by the Jews was counted by Dulka-Bakalarczyk and, I think, Bugajski Józef […]. I don’t know what has been done with the money and the jewellery”; “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Tracza Wacława”, Warsaw, March 27, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 403.

120 “During the flight and the shooting I saw one of the [persons] running away fall, but he got back up and kept running […] I don’t rule out […] that a number of people might have been killed,” PG 21/99, s. 331.

121 Ibid., pp. 318–319.

122 In the following days he continued to uphold the charges against Sobczyński and Iwańczyk; “Protokół przełuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 27, 1951, ibid., pp. 328 and 335; as he did two years later, “Protokół końcowego przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, Warsaw, May 20, 1953, ibid., p. 416.

123 “Przesłuchanie podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 22, 1951, ibid., p. 322. “I didn’t know Sobczyński, so Iwańczyk introduced him to me as the spokesman for the Soviet NKVD”; “Przesłuchanie podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 27, 1951, ibid., p. 328.

124 “Przesłuchanie podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 26, 1951, AIPN, BU 703/1132, p. 94.

125 “Protokół przełuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, March 30, 1953, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 366; Wiślicz’s words recorded in “Protokół końcowego przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, Warsaw, ibid., May 20, 1953: “Make sure not to miss that Kamiński from Iłża, who knows me well and knows also others.”

126 Kamiński is mentioned in the complaint filed by Maj’s wife, Eugenia, and addressed to Franciszek Jóźwiak, dated March 21, 1953, PG 21/99, p. 90.

127 Tracz refers to her in his testimony: “The Jewess was wearing a green dress and it seems she remained in it,” Sąd Wojewódzki Miasta Stołecznego Warszawy, “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko Tadeuszowi Majowi”, March 27, 1954, PG 21/99, s. 517.

128 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Tadeusza Maja”, May 27, 1951, ibid., p. 326. “The conversation led by Łokietek was of a mocking and humiliating character. E.g. […] he was talking to the woman who belonged to the group. He asked her if she was a virgin, if she had already had intercourse with a man, which one of his men she would choose for a boyfriend, etc. These questions made Łokietek’s group burst out in laughter. When the woman, shy and embarrassed, would not answer Łokietek’s questions, he threatened to shoot her dead […] if she didn’t answer. So the woman said she would choose Łokietek. But Łokietek just spat on the ground and said in a vulgar way that he didn’t need her”; “Przesłuchanie świadka Warszakowskiego Bolesława”, Warsaw, April 13, 1951, ibid., p. 406; Maj confirmed this incident in “Protokół końcowego przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, Warsaw, May 20, 1953, ibid., p. 418. Warszakowski’s testimony regarding this incident: “I heard a playful conversation with the Jewess. Łokietek was asking her if she was married,” Sąd Wojewódzki m. st. Warszawy, “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27, 1954, ibid., p. 517.

129 “Protokół przełuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 28, 1951, ibid., p. 336. Wacław Tracz: “When the Jewess entreated Łokietek to allow her to run in pair with [her] brother, Łokietek refused and she had to go on her own”; “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Tracza Wacława”, Warsaw, March 27, 1951, ibid., p. 403.

130 Wiślicz called him a collaborator; Wiślicz, Echa Puszczy Jodłowej, p. 137.

131 Square-shaped designated section of the forest.

132 As Warszakowski testified: “Łokietek ordered them to run up the hill into the blackthorn bushes in pairs, and then the escapees were shot at”; “Przesłuchanie świadka Warszakowskiego Bolesława”, Warsaw, April 13, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 412. See also forester Giemza’s statement in sub-section Men and Women below.

133 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Giemzy Józefa”, April 20, 1950, ibid., p. 376; “Przesłuchanie świadka Warszakowskiego Bolesława”, Warsaw, April 13, 1951, ibid., p. 406. Perhaps the wounded man was Lejb Fajntuch, his brother or one of their companions; see footnote 118.

