Radziłów [raˈd͡ʑiwuf] is a village (formerly a town) in Grajewo County, Podlaskie Voivodeship, in north-eastern Poland. It is the seat of the gmina, an administrative district called Gmina Radziłów. It lies approximately 27 kilometres (17 mi) south of Grajewo and 61 km (38 mi) north-west of the regional capital Białystok. In 2007 the village had a population of 1,267.
The history of Radziłów is closely connected with the history of Masovia Province from before the Partitions of Poland. The first settlers arrived in the Middle Ages and began clearing the impenetrable forest. Masovian Dukes, who owned the area, issued the rights to enter the forest and harvest it. Among the first settlers were bee-keepers, fishermen, hunters and loggers, who sold honey, wax, fish and lumber to neighboring towns, Wizna and Goniądz. The lumber was also transported via Biebrza and Ełk river waterways to Gdańsk.
The founding of the city took a long time. Radziłów was formally established by Prince Konrad III, with Kazimierz III, Bolesław V and Janusz II, who gave it the city rights on May 9, 1466. The town began to flourish in the 16th century. Located at a trading route between Wizna and Wąsosz, it became a commercial center for bakers, shoemakers, tailors, butchers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, cooper-makers and potters. The main square in Radziłów at the time (180 m × 120 m in size) was bigger than in Warsaw (70 m × 94 m) and in Płock (140 m × 70 m) and held two weekly markets, on Monday and on Sunday (from 17th century on) as well as a fair on Wednesday added by king Władysław IV in 1641. The majority of inhabitants lived off farming.
Following the partitions of Poland and after the January Uprising, the Tsarist authorities changed the administrative divisions of Congress Poland placing Radziłów in the Łomża province. In 1869 the town was stripped of its town charter and became the village; however the population was steadily increasing due to Russian repressions against Jews some of whom found refuge in the area. The Jewish merchants expanded local trade, established breweries, small craft and various services. Following the rebirth of Poland after World War I, two new public schools were established employing ten teachers, and two Jewish schools.
In 1940, the town had a population of 2,865 people, of which 500 were Jews.
World War II atrocities
During the German invasion of Poland, the Nazi 3rd Army entered Radziłów on September 7, 1939. The area was transferred to the Soviet Union at the end of September in accordance with the German–Soviet Boundary Treaty and remained in Soviet hands until Operation Barbarossa in July 1941. Polish administration was dismantled and replaced with local Jews some of whom abused their new position in relationships with Poles, causing other Jews to condemn this. Soviet-armed Jewish militiamen helped NKVD agents send Polish families into exile. Soon after the German attack on USSR, a few hundred Jews were massacred in the town. Many were shot, but most were herded into a barn and burned alive on 7 July 1941 by the Gestapo Einsatzgruppe B (Zichenau-Schroettersburg) under SS-Obersturmführer Hermann Schaper. The methods used in the massacre were identical to those employed by Schaper's death squad to kill Jews in Jedwabne (a few kilometers distance) only three days later.
The war crimes committed by Schaper were investigated in 1964 by the German Judicial Centre for Prosecuting Nazi Crimes in Ludwigsburg. The prosecutors called a key witness, the German Kreiskommissar who named Hermann Schaper in the course of Birkner's investigation. Schaper was charged with personally directing the Einsatzkommando responsible for the mass killing of Jews in the city.
"The evidence collected by the West Germans, including the positive identification of Schaper by witnesses from Łomża, Tykocin, and Radziłów, suggested that it was indeed Schaper's men who carried out the killings in those locations. Investigators also suspected, based on the similarity of the methods used to destroy the Jewish communities of Radziłów, Tykocin, Rutki, Zambrów, Jedwabne, Piątnica, and Wizna, between July and September 1941 that Schaper's men were the perpetrators." — Alexander B. Rossino 
During his investigation Schaper lied to interrogators that in 1941 he had been a truck driver and used false names. The case against him for the murder of Jews in Radziłów was remitted by the prosecutor in Hamburg in 1965. His case was reopened in 1974, when the Nazi German administrator, Count van der Groeben testified that indeed Schaper's men conducted mass executions of Jews in his district. In 1976 a German court in Giesen (Hessen), pronounced Schaper guilty of executions of Poles and Jews by the kommando SS Zichenau-Schroettersburg. Schaper was sentenced to six-years imprisonment, but was soon released for medical reasons. In 2010 Polish Institute of National Remembrance conducted its own investigation of the Radziłów crime and requested access to the documents of the Hamburg case but according to the German side, these were most probably destroyed after his case was terminated. The IPN investigation was suspended due to lack of hard evidence, and only a short statement issued about its initial objectives, implicating Polish participation in the pogrom.
