A ground-breaking visit, or a visit of ground-breaking times?
On the late evening of July 9th 1989, Air Force One with president George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara on board landed at the Okęcie airport in Warsaw. An official visit of the fourth American president on Polish lands began, lasting two days.
Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya – a forgotten ally of the Polish People’s Republic
The Libyan dictator took power in 1969 and only a few years later began close cooperation with the eastern bloc. He sold oil to the Soviet Union and in turn bought huge amount of weapons.
North Korea by the end of the 1980s in the reports of the military intelligence of the Polish People’s Republic
For many years, every few weeks or months, the eyes of the entire world turn to one of the last strongholds of contemporary totalitarianism – North Korea. The military aspirations of the unpredictable Kim Jong Un loom large on the leaders of the biggest modern powers of the world.
Cracow spring of 1989
The “round table” is one of the most important symbols of the Third Republic of Poland, for part of the society a dignified example of political dialogue which began the process of democratising Poland, for others a symbol of betrayal and conspiracy of groups hostile towards Poland. During the talks, a wave of youth protests came through Cracow, demonstrating against the “round table” talks and demanding power to be taken away from the communists.
They became numbers from 31 to 758
In the first months of German occupation, the repressions against the Polish population were much greater than against other national groups of pre-war Poland. This was due to a large-scale campaign of the German security apparatus directed against the Polish intelligentsia.
Daily Apocalypse. The first weeks in Auschwitz
“The only exit from here leads through the crematorium chimney” – this is what the first Polish prisoners of Auschwitz heard from the SS camp Deputy Commander Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch in June 1940.
The Victims of Sonderaktion Krakau
Aktion gegen Universitäts-Professoren, commonly known as Sonderaktion Krakau, has left its mark on the history of Cracow and modern history in general, as an unprecedented attack on Polish academic circles.
Broszury popularnonaukowe IPN Szczecin
Ravensbrück. A story not to be forgotten. The Polish perspective
Germany entered the period of terror in 1933, when Adolf Hilter assumed power. Mass arrests of his political opponents began soon after. Those regarded as enemies of the German state and nation were sent to prisons or concentration camps.
The „Blind Max” Scandal
Menahem Bornstein, more commonly known as “Blind Max”, over the years built up a legend of a “Robin Hood of Łódź”, covering the actual, grim character of his infamous criminal activities in the pre-war city of Łódź.
June elections – the swan song of the Polish communism
In January 1947, the first post-war parliamentary elections were conducted in Poland. Although one of its participants was the Democratic Bloc – consisting of, among others, the Polish Workers’ Party – they were the absolute opposite of democracy.
The Fourteen Points Speech. A plan for the world, a sign of hope for Poland
President Wilson’s address to a joint session of the United States Congress included a peace program regarding the world war that had been going on for three years. It was an offer which was ground-breaking in many ways.
Army of Free Europe
Soldiers! A time of ruthless fight against the Communist regime is near. (…) The Army of Free Europe (AWE) has a noble task ahead of it – to liberate the Homeland from the Bolshevik slavery. The Bolsheviks have the help of the Polish hands from the Polish United Workers’ Party who gave death sentences for the greatest sons of the Homeland…
Poles against the Kaiser. Fighting of the White Legions at the Russian front between 1915-1917
The fighting of the Polish soldiers at the battlefields of the First World War alongside countries of the Entente are little known today. Not a lot of people realise, that even before the Blue Army of General Haller, counting a hundred thousand soldiers, was created, the First Polish Legion had marched to fight against the Germans in 1915.
Strike for a “Chopin” piano
In the years of the Solidarity’s revolution of 1980-1981 in Poland a wide social movement demanding crucial changes in the country was created. It consisted of blue and white collar workers, farmers, students…
Poznan protests of June 1956 in the documents of the CIA
The spectacular social protest which broke out on June 28th 1956 in Poznan had no precedence in the post-war history of Poland. This unique picture was especially extraordinary due to: its scale, grassroot character, anti-system message and clearly brutal response of the Communist authorities resulting in many casualties.
Scythes on planes
The Kościuszko Squadron is the oldest Polish air unit and one of the oldest in the world. Over the course of its existence it bore various names and numbers.
Terror of the Red Army and NKVD in the Polish lands between 1944-1945
Victories of the Red Army ended the German occupation of Poland which brought millions of victims. However, the same Amy, which had the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) and SMERSH (military counterintelligence) in its structures, did not bring back the lost independence nor provided safety to the country’s citizens.