134 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Barszcza Jana”, Starachowice, March 16, 1950, ibid., p. 383. Warszakowski and Jan Maj–Sęk buried the bodies of the two Jews shot personally by Tadeusz Maj by the Kotyska River; “Przesłuchanie świadka Warszakowskiego Bolesława”, Warsaw, April 13, 1951, ibid., p. 411.

135 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Jana Barszcza”, March 16, 1953, ibid., p. 383.

136 Kozieł mentions “Smotek” saying almost exactly these words, see below; “Protokół rozprawy głownej przeciwko Janowi Koziełowi”, March 13, 1954, APW, SW, p. 60.

137 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Jana Barszcza”, March 16, 1953, AAN, PG 21/99, pp. 385–386.

138 Ibid.

139 And rightly so, as is shown in the following statement: “Committing the murder, I was above all led by an order […]. On the other hand, a recent image of the elimination of Jewish people by the Kotyska [River] was on my mind, where the commander of the combat unit ‘Świt’ himself – Maj Tadeusz ‘Łokietek’ was firing shots in person, this also had an influence on my adoption of a view that people of Jewish ethnicity should be eliminated”; “Protokół zeznania podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, an undated copy, AIPN BU 00945/170, s. 31.

140 “Protokół przełuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 26, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, pp. 319 and 327.

141 “Protokół przełuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, March 30, 1953, ibid., p. 368.

142 “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko Janowi Koziełowi”, March 13, 1954, APW, SW, p. 60.

143 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, June 10, 1951, APW, MBP, no pagination.

144 See e.g. Wieczorek, Armia Ludowa, p. 101; Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki, in Garas et al., Wspomnienia żołnierzy GL i AL, p. 306.

145 “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko Janowi Koziełowi”, January 23, 1954, testimony of Józef Bugajski, APW, SW, p. 44.

146 “Przesłuchanie świadka Jana Barszcza”, March 16, 1951, APW, MBP, unpaginated.

147 Tracz, during the main hearing; see Voievodeship Court for the Capital City of Warsaw, “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27, 1954, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 515.

148 “Protokół zeznania świadka Świtka Jana”, March 21, 1951, ibid., p. 396.

149 “Protokół przełuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 27, 1951, ibid., p. 327.

150 Ibid., p. 370.

151 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Bugajskiego Józefa”, September 22, 1949, ibid., p. 372.

152 “Przesłuchanie świadka Warszakowskiego Bolesława”, Warsaw, April 13, 1951, ibid., p. 411.

153 Ibid.

154 “Przesłuchanie świadka Józefa Giemzy”, April 20, 1950, ibid., p. 377. See also his testimony in “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko Janowi Koziełowi”, January 23, 1954, APW, SW, p. 45.

155 “Protokół zeznania świadka Świtka Jana”, March 21, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, pp. 395– 396. Prosecutor Władysław Dymant’s note from January 4, 1954: “The defendant Kozieł has only confessed to the murder of that woman [in the forest] near the village of Marcule,” PG 21/99, s. 217. It also says that Kozieł was arrested on June 13, 1951 and that his trial was set to open at the Provincial Court of the Capital City of Warsaw on January 23, 1954.

156 In the same statement, Kozieł says: “I was walking behind them [i.e. Orkan and others], I think with Ząbek and Giemza.” However, forester Giemza claims not to know the defendant at all. “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko Janowi Koziełowi”, January 23, 1954, APW, SW, p. 45.

157 “Przesłuchanie podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, June 10, 1951, APW, MBP, not paginated.

158 “Przesłuchanie podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, June 23, 1951, APW, SW, not paginated.

159 Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki’s personal file contains his “My Own Testimony”, where he describes the fatal shooting of this woman by Kozieł, without mentioning his own role in the incident, AIPN, BU 00945/170, s. 44.

160 Sąd Wojewódzki dla, “Wyrok w sprawie przeciwko Janowi Koziełowi”, March 16, 1954, APW, SW, p. 71. Tadeusz Orkan-Łęcki was not called as a witness in this or in any other case, and he was never tried because of ill health. On March 29, 1954, he was expunged from the list of secret MBP collaborators.

