National Armed Forces - Narodowe Sily Zbrojne - NSZ - The Doomed Soldiers

The Doomed Soldiers
Polish Underground Soldiers 1944-1963 - The Untold Story

Freedom And Independence - Wolnosc i Niezawislosc - WiN - The Doomed Soldiers
 

 

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"One death is a tragedy. One million, a statistic.", so said Joseph Stalin. And thus, with no disregard intended towards legions of others who died, we are compelled to focus on the "tragedy" - the life and death of individuals, whose works were chronicled in records and whose aspirations were penned in personal writings - these men and women who gave their hearts to rebuilding a free and democratic Poland. These hearts stopped beating, at a sudden, not through disease or accident or weariness, but from bullets fired by the executioners of the UB (pol. Urzad Bezpieczenstwa) - the Communist Polish secret police.

Why? As a general theme it was because these people did not fit into the soviet scheme of things, which started with establishment of Polish Communist cells sanctioned by the USSR as trustworthy organs of the Communist International. Instead, these were guerilla forces, often of the AK (Armia Krajowa), WiN, NSZ, and others operating on their own initiative - hardly the stuff of submission and supplication. As such, they had to be liquidated, partly to eliminate opposition and partly because their enterprise did no accord with Stalin's vision of the New Soviet Man. Recall, as you read these biographies, that for each one named, ten thousand more shared their work and their deaths.

Excerpt from the unsigned, and undated Urzad Bezpieczenstwa (Polish Secret Police) document providing schedules of transports, and directives about dealing with the captured NSZ Soldiers from the "Bartek's" unit:

"Jan 9, 1946 two trucks will be dispatched [...] After arriving in the Opole area, 'Jasiek' and 'Emil' are to remain in place and prepare the sleeping quarters and super for the arriving 'Bartek' unit [...] The weapons from the first truck are gathered and secured at the concentration point. We are dividing them into two groups of 9-10 men, and moving them to the liquidation points in the Nysa county. At the liquidation point they are receiving lots of alcohol and food, and they are going to sleep. The liquidation will take place when they are asleep and will be conducted by our group of 20 men [...] At the liquidation point will be placed one hidden truck, serving the purpose of only transporting those arrested and eventually corpses. On the 3rd September, again two trucks are being sent [...] During the liquidation of this group you are to carry on as before [...] Two trucks are sent again on September 5 [...] 7 September-two trucks sent [...] The liquidation proceeds with no changes".

Excerpt from the testimony by Jan Fryderyk Zielinski, Polish Secret Police (Polish Secret Police - Urzad Bezpieczenstwa) functionary who took part in the Operation "Lawina":

"Neither myself, nor other [secret police] functionaries knew where we are going. When we arrived there, it became apparent that we are in Lambinowice. At night we cordoned off the entire area, and began operation in the morning. Wladyslaw 'Wladzio' Osobowski [who until 1959 was an UB functionary, and later lived in the Soviet Union] finished off the 'Bartek' unit guard with a knife. Next, through opened windows, somebody threw two grenades into two rooms. After explosions however, most of them was still alive. They started to run. They were shocked by both the explosions and the alcohol that they drank earlier. The whole area was surrounded, and all of them were captured. After they were detained, they were ordered to take their clothes off, and then naked, they were individually lead to a 3 meter deep pit where they were murdered; everyone with a shot to the back of the head. After the shooting, either a diesel fuel, and/or gasoline was poured on bodies, and clothes, and then it was set on fire".

Note: Zielnski also testified, that there were two pits.