“Poles are not yet allowed to celebrate freedom”
On May 8th 1945, the world celebrated the end of the Second World War – an unimaginable hell started by the aggression of Germany and the Soviet Union on Poland. On the ruins of conquered Berlin, the Soviet soldiers hanged red flags with a scythe and hammer.
People, war and mathematics. The case of Bolshevik prisoners in the year 1920
The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, on the eve of the 77th anniversary of the Katyń Massacre and the 7th anniversary of the crash of the presidential plane of Lech Kaczyński at Smoleńsk, conducted a provocative action. At the Katyń memorial place an exhibition was opened commemorating the Soviet POWs in Poland between 1919-1921.
Alpine artists from Gliwice
On the night from July 23rd to July 24th 1982, three men appeared on the roof of a residential block at the May Alley in Gliwice. They had safety belts, paints, brushes, a bucket, a rope and a small plank with them. One of them attached the rope to a chimney, another dropped down a twine, and the third stood on the edge of the roof.
The final battle
When did the most violent clashes with the Citizens’ Militia took place in Warsaw before 1989? Was it in October 1957, after the liquidation of the “Po prostu” weekly, in March 1968, June 1976 or during the street protests during martial law?
The Katyń Massacre
In 1943, mass graves with the bodies of Polish officers imprisoned in the POW camp in Kozelsk were discovered in the Katyń forest near Smolensk. They were murdered by the NKVD. Originally, this particular event was called the Katyń Massacre (Zbrodnia katyńska).
“They will forever remain in our memory”. Traces of victims of the Katyń Massacre found at the cemetery in Bykownia, near Kiev
They took away our closest ones – fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters. They took away our support, our backbones, our loves. They murdered, hid, walked over our dignity and wanted to take away the memory.
The Church saving Jews
Many seem not to remember today that all Polish citizens were subjected to the terrors of occupation during the Second World War. Maybe that is the reason behind questions being asked whether the help of the Catholic Church for Jews was enough during that time. It is, then, worth reminding the scale of repressions against the Church and the scale of help it nonetheless provided to Jews.
PASSPORTS TO PARAGUAY - Documentary movie
To return to the Motherland’s womb. A few words on the deported families of the victims of Katyń.
The decisions made by the Soviet authorities in March 1940 regarded the criminal actions towards the Polish citizens. And they were not limited only to the murder decided on by the Politburo of the United Workers’ Party on March 5th 1940, but had much larger repercussions.
A hero does not come from nowhere. Before Henryk Sławik saved Jews during the war
Henryk Sławik, one of the greatest among the Righteous Among the Nations, was doomed for oblivion – so efficiently that only several years ago he was barely talked about at Upper Silesia, the region where he lived and worked during the entire interwar period.
The Last Knights of Poland
Dr Rafał Leśkiewicz, the editor-in-chief of the website przystanekhistoria.pl talks with prof. Krzysztof Szwagrzyk, the deputy president of the Institute of National Remembrance, about the phenomenon of the Cursed Soldiers and their presence in the contemporary social life.
The first female courier from Poznań
On November 11th, 1939 the first female courier from the Poznań conspiracy set out on a mission to reach the Polish government-in-exile in France. It is difficult to imagine the hardships and challenges that she had to face on the road in autumn 1939. Nonetheless, on December 5th, the brave girl reached Paris.
My dad wanted me to be brave
Zofia Pilecka-Optułowicz, the daughter of Rottmeister Pilecki, Lady of the Order of Polonia Restituta, the Curator of National Remembrance 2015, in an interview for Karolina Wichowska talks about her father, his attitude to the world and how the life of his closest ones looked like in a country ruled by the Communists.
Under Katyń’s shadow. Reflections on underage and female victims of the Katyń massacre.
Since the end of the war, for more than 50 years, any works presenting the crimes of the Soviet occupant were officially forbidden from being distributed in the Polish People’s Republic. After all, they were in opposition of the “state truth” of the USSR as the country of wealth, Poland’s ally and Allied powers in the fight against fascist Germany.
The red map of Warsaw
The havoc of the Warsaw Uprising, the destruction of nearly 70 percent of the buildings located on the left bank of the Vistula river, the death of several hundred thousand inhabitants during World War II meant that after 1945 the residents of Warsaw found it extremely difficult to imagine any other, equally tragic event. Time has unfortunately shown how very wrong they were.