161 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Bakalarczyka Adama”, Warsaw, February 16, 1954, PG 21/99, p. 457. During the main hearing, Bugajski also mentioned a Jew, a member of Świt, ndg. “Antek”; Sąd Wojewódzki m. st. Warszawy. “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27, 1954, PG 21/99, p. 513. By contrast, Tadeusz Maj himself testified: “While my unit was staying in Dobieszów or its environs, a married couple arrived. The man, who was assigned to Orkan’s unit, allegedly died during the attack on a bridge, whereas the woman allegedly survived until liberation and after the war apparently worked for WUBP in Kielce, then in Łódź or Tomaszów”; “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, July 5, 1951, PG 21/99, p. 347.

162 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego”, June 10, 1954, APW, MBP, no pagination. On the rumors circulating in left-wing circles concerning “Jews in the Gestapo and SS,” and a supposed detachment of 2,000 Jews from ghettos (see “Meldunek o Żydach w Gestapo i SS”, AAN, 191/XII3, p. 308), see also Chodakiewicz et al., Tajne oblicze GLAL i PPR II, p. 211: “There was no special SS detachment numbering 2000 Jews. Spreading such rumors in GL contributed to the intensification of Antisemitic attitudes in the ranks of this organization.”

163 “Oświadczenie Zygmunta Połowniaka”, AIPN BU00945/170, p. 26.

164 Wiślicz: “my aide-de-camp Ząbek”; in: id., Echa Puszczy Jodłowej, pp. 272, 273, 277, 281. See also Garas et al., Wspomnienia żołnierzy GL i AL, p. 339 for M. RógŚwiostek’s memories.

165 “Protokół zeznania świadka Świtka Jana”, March 21, 1951, PG 21/99, pp. 393–394.

166 The expression “on his own” is absent from Bugajski’s testimony at Jan Kozieł’s trial; “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko Janowi Koziełowi”, January 23, 1954, APW, SW, p. 44v.

167 Sąd Wojewódzki m. st. Warszawy, “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27, 1954, PG 21/99, pp. 513 and 514.

168 Ibid., s. 519.

169 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Barszcza Jana”, March 16, 1951, PG 21/99, pp. 387–388.

170 Ibid., p. 388. Let us note that “Przychodni”, working for the Special Commission, had more to say upon the subject. Years later they talked about it in Kielce and “Przychodni” allegedly said that “if the authorities knew about those murders, Wiślicz and Łokietek would go to prison,” s. 389.

Józef Bugajski, a witness in Jan Kozieł’s trial, confirmed the circumstances of Ząbek’s execution: “Ząbek was apprehended after desertion and Orkan killed him for the ‘betrayal of the people.’ When Orkan was asked why he had done it, he said that such were the orders from the District”; “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko przeciwko Janowi Koziełowi”, January 23, 1954, APW, SW, pp. 44v–45.

171 E.g. see Wieczorek, Armia Ludowa, p. 203; Garas et al., Wspomnienia żołnierzy GL i AL, pp. 294–295, 338; Garas, Oddziały Gwardii Ludowej i Armii Ludowej, p. 232.

172 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Warszakowskiego Bolesława”, Warsaw, April 13, 1951, PG 21/99, p. 412.

173 Ibid., pp. 412–413.

174 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Świtka Jana”, March 21, 1951, PG 21/99, p. 396.

175 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Tracza Wacława”, Warsaw, March 27, 1951, PG 21/99, p. 401. For the version of the roll call with the participation of Wiślicz and Sobczyński prior to the execution of the Jews by the Kotyska River, see “Pismo Tadeusza Maja do Sądu Wojewódzkiego M. Warszawy”, 1954, PG 21/99, s. 476, and Tracz’s testimony in Sąd Wojewódzki m. st. Warszawy, “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27, 1954, PG 21/99, p. 515.

