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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

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Chapter 10: Suppressio veri, suggestio falsi. The History of Ryszard Maj’s Testimony

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Chapter 10:Suppressio veri, suggestio falsi. The History of Ryszard Maj’s Testimony

Ever since the historians’ recognition of the cognitive value of oral sources, establishing the distinction between history and past-oriented cultural anthropology has become increasingly difficult. Notwithstanding the resistance to this development, perceptible in Polish public opinion, anthropology concerned with the past is gradually undergoing historicization, whereas history – anthropologiza-tion. However, it can be assumed that some borders between these disciplines will never disappear. Historians will remain specialists in archival research; anthropologists, on the other hand, will emphasize the crucial importance of theory in description.

A researcher attempting to define the distinction between history and anthropology is compelled to generalize, and such attempts are easily undermined by examples of historians-anthropologists or, conversely, anthropologists with historical inclinations.

Therefore, the characteristics shown below should be treated as a list of topics for discussion, rather than a model of established differences.

  • Compared with history, anthropology is a more recent field of research, shaped by its contrast with history. Unlike history, which subscribes to ideals of cognitive absolutism, it has been formed on the basis of cultural relativism and its critique. From the interwar period onward, it has been shaped in opposition to various types of historicism, which constitutes a framework yet to be overcome, not only within the Polish tradition of scientific research into the past. This tradition, either due to its isolation from the international academia, or to the changing research paradigms, is generally averse to profound methodological reflection: it favors the “language of bare facts”.
  • Historical anthropology attempts to avoid the extremes of relativism and positivism; that is, it accepts that it is possible to gain an increasingly better knowledge of the past1, but at the same time it assumes that the real truth about the events, being a compromise between various perspectives, is a sort of a limit value, which can only be aspired to.

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  • It has been said that anthropology concentrates not as much on facts as on what individuals say about the facts2. Admittedly, it uses people’s comments to paint its own picture of the events verified in the course of field research. This is not a sign of relativism, but rather of sensitivity to the social mechanism of generating knowledge and the dependence of perception on social and cognitive biases3.
  • The anthropologist’s expertise in understanding people’s comments about events, the methods for suppressing certain things from memory, their blurring and obscuring, supports what the historians call the critique of sources. Being familiar with how individual contributors present certain facts makes it possible to elucidate them4. However, this requires knowledge of the principles of social perception, the select rules of narration – constructing stories about the past, and of the rules of social discourse.
  • When embarking on field research, anthropologists bear in mind the existing historical narrative, yet prepare to recognize voices which are unknown, unfamiliar, and which do not conform to the socially established version. They listen to gossip, interjections, and jokes; detect tensions, omissions, and points where the narrative breaks down. Afterwards, they endeavor to archive the comments, snippets of memories, distortions and omissions collected in the field. Anthropologists do not reject that which cannot be verified. Often these particular elements lead to a reconstruction of attitudes that are not apparent when using the method of direct interviews, not to mention quantitative5 or archival research.
  • Anthropologists tend to quote their sources more extensively than historians, who sometimes know all too well what it is they are looking for in them. An overly expressive narrative leads to the censoring of texts, from which “useless elements” are eliminated, only because the historians do not know the purpose they could serve6. The highest value in historical research rests within the immediacy of sources that transmit the voices of the past. This immediacy ←380 | 381→appears in historical discourse when instead of paraphrasing the event’s participants, they are simply allowed to speak for themselves. The paraphrase is always anachronistic, whereas live speech recorded in the sources constitutes a sort of a fossil, transmitting the voice of an era7.

Suppressio veri

British historian Perry Anderson asserts that in contemporary historiography, suggestio falsi, i.e. blatant suggestion of untruth, is comparatively rare. Much more common, Anderson claims, is suppressio veri, i.e. the presentation of truth in a way that prevents objections. “Representations [are] omitted rather than misrepresentation committed”8.

This view directly relates to historical and anthropological studies of the Holocaust. Given the lack of the most important testimonies – indeed, the Holocaust studies sources face such a predicament – one can only resort to suppressio veri. We “suppress the truth” in thousands of testimonies, since – given the absence of millions of witnesses – we are unable to verify them scientifically9. The use of plural is in this case intentional, as anthropologists also strive for scientific verification of testimonies. However, only anthropologists, unlike historians, ask questions about what happens with the collective memory when certain crucial, but too inadequately attested fragments of the past, cannot be verified scientifically. What is it like to live in a world where historians – out of necessity – avoid topics in the context of which it is not possible to acquire verifiable knowledge, or not even approximate one? Since, as the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum, what is the nature of that which fills this vacuum? When Jan Tomasz Gross postulated “a new attitude toward sources” in his Sąsiedzi, he undoubtedly meant taking into account the moral consequences of such a situation10.

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In Poland, the Grossian postulate of “a new attitude toward sources” has initiated a search for and the rehabilitation of hitherto ignored sources, which could lead to diminishing the gaps in our most recent history. Only after the publication of Sąsiedzi has the local historical discourse embraced the notion that oral history, and the way common people remember the past, is not necessarily in opposition to academic history11. In fact, Gross was instrumental in disseminating the view that the relation between truth and memory, between oral history and history without an adjective, can in fact differ from the one we are accustomed to.

The power of oral history is in its brutality. Licensed historical discourse is based on the logic of paraphrase and the description of sources. The historian’s role is that of a translator. The risk associated with translation is epitomized in an Italian expression traduttore tradittore. By paraphrasing the facts, historians – often unintentionally – deform them, decontextualize them and endow them with an obviousness alien to them. For nothing is as ephemeral and historically changeable as obviousness.

Compared with the paraphrase, there is a completely different energy enclosed in a quotation, a tool used in oral history/historical anthropology. Thanks to a quotation, it is possible to almost physically touch the past12: to observe it in the lexis and syntax, to independently consider the choice of certain words and the rejection of others, to notice the omissions and the cases of non sequitur. Oral history also makes available something that is rarely included in the Holocaust discourse: the voice of the perpetrators13. However, in order to not get entangled ←382 | 383→in a myriad of details and in immediacy, anthropology needs history just as much as the latter needs the former. Only by supporting one another do they stimulate their potentials.

The Social Organization of Perception

Let us now focus on the exemplification of Anderson’s thesis on suppressio veri, i.e. such a way of organizing perception that silences the narratives challenging the established view of the past14. Similar selective experience is connected with what is in social sciences referred to as social conditioning of knowledge. As a shield protecting the group15 from the consequences of cognitive dissonance, researchers sometimes use an overly critical attitude and procrastinate with the verification of inconvenient testimonies16. The role of the manager of collective perception is also played by literature, where the taste of the era privileges certain narratives and genres. Collective memory works in a similar way, expressing itself in stories that are the focus of narratology. Some types of narratives (heroic, such as exclamation or apologia) or martyrological (such as threnody or lament) give a strong direction to remembering, eliminating the parts that do not fit into the picture17. Likewise, in the image of everyday reality, characteristic of the Alltagsgeschichte and its use of micronarrative, its aspect of a personal diary or idyll, everything that does not pertain to the subject, is not personal or idyllic, will be omitted18.