Roman Romkowski
Above: Roman Romkowski - real name Natan Grinszpan-Kikiel - (born May 22, 1907 – Died July 1, 1965) – communist activist and functionary of the Polish internal security apparatus. Member of communist organizations from 1922. From 1927 member of the Communist Party of Poland, KPP (pol. Komnistyczna Partia Polski). In 1930 left for Soviet Union, where he studied economics and history at the Moscow’s University. During evenings studied at a military school, from which he graduated. In 1935 participated in the International Comintern School in Moscow. After return to Poland, in 1936, sentenced to 7 years in prison for communist activities. In 1941 fought in the Soviet partisan unit in Belorus, with a rank of brigade commander. During summer 1944, transferred to the CBKP (pol. Centralne Biuro Komunistow Polskich – The Central Bureau of Polish Communists), where he assumed name Romkowski. From July 1944 officer in the Polish secret police apparatus, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Thereafter, in August, 1944, became a Director of Counterintelligence Department of the Ministry of Public Security. He served in this position from 6 September, 1945. At the same time (from January, 1945) acted as an aide to the Minister of the Public Security. After the reorganization of the Ministry, on 6 September 1945, assumed leadership position in the Department I of the Ministry of Public Security’s Counterintelligence Division, where he remained until January, 1946. From January, 1946, Deputy Minister for Public Security and a head of the UB (pol. Urzad Bezpieczenstwa – Office of Security). From 1949 Brigadier General and Deputy Minister. His influence at the Ministry [of Public Security] by far superseded those of the Minister – he had a right to report directly to Lavrentiy Beria. From February 24, 1949 was a member of the Security Committee of the Polish United People’s Party, PZPR (pol. Komisja Bezpieczenstwa Polskiej Zjednoczonej Partji Robotniczej). Arrested in 1956 and sentenced to 15 years in March, 1957 for abusing prisoners, and copying Beria’s methods in the ranks of the Polish Internal Security apparatus. Released from prison in 1964.
Marek FInk - Mark FInkienberg
Marek Fink - real name, Mark Finkienberg, from 1970 used name Witold Jozwicki - (born August 15, 1911). Functionary of the Polish communist internal security apparatus. Leutenant-Colonel in the Polish People’s Army. Deputy Director of the Department I of the Committee for Internal Security (pol. Komitet Do Spraw Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego) during 1955-1956. Director of the Department VII of the Ministry of Pubic Security from 1952 to 1954. Director of the Voivodeship Office of the Ministry of Internal Security (pol. WUBP Wojewodzki Urzad Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego) in Katowice from 1948-1949. Deputy Director of the Voivodeship Office of the Ministry of Internal Security (pol. WUBP Wojewodzki Urzad Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego) in Katowice from 1946-1948. Director of the County Public Security Office (pol. Powiatowy Urzad Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego – County Office for Public Security)in Bedzin from 1945 to 1946. Deputy Director of the PUBP in Lublin from 1944 to 1946. Member of the Communist Party of Poland, KPP (pol. Polska Partia Komunistyczna), Polish Worker’s Party, PPR (pol. Polska Partia Robotnicza), and Polish United Worker’s Party, PZPR (pol. Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza).

Col. Jozef Czaplicki - real name, Izydor Kurc - Polish Secret Police.

Above: Col. Jozef Czaplicki - real name, Izydor Kurc, Director of Department III of Ministry of Public Security - Ministerstwo Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego - MBP) - Polish Secret Police.
 

Operation "Avalanche", The UB (Communist Secret Police) Murder Without A Precedence. Annihilation of the NSZ (Narodowe Sily Zbrojne - National Armed Forces) Armed Underground Units under command of Captain Henryk Flame "Bartek".

(Pol. Operacja "Lawina" - UBecka zbrodnia bez precedensu - Likwidacja zgrupowania NSZ kpt. Henryka Flame ps. „Bartek”)

In order to capture and murder members of the largest concentration of anti-communist underground units operating in the Slask Opolski and Podbeskidzie regions, in 1946, the UB (pol. Urzad Bezpieczenstwa - Internal Security) employed an ingenious "operational play" (pol. "gra operacyjna"), code-named "Operation Avalanche" (pol. "Operacja Lawina"). It relied not only on the introduction of its own agents (pol. "agentura" - agents) into the ranks of the leadership and command structure of the democratic underground, but also on creating new, and completely fictitious organizations under its complete control.

The destruction of the units lead by Captain Henryk Flame “Bartek” was only a side-effect of a far broader and sinister “operational play” conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (pol. Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnetrzynych), conducted against the National Armed Forces (pol. NSZ – Narodowe Sily Zbrojne). This particular "play", became a proverbial Guinea pig for the UB, to gain experience for their future operations against the armed underground. We need to stress here, that it was not by the happenstance, that in this instance, the most valuable “Player”, an UB agent, Henryk Wendrowski, would also play a key role in the future overtaking of key positions within the structures of the Freedom And Independence (pol. WiN - Wolnosc i Niezawislosc).