176 Motion filed by attorneys Aleksander Soroka and Jan Załęski to the Provincial Court in Warsaw, on March 5, 1954, which concerened calling Bakalarczyk to testify. “At that time, I don’t remember the date exactly, Wiślicz […] and Sobczyński […] and conferred with the unit commander […] for two, three hours […]. Immediately after their departure, Tadeusz Maj […] gave orders to come with him”; “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Bakalarczyka Adama”, Warsaw, February 16, 1954, PG 21/99, s. 454.

177 “Przesłuchanie podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, June 10, 1951, APW, MBP, no pagination: “Before roll-call, Sobczyński and Wiślicz came to see our unit and conferred about something with Łokietek and Orkan-Łęcki.”

178 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Bakalarczyka Adama”, Warsaw, February 16, 1954, PG 21/99, p. 457.

179 “Protokół końcowego przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, Warsaw, May 20, 1953, PG 21/99, p. 419.

180 “Protokół końcowego przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, Warsaw, May 21, 1953, PG 21/99, p. 421.

181 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Władysława Sobczyńskiego”, Warsaw, September 18, 1953, PG 21/99, p. 429.

182 Ibid. Sobczyński mentioned Maj not carrying out an execution order of a partisan in Brody; releasing “two AK men suspected of collaborating with the Germans, killing PPR sympathizers”; and preventing the liquidation of “another German collaborator”, Flis “Robur”, commander of an AK unit in that area, who later switched over to AL.

183 Wiślicz said at the trial that one day when he was with Łokietek’s unit, he saw “a group of Jews hanging about the unit,” p. 525.

184 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Władysława Sobczyńskiego”, Warsaw, September 18, 1953, PG 21/99, p. 431.

185 Because of the Special Bureau’s charges of participating in the murders of Jews during AL partisan combat activity, he was removed from his post in the security agencies. On Sobczyński’s antisemitic excesses as director of the Passport Bureau, see vicedirector of the MBP Special Bureau H. Piasecki’s report to Minister Radkiewicz, July 4, 1951, AIPN 703/1132, pp. 166–169.

186 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Władysława Sobczyńskiego”, Warsaw, September 18, 1953, PG 21/99, p. 431.

187 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Władysława Sobczyńskiego”, November 12, 1958, PG 21/99, p. 644.

188 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Władysława Sobczyńskiego”, Warsaw, September 18, 1953, PG 21/99, p. 645.

189 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Eugeniusza WiśliczaIwańczyka”, October 16, 1953, PG 21/99, pp. 432–435. Compare this with Wiślicz-Iwańczyk’s statement ten years later: “We can’t speak of any serious fights between Szary’s unit and ours”; Działalność organizacji “Świt” i II Brygady AL Ziem Kieleckiej na Kieleczczyźnie w latach 1942–1945. Unpublished typescript, 1968; Wiślicz-Iwańczyk’s file, AAN, 8500. See also misleading stories about Antoni Heda in Wiślicz, Echa Puszczy Jodłowej, 64–68. On Maj’s contacts with Szary, see also his testimony in the Communist Party Archive, PG 21/99, p. 346.

190 Jan Foremniak was a prewar communist from Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. He was appointed the first province governor of Kielce, and was shot dead by an AK soldier in 1944. He was the model for the character of Szczuka, the communist in Jerzy Andrzejewski’s film Ashes and Diamonds. Wiślicz’s assertions (“Protokół przesłuchania świadka Eugeniusza Wiślicza-Iwańczyka”, October 16, 1953, PG 21/99, pp. 432–435) were later denied by Sobczyński in testimony before the Prosecutor General during the extraordinary revision of the sentence against Maj; “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Władysława Sobczyńskiego”, November 12, 1958, PG 21/99, p. 644.

191 He repeated this at the trial; “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko Majowi Tadeuszowi”, March 27, 1954, PG 21/99, p. 525.

192 “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Eugeniusza WiśliczaIwańczyka”, October 16, 1953, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 434.

193 Ibid., p. 435.

194 “Protokół rozprawy głównej przeciwko Tadeuszowi Majowi”, March 27, 1954, PG 21/99, p. 525. In a letter to the State Council dated June 25, 1954, Tadeusz Maj’s brother Franciszek said that Wiślicz “admitted that he was with the unit on that day only after he had testified in the trial, in the corridor [of the court]”; ibid., p. 552.