There are also more obvious, political reasons why historians ignore the uncomfortable elements of the past. In the course of the past few decades, historical ←383 | 384→politics has wreaked havoc in Poland. The researchers involved in it have ignored the question of how the interests of academic and political history19 differ. Historical politics sometimes presents itself under the guise of defense of universal values; however, its euphemistic strategies20 express the interests of a particular group. A problem emerges when the euphemism of historical politics is directed against groups excluded from collective memory. It is therefore legitimate to call it a “black”21 euphemism, i.e. a euphemism that on the cognitive-linguistic level creates a mechanism that amalgamates the negative consequences of the past and participates in the elimination of its traces22.

Ryszard Maj’s testimony

I have been involved in historical anthropology and the issue of Jewish genocide in the memory of Polish hinterland for ten years. After the publication of a book based on ethnographic testimonies from the countryside23, I decided to expand my target group of interviewees by including partisans of the Home Army. These also include individuals with a bad conscience for covering up for colleagues or superiors responsible for the murders of Jews. It is possible that some of them, influenced by their experiences in exile or simply the hardships life, have only ←384 | 385→recently started calling these crimes by their proper name. Others, in spite of the time elapsed, still do not describe them as such24.

Some authors started writing about similar events quite early on. Andrzej Ropelewski, when clarifying the motives of his work, referred to Colonel Jan Rzepecki’s suggestion to “show everything I encountered during the occupation, the peaks and the valleys of the underground resistance”25. The author has described them in his book Moje wspomnienia z AK, published as early as in 195726. Despite positive reviews27, due to the passages about crimes committed on Jews ←385 | 386→the book was not received well28 in the milieu of AK veterans. Consequently, Ropelewski did not speak out for decades, and the events he had described were ascribed a status of non-events, a category of forbidden knowledge that everyone knows of, but never talks about it.

Thanks to the names that have surfaced during my interviews, together with Alina Skibińska I was able to research in the IPN archives the post-war trials regarding the murders of Jews by AK partisans of the Wybranieccy Unit under the leadership of “Barabasz”29, and also the revision of these judgments after the fall of communism. There were more than a dozen of such murders. They include executions of whole groups of Jews hiding in forest bunkers (e.g. at Mosty near Gałęzice30). These murders were explicitly racist, preceded by a humiliating “verification of Jewishness” of Jews working under false identity for the local government (Michał Ferenc from Zajączków, see below), or Jews – colleagues from the Wybranieccy Unit (the case of Roman Olizarowski “Pomsta”31). There is also the case of the shooting of a family of six, which along with his fiancée ←386 | 387→Zofia Zelinegówna had been led out of the ghetto by Stefan Sawa, and hidden in his house in Zagórze near Daleszyce; he was posthumously awarded the Righteous Among the Nations medal32. With the exception of the murder of Izaak Grynbaum in the center of Chęciny33, “Barabasz’s” partisans charged with the above murders blamed them on the commands from Section II, ordering them to shoot alleged spies and to confiscate their property.

I was introduced to the key testimony about these events by the already mentioned Andrzej Ropelewski, who has been trying to bring it to the attention of historians and publicists since the late 1990s. The narrative of the late Ryszard Maj “Ryś-I”34, a member of the “Barabasz” unit35 and postwar editor of the Tygodnik Morski, was recorded by my correspondent in Sopot in 1987.

It reads as follows:

“R. Maj, 9/9/1957. After the shooting of the Jews near Daleszyce, the diamonds that the Jews had sewn into their belts, wrapped in tissue paper, were split between the men (who were then drunk)36.

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After shooting the Jews near Mosty (“Wierny”37), which was described as a “serious shootout”, “Pomsta” asked, in the presence of soldier “Witek”38 (and others), how they can shoot those Jews. So “Witek” said: “We’ll see who else is a Jew around here”, and went away. He came back with “Grot”39 and they said an examination of the genitals had been ordered out of fear of venereal diseases. “Pomsta” [Roman Olizarowski] was the first one to be examined. He was arrested immediately and soon after “Czarny”40 shot him dead with two shots on the hillside.

He confirms Gałęzice and Chęciny [sentence underlined]41.

“Barabasz” liked to drink and he spent little time with the unit, mostly he was there at the troops’ buildups, with women. (…)42

[another excerpt from A. Ropelewski’s notes] 14/9/1957 (Wednesday). I talked to Major Bogusław Jackiewicz43 in the presence of Mr. Antoni Świtalski “Marian”.

Opinion on “Barabasz” – [Jackiewicz:] had the war ended differently (had the London government won), “Barabasz” would certainly have been brought to trial. I would have definitely taken this to court, no matter what the result.

Świtalski – “Barabasz” ordered to do away with “Pantera”44 because he had refused to come back to the unit. They threw his body into the river through an ice-hole.

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When Świtalski was leaving the Barabasz unit45, “Mietek”46 was jealous and almost cried because he had to stay with “Barabasz”.

Notes from my conversation with Major Bolesław Jackiewicz, a Cichociemny, in the presence of A. Świtalski “Marian”, in his flat in Sopot.

Andrzej Ropelewski”47

Non event

Professor Ropelewski only decided to make Ryszard Maj’s testimony available to historians at the turn of the 21st century, after the publication of Jan Tomasz Gross’ book Sąsiedzi (2000). The letters he had received in response constitute a unique source, which allows us to study what Eviatar Zerubavel calls the conspiracy of silence48.

Anonymization of the letters is an obvious condition for this analysis – they are a contribution to collective, not individual history. Only the voice of a poet, Jerzy Ficowski, Andrzej Ropelewski’s friend from university, will be treated differently due to its additional contribution that surpasses its historical value. The key passage is the one where he answers the question whether Ryszard Maj’s testimony should be made public.

