Piotr Śmietański

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Piotr Śmietański
Piotr Śmietański
Piotr Śmietański [1]
Born (1899-06-27)June 27, 1899
Zawady village, modern Poland
Died (1950-02-23)February 23, 1950?
place unknown
Citizenship Polish
Occupation Executioner
Known for State Security Services (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa)

Staff Sergeant Piotr Śmietański (born 27 June 1899 in Zawady village – died probably on 23 February 1950),[2][3] was one of the main executioners in Stalinist Poland, employed by the communist secret police Urząd Bezpieczeństwa.[4]

Śmietański was stationed at the Mokotów Prison in the Warsaw borough of Mokotów (Polish: Więzienie mokotowskie) known also as Rakowiecka Prison located at 37 Rakowiecka Street. From World War II until the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989, Mokotów Prison – where Śmietański conducted his deeds – was a place of detention, torture and execution of the Polish anti-communist opposition.[4]

Life as executioner[edit]

Śmietański – nicknamed by the inmates as the "Butcher of the Mokotow Prison" – executed personally and supervised the executions of hundreds of opponents of the Stalinist regime in PRL. Among them were prominent politicians, social activists and Polish underground fighters, including Lieutenants Jerzy Miatkowski, Tadeusz Pelak, Edmund Tudruj, Arkadiusz Wasilewski, Roman Gronski, Capt. Stanislaw Lukasik, Comdt. Hieronim Dekutowski (killed by Śmietański in one day, on March 7, 1949),[5] Adam Doboszyński (August 29), Major Zygmunt Szendzielarz, Lieutenants Henryk Borowski, Antoni Olechnowicz, Lucjan Minkiewicz (February 8, 1951), Capt. Stanisław Sojczyński, Lt. Antoni Wodyński from AK, and countless others,[6] including victims of the notorious March 1, 1951 Mokotów Prison execution, who were given five consecutive death sentences each.[7] Brig. General Emil August Fieldorf was hanged rather than shot to be humiliated.[5][8][9]

Certificate of Pilecki's execution signed by Śmietański (bottom, illegible), May 25, 1948 at the Mokotów Prison

The head of the Mokotów Prison, Alojzy Grabicki, was sometimes present at the executions.[9] The victims' dead bodies – often undressed and placed in empty cement bags – were wheeled out at night and buried in unmarked graves, leveled out afterwards in the vicinity of different Warsaw cemeteries: in Służew (till mid 1948), the Mokotów and the Powązki cemeteries, or in open fields, in around Pola Mokotowskie, Kabacki forest and Okęcie.[8]

On May 25, 1948,[4][10] Śmietański personally executed Witold Pilecki,[11] the founder of the Secret Polish Army and prominent member of the Armia Krajowa, famous for his daring mission to the Auschwitz concentration camp.[12][13] Śmietański is believed to have been paid 1,000 Polish złoty for each execution he carried out, a substantial amount of money under Stalinism. According to Chodakiewicz, he emigrated from Poland in 1968 to Israel, but other historians disagree.[14] For instance, Siergiejczyk mentions a different Śmietański, named Józef, who left Poland in 1968 as a result of the anti-Zionist campaign conducted by the Polish United Workers' Party.[15] The confusion might have come from the fact that in 1923 Śmietański (as an unskilled construction worker) facing economic problems, joined the Communist Party of Poland (KPRP) with pseudonym "Mojżesz" (Moses in English) according to his own bio scribbled in 1945. The specifics of his membership claims have been shown by historians Szymon Hermański and Tomasz Wróblewski to be patently false.[16]

In 2003 the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) launched an investigation in order to establish the whereabouts of Piotr Śmietański, with the intention of interviewing him about the remains of Pilecki. They found out that all personal data pertaining to Śmietański was earlier removed from official government records, including from archives of the Ministry of Defence, and the Prison Services. The investigation was halted in 2004.[17] Historian Jacek Pawłowicz from IPN in his 2008 book about Pilecki claimed that Śmietański died of tuberculosis at the age of 50 in the year of his last known Mokotów executions.[3]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Photograph of Piotr Śmietański was first published in photo anthology by Jacek Pawłowicz, Rotmistrz Witold Pilecki 1901–1948, published by Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2008–2009, Warsaw, ISBN 978-83-60464-97-7. Press release. (Polish)
  2. ^ Polish Office of Births and Deaths (2011). "Biuletyn Informacji Publicznej Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej". katalog.bip.ipn.gov.pl. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Piotr Śmietański: Dane osoby z katalogu funkcjonariuszy aparatu bezpieczeństwa. Biuletyn Informacji Publicznej, 2007 Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Komisja Scigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu. Source: J. Pawłowicz, Rotmistrz Witold Pilecki 1901-1948, Warsaw 2008, p. 26, 265. (Polish)
  4. ^ a b c Tadeusz M. Płużański, "Strzał w tył głowy." Publicystyka Antysocjalistycznego Mazowsza. 2010.
  5. ^ a b Józefa Huchlowa, Zrzeszenie "Wolność i Niezawisłość" w dokumentach, Zarzad Główny WiN, 2000, 420 pages. ISBN 83-902803-7-X. Page 407. (Polish)
  6. ^ The Doomed Soldiers. Polish Underground Soldiers 1944-1963 - The Untold Story. DoomedSoldiers.com
  7. ^ The Doomed Soldiers. An Account of interrogation methods. Polish Underground Soldiers 1944-1963. The Untold Story. DoomedSoldiers.com (English) (Polish)
  8. ^ a b Płużański, 2010. "Strzał w tył głowy." Available also via the Internet Archive at: Tadeusz M. Płużański, "Strzał w tył głowy" at the Wayback Machine (archived December 18, 2007), Publicystyka Antysocjalistycznego Mazowsza, 27 May 2004. Quote: "Pluton egzekucyjny to był jeden funkcjonariusz UB [etatowy morderca, starszy sierżant Piotr Śmietański, sądząc z podpisów na protokołach wykonania KS - ledwo piśmienny - red.]." Posted by Krzysztof Pawlak.
  9. ^ a b Małgorzata Szejnert, Śród żywych duchów, Aneks Publishers, London, 1990, 261 pages. ISBN 0-906601-81-9. Page 63. (Polish)
  10. ^ Kon Piekarski, Escaping Hell: The Story of a Polish Underground Officer, Dundurn Press, 1989, 254 pages. ISBN 1-55002-071-4. Page 249. Google Books.
  11. ^ 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. Page 379.
  12. ^ Piekarski 1990, p. 249
  13. ^ Wyman 1976, p. 1148
  14. ^ Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, "Marzec 68 - koniec legendy". Salon 24. Niezależne forum publicystów. 21 March 2008.
  15. ^ Paweł Siergiejczyk, Kto i dlaczego wyjeżdżał z Polski po 1968 roku? Tygodnik Nasza Polska, ISSN 1425-1914, Indeks 332453, NR 11 (632) 12 March 2008, Wydawnictwo Szaniec
  16. ^ Hermański & Wróblewski 2012, Kat z Mokotowa, p. 512, 515 (3, 6 / 13 in PDF).
  17. ^ Marcin Austyn, "Oprawca rotmistrza Pileckiego "zniknał" z ewidencji" (PDF), Nasz Dziennik, 14 January 2009. Source: Niezależny Serwis Informacyjny

Further reading[edit]