The conduct of such important, and tragic in consequences operation, evokes many questions related to the chronology of events, and identification of individuals responsible for issuing orders to committ the murders. (Photo below: Capt. Henryk Flame, "Bartek").

Henryk Flame "Bartek" Murdered by Polish Secret Police  

Preparations for the “Play”

The period between 1945-1947 was marked by the most significant escalation of the armed anti-communist underground activities in Podbeskidzie region of Poland. The unit operating under direct command of Captain Flame “Bartek”, was the largest, and the most active anti-communist formation operating in this region. At its peak, in Spring of 1946, it numbered 300 active members and had several hundred friendly informers. Before the War, Henryk Flame, the commanding officer of the NSZ unit discussed here, was a pilot in the II Air Regiment stationed in Krakow. At the time the hostilities began in September 1939, Henryk fought with the 123 Fighter Squadron attached to the Air Pursuit Brigade. We can discern, that Capt. Flame was a graduate of the Junior Officer Cadet Air School in Bydgoszcz. His participation in the hostilities in the ranks of the fighter squadron can explain his low military rank, and shade some light on his advanced piloting skills. It is worth pointing out, that only the best pilots were chosen to fly with fighter squadrons. (If you are interested in history of Polish WW II aviation, please click here)

Left: Henryk Flame, nom de guerre "Bartek," Narodowe Sily Zbrojne, NSZ.

Therefore, even before the war, Henryk Flame was already a talented, and seasoned fighter pilot, ready to met the Nazis in the air with a rank of Lance-Corporal Pilot. During his first air combat mission, Henryk Flamme was forced to land his heavily shot up, absolete PZL-7A fighter plane. His plane “The 7” was towed to the airstrip near Jablonna, but the aircraft was no longer airworthy. Because of the lack of spare parts, and because many more higher ranking pilots were lineup to take up to the air, Henryk would not fly in combat again. After the hostilities ended, Flame attempted a daring escape to Hungry, but was arrested, and interned. He returned to Poland in 1940 and worked as a railroad worker. He found his way into the ranks of the Polish Armed Underground in 1944, joining the NSZ (pol. Narodowe Sily Zbrojne – National Armed Forces). His faith and his future will be forever linked with the NSZ, where he received necessary experience, and subsequently reached rank of Captain.

After the Soviet front moved beyond the area where his unit(s) operated, for a short time, Flame became commandant of a local People’s Militia post in Czechowice. The fear of an impending arrest by the communists, forced him to escape and hide in the local forests. At first he gathered 10, and than 60 individuals to join his unit; at its peek, he will be commanding several dozens of partisan units, numbering in excess of 300 soldiers. The units under his command fought many battles and skirmishes with the "enforcers" of the new “people’s” power in the Podbeskidzie, and the surrounding areas. One of the more notable actions was capturing of a vacation resort located on the Vistula River on May 3, 1946. The capturing of this small city, culminated in a parade of the NSZ units, and a patriotic anti communist manifestation of its inhabitants.

Henryk Flame, Captain, Murdered by Polish Secret Police   The local office of UB (pol. Urzad Bezpieczenstwa – State Security) in Katowice made attempts to annihilate Captain Flame’s units very early on, already beginning in May 1945. Thwarted by their lack of familiarity with local terrain, and good organization of the NSZ units, the Bezpieka (bezpieka – a derogatory name commonly used to refer to the UB) faced considerable difficulties in carrying out their sinister plan. In fact, Captain Flame’s units didn’t suffer any significant losses unit Summer of 1946. The mass arrests of the command leadership of NSZ which took place in Summer 1945, resulted in creating some chaos within its ranks.
Photo above: Soldiers from Cpt. Flame NSZ unit. Spring, 1944. Standing left to right: Gustaw Matuszny "Orzel Bialy", Wiktor Gruszczyk, "Grozny", Stanislaw Wloch "Lis", and Cpt. Henryk Flame, "Bartek".

Following the destruction of units in the Wielkopolska region, and an arrest of the Chief Inspector of the Eastern Directorate of NSZ, the bulk of underground activities was shifted to the West, primarily into the Upper Silesia (pol. Gorny Slask) region.