“I have often thought about the things you’re asking about. I myself am not very active or “eager” anymore, but I remember my long-gone conversations and quarrels from the PRL era. Among others, ages ago my friend and peer asked me if he should publish the story mentioned earlier, about various atrocities committed by certain AK soldiers-partisans-rebels. My answer was: no. It was a story about a Ukrainian crucified on a fence in Warsaw during the uprising. Aha! They had set fire underneath him… About ←389 | 390→a German placed on an AK barricade as a “living shield”. Etc., etc. About the murder of a Jewish family in the Warsaw ghetto by the AK members. My fellow AK member was turning to me – an AK member. I thought that in the situation of terror and repression in our country, we mustn’t join the authors of communist propaganda, and support the persecution and smear campaigns. Not even by disclosing true information, which – and that was not difficult to predict – would be generalized and incorporated into the multitude of allegations. But now? In a Poland that’s stupefied and rotten, but free? All this time I keep thinking of the crimes against humanity, [against] “thy neighbor”. Is it permissible to write about it? – you ask rhetorically. It is necessary. No silence shall cover it up – that is my deep conviction. It has stopped covering it up already.”49

Historian 1 reacted in a vein similar to Ficowski’s:

“I think that we should write about these things, and that we should firmly oppose all those who would like to prevent the uncomfortable facts from entering the collective consciousness. Maybe washing the dirty laundry would be damaging in communism, but these days?”

Historian 2 added:

“For me, the most depressing thing is the atmosphere that makes one, even after 60 years, afraid of an open discussion on this subject. On the other hand though, the archives have been opened and more and more information about the events from those or the postwar times can be found in the latest publications. Quite often they circulate only among a few specialists; but, as the debate about Jedwabne shows, they increasingly leak into the media, and through them into the general public opinion. Nowadays you can’t expect that embarrassing issues will remain secret forever.”

All the correspondents of Professor Ropelewski were touched by what they had read, although the information they had received was hardly news to some of them. “I have read it with concern”, “heartbreaking attachments”, “all the elements are horrifying”, “the issue is really dramatic” – they write. In essence, all but one (whose letter follows) expressed an opinion that “this [matter] should be clarified”. As far as I know, none of them, however, has taken up this topic; moreover, none of the AK historians from that milieu has done so either. This was probably due to the inconstancy of the author’s position since, being well aware of the consequences he had to face after the 1957 publication, he strove to remain anonymous50.

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Only one of them (Historian 3) had some reservations about publishing the testimony. This is his formulation:

“I have encountered the matter of the murders of Jews by AK elsewhere – my father, an AK member from […], told me about the issuing of a specific order (it is not really clear by whom) and killing, in the spring of 1944, certain Jews who had been hiding for almost 4 years. So I know that there were such instances. Unlike Jerzy Ficowski, however, I shall not – at least not now – write about this topic. These matters raise strong emotions, and in my opinion, it is necessary to wait with their analysis. AK currently constitutes a kind of a myth or symbol. Another issue is the conceptualization of this problem: an article concentrating only on this type of issues will present a distorted picture, suggesting it was a dominant phenomenon. The matter is too controversial to be addressed without serious consideration. It also seems to me that publishing an article about this issue in a newspaper would be quite unfortunate, since the journalists, above all, crave a sensation, and they would gladly emphasize these details, which are particularly sensational, in order to increase sales. Meanwhile, this is an issue that needs to be given tranquil consideration in a professional journal.”

Two “phrases of obligation”

The question is: how is it possible that the testimony of Ryszard Maj, known to so many historians, has still not found its way into such a journal? The anthropological part of the answer could be based on Eviatar Zerubavel’s theory of social conspiracies51 and Jeffrey Olick’s cultural constraints52. However, the data we have can much better be explained by a simple, imaginative concept described in Jean-Francois Lyotard’s classic, Le Différend53.

Lyotard argues that there are particular “phrases of obligation”, encoded in each cultural tradition. The Jewish tradition uses certain phrases, while the non-Jewish, or as Lyotard puts it, the “Aryan” tradition, uses different ones54. Those phrases, which accentuate distinct values upheld in particular societies, give a voice to the “I” of the Kantian transcendental subject. By articulating a phrase of obligation, the transcendental subject not only imposes a certain ←391 | 392→norm of behavior, but conforms to this norm55. While the Jewish obligation is epitomized, according to Lyotard, by the exclamation Zakhor! (Hebrew for ‘remember’), the “Aryan” one is expressed in the “obligation of beautiful death”56. This obligation is also one of the most important ones in the Polish cultural tradition57. Much has been written about this ideal and its consequences by Maria Janion58. It is the basis of the ethos of war, and all the veterans of every partisan unit in Poland take pride in it, Wybranieccy likewise59.

If we place the testimony of Ryszard Maj in the context of the Polish “phrase of obligation”, we can gain an insight into the reasons why, in spite of repeated ←392 | 393→efforts to publish it, such a testimony remains something unrevealable, something that cannot cross the boundary of social visibility (non event). This is due to a rare concentration of transgressions and reversals it contains.

  • The most prominent one is that it is not the Jews but Poles, two esteemed AK veterans, who are fulfilling the “Jewish” obligation of remembering. Despite great personal costs60, they demand that the truth about the murders be revealed.
  • In the narrative they pass on, it is a Pole, not a Jew, that plays the role of a traitor – someone who kills in an un-beautiful way. He kills his fellow fighter – Roman Olizarowski “Pomsta”; Michał Ferenc, a Jew hiding under a false identity, working at a local government post in Zajączków61; a Jewish family in a bunker near Mosty; Izaak Grynbaum in Chęciny; and also seven people hidden near Daleszyce.
  • Moreover, those who die (un?)beautifully, at any rate a martyr’s death, are not ethnic Poles. They are Jewish, like Roman Olizarowski “Pomsta”, Michał Ferenc from Zajączków, Izaak Grynbaum from Chęciny, the Zelinger family from Daleszyce, and the one in the bunker near Mosty.
  • The only Pole that accompanies the Jews in their “(un?)beautiful death” is Stefan Sawa62. Shot dead by the Poles, he becomes a victim of the “Polish-Polish war over Jews”63, a war that is usually referred to as exclusively Polish-German.
  • There are more victims of this war. One of them is Sawa’s mother Michalina, who arrives at the ruins of the house near Daleszyce and, to the indignation of her neighbors, buries Polish and Jewish remains in one coffin64. This act ←393 | 394→of a bereaved mother who, having accepted her son’s choice, does not segregate the dead either, is without precedent from the Polish, as well as from the Jewish viewpoint65. The neighbors laugh at Sawina, who “lights candles” every day, praying over “Jewish bones”66.
  • The reversals are completed by information from other sources about Salomon Zelinger, the father67 of Zofia Zelinger, who fought as an AK soldier in the Warsaw Uprising half a year after the murder of his family by AK68.

Analyzing the event in Daleszyce, mentioned in the first sentence of Maj’s testimony, it is evident that in relation to the respective phrases of obligation, all the symbolic positions have been reversed: the Poles are “Jews”, the Jews – “Poles”.

