Kazimierz Moczarski in c.1956
July 21, 1907|
Warsaw, Congress Poland
|Died||September 27, 1975
|Known for||Conversations with an Executioner (biography)|
Kazimierz Damazy Moczarski (July 21, 1907 – September 27, 1975) was a Polish writer and journalist, officer of the Polish Home Army (noms de guerre: 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 (1952–56), 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. Kazimierz began studying law at Warsaw University in October 1926. During his studies, he was drafted to Reserve Infantry Battalion No.9 and served at Bereza Kartuska in 1929–1930 for 10 months. Following his graduation in December 1932, 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 advisor to the Ministry of Labor and Social Services, specializing in Polish and international law. 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. Their first meeting took place at his own Warsaw apartment.
World War II
During the 1939 Polish-German September campaign, Moczarski commanded a platoon subordinate to the 30th Infantry Division. He saw combat during the Siege of Warsaw. After the Fall of Poland, Moczarski remained an active member of the clandestine Democratic Alliance. He also joined the Polish Resistance and became an officer in the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK) under the nom de guerre of "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, under the new pseudonym "Maurycy", Moczarski took the post of the Head of Department of Personnel Sabotage. His assignment, at which he excelled, was to assassinate members of the Gestapo, collaborationists, and Gestapo informers in the AK's ranks. It was his idea to rescue on June 11, 1944 Polish prisoners incarcerated by the Gestapo at Warsaw's Jan Boży Hospital (pl).
Shortly before the Warsaw Uprising, Moczarski 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 insurgent's 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 with a group of coworkers from BiP along with the evacuees of the Red Cross, and stopped in Pruszków, but returned shortly afterwards, to help with the escape of Jan Stanisław Jankowski, the delegate of Polish Government in exile. He was appointed head of the Home Army’s Information and Propaganda office BiP on October 26, 1944. Destroyed during the uprising, the office was reinstated in Częstochowa. Moczarski continued his underground activities there, changing his nickname to "Grawer" (Engraver).
The Polish Home Army (AK) was disbanded by High Command on January 19, 1945 as peace in Poland took hold. Moczarski was promoted to captain of the reserve team. Meanwhile, in place of the AK a new organization was formed by General Anders against the communist takeover, called the Armed Forces Delegation for Poland (Delegatura Sił Zbrojnych na Kraj, DSZ). Moczarski remained the head of BiP, using a new pseudonym "Borsuk" (Badger). Together with Włodzimierz Lechowicz and Zygmunt Kapitaniak, he co-authored a memorandum to his headquarters which stipulated that a new order must be made out to all underground soldiers in the field about laying down arms in the name of reconstruction. Their proposal was accepted and on July 24, 1945 an order was issued by the Head of DSZ, Colonel Jan Rzepecki, entitled "To former soldiers of Home Army" which stated:
Depending on your personal situation, for as long as the senseless harassment by the so-called security forces would not prohibit this measure, do take part in a broad-based effort of reconstruction of Poland openly, while remaining true to the democratic principles of personal freedom and national sovereignty, so dear to every soldier of the former Home Army.
Jeśli tylko pozwala na to Wasze osobiste położenie, jeśli bezmyślne prześladowanie przez tzw. «bezpieczeństwo» nie zamyka Wam tej drogi, przystępujcie do jawnej pracy na wszystkich polach nad odbudową Polski, pozostając wiernymi drogim każdemu żołnierzowi byłej AK demokratycznym hasłom Wolności Obywatela - Niezawisłości Narodu.
On August 11, 1945, five days after the Delegation for Poland officially dissolved, Moczarski was arrested by Ministry of State Security headed by Gen. Romkowski and put on political trial. On January 18, 1946 Moczarski was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a military court in Warsaw. Even though his penitentiary sentence was shortened to five years in February 1947, he was not released from the notorious Mokotów Prison upon his sentence’s fulfillment four years later. The darkest years of Stalinism in Poland were yet to come. Interrogated by Romkowski's subordinates from January 9, 1949 till June 6, 1951, Moczarski endured 49 different types of torture later described in his memoir. 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".
Beginning March 2, 1949, as means of psychological torture, Moczarski was locked up for nine months (or 225 days) with two German SS-men: SS-Untersturmführer of BdS Krakau Gustav Schielke and SS-Gruppenführer Jürgen Stroop. Stroop was responsible for the annihilation of the Warsaw Ghetto after the 1943 uprising. His crimes resulted in the death of over 50,000 people. A committed Nazi arrogant and unremitting until the very end, he was put on trial on July 18, 1951 for the war crimes committed in Poland and executed on 6 March 1952.
Also in 1952, a brand new Stalinist trial of Kazimierz Moczarski opened on counterrevolutionary charges falsified on site by MBP. On November 18, 1952 – by the decision of Warsaw’s District Court – he was sentenced to death as an enemy of the state. The following October, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, but he was not informed about it. He thought to have remained on death row until January 1955, awaiting execution at a moment's notice until someone finally informed him of the verdict.
During the massive anti-Stalinist upheaval known as the Polish October thaw, Kazimierz Moczarski was retried for the last time, pronounced innocent and released from prison on June 24, 1956. He was cleared of all drummed up charges against him and fully rehabilitated in December 1956, at the end of Stalinist terror in Poland.
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.
Conversations with an Executioner
In 1971, some 15 years after his torturous ordeal had ended, Moczarski began writing a memoir using notes about Stroop collected secretly since 1956. In April 1972, the first installment of his Rozmowy z katem (Conversations with an Executioner) was published by the magazine Odra monthly. The story continued to run in parts until February 1974. Rozmowy z katem was published in book form in 1977 by the Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy with political intervention by the communist censorship. Moczarski did not witness the publication of his book. He died on September 27, 1975, in Warsaw.
The unabridged Polish edition of the book by Moczarski, preceded by a foreword written by Andrzej Szczypiorski and followed by his biography and a glossary of German names and terms by Andrzej Krzysztof Kunert, was published by the Polish Scientific Publishers PWN in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet empire.
The book, written in Polish, was translated in English and published in 1981 by Prentice-Hall as Conversations with an Executioner, hardcover. Prominent translations released soon thereafter included German, published by Droste in 1978; French by Gallimard, in 1979; Hebrew by Loḥame ha-Geṭaʼot, in 1979–80; Czech Jota, in 2007; and Ukrainian, by Černìvcì in 2009, among several others. Moczarski's biography written by Kunert was published in 2006 with foreword by Władysław Bartoszewski.
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 Moczarski's book.
- 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, ed. (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)
- Amazon, Conversations with an Executioner by Kazimierz Moczarski (Author). Hardcover – January 1, 1981. Publisher: Prentice-Hall; First Edition (1981), 282 pages. ISBN 0131719181.
- WorldCat. "Moczarski, Kazimierz". Search results (about 36: All Formats). WorldCat library catalog. pp. 1/3. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- 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.