A new operational sub-district of the “Upper Silesia” was formed under auspices of the “Silesia Inspectorate” in Fall 1945, and fell under command by Major “Gorny-Lamiglowa”. In reality “Major Gorny-Lamiglowa” was an “NN” Polish Secret Police agent (pol. acronym “NN” - Unknown And Unidentified) codenamed “RR”, who already in March 1945, participated in top level talks at the NSZ National Command level. It was followed by the destruction of the newly rebuilt operational infrastructure of the NSZ. After the wave of arrests which took place in the Fall, the UB agent “RR”, who still operated under nom de guerre “maj Gorny-Lamiglowa”, began to rebuild the destroyed NSZ organization – this time however, under complete control of the Ministry of Internal Security. As a commanding officer of the Silesia Inspectorate of NSZ, he began his "play" by creating a provocateur organization, named Slaskie Sily Zbrojne (The Silesia Armed Forces).

Henryk Wedrowski, Polish Secret Police, the UB, Operative  

Left: Henryk Wendrowski, Polish Secret Police, the UB, Operative.

Supported by several UB functionaries, he established a fictional command structure, and began to make appearances before other underground activists, as a coordinator, and organizer of underground activities. As a result of his deceptive activities, already in February, 1946, the “RR” began establishing contacts within the underground circles in the cities of Chorzow, Siemianowice and Krakow. Through those contacts, in April he mets in Krakow with Captain Franciszek Was “Warminski”, a former commandant of the Section I of Krakow’s NSZ District. Unbeknown to him, at this moment Was is taken under operational control of another UB agent, Henryk Wendrowski. Wendrowski himself, was a former Home army soldier, who from 1944 on worked for the communists. He became part of the “operational play” in the Upper Silesia region, most likely in Fall, 1945, when under the codename “Lawina” (Avalanche) he was introduced into the Political Council of the NSZ for Slask District. Probably in mid April, 1946, Wendrowski begins his operational activities in Gliwice, where introducing himself as an organizer of underground activities, he was lead into the underground circles there. Pretending to be representative of “NSZ District”, helped by agent “RR”, and introduced by Wendrowski “Warminski”, in July 1946, he reaches one of the curriers from the Henryk Flame “Bartek” units.

Certain that Wendrowski is working for the Central Command of the NSZ (with which he has been in contact throughout the war), the currier brings the UB (Polish Secret Police) agent straight to the Henryk Flame “Bartek”, who at this time, wth his entire unit, is stationed at Barania Gora.

The first meeting between the UB agent, “Captain Avalanche” (pol. “Lawina”), and Captain Henryk Flame “Bartek”, takes place in August, 1946 at the unit’s forest camp. From this moment on, the events will unravel rapidly, and will lead to the murder of the majority of the unit’s members. The “Captain Avalanche” skillfully produced a fictional order of the command of the “NSZ District”, that ordered “Bartek’s” unit, in several transports, to move into the Jelenia Gora region, where the unit's activities were to allegedly resume. It appears, that despite his reservations, right from the outset, “Bartek” accepted the proposed plan to transfer his units. Undoubtedly, the factors leading to his decision had to be two-fold: worsening military situation of the unit in 1946 (as for the first time it begins to take serious casualties), and the growing difficulties with acquiring provisions for his unit.  
  Eradication Plan "B" Source: IPN Katowice

The order to transport his units into the Western Poland, could have appeared, as the only rational solution to his unit’s worsening situation. It is certain however, that the outcome of the operation orchestrated by “Captain Avalanche”, had to be influenced by the fact, that for over six months, “Bartek” didn’t have any contact with the command of the NSZ. Paradoxically, not realizing that the NSZ District had been penetrated by the UB, the command of the unit awaited a liaison from the command of he NSZ, and orders for its future activities. This liaison will be “Captain Avalanche”.

Already, before 20 August, 1946, the UB formulated (most likely headed by Wendrowski), its “Eradication Plan B”, in which it specified conduct of the operations against the largest concentration of underground units in the Podbeskidzie region. It specified, that the leadership of the “Bartek’s” unit was to be transported to Gliwice, where it was to command the entire operation. A detailed plan of transferring the unit assumed four transports, which were to take place in the beginning of September. The first transport was to include a dozen, or so soldiers, while the remaining ones were to include around 40 soldiers each, for the total of around 140 individuals. Both, the heavy machine guns and long rifles were to be transported in separate trucks. The plan also envisioned placement of the armed tactical group of the UB, at the location called “Opole Point”. Under the guise of acting a security unit, assigned by the Opole District of NSZ, the UB unit was to provide security for the “Point”. The last phase of the liquidation of the Flame’s unit, was to include disarming and arresting of its members. It was to take place after supper, while Captain Falme's soldiers had few drinks, and were asleep. This scheme was to be employed in case of all four planned transports. Once these are dealt with, the UB was to gradually disarm and arrest the remaining members of the unit, who stayed at the encampment site in the mountains (around 80 people).