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In the “Polish” phrase of obligation, the element of loyalty and treason is the most important one. It constitutes a construction axis of the ideal of beautiful death, and at the same time, the easiest, ritual explanation of all the un-beautiful killings. Only treason can justify the killing of a brother-in-arms, a child, or a woman69. That is why it is so often used to justify the killings:

  • Stefan Sawa, who had been blackmailed for sheltering Jews by, among others, a municipal council official in Daleszyce70, was shot dead by an AK unit on the charges of being a Gestapo informer71. The sentence, the existence of which ←395 | 396→is doubted by some72, was supposed to be issued by the Kielce branch of the Special Civilian Court73.
  • Edward Skrobot on Pomsta’s murder: “In the month of February 1944 (…) I was stationed toghether with my whole AK group in the village of Mosty, Korzec municipality [in fact Konecko], Kielce county. At that time a member of AK – “Górnik” – from my group came up to me and said there was one more piece of dirt that needed cleaning up. When I asked what kind of dirt it was, he told me that a member of my group, “Pomsta”, had to be eliminated, as he was a Jew and had been sentenced. “Górnik” showed me the judgment in the presence of Wilczyński Marian “Grom”, alternatively in the presence of Molenda Józef “Iskra”, or Masio Tadeusz “Matros”. Not believing that “Pomsta” is a Jew, I assembled the whole group and under the pretext of a venereal disease check-up I examined all the AK members. During the check-up, based upon the examination of the penis, I realized that “Pomsta” was a Jew74. “(…) In Pomsta’s death sentence […] it said that “Pomsta” [had deserted] Jacek’s unit, to which he had formerly belonged”75.

    ←396 | 397→
  • Edward Skrobot on the murder of Michał Ferenc in Zajączków: “Then, during the course of our talk with the mayor, I got to know that Ferenc was a Jew. Still not believing that, I took Ferenc to a separate room, where I examined his penis, and it turned out that Ferenc really was a Jew. After examining Ferenc, I started asking him if he was a German collaborator, and Ferenc explained that he wasn’t, but the man known as “Kalif ” (…) kept assuring me that he was a German collaborator. After Kalif ’s statement I ordered the sentence to be carried out on Ferenc.”76

The confession of Władysław Szumielewicz is very telling, relating that upon arrival at the place of execution in Daleszyce, the unit brought with them a peasant wagon, on which they piled up the post-Jewish possessions77. The way Skrobot talks about the allegations against Olizarowski and Ferenc unmasks him to no lesser degree than the testimonies of his colleagues do78. It questions not only the thoroughness of carrying out orders, but also the alleged orders themselves.

It has never been clarified what, if any, were the orders of Section II in the cases mentioned above, although the defendants referred to it even in the situations of evident looting (Chęciny and Sitkówka79). Let us now read Henryk Pawelec’s statement cited in the footnote80, about the “infallibility of the provisional courts”81. Let ←397 | 398→us consider the function of such a belief. The reason why it was useful to Henryk Pawelec, during the war a member of an execution group, is clear. But how does it serve contemporary historians, who still defend those judgments tooth and nail82?

It is connected with the question of the social conditioning of knowledge, specifically, to whom and what should a contemporary Polish historian be loyal? The year 2010 saw the publication of Stefan Dąmbski’s renowned book Egzekutor83. The book, written by a member of a special assignments group that carried out the death sentences of the provisional AK courts, constitutes a warning against “laudable violence”, against killing upon order, which had destroyed the author’s life. This is its message:

“These days, nobody wants to accept the responsibility for the complete fiasco of our wartime activities; the current “activists” prefer to falsify history and bleach everything in an unbelievable way, rather than to shed light on real events and to warn the next generations against making a similar mistake. (…) When a child is taught from its early years that Homeland is the most important thing, and that we should fight for it with our enemies until death or victory, that child, when it grows up, will fight when ordered to and shoot anyone who has different opinions or is of another nationality.84

A completely different conclusion is drawn from Dąmbski’s narrative by the historian who answers a journalist’s question “Can this book hurt the image of AK?” with: “Dąmbski’s story (…) confirms the immense dicipline of the underground army. In the vast majority of murders he committed, he was carrying out orders, undoubtedly based on an underground court sentence. Anarchy was exceptional. (…) If other underground executioners were indeed just as disciplined, we can be proud of AK.85

←398 | 399→

Did this historian read the same book? Did he peruse the descriptions of rapes on Ukrainian women, murders “for fun”86, with a shocking commentary87 of the author? Being proud of a situation in which the author’s troubled entity almost disintegrates in front of the reader’s eyes begs the question as to what this historian draws satisfaction from. What and who does he have to – even inside himself – neglect, ignore, silence, in order to feel such “pride”? On behalf of whom does he speak when he says “we”? How does that relate to the explicit warning in the book against “the things that a human – a young, patriotically brought-up European from a good family – is capable of in times of war”88? If even such a book as Egzekutor does not shatter neither the historian’s wellbeing, nor his faith in the proper functioning of “Polska karząca”, can anything at all do?

In his Critique of Judgment, Immanuel Kant described pathos as an element that unites, edifies and elevates the subject. In his Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime, Jean-Francois Lyotard challenged this interpretation, perceiving it as somehow against the letter of the German philosopher. In certain conditions pathos works as an element that disturbs the architectural construction of reason, and causes “rupture inside the subject”89. I am thinking of this rupture when – in the context of Dąmbski’s book – I read of being proud about the discipline inside AK, or when I juxtapose the sentence “drunk, we were splitting the diamonds” from Maj’s narrative with an educational project “On the Trail of Colonel Barabasz” implemented in the Kielce Land90.

Pride and pathos are the elements of high style, which is not conducive to the history of weighted arguments. A story written in this style is in literary science called a redemptive narrative91. It seeks the feeling of togetherness rather than the ideal of historical truth. The closure in such a story is reached by marginalizing ←399 | 400→certain groups, and sacrificing voices “on the altar of the cause”. Until Polish historians become aware of the various social loyalties they serve by eliminating testimonies – such as that of Ryszard Maj – they will mechanically reproduce the Polish redemptive narrative. Doing that, they stand guard to schematic and false “phrases of obligation” that only they could disavow.

1 LaCapra, Dominick: Writing History, Writing Trauma. The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore and London 2001; Tokarska-Bakir, Joanna: “Historia jako fetysz”. In: idem, Rzeczy mgliste. Fundacja Pogranicze: Sejny 2004.

2 Maria Janion’s preface to Tokarska-Bakir, Rzeczy mgliste, p. 5.

3 Vorurteile in Gadamerian hermeneutics.

4 Tokarska-Bakir, Joanna: Legendy o krwi. Antropologia przesądu. WAB: Warsaw 2008.

5 See Tokarska-Bakir, Joanna: “How to exit the conspiracy of silence? Social sciences facing the Polish-Jewish relations”. East European Politics & Societies 25(1), 2011, pp. 129–152.

6 See the questionable strategy of Ośrodek Karta, i.e. the abridged publication of Zygmunt Klukowski’s Dzienniki (2007), or Stefan Dąmbski’s Egzekutor (2010).