An earlier Polish monument in Radziłów reads, "In August 1941 fascists murdered 800 persons of Jewish descent, 500 of them were burned alive in a barn." The date on the monument is incorrect but historical research confirms that Jews were killed in Radziłów on July 7, how many, and under what circumstances, remains unknown. It is possible that the scenario might have been similar to that of the Jedwabne pogrom, with victims burned in a barn of a man called Mitkowski.
- Elżbieta Czerwonka, Alina Żmijewska, "Dziedzictwo kulturowe Radziłowa" (The Cultural Heritage of Radziłów); with literature, including J. Wiśniewski, "Dzieje osadnictwa w powiecie grajewskim do połowy XVI wieku" in Studia i materiały do dziejów powiatu grajewskiego edited by M. Gnatowski and H. Majecki, volume I and II, Warsaw 1975 (Polish)
- (Polish) D. Boćkowski. Na zawsze razem. Białostocczyzna i Łomżyńskie w polityce radzieckiej w czasie II wojny światowej (IX 1939 – VIII 1944). Neriton, Instytut Historii PAN. 2005. p. 120.
- "Pionier-Bataillon 42". Lexikon der Wehrmacht. Retrieved May 22, 2011. (German)
- Simon Dubnow. Shared history, divided memory: Jews and others in Soviet-occupied Poland. Institut für Jüdische Geschichte und Kultur. p. 348. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
- Dov Levin, trans. Naftali Greenwood (1995). "The Lesser of Two Evils: Eastern European Jewry under Soviet Rule, 1939-1941". Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia. p. 63.
Cited in "Polish "Neighbors" and German Invaders" by Alexander B. Rossino, Polin, Volume 16 (2003). Note 59.
- "Historia Gminy Radziłów". 2011 Gimnazjum w Radziłowie. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- (Polish) Thomas Urban, "Poszukiwany Hermann Schaper", Rzeczpospolita, 01.09.01 Nr 204
- Alexander B. Rossino, historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (2003). "Polish "Neighbors" and German Invaders: Contextualizing Anti-Jewish Violence in the Białystok District during the Opening Weeks of Operation Barbarossa". Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 16.
Cited by Bogdan Musiał in: "Konterrevolutionäre Elemente sind zu erschiessen": Die Brutalisierung des deutsch-sowjetischen Krieges im Sommer 1941, (Berlin: Propyläen, 2000), pp. 32, 62. Also, cited in German archives of Birkner's postwar investigation at: Auswertung der Ereignismeldungen zu den Judenerschiessungen in Białystok im Juli 1941 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 56/1960, pp. 4ff.
- "Śledztwa zawieszone (Suspended investigations)". Instytut Pamięci Narodowej (Institute of National Remembrance), Warsaw. 9 November 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2011. (Polish)
- Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, "RESEARCH BEFORE CONCLUSION: THE PROBLEMS OF SHOCK THERAPY..." Collection 301, page 5; Glaukopis socio-historical Journal, 2007, ISSN: 1730-3419
- (Polish) Instytut Pamięci Narodowej (Institute of National Remembrance), PRZEGLĄD MEDIÓW: piątek, 10 stycznia 2003
- Institute of National Remembrance, Information on the Interrogation of Herman Schaper
- Marian Bagiński, Ph.D., A Different View on the Łomża Region in Poland 29 April 2008
- Piotr Gontarczyk, Far From Truth 12-01-2008
- Antoni Zambrowski, Interview with prof. Tomasz Strzembosz, TO TYLKO OGNIWO ŁAŃCUCHA NIEMIECKICH ZBRODNI Rozmowa Antoniego Zambrowskiego z prof. Tomaszem Strzemboszem
- Jewish history of Radziłów, memorial site by Jose Gutstein