“Hunger overcame fear”. How Polish women managed to ensure existence of their families in the Siberian exile
Between 1940-1941, due to mass deportations conducted by the Soviet authorities at the eastern lands of the Second Republic of Poland, thousands of Polish families were forced to leave their homes. Sent deep into the USSR, they had to face hunger, illnesses and death.
A conquest called liberation
The sooner we realise that in the field of historical narration we’re still stuck in the position of post-totalitarian state and society, the sooner we may be able to rebuild the historical narrative from the perspective of regaining independence.
The pendulum of memory. The (lack of)knowledge about German war crimes.
A lot was written and spoken about the crimes of the Third Reich during the Communist era – although in accordance with the official narration. After 1989, the memory about them gradually withered and a generation gap was created among its researchers. It’s dangerous, especially in light of the aggressive historical policy of Germany.
One hundred days of frozen hell
They appeared out of nowhere in snow uniforms, attacked and disappeared – the Finnish volunteer troops. The Soviet soldiers feared them greatly. In Finland, the heroic defence of 1939 came to be known as Talvisota – yet an ordinary Russian knows nothing about it.
The Council to Aid Jews “Żegota”
The Council to Aid Jews with the Government Delegation for Poland, also called “Żegota”, was the only official state organisation helping Jews in Europe between the years 1939-1945.
You came here not to a sanatorium, but to a German concentration camp
In the spring of 1940, the Germans began to organize a camp for political prisoners in Auschwitz (Oświęcim, before the war), which was then within the territories incorporated into the German Third Reich. On June 14, 1940, a transport arrived from Tarnów with the first Polish political prisoners.
Investigation into KL Auschwitz – Birkenau
In December 1939, the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile in a special resolution announced the use of retaliation for innocent Polish victims against the Germans, and especially towards managerial spheres.
KL Auschwitz-Birkenau - Investigation of the Institute of National Remembrance
Rafał Leśkiewicz, PhD, editor-in-chief of the portal Przystanekhistoria.pl, talks about the investigation in the Auschwitz-Birkenau case to Łukasz Gramza, prosecutor of the Branch Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Nation of Poland of the Institute of National Remembrance in Krakow.
German camps on Polish lands between 1939-1945
The article below is an introduction to the functioning of German camps between 1939-1945 at the Polish territories in their current borders.
Repressions for helping Jews
No less than 467 people were killed for aiding Jews – point out Aleksandra Namysło and Martyna Grądzka-Rejak, the author of the book “Repressions for helping Jews in the occupied Polish lands during the Second World War”.
The Fighting Republic of Poland 1939-1945
World War II changed the course of history. Started by the Germans with the complicity of the Soviet Union, it led to unimaginable destruction and millions of deaths. Later, it brought many nations under Soviet domination for almost fifty years and left the world divided in the Cold War.
Cornerstones of the Independent
We had already been building our statehood during the Great War, since at least the summer of 1915. In the last years of the First World War, the educational and judicial systems had finally become Polish as well. Officials had been trained for all departments of administration. Thanks to that, in November 1918, we were ready.
Advocate of the Polish cause Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941)
Ignacy Jan Paderewski was an extraordinary pianist and composer, a devoted patriot and a man of the state, a philanthropist and a social activist. His engagement in the Polish cause was absolutely selfless. He will forever have a place among the great figures who helped Poland in regaining its independence.
Hans Frank’s journal of vanity
Hans Frank was one of the main authors and executors of the German extermination policies. He was responsible for mass crimes, economic exploitation and theft and destruction of countless pieces of art in the Polish lands not joined with the Third Reich. Thanks to his vanity, a unique historical source was created – an official journal of the Governor-General.
Katyń: the school of lying of the Polish Worker`s Party
On April 11th 1943 the Germans began the propaganda campaign regarding the discovery of mass graves of the Polish officers in Katyń, murdered by the NKVD in 1940. Street megaphones in the General Government for occupied Poland and propaganda press were announcing the victims’ names and information of the documents and personal items found on them.
From crime to mythology
In the propaganda of the Polish People’s Republic, there was a prevalent concept, that the Soviets wanted to aid Warsaw during the Uprising of the capital in 1944, but didn’t manage to do so due to objective reasons. The quick taking of Cracow in January of 1945, on the other side, was to be the proof of the Soviet sacrifice, motivated by love for our culture and monuments.
„Crusades”. Secular Catholics in defence of the cross and religion lessons.
Demonstrations, occupation of schools, thousands of protesting letters – it’s the little known picture of the Catholics’ fight against the secularisation of education in the „people’s” Republic of Poland.