7 See also Chapter 7: Pogrom Cries in this volume.

8 “Historians select rather than deform the way in which the past is represented,” Anderson, Perry: “On Emplotment: Two Kinds of Ruin”. In: Friedlander, Saul (ed.): Probing the Limits of Representation. Harvard University Press: Cambridge 1992, pp. 64–65.

9 On problems with the Testis unus, testis nullus rule in the context of Holocaust research, see Ginzburg, Carlo: “Just One Witness”. In: Friedlander, Probing the Limits of Representation, 1992, pp. 82–96. See also the conversation between a witness and prosecutor: “Unfortunately, Mr. Zawacki, snow is not evidence for the judge, especially the snow that had melted 25 years ago,” Ida Fink, short story “Stół”. In: id.: Ślady. WAB: Warsaw 1996.

10 Giorgio Agamben has talked about this, demanding that “the testimony of a survivor be truthful and have a right to exist only if complemented by those who cannot testify,” in Agamben, Giorgio / Królak, Sławomir (transl.): Co zostaje z Auschwitz. SIC!: Warsaw 2008, p. 151.

11 Gross, Jan T.: Sąsiedzi. Historia zagłady żydowskiego miasteczka. Fundacja Pogranicze: Sejny 2004. Gross’s suggestion regarding oral history has been criticized, among others, by Tomasz Szarota. When Gross claimed that to learn about the murder in Jedwabne, it was sufficient to visit local pubs, Szarota in an interview replied with “You cannot write history hanging around bars,” Sabor, Agnieszka / Zając, Marek: “Jedwabne bez stereotypów”. Tygodnik Powszechny 29.4.2001. Gross’s response was, “It’s a pity that ‘you cannot write history hanging around bars,’” id.: “Trochę szkoda, że “nie pisze się historii, chodząc po barach…”. Tygodnik Powszechny 5.5.2002.

12 On wartime vocabulary preserved in provincial language of the Sandomierz region, see my “Skaz antysemityzmu”. Teksty Drugie 1/2(115), 2009, pp. 302–317.

13 According to Harald Welzer, certain things would not be believable if not told directly – by the people who had taken part in the events. See Welzer, Harald / Kurkowska, Magdalena (transl.): Sprawcy. Dlaczego zwykli ludzie dokonują masowych mordów. Scholar: Warsaw 2010.

14 See Tokarska-Bakir, Joanna: “Zmowa społeczna. Socjologia i antropologia zaprzeczania”. In: Kosiewski, Piotr et al. (eds.): Przebyta droga 1989–2009. Dla Aleksandra Smolara. Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego: Warsaw 2010, pp. 261–280.

15 On the phenomenon of intellectual groups, see Fleck, Ludwik: Powstanie i rozwój faktu naukowego. Wydawnictwo Lubelskie: Lublin 1986, pp. 56, 68 etc.

16 Inspired by Dominick LaCapra, I have written about the “methodological armor” worn by historians with this very aim in my “Historia jako fetysz”; see Tokarska-Bakir, Rzeczy mgliste, op. cit.

17 Olick, Jeffrey K.: Politics of Regret. On Collective Memory and Historical Responsibility. Routledge: New York and London 2007.

18 Jacek Leociak discussed the odd, selective image of the Warsaw ghetto in the diaries of Polish wartime intellectuals. Likewise, Feliks Tych described the peculiar lethargy, or analgesia, with which the Polish authors of war memoirs reacted to Holocaust; Tych, Feliks: Długi cień Zagłady. Szkice historyczne. Żydowski Instytut Historyczny: Warsaw 1999.

19 If, as Krzysztof Michalski claims based on Friedrich Nietzsche (in his book Płomień wieczności. Eseje o myślach Fryderyka Nietzschego. Znak: Warsaw 2007), “history is just one more name for the world we live in,” then historical politics would be the politics of the world we live in, therefore simply politics. Historical politics is thus regular politics that is trying to dominate history.

20 A euphemism presupposes “the substitution of an appropriate expression describing something we in reality do not want to hear about, by another expression in a more delicate or altered form,” Agamben, Co zostaje z Auschwitz, p. 80.

21 That is the expression Katarzyna Kuczyńska-Koschany uses to describe a “particular kind of mitigating expressions, formulations, phrases, and paraphrases in the Nazi ideological, totalitarian language (LTI), related to the topic of the Holocaust, which pertain to the designates placed in the sphere of (totalitarian or quasi-totalitarian) taboo,” Kuczyńska-Koschany, Katarzyna: “Wymazywanie. Eufemizm wobec Zagłady (preliminaria)”. In: Meller, Katarzyna / Trybuś, Krzysztof (eds.): O historyczności. Wydawnictwo Poznańskie Studia Polonistyczne: Poznań 2006, pp. 281–292.

22 Lyotard, Jean-François / Michel, Andreas / Roberts, Mark S. (transl.): Heidegger and “«the jews”. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis and London 1997, p. 23.

23 Tokarska-Bakir, Legendy o krwi, op. cit.

24 See Włodzimierz Gruszczyński’s book full of antisemitic passages; id.: Odwet-Jędrusie. Próba monografii. Staszowskie Towarzystwo Kulturalne: Staszów n.d. [1990s], e.g. pp. 141–142.

25 Letter from Andrzej Ropelewski, 4.6.2007. See also another quote from Rzepecki, which A. Ropelewski refers to in his Oddział partyzancki “Spaleni”. Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza: Toruń 2000, p. 86: “Those who have experienced war know that its essence is a long-term, ineffectual but obstinate physical and mental effort, privation, hunger, dirt, etc., and not glamorous outbursts – rare, but demanding even additional expenditure of will and a spirit of sacrifice. Only romantics aged 10 to 80 consider war to be a series of Samosierras.”

26 Ropelewski, Andrzej: Wspomnienia z AK. Czytelnik: Warsaw 1957. See e.g. pp. 45– 47: “From what I have learned, I was inclined to think that those acts were in certain cases the result of a desire to possess the property of the unfortunate victims. This can be shown by an example that one of the Barabasz soldiers told me about. It was, I think, in 1943, when rumors started circulating that the owner of a small manor Sitkówka near Chęciny – a Polish woman – was reportedly maintaining good relations with the Germans, and even got a letter from one of the German officers, allegedly from Hitler himself. Nobody knows how much of it was true. When the matter became widely known, an AK unit operating in the forest went to the manor. During the requisition of various things and provisions they had found there, they came across a man in hiding, who turned out to be a Jew from Chęciny. They took him with them, to Gałęzice it seems, where they treated the unfortunate man very well for two or three days, and promised him various things – thus they made him give them information about the hiding places of various precious objects belonging to Jews from Chęciny. Once the objects had been found – the Jew was shot.”