195 Ibid., p. 525.

196 Cf. the expression “speculators” in Wiślicz’s account in reference to the Jews “hanging about” the unit. See also Eugenia Maj’s (Maj’s wife) letter to Franciszek Jóźwiak, chairman of the Party Control Committee from February 21, 1953: “[O]ne of the killed jews [sic!] was the owner of a number of lime kilns in Błaziny, besides that traded grain and other goods. He was the richest capitalist in Iłża. His brother was a Jewish policeman during the occupation, he was going round the nearby villages with the gendarmes, to requisition Jewish belongings,” PG 21/99, s. 90. See Chapter 5: The Figure of the Bloodsucker in Polish Religious, National and Leftist Discourse, 1945– 1946 in this volume.

197 “Protokół przełuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 27, 1951, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 325.

198 See also “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, May 26, 1951, ibid., p. 322.

199 “Protokół końcowego przesłuchania podejrzanego Maja Tadeusza”, Warsaw, May 20, 1953, p. 418.

200 Voievodeship Court for the Capital City of Warsaw. “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27, 1954, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 505.

201 Ibid., p. 515.

202 Ibid., p. 516.

203 Ibid., p. 521.

204 Ibid., p. 523; a mistake made either by the court typist or the witness.

205 Ibid., p. 527.

206 This version recurred in the extraordinary appeal filed by the Prosecutor General’s Office in 1958. See “Wyrok Sądu Najwyższego PRL”, June 16, 1958, AAN, PG21/99, p. 574ff. The Supreme Court quashed the 30 March 1954 lower court verdict and referred the case to the Warsaw Provincial Court for renewed examination of the possibility that Kamiński from Iłża collaborated with the Germans. Prosecutor Tadeusz Miernik consulted the then director of the Jewish Historical Institute (ŻIH), Adam Rutkowski (s. 594). A note from October 7, 1958 states that “cit. A. Rutkowski is unable to provide material [confirming] this,” although, “he does not rule out that at the time [July 1944] a Jew could have collaborated with the Germans” (s. 604). On October 14, 1958, Miernik summoned Stefan Winiarski from Iłża for questioning (p. 606). Winiarski told him a story about Kamiński (“man with a crooked nose”), whose cousin, a Jewish militiaman, was reportedly the son of Boruch, an elder in the Jewish community of Iłża. Kamiński “walked around with that militiaman,” calling in at the gendarmerie station. On October 14, 1958, Miernik questioned another resident of Iłża, Marian Mąciwoda (convicted of violating art. 39 of the criminal code), who confirmed the story about Kamiński’s (“without a nose”) cousin, the Jewish militiaman (p. 609): the cousins “walked about together.” The witness said that he had met a group of about 12 Jews, escapees from the Starachowice camp. They were all allegedly murdered by the Germans (at that time, the gendarmes burnt down a forester’s cabin at Bukowiny), except for one Langer, who emigrated (p. 610). (This could be a coincidence, but Wiślicz-Iwańczyk’s memoirs mention “Estera Langerowa from Iłża [currently living in the USA], who was staying with us and who was rescued by my wife and I”; see Meducki, Antyżydowskie wydarzenia kieleckie II, p. 85; also Wiślicz-Iwańczyk, Echa puszczy jodłowej, p. 213 on Langer the forester.) Miernik then questioned Tracz, who confirmed the order given to Maj by Sobczyński and Wiślicz and recalled that one of the executed victims was named Kamiński (p. 622); also one Stanisław Paździura from Iłża confirmed that Kamiński collaborated with the German gendarmerie (p. 657). The investigation concerning Maj was discontinued (“Postanowienie o umorzeniu śledztwa”, November 21, 1958, p. 658) on the grounds that “the victims collaborated with the Germans,” and therefore Maj was not called to account for his actions. Cf. also Wacław Maj’s (Tadeusz’s brother) letter to President Bolesław Bierut, in which he described Kamiński as a German collaborator and “cousin of one of the victims,” and therefore a person who had not been in the partisan camp PG 21/99, s. 62.