The last one. Józef Franczak codename “Laluś” (1918- 1963)
On the calm, Monday afternoon of October 21st 1963, the farmers from the Majdan Kozic Górskich village were working in the fields as usual. In the air was the smell of burned potato roots. Suddenly, the silence was ruptured by machine gun fire: the final stand of Józef Franczak codename “Laluś” begun.
Joseph Goebbels – the propaganda master of the Third Reich
One of the key elements that make up a totalitarian state is indoctrination of an entire society. In the Third Reich, Joseph Goebbels created an elaborate propaganda system, which allowed him to control all media (the press, radio and cinema) and both literature and art. That way, he could alter the Germans’ thoughts and views.
Witkacy – the witness of the beginning and the end of independence
Witkacy or Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, a writer, painter and philosopher, who took part in the First World War, witnessed the Communist revolution and influenced by what he saw, quickly returned to Poland.
Dachau and death were synonymous
Col. William Quinn from the 7th US Army after partaking in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp in May of 1945, wrote this in his report: „There, our troops found sights, sounds and stenches beyond belief, cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind. Dachau and death were synonymous.”
Against the total tyranny of evil. Ryszard Siwiec (1909-1968)
In January, 1969 the whole world was shocked with the news of Jan Palach’s death, who called himself the “living torch no. 1”. At that time, not many people knew, that the first person to set itself on fire in the Eastern bloc was Ryszard Siwiec.
The cursed nurse
Twice the death penalty, 15 years of imprisonment, loss of public rights and honorary citizen rights forever and the forfeiture of wealth by the State Treasury – that was the sentence given by the Communist Regional Military Court in Gdańsk for not even 18 years old Danuta Siedzikówna codename “Inka”, a nurse of the Polish Home Army.
A football match under the shadow of March protests
On March 13th, 1968 Manchester United faced Górnik Zabrze in the second-leg quarter final of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup. However; at the same time, in a nearby city of Gliwice crowds of young people gathered for the so-called “March protests”. Western journalists not only had to struggle to get into Poland, but were also under constant observation of the Communist secret services, which tried to stop them from reporting on the manifestation.
Friar, editor, martyr
During the counting assembly on July 29th 1941, the deputy commandant Karl Fritzsch pointed to ten prisoners, who were to die of starvation. It was a punishment – as well as warning to others – for the escape attempt of one of the prisoners of the KL Auschwitz concentration camp. Among those, who were to die of hunger was one volunteer.
I was a sewer rat. Young Warsaw insurgents beneath the streets of the fighting capital.
The account of Bogusław Kamola codename “Hipek” – a 14 years old Home Army soldier fighting in the 227th scout platoon (Sewer Rats) during the Warsaw Uprising – is a source of knowledge concerning the insurgent sewer communications and at the same time indirectly exposes the Communist disinformation conveyed in the film “Sewer”.
141 hours of hunger strike
In the autumn of 1980, in the common-room of the Locomotive depot in the city of Wrocław, 34 railroad workers from the “Solidarity” movement begun a hunger strike against the violent policies of the Communist officials. It was an important event not only for the employees of the Polish railroads, or PKP, but also for all members of “Solidarity” across the country.
“Enemy of the Polish People’s Republic” from Argentina
Florian Czarnyszewicz was a thorn in the Communists’ side for several reasons. First and foremost, he dared to put on paper the memory of the tragic fate of Poles from near Berezina river, who fought between 1911-1920 for the return of their lands to the independent Republic of Poland.
Hemmed in. The dangers circling priest Jerzy.
On October 19th 1984 priest Popiełuszko, the pastor of the working class, organiser of Masses for the motherland, one of the chaplains of “Solidarity” was arrested. For the last two years of his work at the Stanisław Kostka church at Warsaw’s Żoliborz district, he had to face the Communist Security Service hemming in.
Under the Red boot
It wasn’t an “ordinary” attack, because even assuming that every aggression is unique on its own, it’s hard not to notice some unprecedented aspects of the soviet invasion of Poland on September 17th, 1939. For the first time ever, one country invaded another claiming that the invaded one… didn’t exist.
“They took good care of me and they never stopped being friendly towards me”. The story of Sabina Honigwachs. From the annals of helping Jews.
Sometimes to save only one person, trust, cooperation and eagerness of dozens of people were needed. The story of hiding of Sabina Honigwachs, a resident of the Gorlicki county in Poland, shows how difficult it was to save merely a single human life.