The main problem with accurate interpretation of this document, concerns understanding of the term "eradication". The wording indicating that "at the eradication point will be placed one vehicle [truck], serving the purpose of transporting those arrested, or possibly dead", can suggest that the goal of the prepared plan was the detention of Flame's soldiers, rather than their murder.

  Wladyslaw Guzdek, nom de guerre "Wilk" Narodowe Sily Zbrojne soldier, arrested in 1946 and murdered by Polish secret police in 1946 in Katowice.
  Above: Wladyslaw Guzdek, nom de guerre "Wilk" Narodowe Sily Zbrojne soldier, arrested in 1946 and murdered by Polish secret police in 1946 in Katowice.

However, it also suggest the possibility of fatalities. Event tough, it appears that this document does not explicitly state that a planned extermination (mass murder) was to take place, we can't exclude the possibility, that the plan itself, wasn't dramatically altered during the conduct of the operation.

During the end of August, and beginning of Setember, UB introduced a new operative, codenamed “Lt. Korzen” into its “operational play”. He was Cheslaw Krupowies, a junior investigator from the Division III, of the Department III of the Ministry of Public Security (pol. Ministerstwo Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego). Krupowies was personally involved in transporting Captain Flame’s captured soldiers.

NSZ - National Armed Forces Soldiers from the Captain Flame "Bartek" Polish Underground UnitSoldiers from the Narodowe Sily Zbrojne (eng. National Armed Forces - NSZ) unit of Captain Henryk Falame "Bartek".
 

The “Eradication”

The process of transporting captured soldiers from the “Bartek” unit, and the circumstances of their murder remain incomplete. One fact is certain, however- at least 100 individuals were murdered in the Slask Opolski area. The present understanding of the facts in this case is, that the possible places of mass murders committed on soldiers from the “Bartek” unit, are located: in the vicinity of the so called little castle Hubertus, (located between Dabrowka and Barut and presently on the boarder of Glivice and Strzelec counties), and the vicinity of Lambinowice (presently Nysa county). It can’t be excluded however, that there were additional burial places as well.

During the night of 25 to 26 September, people residing near little castle Hubertus noticed approaching trucks, and in the morning heard a very loud explosion. They heard shots and loud screams, but the entire area was cordoned off for several days. When the soldiers guarding the area left, the inhabitants were finding scattered pieces of human remains. The local game-keeper, and a former acquaintance of Captain Flame “Bartek” from the Bielsko area, notified him about what had transpired. Henryk Flame arrived to Hubertus after the amnesty of 1947.

As recounted by “Bartek’s” companion a that time, Cpt. Flame went into the forest with the game-keeper, and didn’t return for about an hour. When he returned, he was shaken-up and didn’t say a single word.

The testimony given in 1946 by one of the UB functionaries, a young junior investigator with the PUBP (pol. Powiatowy Urzad Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego – County Office for Public Security) in Cieszyn, Jan Fryderyk Zielinski, who allegedly was an eyewitness of those events, can be viewed as credible. Zielinski, who witnessed the extermination of the “Bartek’s” soldiers testified, that he was only a passive observer, and that the murders were comitted by a group of UB men and several dozens of Russians. While no official UB (pol. Urzad Bezpieczenstwa) document describing conduct of the operation survived, his testimony reveals that he personally witnessed execution of 69 members of the NSZ’s “Bartek” unit. The soldiers were transported from the Beskid area in 2 trucks owned by the Ministry of Mining, into the area of Lambinowice, (in the Opole voivodeship), and in the vicinity of a former Nazi airfield.