I have found a testimony recorded by Izaak Grynbaum’s cousin, with whom he was hiding at the cemetery in Chęciny; see Szynowłoga-Trokenheim, Guta: Życie w grobowcu. Wydawnictwo Ypsylon: Warsaw 2002. Thanks to her it is possible to reconstruct Izaak’s last moments. He was tortured and killed on the square in Chęciny by a group led by Edward Skrobot “Wierny”, a partisan belonging to the “Barabasz” unit. For more details, see Chapter 9: Barabasz and the Jews in this volume.

27 E.g. Klimowicz, Adam: “Kartka z historii najnowszej”. Nowe Książki 15, 1957, pp. 935–936.

28 “Things included in the above-mentioned chapter of my book had become the cause of animosity that I have experienced from the AK veterans’ milieu, including some of my close friends. I was accused of disrespect and betrayal, hate mail about me was being sent to Borzobohaty, but nobody publicly accused me of making it up. Due to this disagreeable experience, my later publications about ZWZ-AK did not contain a single word about the elimination of Jews by AK members,” letter from Andrzej Ropelewski, dated July 4, 2007.

29 The Wybranieccy Unit started out in the summer of 1943 as a small group, which was rapidly expanding and by the end of 1944 already contained about 110 members. Its leader was Marian Sołtysiak “Barabasz”; see his Chłopcy “Barabasza”. PAX: Warsaw 1965, etc. In the 1960s, Sołtysiak found a protecting figure, Gen. Mieczysław Moczar, who nominated him to the ZBOWiD committee and named him the Secretary of the Central Committee for the communication with expatriate Poles. This alliance caused profound dissonance in the veterans’ milieu. This dissonance intensified in the 1990s, when Henryk Pawelec, one of the most important soldiers of the unit, returned to his homeland. See his Życie, śmierć, życie. Z Henrykiem Pawelcem rozmawia Jadwiga Karolczak. Wydawnictwo Jedność: Kielce 1999, pp. 59–64.

30 Ropelewski, Wspomnienia z AK, p. 47: “I have also heard of instances when they eliminated a few people at a time. This supposedly happened in Mosty near Chęciny, where in a dugout at the edge of the forest they shot dead a Jewish family that had been hiding there.” For more details about this event, see Chapter 9: “Barabasz” and the Jews in this volume.

31 See Ropelewski, Wspomnienia z AK, p. 47: “The greatest tragedy is connected with the fate of “Pomsta”, which was the pseudonym of a soldier belonging to one of the AK units operating in a forest near Kielce [Roman Olizarowski “Pomsta” served in Skrobot’s group in the “Barabasz” unit]. When, after a certain time, it transpired that Pomsta was a Jew, he was shot dead by [those who had] until then been his brothers-in-arms.”

32 On this crime, see Karolczak, Jadwiga: “Duchy i upiory”. Słowa Ludu 1474, 1993, pp. 1–6.

33 See Chapter 9: “Barabasz” and the Jews in this volume.

34 See Kotliński, Jerzy: Wybranieccy w Lasach Cisowskich. Wrocław 1993, p. 144.

35 I have not managed to ascertain any details about Ryszard Maj’s other experiences during the war. Andrzej Ropelewski has only informed me that “in 1944 he went to the forests near Miechów.” For a short biography of Ryszard Maj, see appendix to Chapter 9 in this volume.

36 During the night of February 15/16, 1944 in Zagórze near Daleszyce, a group of the Wybranieccy under the command of Mieczysław Szumielewicz killed six members of the Zelinger family along with Stefan Sawa, who was hiding them in a rented house. Sawa, a trainee judge from Kielce, posthumously awarded the title of the Righteous Among The Nations, led his fiancée, Zofia Zelinger, her aunt Dina, and relatives Mojżesz Rozenberg, Lidia Sadowska, Adam Icek Pruszkowski, Halina Cukierman, and a 5-year-old Frymusia Frydman, out of the ghetto. Mieczysław Szumielewicz’s testimony: “After entering the house, Marasek Władysław “Brzózka” told me that Stefan Sawa had recognized him, so all four of us started shooting from our guns into Stefan Sawa, who was in the kitchen, killing him outright, and then we fired into two Jews whom we killed, also in the kitchen. From the kitchen we went to a room with three women and a child of Jewish ethnicity, whom we also shot dead. After killing all the people there we went through the whole apartment and helped ourselves to men’s and women’s clothes, which were in the wardrobe, men’s and women’s shoes, and in the wardrobe we found some jewellery, that is one golden necklace, rings, but now I can’t remember how many, one golden watch and two ordinary watches. We packed our loot onto a farmer’s wagon brought along by Lutek Stanisław “Roch”. (…) After packing we set the apartment on fire in order to cover the traces”. “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Władysława Szumielewicza”, WUBP in Kielce, January 31, 1951, catalogue number IPN BU 0118/4691 part 2, pp. 69–70. See Chapter 9: “Barabasz” and the Jews in this volume.

37 Edward Skrobot, group leader in the “Barabasz” unit. “He was a very kind man, always smiling cordially and sincerely, but very decisive in his actions. He was also a perfect organizer – and, similarly to «Barabasz», he was a born leader. Lieutenant «Wierny» was a humanist and a righteous man, brave and decisive – an ideal soldier and officer,” Kotliński, Wybranieccy w Lasach Cisowskich, p. 8.

38 Wiktor Szwengler; ibid., p. 145.

39 A spelling error, in fact it was “Grom” (ibid., p. 140), Marian Wilczyński from Chęciny.

40 Józef Przygodzki from Korytnica (ibid.).

41 This is about the murder of Izaak Grynbaum in the marketplace in Chęciny. Ropelewski uses the expression “confirms”, since he had written about these events himself. See Chapter 9: “Barabasz” and the Jews in this volume.

42 The sentence I have left out: “The NSZ brigade set out on the evening of January 13, 1945 to the west from Giebułtów, where its command was based.”

43 About the parachute drop of Cichociemny B. Jackiewicz, see Kotliński, Wybranieccy w Lasach Cisowskich, p. 51.

44 Tadeusz Sotkiewicz; see ibid., p. 143.

45 “At that time, “Barabasz” dismissed officer cadet “Marian” [Antoni Świtalski] from the unit; he was transferred, upon his own request, to the “Szary” [Antoni Heda’s] unit,” pp. 54–55.

46 Władysław Szumielewicz (see ibid., p. 142), commander of the execution squad in Zagórze near Daleszyce.

47 Ryszard Maj’s testimony, recorded on September 9, 1957 in Sopot by Andrzej Ropelewski, two handwritten pages, copy in author’s archive (letter from AR to JTB from February 23, 2010). Andrzej Ropelewski was sending out other testimonies as well, e.g. that of Alina Ziemkiewiczowa, nee Kulesz, about the murder of a daughter of rich Jews from Ostrowiec; and Genowefa Mikołajczyk, who was hiding on the estate in Dębska Wola, teaching the children of Zygmunt Grabowiecki “Sęp”, commander of the AK Sub-district No. 1 – Klin. Nr 1 AK group ”Klin”.

