Montelupich Prison

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Montelupich prison
Bundesarchiv Bild 121-0316, Krakau, Gefängnis Montelupich, Häftling.jpg
Prisoners of the Montelupich Prison in 1939 after the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany
Location Kraków, Poland
Coordinates 50°4′27″N 19°56′23″E / 50.07417°N 19.93972°E / 50.07417; 19.93972Coordinates: 50°4′27″N 19°56′23″E / 50.07417°N 19.93972°E / 50.07417; 19.93972
Status Correctional facility, museum
Opened 1905
Managed by Służba Więzienna (pl)

The Montelupich prison, so called from the street in which it is located, the ulica Montelupich ("street of the Montelupis" or "street of the Montelupi family" — the street itself so called from the Kamienica Montelupich or "Town House of the Montelupis" at Number 7), is a prison located in Kraków (Cracow), universally recognized as "one of the most terrible Nazi prisons in [occupied] Poland",[1] which was used by the Gestapo throughout the Second World War. However, Piątkowska (see Bibliography) states (p. 29) that the Gestapo took over the facility from the Sicherheitspolizei only towards the end of March 1941. One of the Nazi officials responsible for overseeing the Montelupich Prison was Ludwig Hahn.

Prisoners in Montelupich included political prisoners, members of the SS and Security Service (SD) who had been convicted and given prison terms, British and Soviet spies and parachutists, victims of Gestapo street raids, soldiers who had deserted the Waffen-SS, and regular criminals. The number of political prisoners who passed through or ended their lives in the Montelupich in the years 1940–1944 is estimated at 50,000.[2] Kurkiewiczowa (see Bibliography) states that "medieval tortures" constituted the fundamental and principal interrogation method of the Germans.

Although the inscription on the plaque by the (side) door of the prison in the 1939 photograph pictured at right actually reads, "Sicherheits-Polizei-Gefängnis Montelupich", the name "Montelupich Prison" is strictly informal, based on common popular convention, even if it has now passed in that form into history. The Montelupich facility was the detention centre of the first instance used by the Nazis to imprison the Polish professors from the Jagiellonian University arrested in 1939 in the so-called Sonderaktion Krakau, an operation designed to eliminate Polish intelligentsia. In January 1944, 232 prisoners from Montelupich were executed by a Nazi firing squad at Pełkinie.[3] In late January or early February 1944, Wilhelm Koppe issued an order for the execution of 100 Montelupich prisoners as a reprisal for the unsuccessful attempt on the life of Hans Frank.[4] In the locality called Wola Filipowska near Cracow there is a monument commemorating the execution by the Nazis of 42 hostages, all Montelupich prisoners who died on the spot before a firing squad on 23 November 1943.

After World War II Montelupich became a Soviet prison where NKVD and Urząd Bezpieczeństwa tortured and murdered Polish soldiers from Home Army.

History of the property[edit]

The building housing the prison was not originally constructed for its purpose, but instead, was a historical property that was redecorated in the Italianate Renaissance style in 1556 by the Italian Montelupi family who introduced the first postal service in Poland for the court of Sigismund III Vasa.[5] Their Kraków manor house, known in Polish as the Kamienica Montelupich (Palazzo Montelupi in Italian), at Number 7 of the street to which it gave the name, was the starting point of the first international postal coach in Poland which departed from here for Venice in 1558.[6] The Jalu Kurek Park (see Park Jalu Kurka) in Cracow was formerly the palace garden of the palazzo Montelupi.

Current status[edit]

The prison was the site of the last administration of the death penalty in Poland, performed by hanging on 21 April 1988.[7]

Despite being officially recognized as both a historical monument and a place of martyrdom, the facility continues to be operated to this day as a combination of remand prison and ordinary correctional facility by the Polish Prison Administration (the Służba Więzienna), a unit of the Polish Justice Ministry. Its current official name is Areszt Śledczy w Krakowie. The infamous history of this facility continues to the present day, as evident in the 2008 death of the Romanian detainee, Claudiu Crulic (1975–2008; see Claudiu Crulic), an incident condemned by human rights groups (such as the Human Rights House Foundation of Oslo, Norway) which occasioned the resignation of the Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister, Adrian Cioroianu.[8]