War crimes committed by the German Wehrmacht during the invasion of Poland in 1939
The German invasion of Poland was an extremely brutal campaign with war crimes being committed on a daily basis. Wehrmacht – the armed forces of Nazi Germany – on countless occasions violated international conventions and showed total contempt for its foe.
How the Świętokrzyska Brigade of the National Armed Forces saved female prisoners of the German camp in Holiszów
It’s May 5th 1945. Soldiers of the Świętokrzyska Brigade, the only formation of the Polish underground which broke through the German-Soviet frontline, are lying at the edge of a forest in western Czechoslovakia, at the lands occupied by the Third Reich, awaiting orders to attack the German concentration camp Holiszów.
Last Will of the Polish Undergound State
The partition of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939 did not force Poles to capitulate. The interned president of Poland in Romania, Ignacy Mościcki appointed his successor on the basis of the constitution – Władysław Raczkiewicz, who in turn appointed the government with gen. Władysław Sikorski as its leader. Despite the occupation of the Polish land by Germany and the USSR, the continuity of the Polish state was preserved. Its officials, recognised by the free societies of the world, led the fight for independence abroad throughout the entire war, first in France, then after its fall, in Great Britain. Last shots of the soldiers of the Polish Army hadn’t gone silent yet in their unfair struggle against two aggressors, when the underground resistance began forming. The commitment full of patriotism and sacrifice and the organisational abilities of tens of thousands of Poles, from all walks of life, led to the creation of the Polish Underground State.
„Market Garden” the 6th part of „The Antek Srebrny War Odyssey” comic series
Between the Walls. Poland under totalitarian regimes 1939
IPNtv: Unconquered: Trying Times
The trail of an application in the IPN Archive
Communist parties on the road to full power (after World War II) - panel I
IPNtv - Game for Independence. Poland.
John Paul II (1920–2005)
40 years have passed since 16 October 1978, when the son of our land, today Saint John Paul II, took his post at the Vatican. His pontificate, begun with the words ‘Do not be afraid ...’, brought hope to millions and contributed to the emergence of „Solidarity’ as well as the fall of communism and the Soviet Union.
IPNtv: POGROM or SLAUGHTER (documentary with ENG subtitles - 2008)
Communist Crimes. A Legal and Historical Study
Communist Crimes is an attempt to describe and categorize crimes committed by Communist authorities all over the world in the 20th century. The book is based on a plethora of sources, including hearings before the US House of Representatives Select Committee on Communist Aggression in the early 1950s.
IPNtv − 24 March National Day of Remembrance of Poles who saved Jews
„Wire Bound State”. Structure and Functions of the Jewish Administration of the Łódź Ghetto
“Today, September 6th, Rumkowski came from Łódź [...]. He said all kinds of outlandish things about the ghetto. Apparently, there is a Jewish state there [...],” Emanuel Ringelblum wrote ironically after the visit of the Eldest of the Łódź Jews, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, to the Warsaw ghetto.
IPN TV - When they come (Kiedy przyjdą podpalić dom)
IPN TV - Interview with former CIA officers David Forden and Aris Pappas regarding Col. Ryszard Kukliński codename “Jack Strong” (Rozmowa z byłymi oficerami CIA)
‘The soldiers’ field’. The excavation and identification of communist terror victims buried in the Powązki cemetery in Warsaw
In July 2012 dozens of families of Polish heroes of World War II and the period immediately after the war saw a glimmer of new hope for finding the graves of their fathers, uncles, and grandfathers. For it was the beginning of the exhumations in the Ł section of the Powązki cemetery in Warsaw the purpose of which was to find and identify the victims of the communist court murders committed during 1948–1956 in the prison in the Mokotów quarter of Warsaw. Several months later three families became certain that their loved ones had been buried in the ‘soldiers’ field’. With time that number began to grow.
IPNtv - Konferencja: Wina i kara. Społeczeństwa wobec rozliczeń zbrodni popełnionych przez reżimy totalitarne w latach 1939-1956. Rozliczenia z niemieckim nazizmem. Kontekst niemiecki, część I
IPNtv - Conference: From Free Europe to Free Poland - Stephen Mull (ENG)
The Destruction of the Polish Elite. Operation AB – Katyn
The exhibition “Destruction of the Polish Elite. Operation AB – Katyn”, in addition to presenting horrifying crimes perpetrated by the two biggest 20th-century totalitarian regimes on the Polish society, poses questions about the scope of mutual cooperation of German Nazis and Soviet Communists.