48 Zerubavel, Eviatar: Elephant in the Room. Silence and Denial in Everyday Life. Oxford University Press: Oxford 2006.

49 Letter from Jerzy Ficowski to Andrzej Ropelewski from 2000.

50 As many as four of his correspondents have suggested that he reveal his identity in order to give credibility to his records. Initially, the holder of the testimonies also had reservations about the date of their publication.

51 See Tokarska-Bakir, “Zmowa społeczna”, op. cit.

52 Olick, Politics of Regret, op. cit.

53 I discuss it based on Głowacka, Dorota: Disappearing Traces: Holocaust Testimonials, Ethics, Aesthetics (Stephen Weinstein Holocaust Series). University of Washington Press: Seattle 2012.

54 Lyotard, Jean-François: Le Différend. Minuit: Paris 1983, pp. 156, 160.

55 Głowacka, Dorota: “Wsłuchując się w ciszę. Estetyka pamięci o Zagładzie wg. Jeana-François Lyotarda”. Teksty Drugie 1–2 (103–104), 2007, pp. 47–48.

56 Ibid., p. 48. I use the quotation marks to indicate symbolic designata, imagined communities such as “Jews”, “Poles”, alternatively “Aryans”, not constituted by real persons, but by ideas of behavior ascribed to certain people. It is therefore a distribution type set (set of contents), not a collective one (set of individuals). Thus I use the category ”Jews” with the meaning close to Lyotard’s in his Heidegger and “the jews”, op. cit.

57 In Greek thought, “beautiful death” was a transition between the finite (eschaton) and the eternal (telos). Eternal life could only be achieved through death by choice, which constitutes deliverance from death. Those who die for something that surpasses them – homeland, religion, country, nation – gain glory and eternal life. See Lyotard, Le Différend, pp. 149–150, and also Vernant, Jean-Pierre: Mortals and Immortals. Zeitlin, Froma I. (ed.). Princeton University Press: Princeton 1991, p. 50–75. One of the classic descriptions of the ”Aryan beautiful death” in its Polish variation is connected with the death of Władysław Jasiński ”Jędruś”: ”Those who have seen a mortally wounded eagle; an image of a wounded lioness, carved into stone in ancient times; or a statue of a dying Celtic warrior, can understand the dramatic depths of mortal struggles in moments when there are still so many important things to do, but the strength is leaving too soon due to the blows. They will also understand, though, that other eagles will fly high in the sky, scores of lions will come out in the fields, and new warriors will join the struggle.” Gruszczyński, Odwet-Jędrusie, p. 112. The cult of ”beautiful death” entails contempt for death that is un-beautiful, dishonorable, passive, see ibid., p. 51: “Great numbers of Jews walked meekly, with minimum pressure from the Germans. How miserably they looked, those marches of doleful figures, with an omen of death in their eyes, gliding passively […].”

58 Janion, Maria: Bohater, spisek, śmierć. Wykłady żydowskie. WAB: Warsaw 2009 (chapter Śmierć godna i niegodna).

59 “The core of the whole battalion are Wybranieccy, who constitute the 1st Wybranieccy Unit. It is a core of steel, formed by people with crystal-clear characters, with a great power of spirit and strong will to fight without rest until Victory,” Pawelec, Henryk et al.: Wybranieccy, Koło 4 PP Leg. AK: Kielce 1993.

60 On the price paid by the whistleblowers, see Zerubavel, Elephant in the Room, p. 56. On the price paid by Henryk Pawelec, who dared to confirm the crimes against the Jews commited by his detachment Wybranieccy, see p. 344.

61 For more on Michał Ferenc, see below.

62 There are also other Righteous ones in the background, e.g. ”Grandpa” Kiciński, the guard at the Jewish cemetery, who provided a hiding place for Izaak Grynbaum’s family in a pit underneath his house. Their story is described in Szynowłoga-Trokenheim, Życie w grobowcu, op. cit.

63 See Chapter 2: The Unrighteous Righteous and the Righteous Unrighteous in this volume.

64 “The next day, Stefan Sawa’s mother […] brought the remains of her murdered son Stefan, and the bones of the other murdered individuals of Jewish ethnicity to her apartment in Kielce in a coffin,” “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Florentyny Kobyłeckiej”, WUBP Kielce, January 22, 1951, IPN GK 306/44, p. 29.

65 Compare the testimony about the posthumous separation, by Polish neighbors, into two different graves the remains of the Righteous ones from Podkarpacie, the famous Ulms from Ciepielów, from the Jewish family they had been sheltering. See Henryk Scharf ’s testimony, AŻIH 301/17 on the Sandomierz rabbi’s requesting the [German] gendarmes to separate the graves of Jews and non-Jews after execution.

66 ”It was at about that time that Marasek Władysław [a “Barabasz” partisan, one of the members of the execution squad in Zagórze] came into the apartment, and in my presence started telling his mother, Maria, that Sawa Michalina had collected the Jewish bones, brought them home in a casket, lit candles, and was now praying over them,” “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Florentyny Kobyłeckiej”, WUBP Kielce, 22/1/1951, IPN GK 306/44, k. 29–30.

67 See Karolczak, Duchy i upiory, op. cit.

68 Henryk Cwi Zelinger’s testimony at Yad Vashem on January 21, 1990, attached to the file of Stefan Sawa, the Righteous among the Nations: ”In the middle of 1943, it has become increasingly difficult for my father to take care of me in Warsaw, and he tried to have me moved into that house, where I would be able to hide. He sent me to Kielce by train, and I was collected from the station by a man from the AK underground, of which my father also was a member. I don’t remember that man’s surname. He had been hiding me in his house for a few days, until he found a way of transporting me to the safehouse. I stayed there for a few days, and got to know all its inhabitants. But a Polish woman called Lodzia was against my stay there, and she tried to make me leave. Without any explanation, she sent me back to the man who had brought me, and he put me on a train to Warsaw, to go back to my father. It seems that being kicked out of that house saved my life. Nobody wanted to keep me. Even the man with whom my father was in touch couldn’t. And so I remained in Warsaw. The fire happened on February 16, 1944. At that time, my father and I were in Warsaw. After not receiving any news from that house for quite a while, my father started to get worried. With the help of the Warsaw AK underground, he contacted the AK underground in Kielce, and got to know that the house had been burned and nobody had survived”.

