Augustów Roundup In Polish Press
In Moscow's Service
Date: March 31, 2013
General [Wojciech] Jaruzelski’s collaborator, and former chief of Poland’s Ministry of Internal Affairs took part in the largest mass-murder in the history of the post-WWII Poland, during which 600 Poles vanished in July 1945. They were the victims of the most hushed-up crime in Poland’s contemporary history; [a crime] carried out by the members of the Soviet NKVD [The Peoples Commissariat for Internal Affairs (Народный комиссариат внутренних дел, Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del), НКВД], aided by Polish communist secret police, the UB, and the People’s Militia. It was never ascertained where the murder took place, nor where the victims were buried. Prosecutors from the Institute of National Remembrance, IPN, ascertained that the minister of Internal Affairs of Polish People’s Republic, General Mirosław Milewski, who was a member of the Politburo, [Communist] Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), and Jaruzelski’s close collaborator until the mid-1980s, was implicated in the roundup. After the “Zelazo” affair became publically know in 1985, Milewski was thrown out of the Communist Party; under Milewski’s supervision, the Polish People's Republic intelligence services carried out various criminal activities throughout Western Europe, including assaults, burglaries, and smuggling; the money obtained through these criminal activities was then used by the leadership of the PZPR. Beginning in 1944, Milewski was a trusted collaborator of the Soviet NKVD and KGB. As an eighteen-years-old employee of the County Office for Public Security (PUBP) in Augustów, he took part in the so-called Augustów Roundup, which resulted in the disappearance of 600 Polish citizens.
Photograph with an NKVD man
The murder of Poles was carried out by the regular Red Army Units of the First Byelarussian Front, Units of NKVD’s 62nd Rifle Division, as well as 110-men from the First “Praga” Regiment of the Polish People’s Army (LWP). While technically, the Poles only assisted the Russians, the Security Service (UB - Urzad Bezpieczenstwa – Polish secret police) men from the Augustów office, of which Milewski was part, were very eager in providing their help. The fact that Milewski took part in the roundup is corroborated, by among objects, photos from 1945; these photos were discovered by Marcin Markiewicz from the Białystok office of the IPN. The photograph published here, shows a seventeen-year-old Milewski next to the local UB chief in Augustów, Aleksander Kuczynski, his deputy Ryszard Kaban, and the PUBP Soviet advisor, Major Vasilenko. Vasilenko is believed to have played a pivotal role in the roundup. Eyewitnesses of these events also corroborated Milewski’s participation in the Roundup. According to their testimonies, Milewski led Soviet soldiers to the residences of members of the democratic resistance, members of their families, and pointed their specific locations. He was instrumental in the arrest of his schoolmate, a 19-year-old girl named Zofia Pawelko who was in the Home Army. Waclaw Pawelko, Zofia’s brother testified – “I witnessed my sister’s arrest by the NKVD. Milewski led them to our house. Our mom begged him not to take Zosia away, and he responded that they would only interview her. She never came back.”
During WW II, Milewski lived in Jaziewo near Augustów, and knew very well who from among the locals belonged to the Home Army or Peasants’ Battalions. Milewski also participated in the interrogations of those who had vanished - among these, was the interrogation of Leon Karp.
During his interview with “Wprost”, General Milewski denied that he took part in the Augustów Roundup. “I knew Zofia Pawelko, because she was friends with my cousin. But I didn’t have anything to do with her arrest. To the contrary- there was some kid who testified to this effect, it was probably her brother. This is all a misunderstanding.”
He states that the photo with the NKVD was taken on the occasion of D-Day: “The Russians arrived at the County Office for Public Security. They said that it is necessary to memorialize it in some way. There are few people in this photo; certainly the chief of the Augustów Office for Pubic Security, his deputy, and next to them was some Russian woman.
Between the 10th and 25th of July 1945, nearly 2,000 individuals, primarily members of the democratic resistance, but also civilians, were arrested in the Augustów and Suwalki area. They were placed in three filtration camps. From among those arrested, the Russians selected 600 individuals who were put on trucks, and then transported to an unknown location. They had all vanished. Professor Natalia Lebedeva from the Institute of History at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and an author of a book about Katyn, is of the opinion that the victims of roundup weren’t liquidated right away. She reassures us that at that time the Russian Red Army didn’t carry out mass executions, because Russia, ravaged by war as it was, needed slave laborers. In her opinion, the arrested Poles could have been sent to some secret camp, and were possibly subjected to experiments with chemical or biological weapons. The IPN prosecutors are of the opinion, however, that the victims were immediately liquidated. “Even if the arrested Poles were subjected to some experiments, someone would have survived. In this instance, however, there was absolutely not a trace of even a single victim” - said Dr. Jerzy Milewski from the Białystok office of the Institute of National Remembrance. In his opinion, the 600 missing Poles were most likely killed and buried around Grodno [in Russia].
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