“Your Mother will tell you about my life.” Secret letters of Lt. Col. Łukasz Ciepliński from Rakowiecka Prison
Published March 3, 2016
Left: Lt. Col. Łukasz Ciepliński, nom de guerre "Pług"
Andy! My longed for, prayed for, beloved Son!
I am writing to you for the first and last time. For I am to be murdered within the days to come. I wished to be your father and your friend. I wished to play with you, and to teach you. I wished to serve you with all my experience and advice, to shape your mind and your personality. Unfortunately, the cruel fate is taking me away from you too early, leaving you an orphan. I am crying as I’m writing to you,” Lt. Col. Łukasz Ciepliński, code-name "Pług” to his newborn son.
Between the end of November and beginning of December 1947, the communist secret police, the “UB”, arrested all leaders of the Polish anti-communist organization “Freedom and Independence” (“WiN”), including Lt. Col. Łukasz Ciepliński. During the interrogations, Ciepliński was tortured to such a degree, that he had to be carried out of the interrogation room. See: Communist Torture Methods. He became deaf in one ear following one of such interrogation sessions. On October 14, 1950, he was sentenced to “five consecutive death sentences, was stripped of his citizenship, and sentenced to forfeit of all his material possessions.” His sentence was upheld by a higher court, and on February 20, 1951, President Bierut denied the clemency petition in the Ciepliński case. Death sentences of WiN members, including Łukasz Ciepliński, were carried out on March 1, 1951. The WiN soldiers fighting after the war for independence of Poland against the Soviet oppression and control were killed by a shot to the back of their heads, in the Katyn style. The place of their burial has remained unknown to this day.
The most poignant relics that Ciepliński left behind are the secret letters smuggled from his death cell to his family. Cieplinski represents the entire generation of the Polish people known as “cursed soldiers” because they are Poland’s forgotten heroes tortured, denigrated and murdered after the war by the brutal communist regime in Warsaw. For decades it was forbidden to mention their names. It was only in 2007 that President Lech Kaczyński (See the documentary "The President") had the courage to award Lieutenant Colonel Ciepliński with the posthumous Order of The White Eagle. Three years later, President Kaczynski was killed in Smolensk, Russia, but his legacy endures. In February 2011 the Polish Parliament designated March 1 as the Doomed Soldiers Memorial Day.
Lt. Col. Cieplinski letters to his family:
Wisia, I am in a death cell. I do not fear death, but I grieve for you, my most treasured orphans (...). I know that you are with me in your heart, mind and prayer. I CAN FEEL IT. It takes me back to the trial, and I can see your face again, overwhelmed with pain. You know me better than anybody else, and it must have hurt to hear all those provocative, deceitful and harmful accusations against myself. Be brave, Wisia. Walk through the suffering with dignity and peace, having faith in God’s justice. This is all we’ve got left. Your aim and your duty is Andrew and I know that you will bring him up to be a man, a Pole and a catholic, and that you will instill your values in him; that you will create a strong bond between him and me, and the ideas I lived for.
You see, son, your Mother and I have always prayed that you would grow up to believe in Christ, to be dedicated to our Nation, and to be our pride and joy. I wanted to share my life experience with you. Unfortunately, these words might be my last message to you. For I am to be murdered by the communists, punished for following the principles that I am now leaving to you as my legacy. Your Mother will tell you about my life, for she knows me best. In this hardest hour of my life I take consolation that my sacrifice will not be wasted, that my unfulfilled dreams and hopes are not going to die with me, but that you will make them come true, and this thought makes me very happy. I will die trusting that you will fulfill these hopes I have for you. In my mind, I embrace you, holding you close to my heart, and I pray for blessing for you. May God be with you.
Jan. 20, 1951.
“Andy! My longed for, prayed for, beloved son. I am writing to you for the first and last time. For I am to be murdered within days to come. I wished to be your father and your friend. I wished to play with you, and to teach you. I wished to serve you with all my experience and advice, to shape your mind and your personality. Unfortunately, the cruel fate is taking me away from you too early, leaving you an orphan. I am crying as I’m writing to you. I am leaving, but you will remain to follow the principles and fulfil the dreams of your father. Your goals are:
a. To serve the good, truth and justice, and to fight the evil.
b. To strive to solve current problems by remaining faithful to Christ and the Christian values. To live and act according to those values.
c. To serve our Homeland and the Polish nation [illegible fragment]. The Polish nation [illegible fragment] and freedom. Prosperity and happiness. The world is drowning in hatred, filth and ill will. We need a new mindset and a righteous solution, which are represented by the Christian values. Love and happiness must go in line with the needs of the 20th century. We must satisfy those needs, but remain faithful to the Christian principles. We don’t always interpret the essence of those principles in a right way.
Andy! Remember that there are only three sacred principles in life: God, Country and Mother.”
I am leaving, but you will remain to fulfil the dreams and hopes of your father. The goals of your life, Andy, are:
a. To serve the good, truth and justice, and to fight the evil.
b. To strive to solve current problems remaining faithful to Christ and the Christian values. To live and act according to those values.
c. To serve our Homeland and the Polish nation.
