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‘The soldiers’ field’. The excavation and identification of communist terror victims buried in the Powązki cemetery in Warsaw

Author: Karolina Wichowska 2016

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.


In this story the dark history of the Stalinist period intertwines with the knowledge of the state-of-the-art technology of genetic identification. The scientists’ professionalism contrasts with the emotions of the victims’ families – hope, tension, and painful memories. We go from the excavated section of the Powązki cemetery to the high-tech genetic laboratories in Szczecin and Cracow. We access the memory of the communist prisons, brutal investigations, and fatherless childhood only to look into the future where the research methods developed by the Polish scientists shall become an internationally followed model. All this has one objective: to repay the debt to those who fought for a free and sovereign Poland.



Publikacja w wersji drukowanej do nabycia w księgarni