69 See the recurring motif of Gruszczyński’s Odwet-Jędrusie, p. 71, original spelling: “The national minority of the creed of Moses, which constituted almost 11% of the population, showed a decidedly hostile attitude toward Poles and our struggle […] [author gives the evidence: cooperation with the Soviets, organization of transports, “anti-Polish propaganda, and anti-national activities”, etc.] Those jews who had emigrated shirked from their civil duties […] [he lists: evading service in the Polish military, desertions from the Anders Army, ”estrangement and disloyalty”]. In the territory of Generalna Gubernia, they routinely betrayed the Poles to the Germans. Serving the German police to the detriment of the Polish population […] were organizations such as: Towarzystwo Wolnych Żydów – led by Capt. Lontski, Żydowska Gwardia Wolności ”Żagiew” – led by Adam Szajna, the ”Zemsta” troops in Lubelskie”. On the “sabotage intelligence organization ‘Żagiew’, sometimes using the name ‘Żydowska Gwardia Wolności,’” see also Wilamowski, Jacek: Honor, zdrada, kaźń. Afery Polski Podziemnej 1939–1945. CB: Warsaw 1999, pp. 117, 119. On the harmfulness of such rumors, spread also by e.g. GL, see Chodakiewicz, Marek J. et al.: Tajne oblicze GLAL i PPR II. Burchard Edition: Warsaw 19971999, pp. 211–212.

70 ”One time, when [my son] was at my house, he told me that […] Posiewicz Stanisław, a council official in Daleszyce, often came to his house and asked him to lend him money,” that ”partisans armed with various weapons often come over, asking for money, protection money it seemed,” “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Michaliny Sawy”, WUBP Kielce, December 9, 1950, IPN GK 306/24, k. 57.

71 Henryk Pawelec: “One thing is clear: there must have been an informer in that house,” cited in Karolczak Duchy i upiory, op. cit.

72 “In a way, this matter was a crime, not a heroic deed, and I’m sure the Sub-district command didn’t know about it. I also think that “Barabasz” committed this murder of his own accord,” “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Lucyny Wrońskiej”, WUBP Kielce, December 9, 1950, IPN, GK 306/24, k. 226. L. Wrońska “Ewa” was from the autumn of 1943 until July 1944 a member of the “Barabasz” unit, acting as a liaison officer with the Sub-district command of AK. See Sołtysiak, Chłopcy „Barabasza”, p. 45. She is also mentioned by e.g. Michał Basa “Mściciel”, a Wybranieccy fighter; see his Opowiadania partyzanta. Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza: Warsaw 1984, pp. 153, 191 etc.

73 Marian Sołtysiak: “I got the order to eliminate the group of people in Zagórze in autumn 1943 from the execution centre of Section II. There was a note attached to the order, saying that I could get more information from the local order issued by Section II,” Sąd Wojewódzki w Kielcach, “Protokół rozprawy głównej”, September 13, 1951, IPN GK 306/44, k. 143.

74 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Edwarda Skrobota”, January 24, 1951, IPN BU 0418/368, t. 3, k. 49.

75 “Sentencja Wyroku Sądu Wojewódzkiego w Kielcach”, 23.11.1951, catalog number IPN BU 0418/368, t.3, k. 107. The suggestion of treason in this statement is pure insinuation. The memoirs of Michał Basa (Opowiadania partyzanta, pp. 128, 138–141, 167), who mentions “Pomsta” several times, show that he belonged to the radio station protection unit led by second lieutenant Jan Kosiński – inspector “Jacek”, Sub-district commander from Bodzentyn (see Chlebowski, Cezary: Pozdrówcie Góry Świętokrzyskie. Czytelnik: Warsaw 1993, p. 262). After their commander’s death and the dissolution of the unit, Basa, along with “Pomsta”, joined Wybranieccy.

76 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Skrobota Edwarda”, Kielce, January 24, 1951, catalogue number IPN BU 0418/368, t. 3, k. 49.

77 “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Władysława Szumielewicza”, WUBP Kielce, IPN GK 306/44, k. 46. Concerning the expression pożydowskie, see Gross, Jan T. / Grudzińska-Gross, Irena: Złote żniwa. Opowieść o obrzeżach Zagłady. Znak: Kraków 2011, p. 146, footnote 131.

78 ”I have heard about this murder from “Wierny”, that he had recognized him [about Michał Ferenc] by his penis, that he was circumcised,” “Protokół przesłuchania świadka Bolesława Boczarskiego”, WUBP Kielce, January 16, 1951, IPN GK 306/24, k. 104.

79 See e.g. ”At that time, as a group leader I decided to carry out the orders issued by Section II, which had been passed on to me by “Barabasz”, the unit commander, and the order was that certain inhabitants of Chęciny, whose last names I don’t remember, have some post-Jewish things, which things I was supposed to collect,” “Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Skrobota Edwarda”, March 14, 1951, AIPN GK 306/48, k. 18.

80 Henryk Pawelec: ”The sentences [handed down] by the Special Military Court of Underground Poland were faultless. They were issued by great, scrupulous lawyers. Based on facts. I’ve seen these sentences. They dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s,” quoted in Karolczak, Duchy i upiory, op. cit.

81 Based on “Przepisy materialne z maja roku 1940”, the provisional courts put on the death row solely persons who, “in an inhumane way, contradictory to the natural feeling of justice, persecute or harm Polish people” (quoted in Gondek, Leszek: Polska karząca 1939–1945. Podziemny wymiar sprawiedliwości w okresie okupacji niemieckiej. PAX: Warsaw 1988, p. 152). Clearly, these regulations did not pertain to “citizens of Poland with other than Polish ethnicity.”

82 “None of the sentences of the underground Poland have ever been effectively challenged in court, not even in the favorable political atmosphere of the first post-war decade,” Gondek, Polska karząca 1939–1945, p. 14.

83 Dąmbski, Stefan: Egzekutor. Ośrodek Karta: Warsaw 2010.

84 Ibid., p. 105.

85 Lipiński, Piotr: “Przemoc chwalebna. Z Dariuszem Stolą rozmawia Piotr Lipiński”. Duży Format 31.10.2010, retrieved 18.1.2012, from,75480,8570820. html?sms_code.

86 Dąmbski, Egzekutor, e.g. pp. 80–85.

87 “We were bound to blind obedience, connected with innate patriotism […]. But in reality, as long as he was alive, [the person] often murdered everyone who wasn’t on his side or didn’t agree with his ideas – with the full approval of our command,” ibid., p. 104.

88 Ibid.

89 Głowacka, “Wsłuchując się w ciszę”, p. 44.

90 See Szlakiem pułkownika «Barabasza». Międzyszkolny projekt edukacyjny, retrieved 18.1.2012, from 364:rajd-szlakiem-pukownika-mariana-sotysiaka-barabasza-&catid=38:imprezy& Itemid=119…

91 For the topic of redemptive narrative, see Goldberg, Amos: Redemptive Narratives, retrieved 18.1.2012, from