About the "Doomed Solidiers" Project
The "Doomed Soldiers", also known as the Cursed Soldiers - individuals and organizations involved in underground operations in Poland against both Nazi and Communist occupiers and Polish national collaborators - are known to us through careful historical documentation. We have been translating this from several sources so the story will be known to the wider, generally English speaking, world. It has only been since the resignation of Jaruzelski, the last powerful Communist leader in Poland, that the research and documentation processes of Lustration could began. Aimed at checking "ill gotten power", Lustration has surfaced extensive archival documents relating to the "Doomed Soldiers".
What is Lustration?
Lustration is a procedure used in Poland to ensure that former Communists UB (pol. Urzad Bezpieczenstwa) and SB (pol. Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa - Eng., Security Service [of the Ministry of Internal Affairs]; Polish Communist: government police ministry) informants do not retain the power that is considered to have been illegitimately gained. Thus, IPN (pol. Instytut Pamieci Narodowej - Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu - Eng., Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation) enforcement is one aspect of this.
However, enforcement depends on truth, and one critical precursor is research. IPN has been slowly and methodically collating and reviewing SB files to seek the truth. That the secret police kept huge and methodical files has been a great benefit in depth and breadth. However, the shear mass of information requires a great deal of work to effectively organize and collate. Thus there is a call to simply open all the files to the public. Were men merely brutal and not manipulative and duplicitous, this would not be an issue. There is, however, the issue of destruction of "evidence" which took place to protect the the UB and SB functionaries.
Why do we care?
In any recounting of the barbarities and savageries of history, the questions naturally follow "Why do we care? What good will it do? Isn't it better to look away?" One answer is that in examining the past, perhaps we can prevent future reoccurrences. This has been a dream of thoughtful people through the ages. If we could just understand the causes, we could find preventatives. Unfortunately, as has been shown throughout the world the causes are so inextricably connected with the necessities of anything but the most torpid living, that no such solutions are in the offing - not that we won't make a recommendation here or there.
There is another answer - that we become a much more humane, yet vigorous, people when we embrace the heroic and virtuous in others. Both terms "heroic" and "virtuous" are subject to extensive critique and definition. Will Durant, in tracing some of the prehistory of our species, noted "Every vice was once a virtue." The instincts that were once critical for survival can become inimical to prosperity. So we digress for a few to explore how these barbarities were ever a virtue or connected with one.
In prehistory, it was found "successful" to ally first with family, then with clan, next with tribe and lastly with nation. A nation would roughly be a set of city states claiming a common ancestral people. Subsequent growth required a major shift from ties of blood to ties of culture. Creating those ties required a mix of enticements, threats and brutalities. From the perspective of the prevailing cultures, these were deemed acceptable and sometimes vindicatively glorious. But whatever the virtues of gaining power by such means, being humane wasn't one of them. Given most recorded history, it is likely that being humane to those you oppose is a relatively late development - perhaps born of weariness with perpetual mutual carnage.
However late "Humanity" has arrived on the scene as a virtue, it had been around for a great while and there is no reason for it to have been lost on the Nazis and Communists - except that the Nazi's and Communists made a firm decision not to be humane. For example, Abram Tauber, a commandant of the UB (Urzad Bezpieczenstwa - Eng., Public Security; Polish Communist: secret police) after the war, had been saved from the Nazis by a squad lead by Hieronim Dekutowski. By way of "thanks" he invited four members of the squad to his headquarters. When they arrive, he tied them up and shot them - part and parcel of the emerged Communist ethos. For another example there was the offer by PRL (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa - Eng., People's Republic of Poland; Polish Communist: government) of amnesty of 1947 to all AK members. No such amnesty was generally forthcoming and many of those who accepted the nominal terms were imprisoned, tortured and executed. In short, the Communists had a recurring pattern of deception, incarceration, torture and murder under color of law.