NSZ Soldier Executed by the Communists in 1946 - Private Second Class "Grom"  

The transported soldiers were placed in an unknown building, described by the witness, as a brick structure located on the land property. Before the transports arrived, a medical doctor employed by the UB, injected sleep-inducing agent into the bottles containing alcohol. This alcohol was subsequently served to the arriving members of the NSZ. In the morning, the UB threw concussion grenades into the building where the “Bartek’s” soldiers were sleeping. Next, the soldiers were undressed, and lead near a pit that was dug up earlier. There, with a single shot to the back of the head, they were murdered. After the murder, the perpetrators threw Soviet and Polish [communist People’s Army] dog tags into the pit, in the number that corresponded to the number of those shot. The execution was to be conducted by the Russians, while the UB functionaries were to secure the area. According to Zelinski's testimony, he was told by his colleagues from the UB, that the next group of NSZ soldiers was placed in barracks which were earlier booby-trapped with explosives, and blown up while they were inside.

From among all of those transported, apparently only one member of the unit survived. According to his account, at one of the transfer points, they were placed in some sort of hunting lodge, or a former German school building, located near a forest with a lake. The attack took place at night, after the supper accompanied by alcohol. At first, the grenades were thrown into the rooms, and then a firefight ensued - the wounded, were finished off on the spot. It is presumed, that in this fashion soldiers from one of the transports were murdered. There is however, a discrepancy pertaining to the time-table and locations from which NSZ soldiers departured; namely, there wasn’t a single encampment at which the units were stationed. Therefore, loading of people and equipment took place at various places. Since the entire operation most likely took place between 5th and 25 September, 1946, it was not only marked by delays, but also deviated from the original plans outlined in the “Eradication Plan ‘B’”. Furthermore, not only did the number of those transported didn't correspond with the numbers planned, but the loading of the “Bartek’s” soldiers itself, presented considerable logistical problems for the UB.

It is noteworthy, that during this operation, an additional dozen of individuals were detained as “collateral arrestees”. They were subsequently lead before the District Military Court in Katowice, and from among those, several were sentenced to death. Their executions took place in December, 1946.

Above: Private Second Class "Grom," one of the 200 Narodowe Sily Zbrojne (NSZ) Soldiers murdered by the communists in 1946 near Lambinowice.
Corporal Ryszard Czernecki "Picolo" one of the leaders in the "Bartek" unit of Narodowe Sily Zbrojne, NSZ.
Above: Corporal Ryszard Czernecki "Picolo" one of the commanding officers in the "Bartek's" unit.  

Henryk Flame nom de guerre "Bartek" murdered by communist militia man

 

We must also point out, that there were also several incidences of isolated murders perpetrated on surviving soldiers from the “Bartek’s” unit, which subsequently, included Captain Henryk Flame “Bartek” himself. In March 1947, along with some of his soldiers, Captain Henryk Flame revealed his identity to the UB as a part of yet another "amnesty" declared by the communists.

On December 1, 1947, Captain Henryk Flame “Bartek”, was shot in the restaurant in Zabrzeg, near Czechowice-Dziedzice, at the hands of communist Milicia man.

 

Photo above: Body of Cpt. “Bartek” murdered by communist Militia man in Zabrzeg.

 

The Perpetrators

Because the original sources are for most part absent, establishing conclusively what the end-goal of the UB provocation was, proves to be difficult at best.

The following questions remain unanswered: was the mass murder of the NSZ soldiers planned right from the outset, or were they to be only apprehended, and incarcerated; were the casualties planned, or only anticipated by the planners of the “Operation Avalanche”? Was the murder planned right from the outset, or was the decision to “eradicate” Flame’s soldiers made during the operation as it was progressing? Who was directly responsible for perpetrating the murders?

The key witness, UB agent, Henryk Wendrowski, implicated his superiors as those who were most likely to issue orders to kill the NSZ soldiers, namely: (1) the Deputy Minister Roman Romkowski, and the Head of the Section III of the Department III of the WUBP (pol. Wojewodzki Urzad Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego - Voivodeship Office of the Ministry of Internal Security) office in Katowice , (2) Captain Marek Fink. While assessing responsibility of the leadership of the WUBP, it is also necessary to mention liquidation (aided through Wendrowski’s handiwork) of the group of eight “compromised” members from the Rzeszow region. Introducing himself as “Captain Avalanche form the Central” [Headquarters of the NSZ], he ordered them to transfer to the Western part of Poland. The organizational aspects of this operation were handled by the WUBP in Katowice, however, Wendrowski himself dealt with logistics, i.e. procuring trucks for the transport. In this case physical liquidation of the entire unit didn’t take place. According to the remaining Polish Secret Police records, "only those resisting arrest", which place at the UB-owned estate, were shot. The fatalities which took place were explained as a “collateral damage”. If we were to believe Wendrowski’s testimony, given at a later date, the liquidation of the “Bartek’s” units was to take place without any physical extermination.

