Kazimierz Moczarski in c.1956
21 July 1907|
|Died||September 27, 1975
|Known for||Conversations with an Executioner (biography)|
Kazimierz Damazy Moczarski (July 21, 1907 - September 27, 1975, Warsaw) was a Polish writer and journalist, officer of the Polish Home Army (nom de guerres: Borsuk, Grawer, Maurycy, and Rafał; active in anti-Nazi resistance). Kazimierz Moczarski is primarily known for his book Conversations with an Executioner, a series of interviews with a fellow inmate of the notorious UB secret police prison under Stalinism, the Nazi war criminal Jürgen Stroop, who was soon to be executed. Thrown in jail in 1945 and pardoned eleven years later during Polish October, Moczarski spent four years on death row (1952–1956), and was tried three times as an enemy of the state while in prison.
Born on July 21, 1907 in Warsaw, Moczarski was the son of Jan Damazy, teacher and school principal, and Michalina Franciszka (née Wodzinowska), also a teacher. In October 1926, Kazimierz began studying law at Warsaw University. During his studies, he was drafted to Reserve Infantry Battalion No.9 and served at Bereza Kartuska in 1929–1930 for 10 months. In December 1932, following his graduation, he continued his studies in France at the Institute of Higher International Studies of Paris University. In 1935, he returned to Warsaw and became an adviser to the Ministry of Labor and Social Services, specializing in Polish and International Law regulations. He was also a member of the “Youth Legion,” and a member of the progressive organization “Labor Club Maurycy Mochnacki.” In 1937, he took part in the setting-up of the Democratic Club of Warsaw (the first meeting took place at his own Warsaw apartment).
World War II
After the Fall of Poland, Moczarski remained an active member of the illegal Democratic Alliance. He also joined the Polish Resistance and became a officer in the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa or AK) under the nom de guerre “Rafał.” Until the fall of 1943, he was assigned to the "Bureau of Intelligence and Propaganda" (BiP) for the AK's Warsaw District. In May 1944, Moczarski (under the new pseudonym “Maurycy”) took the post of the "Head of Department of Personnel Sabotage." Moczarski's assignment, at which he excelled, was to assassinate members of the Gestapo, Polish collaborationists, and Gestapo informers in the AK's ranks. It was his idea to recapture Polish prisoners, who were incarcerated by Gestapo at Warsaw's Jan Bozy Hospital on June 11, 1944.
Shortly before the Warsaw Uprising, he was given a new post as the head of the radio and telegraph services of Home Army’s headquarters. During the uprising, Moczarski was directing one of the radio stations, “Rafał,” located in Warsaw’s district Śródmieście-Północ. In September 1944, he moved to another station, “Danuta,” located at 16 Widok street. At the same time, he was editor-in-chief of “Wiadomości Powstańcze” (“Uprising News”), which was a daily regional addition to the Home Army’s “Biuletyn Informacyjny” (“Information Bulletin”). On September 14, 1944, he was promoted to the post of reserve Lieutenant.
After the collapse of the Warsaw Uprising on October 7, 1944, he left the city together with a group of coworkers from BiP, but returned shortly afterwards, to help with the escape of Jan Stanisław Jankowski, the delegate of Polish Government in exile. Later on, he continued his underground activities, changing his nickname to “Grawer” in late fall of 1944. Starting in mid-October, he was the head of the Home Army’s BiP (Information and Propaganda) office. He was trying to restore the BiP, as the office was destroyed during the uprising.
In the first months of 1945, using the nickname “Borsuk,” Moczarski was still the head of the BiP, which was part of the headquarters of the Home Army, now known as the Delegature of the Polish Forces at Home (DSZ). Moczarski, along with Włodzimierz Lechowicz and Zygmunt Kapitaniak, was the co-author of a memorandum which stipulated that former Home Army soldiers should disclose. On July 24, 1945, together with Colonel Jan Rzepecki (head of DSZ), he issued an order to his followers to lay down their arms, entitled “To former soldiers of Home Army,” which stated:
Do not listen to those who incite you to destruction, to creation of underground armed forces, to political burglary (...) Start up a public reconstruction of Poland, on all fields.