This highlights the humanity of the Doomed Soldiers all the more. We mention the care given by medical people, such as "Inka" to both Members of her own Wilno Brigade and captured LW/LWP soldiers (Ludowe Wojsko Polskie - Eng., Polish People's Army; Polish Communist: military). We also note the story of Witold Pilecki, who voluntarily got arrested by the Nazi's to be sent to Auschwitz, there to document the atrocities and plan for liberation by Allied air attach, AK (Armia Krajowa - Eng., Home Army; Polish Patriot: military) assault, internal rebellion or escape attempts. These highlight the dedication of the Doomed Soldiers to common humanity and the rights of all against tyranny and atrocity.
In celebrating and memorializing the "Doomed Soldiers" we do not seek to create saints and demigods. As with any group of human beings, we're pretty sure that some foibles would emerge with enough digging. Add to this the stresses of war, existing underground and leading a double life (if limited to only that) and it's astounding that so many kept their eye on their objectives so well without losing their humanity and care. Then again, perhaps it is the humanity and care that served to center them. Knowing the kind of nation they wanted to build and the way they wanted their compatriots treated, the Doomed Soldiers had much to live for and fight for.
The Communists had no such aspirations. For them it was a matter of consolidating power heedless of dissent and crushing dissent as disloyalty and treason. Thus rose the satraps of Stalin, for no other power was countenanced. Comintern's designated Polish "leader", Boleslaw Bierut, rose on this demand for intense, slavish personal loyalty to Stalin. Bierut was so slavish, in fact, that the de-Stalinization program under Nikita Khrushchev appears to have found him exceedingly expendable, and the suspicion is strong that he was aggressively "expended" to the relief of many in Poland.
So, we hope the Doomed Soldiers prove an inspiration simply to be resolute in favor of free, democratic societies where the capacity to limit freedom of speech, press, religion and countless other privately driven pursuits gains free play. Our intent is not to press the interest of any party or religion or platform other than to ever celebrate and memorialize those who struggled to hold and gain freedom for their compatriots.
What is "The Wildstein List" (Lista Wildsteina)?
The Wildstein List, named after reporter Bronisław Wildstein who released it, is a list of people who are alleged to be former members or collaborators of the SB (Służba Bezpieczeństwa Ministerstwa Spraw Wewnętrznych - Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affair), UB (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego,) Wojskowe Służby Informacyjne (WSI - Military Intelligence Services) - Polish secret police.
It lists around 240,000 names. Entrained also within it, we are led to believe, are targets as well as agents. Its provenance is presumed to be files from the Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation. The present consensus is that while it is in the main accurate, there is the risk that it includes people who were recruited, but neither joined nor cooperated. While it may also have been salted with the names of people targeted for discreditation, it provides the cover of plausible deniability to the individuals named.
The political compromises that kept some lid on the violence inherent in the transition to the post-Communist world of the Eastern Bloc have obscured many aspects of the former Communist regime, including UB, SB, and WSI records. Poland, in particular, seems to have attained, through what is called by its architects “The Velvet Revolution”, a presently peaceful democratic system, and there is little incentive for any of the dominant parties to disrupt that. Further, its membership in NATO and the European Union lead the Western Powers to prefer tranquility over transparency. Following the release of the list, Poland's attorney general initiated a “legal probe” into the "theft" and publication of the list, though it is an open record.
For two generations, between 1939 and 1989, Poland was subject to the totalitarian domination of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union or divided between both. (see Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Soviet Invasion of Poland in 1939, Katyn Massacre). Rebellions and efforts to gain independence met with suppression by the Wehrmacht and SS, and the Soviet army, NKVD, Smersh, and elements of the native born regime under their domination, including the SB and its predecesor UB. In such an environment, it is hardly surprising that the state would seek to penetrate all aspects of society and social leadership. Likewise, it would be clear to rising talents that it would be conducive to better fortune earn the appreciation, rather than the enmity, of the state. For these reasons alone, the Wildstein List “makes sense"!
In March 2007, Poland passed a law mandating a “lustration” – limiting the participation of former communist party members and informants in government. This ups the ante considerably for people on the list, especially those who might be victimized by errors. However, much of this was declared unconstitutional by Poland's Constitutional Court. Very well, one political faction denying access to another political faction is suspect no matter how noble the intent. What does emerge is the continuing incredibly torpid pace of characterization and verification. This denies the rights of innocent victims of Soviet era persecution to timely, or at least less untimely, justice.