Narodowe Sily Zbrojne NSZ Soldiers from the "Bartek's" unit in 1946.  

It is necessary to note however, that during the much smaller in scope operation of transporting soldiers from the Rzeszow area, Wendrowski was also personally involved in the logistics and technical aspects of that operation as well. His testimony, that during the operation to exterminate soldiers from the “Bartek’s” unit, he was informed neither about the place, nor date, nor means by which the extermination was to take place, has very little, if any credibility. Particularly, since his testimony given in the 1990’s, is in contrary with the understanding of those events based on the original sources from 1946.

It is beyond any doubt, that Deputy Minister Romkowski was not only involved in the particulars of the UB’s “operational play”, but also personally issued directives related to the liquidation of the NSZ unit. It is characteristic for Wendrowski however, not to implicate Colonel Jozef Czaplicki [real name Izydor Kurc], then Director of Department III of the MBP (pol. Ministerstwo Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego – Ministry of Public Security); for it is known, that it was Col. Czaplicki, who ordered him originally, to initiate contact with the “Bartek” unit. During Summer, 1946, while studying operational structures of the democratic underground during his stay in Warsaw, Wendrowski contacted Col. Czaplicki on many occasions. There is however, information, that refutes the hypothesis that Wendrowski, or Czaplickie were directly responsible for the mass murder of the “Bartek’s” soldiers. Therefore, it cannot be excluded that the decision about the murder NSZ soldiers, could have been taken at the last moment, and was in contrary to the earlier prepared “Eradication Plan ‘B’”. Those responsible for issuing orders to murder the NSZ soldiers, are not known to this day.

Above: Soldiers from the Narodowe Sily Zbrojne "Bartek's" unit in 1946. From left: Lt. Jan Przewoznik "Rys", Lt. Jozef Machej "Sep", Jozef Szary "Swistak", and an unknown and unidentified soldier.  

Currently, three possible locations of mass burial sites were chosen, where through the use remote sensing, and photometry, the IPN's prosecutor, Przemyslaw Piatek, will attempt to analyze photos of the terrain, and to reconstruct its formal composition. Thereafter, a geo-radar will be used in order to analyze the ground. It is anticipated, that two mass burial sites could be located at a former German farmhouse. Prosecutor Piatek, is currently conducting three investigations into this puzzling matter. The first one, concerns the murder of "Bartek's" soldiers; the second, concerns crimes committed during the UB investigations against the remaining partisans in the Podbeskidzie region; and the third one, concerns aiding and abetting of the Militia man, named Rudolf Dadak, who on December 1, 1947, at the restaurant "U Czyloka" in Zabrzeg, murdered Henryk Flame, "Bartek" by firing two shots into his back. At the time, the court declared Dadak, to be of unsound mind, and placed him in a psychiatric hospital. He was released from the hospital shortly thereafter, and resumed employment with the People's Militia (pol. Milicja Obywatelska). Allegedly, he fell under the train, and died in Czechowice Dziedzice. His death is presumed not to be an accident.

At this time, the list of those wronged by the UB contains names of 30 soldiers from the “Bartek” unit. Captain Henryk Flame, himself, said that he lost 90 men, who simply disappeared. Will someone be held responsible for their deaths? Wendrowski is dead (he died at the age of 81, in 1997), and so is the UB agent Czeslaw Krupowies, who penetrated the ranks of the underground. The prosecutor Piatek is attempting to reach former functionaries of the repressive District Military Court in Katowice, who rendered sentences in political trials, and among other things, dismissed charges against “Bartek’s” killer. In his opinion, the killer escaped punishment. The historians, and the prosecutors from the IPN, are getting closer to finding the truth, about what happened to the NSZ soldiers form the "Bartek" unit.

Based on Tomasz Kurpierz's Likwidacja zgrupowania Narodowych Sił Zbrojnych Henryka Flamego „Bartka” w 1946 roku – próba rekonstrukcji działań aparatu bezpieczeństwa, [w:] "Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość", nr 1(5), Warszawa 2004.

 

 

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