Stanisław Pyjas

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Stanisław Pyjas's grave on a cemetery in Gilowice, Żywiec County
grave plaque
7 Szewska[1] Street in Kraków, 2008
Stanisław Pyjas's memorial plaque at 7 Szewska Street in Kraków

Stanisław Pyjas (1953-1977) was a Polish student of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, member of the anticommunist student movements. He died on May 7, 1977 in Kraków. The exact circumstances of Pyjas’ death are still a mystery[2] and his case, which is still disputed, shook public opinion in Poland. According to one scenario he was murdered and the killers, probably members of the communist Secret Services, arranged the death to look like an accident.[3] The official scenario, however, states that his death occurred after he fell from the stairs while being drunk. In 2011 his body was examined, and the outcome states that it was the fall that caused his death and that he had not been beaten.[4]

Oppositional activities[edit]

Stanisław Pyjas was born on August 4, 1953 in Żywiec. After graduation from a local high school, he moved to Kraków, to begin studies at the renowned Jagiellonian University. He studied Polish philology and philosophy.

Some time in 1976 Pyjas joined the Workers' Defence Committee, the organization which was created to help laborers, participants in the anticommunist street protests in Radom and Warsaw. Together with friends from the University, Bronisław Wildstein and Lesław Maleszka, Pyjas organized protests against repressions.


Pyjas’ body was found on May 7, 1977, in the staircase located in a building at 7 Szewska Street in Kraków’s historic center. His death shook the student community, with around 1,000 people showing up at the funeral in the village of Gilowice.[5] Street demonstrations, such as Kraków’s Black March, erupted in several Polish cities[6] and soon afterwards, Polish students, shaken by the death of their colleague, founded the Student Committee of Solidarity. On May 15, 1977, after a Black March, the founders urged the Polish government to reveal who was behind the crime. Among members of the Committee was Donald Tusk, who later became prime minister of Poland, and then EU President.[7] It was the first organization of this kind in Eastern Europe.


The perpetrators of the crime have never been found. Three different investigations, carried out by the local prosecutor’s office and Milicja Obywatelska, stalled and finally ended, due to lack of evidence.[3]

Officially, Kraków doctor Zdzisław Marek stated that Pyjas, drunk, fell down the stairs, but Pyjas’ friends did not believe it. Bronisław Wildstein stated that he bribed a worker at the mortuary in Kraków and entered the premises, to check the body of his fellow student. According to him, it was clear that Pyjas had been brutally beaten to death.[8]

A few weeks after Pyjas’ death, the body of another student, Stanisław Pietraszka, was found in the Solina Lake. According to his brother, it must have been a murder, as Pietraszka was afraid of water.[9] He was the last person to have seen Pyjas alive and he gave a description of the possible murderer. Also, a person suspected of murder, a boxer of Cracovia, Marian Weclewicz, died in a mysterious accident.

The role of Leslaw Maleszka[edit]

In late June 2008, private television TVN presented a documentary Trzech kumpli (Three mates), which presented the story of Wildstein, Pyjas and Lesław Maleszka (aka Ketman and Return). All three of them were friends in college, studied together and were active in anticommunist opposition. However, Maleszka, who afterwards worked for Gazeta Wyborcza, was a secret informer of Służba Bezpieczeństwa.[8][10]

Maleszka was a highly praised agent, whose reports on students in Kraków, in which he did not hesitate to describe the intimate lives of his closest friends, were called excellent by his secret service bosses. According to Roman Graczyk, a journalist and Maleszka’s friend from university, Pyjas had to die, because he might have suspected Maleszka of collaboration.[10][11] The secret services did not want to lose such a valuable agent and an unknown officer ordered the assassination.

On September 23, 2006, Pyjas was posthumously awarded the Commander's Cross of the Polonia Restituta, by president Lech Kaczyński.


  1. ^ Polish Szewska Street means Shoemakers' Street
  2. ^ [1] Archived January 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b " :: News from Poland". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  4. ^ "To zszokowało rodzinę Pyjasa - nie został pobity? - Wiadomości - WP.PL". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  5. ^ [2] Archived June 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Kazimierz Braun (1996). A history of Polish theater, 1939-1989: spheres of captivity and freedom. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-313-29773-1. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Kancelaria Prezesa Rady Ministrów". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  8. ^ a b "Trzech Kumpli". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  9. ^ "Dziennik Zachodni - wiadomości Śląsk, wiadomości ze Śląska". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  10. ^ a b "Polskie Radio - najlepsze radio online - Polskie Radio w internecie". Retrieved 2015-12-03. 
  11. ^ ""Hipoteza, że Pyjas zginął przez Maleszkę jest prawdopodobna" - Wiadomości - WP.PL". Retrieved 2012-02-01.