For example, in 1944 the Majdanek Concentration Camp was "liberated" by the Soviet army and shortly thereafter was used by the Soviet NKVD (Narodnyi Komitet Vnutriennykh Del" (Committee for State Security), Smersh ("SMERt Shpionam" - "Death to Spies"), and their “satrap” the Polish UB (Urzad Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego) to torture and kill countless multitude of polish patriots from the Polish Home Army, Narodowe Sily Zbrojne (NSZ), Wolnosc i Niezawislosc (WiN), and other patriotic organizations who fought the Nazis, but were too patriotic to make “good Communists”.
The scope of these activities would be considered genocide, if that term was used to describe political and social, as well as racial and religious populations. An estimated minimum of 3 million Poles were killed by the Stalinist regime; but as Stalin observed “When one person dies it’s a tragedy; when a million people die it’s a statistic”. So - less “statistically” - mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, kids, and friends were murdered for the political ends of those who now wish to remain faceless and unknown. It is critical, if we are to emerge as a humane people, that the unknown and faceless multitudes of both victims and their oppressors and killers, be reveled – and whatever justice still available be meted, and as much equity as possible be restored.
Search the Wildstein List Here
Important Laws and Decrees concerning the Doomed Soldiers and other Polish citizens murdered and / or victimized by for their activities on behalf of the sovereign existence of the Polish Nation.
Decree of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) voiding sentences imposed upon Polish Citizens by the Communist-Era Courts:
from 19th September, 2007
about change of the law voiding sentences imposed upon persons victimized for activities on behalf of the sovereign existence of the Polish Nation.
In the decree from 23rd February, 1991 about change of the Decree voiding sentences imposed upon persons victimized for activities on behalf of the sovereign existence of the Polish Nation (Law Journal No. 34, item 149, with later changes) , following changes are enacted:
1) In Article 1:
a) Rule 1 shall read:
“1. Declares void sentences imposed by the Polish investigative services and judiciary, or by organs operating outside of the judiciary from the beginning of their activities on the Polish territory, beginning in on 1st January 1944 to 31st December, 1989 if charges were attributed to, or related to the activities on behalf of the sovereign existence of the Polish Nation, or ruling was issued as a result of such activities, as well as rulings issued as a result of resisting forced collectivization of a village, or demand for delivery of agricultural goods”,
b) From Rule 4 voided are:
2) in Article 2:
a) Rule 1 shall read:
“1. Invalidity of the sentence is ascertained by a District Court, or by a Military District Court, if in accordance with the existing regulations at the time the law is enacted, the act resulting in the sentence is subject to the jurisdiction of a Military Court. Ascertainment of invalidity of sentence is synonymous with exculpation of guilt.”,
b) Rule 3 shall read:
“3. If a determination of proper locality of the court cannot be ascertained under Rule 2, the case is to be examined by the District Court Warszawa-Praga in Warsaw, or by the District Military Court in Warsaw.”,
3) Article 4 shall read:
“Article 4. Ascertainment of invalidity of the sentence does not preclude carrying out of the sentence, carrying out amnesty or abolition, effacement of sentence, commutation, expiration, compensation, death of victimized person whom the sentence concerns, or suspension of legal proceedings, or their discontinuation, for reasons other than those referred to in Article 17 §1, Section 1 and 2 of the Penal Code.”,
4) In Article 7, Rule 1 shall read:
“1. The court does not take a position in reference to such petition as described in Article 3, Rule 1, if the accused was acquitted, or if the legal proceedings were discontinued because of reasons referred to in the Article 17 §1 and §2 of the Penal Code.”;
5) in Article 8:
a) Rule 1 shall read:
“1. A person exculpated, or furnished with a decision about internment as a result of imposition of the Martial Law in Poland on the 13th December, 1981, is entitled to a restitution from the State Treasury for received wrongs and restitutions for suffering as a result of carrying out a decision, or the sentence. In the event of the death of the petitioner, his rights are transferred to his/her spouse, children and parents.
b) After Rule 1, Rules 1a-1d are added, and shall read:
“1a. Compensations for received wrongs and restitution for harm received as a result of a sentence or decision cited in Rule 1 shall not together exceed the amount of 25, 000 zloty.