Andy! I was in command of Rzeszów’s inspectorate during the German occupation of Poland. I was in charge of around 20 thousands people. Many of them died in the fight for Poland and the soul of the Polish nation. Many are being murdered now. During my service, I have seen such an immense love for our Nation, such heroism, such devotion and sacrifice to the Cause, that I feel truly touched just to think about them, and I thank God that he let me lead those sons of the heroic land of Rzeszów. I wanted to write one day about them and their heroic acts, so that they would not be forgotten, and they would have their place in history. Since I won’t be here to do it, it will be your duty.
I am happy that I have lived to this day, to the month of the Mother of God. I believe that being murdered this month, the Queen of Poland will take my soul away, and I will continue to serve her with the heavenly troops. I will directly report to her about the tragedy of the Polish nation, murdered by one nation [Russia], and abandoned by others.
To my Brothers!
We all fought for Poland. Today, I will die for Poland. Andrew will remain. He is our blood and Your Son. You are his fathers. You must replace me in the fatherly duties. They made me look like a criminal, but the Truth will prevail soon. The world will be blessed with the Christian values. Poland will regain its independence, and the disrespected human dignity will be restored. I bid you and your wives farewell.
The pain keeps me awake, wrenches my mind and my strength. Will the unfulfilled dreams arise from the grave? Will there be the days of power for the beloved idea? Or will our sacrifice be wasted?
I believe that it will not be wasted, that the dreams will arise and the son will replace the father (…). I believe more than ever that the Christ will prevail, that Poland will regain its independence, and that the disrespected human dignity will be restored.
Andy! In order not to waste your life, in order to actively engage in the ongoing processes, and in order to contribute positive and artistic values, you must strive to achieve an appropriate social status. Personal ambitions must not be your goal, but the awareness and faith in the principles that will guide your way. The way to achieve it leads through the values of the character and mind. Through profound belief in the righteousness of your goals [illegible word]. Remember that the value of a man is in his character. You must train your character through sacrifice. Strong will, hard work, courage, initiative, truthfulness, personal, national and human dignity, are what you must pursue. You will achieve nothing without a strong character; you will be overwhelmed by obstacles half your way [illegible text] You must not waste your time on nonsense [illegible text] in the country, go to the West in order to increase your knowledge in the subject of your choice. Choose a profession, which will be most suitable for you, and which you will be able to perform in the name of God’s praise, to the benefit of your Nation, and to the pride and joy of your Mother. When you live in the West, pay attention to philosophical, economic, social and political matters. Choose to learn English. You must also learn Latin in order to became familiar with the classic culture, which reflects so much [lack of text]
[Illegible text] the wronged ones. Remember, that material goods and money are important, but they must not be what you aim for. Be obedient and love your Mother, both on mine and your behalf. Remember that she is the only person who lives for your happiness and who will always understand you, and never leave you when you need support.
Jan. 16, 1951.
My dearest treasures! The nearer the end, the more valuable and close you become to me. I think and dream about you, I play with Andy and I talk to you. I anticipate your future struggle, which I could overcome rapidly. Today, I cannot help you in anything. It breaks my heart, and it pains me greatly. The time it will take to reach liberty will be hard for you. Returning to Rzeszów is your best option. The family and good people, if such people still exist within this period of Satan’s reign, will help you survive. Once the independence is regained, you will definitely receive continuing support. Move to Kraków, Warsaw or Poznań, depending on where Andy will study and work. I ask Andy to listen to his Mother and to be good to her, to love her on mine and his behalf. Keep your Mother by your side at all times. Live together. Take advice from your Mother in the moments of crises and tough decisions. Always remember, that your Mother is the only person that will always understand you and will always want your happiness. Remember that you are Polish, thus sacrifice all your efforts for the benefit of Poland and all Polish people [illegible text]. Be a Catholic, crave to know, accept and follow God’s will. A Catholic does not fail, but is capable and efficient, serves the good and fights the evil. To achieve those goals, you need to educate your mind and your character, and achieve an appropriate social status.
One of the last letters before his death:
They will only take my life, which is not the most important thing. I am happy to die, murdered for being a Catholic, who dies for his religion, for being a Pole, who dies for independent and happy Poland, and for being a human, who dies for the truth and justice. Today, I believe more than ever that the Christianity and its values will prevail, that Poland will regain its independence, and that the disrespected human dignity will be restored. Such is my belief and it gives me great joy. If you ever find my grave, this is an inscription I would like to have on it. Farewell, my beloved. I kiss you and I embrace you, holding you close to my heart. I bless you and I hand you over to the [Blessed Virgin Mary, the] Queen of Poland. Your father.
[Illegible fragment] the wronged ones. Remember, that material goods and money are important, but they must not be what you aim for. Be obedient and love your Mother, both on mine and your behalf. Remember that she is the only person who lives for your happiness, who will always understand you and never leave you when you need support.
Łukasz Ciepliński’s secret letters were smuggled out of the prison by a fellow prisoner sentenced to life. They were kept in England and they returned to Poland only in 2005. The materials have been sourced from the website pomnikcieplinskiego.pl. Łukasz Ciepliński was murdered by the Warsaw communist regime controlled by Moscow on March 1, 1951, and that date become the National Doomed Soldiers Memorial Day, which is commemorated every year.