Vincent A. Lapomarda writes in his book on the Nazi terror that

On inquiring about Montelupich, on Montelupi Street, when I was in Cracow on 18 August 1986, I was able to view it from outside and learned that even today, while still operating, it has not lost the evil reputation that it had during the Nazi occupation.[9]

Notable inmates[edit]

W. L. Frydrych, painter
prisoner in 1944
Wilhelm Gaczek, minister,
prisoner in 1941
Z. Jachimecki, composer
prisoner in 1939
Unidentified nun
prisoner in 1939
(German Federal Archives)
Stanisław Klimecki
president of Cracow
prisoner in 1939 and 1942
(three times)
Stanisław Estreicher
(seated on the right)
prisoner in 1939
Ignacy Fik, poet & critic
executed in 1942
Witold Kieżun, economist
prisoner in 1945
Edward Kleszczyński, senator
prisoner in 1942
Józef Padewski, bishop
prisoner in 1942
Władysław Gurgacz
executed in 1949

Nazi war criminals executed at Montelupich after the War[edit]

The First Auschwitz Trial
Cracow, November–December 1947

On 24 January 1948, twenty-one Nazi criminals, including two women, were hung at the Montelupich Prison as a result of the death sentences handed down in the so-called First Auschwitz Trial: their names are included here together with the names of Nazi war criminals executed at Montelupich at other times


Eyewitness accounts[edit]

Historical studies[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adam Bajcar, Poland: A Guidebook for Tourists, tr. S. Tarnowski, Warsaw, Interpress Publishers, 1972. So also: Studia Historyczne, vol. 30, 1987, p. 106: "Więzienie Montelupich w Krakowie należało do najcięższych w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie" (The Montelupich Prison in Cracow was among the most severe prisons in the General Government).
  2. ^ Józef Batko, Gestapowcy, Cracow, Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1985. ISBN 8303007203. Cited in Cezary Leżeński's review of the book in Nowe Książki, 1986, p. 127.
  3. ^ Przewodnik po upamiętnionych miejscach walk i męczeństwa: lata wojny 1939–1945, ed. Rada Ochrony Pomników Walki i Męczeństwa, 2nd ed., Warsaw, Sport i Turystyka, 1966, p. 299.
  4. ^ Przewodnik po upamiętnionych miejscach walk i męczeństwa: lata wojny 1939–1945, ed. Rada Ochrony Pomników Walki i Męczeństwa, 2nd ed., Warsaw, Sport i Turystyka, 1966, p. 186.
  5. ^ Letizia Gianni, Polonia: Varsavia, Lublino, Cracovia, Breslavia, Toruń, Danzica, i Monti Tatra e la Masuria, Milan, Touring Club Italiano, 2005, p. 101. ISBN 8836529232.
  6. ^ Jan Adamczewski, Kraków od A do Z, Cracow, Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1980, p. 85.
  7. ^ "Gwałciciel i zabójca zawisł: ostatnia egzekucja w Polsce", Gazeta Wyborcza, 20 April 2011. (see online).
  8. ^ Human Rights House Foundation, Oslo, Norway, "Starvation Death of a Romanian at a Detention Center" (see online).
  9. ^ Vincent A. Lapomarda, The Jesuits and the Third Reich, Lewiston (New York), Edwin Mellen Press, 1989, p. 136, n. 15. ISBN 0889468281.
  10. ^ Aleksandra Klich, "Papież i zakonnica", Gazeta Wyborcza, 26 April 2011 (see online).
  11. ^ "Lista harcerek i harcerzy straconych w więzieniach Urzędu Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego oraz przy próbie aresztowania w latach 1944–1956", II Konspiracja Harcerska, 1944–1956.
  12. ^ Małopolska w II Wojnie Światowej (see online).
  13. ^ Biography of Stanisław Lubomirski online.
  14. ^ Encyklopedia Solidarności ("Solidarity Encyclopedia"), s.v. "Zbigniew Szkarłat" (see online).

External links[edit]