On August 11, 1945, five days after the disbanding of DSZ, Moczarski was arrested by Ministry of State Security headed by Gen. Romkowski. Initially, Moczarski was sentenced by a military court to 10 years in prison on January 18, 1946, but in February 1947, his sentence was shortened to five years. However, in spite of his sentence’s fulfillment, Moczarski was not released from Warsaw’s Mokotów Prison. The darkest years of Stalinism in Poland were yet to come. Interrogated again by Romkowski's subordinates from January 9, 1949 till June 6, 1951, Moczarski described in his memoir the 49 different types of torture he had to endure. Beatings included truncheon blows to bridge of nose, salivary glands, chin, shoulder blades, bare feet and toes (particularly painful), heels (ten blows each foot, several times a day), cigarette burns on lips and eyelids and burning of fingers. Sleep deprivation, resulting in near-madness – meant standing upright in a narrow cell for seven to nine days with frequent blows to the face – a hallucinatory method called by the interrogators "Zakopane". General Romkowski (b. in Moscow as Natan Grünspau-Kikiel) had already told him on November 30, 1948, that he had personally requested this "sheer hell". In his ward, Moczarski stayed for some time with two German SS-men: SS-Untersturmführer of BdS Krakau Gustav Schielke and SS-Gruppenführer Jürgen Stroop. Several years later, Moczarski secretly wrote the book Rozmowy z katem (Conversations with an Executioner), which related his jail-talks with Stroop, who was responsible for the destruction of Warsaw Ghetto after the uprising of 1943.
In 1952, his new trial opened on charges falsified on site by MBP and, by the decision of Warsaw’s District Court, Moczarski was sentenced to death on November 18, 1952 as an enemy of the state. In 1953, his sentence was changed to life in prison. Moczarski, who remained on death row, was not informed of this decision while awaiting execution, until January 1955.
After the anti-communist uprising known as the Polish October, Kazimierz Moczarski was released from prison on June 24, 1956. In December of the same year, he was cleared of all Stalinist charges.
After his release, Moczarski rejoined the Democratic Party of Poland. He worked as a journalist at the Kurier Polski (Polish Courier) newspaper, being responsible for contacts with readers. He was also active in the anti-alcohol movement, and for some time he was editor-in-chief of a Problemy Alkoholizmu (Issues of Alcoholism) magazine.
In April 1972, the first part of Conversations with an Executioner was published in Odra monthly. The story continued to run in parts until February 1974, and it was published in book form in 1977. Moczarski did not witness the publication of his book. He died on September 27, 1975 in Warsaw.
In popular culture
- In the 2006 Polish television film Rozmowy z katem (Conversations with an Executioner), based on Kazimierz Moczarski's memoir, Stroop is played by the actor Piotr Fronczewski.
- In 2007, filmmaker Maciej Englert created a DVD documentary entitled "Conversations With An Executioner" based on the book by Moczarski.
- On April 18, 2012, Philip Boehm's stage adaptation of Moczarski's Conversations with.an Executioner premiered at the Upstream Theater in St. Louis, Missouri.
Notes and references
- Stéphane Courtois, Mark Kramer, Livre noir du Communisme: crimes, terreur, répression. The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, Harvard University Press, 1999, 858 pages. ISBN 0-674-07608-7. Pages 377–378.
- Andrzej Szczypiorski (1977), Moczarski Kazimierz, Rozmowy z katem. Full text with a Foreword by Andrzej Szczypiorski and closing Notes and author's Biography by Andrzej Krzysztof Kunert (PDF 1.86 MB, available from Scribd.com). Retrieved August 23, 2014. (Polish)
- Andrzej Krzysztof Kunert, Oskarżony Kazimierz Moczarski. Wydawnictwo "Iskry", Warszawa 2006; (foreword).
- Bretz, Mark (2012-04-18). ""Ladue News" April 18, 2012". Laduenews.com. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
- Dennis Brown (2012-04-19). ""Riverfront Times" April 19, 2012". Riverfronttimes.com. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
- Kazimierz Moczarski "Conversations with an Executioner" Prentice-Hall 1981, ISBN 0-13-171918-1
- Kazimierz Moczarski "Zapiski" Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy 1990, ISBN 83-06-01861-3