207 Sąd Wojewódzki m. st. Warszawy. “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27, 1954, PG 21/99, p. 504.

208 AAN, PG 21/99, p. 317.

209 On this subject, see “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Józefa Bugajskiego”, September 22, 1949, PG 21/99, p. 373. See also the testimony of Maj. Zygmunt Połowniak: “I am aware that in his [Orkan’s] unit there was a married couple of Jewish nationality, a doctor-surgeon, associate professor, whom Lt.-Col. Łęcki persecuted for his ethnic origin, mocked him and kept harassing him all the time. To confirm this fact, I can name a witness, my former subordinate as Chief of Staff of the 1st AK Brigade in Kielce Region, currently Lt.-Col. Adam Kornecki at Department II of the Central Command”; “Oświadczenie”, AIPN, BU 00945/170, p. 26. Tadeusz Maj mentions three other persons, whose subsequent fate is unknown. It is possible that these are the individuals I have written about in sub-section Men and Women.

210 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, June 10, 1951, APW, MBP, no pagination. Kozieł referred to them in greater detail in his testimony from June 23, 1951: “I recall that after the founding of the 2nd Brigade ‘Świt’, there were two Jews in our unit, one of them [was] a barber and another a cook. […] In late August or early September they were deployed in a very difficult operation of destroying a railway bridge. That bridge was very well guarded by Germans hiding in bunkers. Both of them were killed in action – the bridge had not exploded”; “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, June 23, 1951, AIPN BU 00945/170, p. 30.

211 On the barber and a bookkeeper in the unit, see Sąd Wojewódzki m. st. Warszawy. “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27, 1954, PG 21/99, p. 522. On the subject of two Jews employed as barber and bookkeeper in a left-wing unit, see Gershon Rosenwald’s testimony: “Shortly afterward we came upon another unit of Polish partisans, who took the remainder of the Polish money from us. I recognized one of them and told him our money had been taken, and then the commander came over, gave it back to us and afterward he recruited three of us [into his group] – the bookkeeper, the barber and someone else”; retrieved 5.5.2012, from Wierzbnik/Wierzbnik.html#Page381.

212 See Wiślicz, Echa Puszczy Jodłowej, pp. 259–260, on his weapon training classes.

213 Testimony of Bronisław Jaworski at the Sąd Wojewódzki m. st. Warszawy; “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, March 27,1954, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 520.

214 “Sentencja wyroku Sądu Wojewódzkiego dla m. st. Warszawy”, March 30, 1954, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 534. One and a half years later, on October 25, 1955, Tadeusz Maj was released on parole; “Pismo Prokuratora do Sądu Wojewódzkiego dla Warszawy”, November 4, 1955, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 563. This was supposed to be a furlough. The motion for consent was signed by the vice director of Department III of MBP, Alicja Graff. Maj never returned to prison.

215 “Sentencja wyroku Sądu Wojewódzkiego dla m. st. Warszawy”, March 30, 1954, AAN, PG 21/99, p. 537.

216 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Jana Kozieła”, AIPN, BU 00945/170, s. 32.

217 Conversation held on July 4 and 5, 1974 in Munich, where Kornecki had emigrated. The recording and its transcript are the courtesy of Michał Chęciński. Chęciński, Michał: Teksty przepisane z taśmy dla prof. Tokarskiej-Bakir, Dr Michał Chęciński, 17, Zidqiahu St., Hifa 34409, Israel. Unpublished typescript, pagination based on individual interviews.

218 Chęciński, Teksty, p. 22. See also Kasman, Leon / Torańska, Teresa: “Konflikt z Moczarem”. Aneks 39, 1985, pp. 86–110.

219 Chęciński, Teksty, p. 22.

220 Chęciński, Teksty, pp. 40, 41.

221 Chęciński, Teksty, p. 41.

←139 | 140→