1b. The Rule 1a does not apply if person seeking restitution or compensation was victimized for his/her activities which took place prior to 31 December, 1956.
1c. The Rule 1a does not apply if carrying out of the sentence, or a ruling against the wronged person resulted in the death of such person.
1d. Person referred to in Rule 1 may receive compensations, or restitutions on the basis of only one section listed in the Rule 1.
c) Rule 2 shall read:
“2. Demand for compensations, or restitution shall be filed with the District Court, or a District Military Court which rendered the sentence voided within one year from the date it was adjudicated. “,
d) Rule 2a shall read:
“2a. The rights defined in Rule 1 entitle persons residing presently, or residing at the time of death in Poland, persons victimized by the Soviet investigative services, and/or judiciary, or organs operating outside of judiciary, operating on the present territory of Poland during the period from June 1, 1944 to 31 December, 1956, as well as within the borders of Poland established thorough the Treaty of Rysk during the period from 1 January, 1944 to 31 December, 1956, for activities on behalf of the sovereign Polish Nation, or as a result of such activities. The demand for compensations, or restitutions shall be filed at a District Court, or at a District Military Court within the jurisdiction of which the petitioner resides.
The jurisdiction rests with such court. Regulations in the Article 1, Rule 3 are in force, while regulations in the Article 9-11 have no application. “,
e) After Rule 2b, the Rule 2c and 2d are added. They shall read:
“2c. The demand for compensations and restitutions for damages and harm resulting from carrying out of the sentence referred to in Rule 1, ought to be filed with the District Court where the wronged person resides, within one year from the day the Decree from the 19 September, 2007 declared voided sentences against persons engaged in the activities on behalf of the sovereign existence of the Polish Nation (Law Journal Nr. 191, item 1372).
2d. The duplicate of the demand referred to in Rule 2 is to be delivered by the court to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.”,
f) Rule 3 shall read:
“3. During the procedures determining compensations, or restitutions, the laws enacted in the Chapter 58 of the Penal Code are in force, with the exception of the Article 555.”,
g) Rule 4 shall read:
“4. Rule 1 is not applicable, if as a result of an appeal, cessation, or resumption of legal proceedings, the restitution was mandated in accordance with the law, unless its application is dictated by the consideration of serving the justice.”,
h) After Rule 4, the Rule 5 is added, and it shall read:
“5. Rule 1 does not apply towards persons whose activities being the basis for voiding sentences, or deeming rulings described in Rule 1 voided, are in contrary to the activities on behalf of the sovereign existence of the Polish Nation.”,
6) Article 11, Rule 1 shall read:
“1. Regulations described in the Articles 8-10 are also applicable towards persons where circumstances suggest invalidity of ruling, if the accused was acquitted, or if the legal proceedings were suspended as a result of reasons listed in Article 17 §1, part 1 and 2 of the Penal Code, and the compensation, or restitution was not granted in accordance with the law, and the persons were detained, or temporarily arrested. The claim for the compensations or restitutions does not expire.
1. The decisions about internment resulting from the imposition of the Martial Law in Poland on 13 December, 1981 become invalid by the power enacted in the said law, on the day it is enacted by this Decree.
2. The regulations in Articles 156-158 of the Civil Administrative Code do not apply.
The cases initiated on the basis of the Decree from 23 February, 1991, about declaring voided sentences against persons victimized for activities on behalf of the sovereign existence of the Polish Nation, and not concluded until the day this law is enacted, are reviewed in accordance with regulations presently in place.
The payment of the compensations and restitutions furnished on the basis of this Decree may not begin until 1st January, 2008.
This Decree becomes the Law in 30 days after it is announced.
President of the Republic of Poland: L[ech Aleksander] Kaczynski"
 Changes to the said Decree were published in the Law Journal from 1993, Nr. 36, Section 159, from 1995, Nr. 28, Section 143, from 1998, Nr. 97, Section 604 from 2002, Nr. 240, Section 2055 and from 2004, Nr. 273, Section 2703.