Palmiry massacre

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Polish women led to mass execution in a forest near Palmiry Palmiry ostatnia droga.jpeg
Polish women led to mass execution in a forest near Palmiry

Coordinates: 52°20′N20°44′E / 52.33°N 20.74°E / 52.33; 20.74 The Palmiry massacre was a series of mass executions carried out by Nazi German forces, during World War II, near the village of Palmiry in the Kampinos Forest northwest of Warsaw.

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.


Between December 1939 and July 1941 more than 1700 Poles and Jews mostly inmates of Warsaw's Pawiak prison were executed by the SS and Ordnungspolizei in a forest glade near Palmiry. The best documented of these massacres took place on 20–21 June 1940, when 358 members of the Polish political, cultural, and social elite were murdered in a single operation.

<i>Schutzstaffel</i> Major paramilitary organization of Nazi Germany

The Schutzstaffel was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II. It began with a small guard unit known as the Saal-Schutz made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for party meetings in Munich. In 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and given its final name. Under his direction (1929–45) it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. From 1929 until the regime's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe.

<i>Ordnungspolizei</i> 1936-1945 uniformed police force of Germany

The Ordnungspolizei, abbreviated Orpo, were the uniformed police force in Nazi Germany between 1936 and 1945. The Orpo organisation was absorbed into the Nazi monopoly on power after regional police jurisdiction was removed in favour of the central Nazi government. The Orpo was under the administration of the Interior Ministry, but led by members of the Schutzstaffel (SS) until the end of World War II. Owing to their green uniforms, Orpo were also referred to as Grüne Polizei. The force was first established as a centralised organisation uniting the municipal, city, and rural uniformed police that had been organised on a state-by-state basis.

Palmiry is one of the most infamous sites of German crimes in Poland, and "one of the most notorious places of mass executions" in Poland. [1] Along with the Katyn massacre, it has become emblematic of the martyrdom of Polish intelligentsia during World War II.

Nazi crimes against the Polish nation

Crimes against the Polish nation committed by Nazi Germany and collaborationist forces during the invasion of Poland, along with auxiliary battalions during the subsequent occupation of Poland in World War II, consisted of the systematic extermination of Jewish Poles and the murder of millions of (non-Jewish) ethnic Poles. The Germans justified these genocides on the basis of Nazi racial theory, which depicted Jews as a constant threat and regarded Poles and other Slavs as racially inferior Untermenschen. By 1942 the Nazis were implementing their plan to kill every Jew in German-occupied Europe, and had also developed plans to eliminate the Polish people, through mass murder, ethnic cleansing, enslavement and extermination through labor, as well as the assimilation into German identity of a small minority of Poles regarded as racially valuable. During World War II the Germans not only murdered millions of Jewish and non-Jewish Poles, but ethnically cleansed millions more ethnic Poles through forced deportation, supposedly to make room for racially superior German settlers.

Katyn massacre WW II Soviet massacre in Poland

The Katyn massacre was a series of mass executions of Polish military officers and intelligentsia carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD in April and May 1940. Though the killings took place at several places, the massacre is named after the Katyn Forest, where some of the mass graves were first discovered.

The intelligentsia is a status class of educated people engaged in the complex mental labours that critique, guide, and lead in shaping the culture and politics of their society. As a status class, the intelligentsia includes artists, teachers and academics, writers, journalists, and the literary hommes de lettres.


Adolf Hitler attends a Wehrmacht victory parade in Warsaw. 5 October 1939 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1974-132-33A, Warschau, Parade vor Adolf Hitler.jpg
Adolf Hitler attends a Wehrmacht victory parade in Warsaw. 5 October 1939
Pawiak prison in Warsaw Wiezienie Pawiak przed 1939.jpg
Pawiak prison in Warsaw

Warsaw was perceived by Nazi leaders as one of the biggest obstacles to their plan to subjugate the Polish nation. After the Nazi invasion of Poland, Warsaw was reduced to a provincial city in the newly created General Government. However, it remained a center of Polish cultural life. [lower-alpha 1] Warsaw also headquartered the high command of the Polish Underground State and soon became a stronghold of armed and political resistance against the German occupation. [2] On 14 December 1943 Governor-General Hans Frank noted in his diary:

Warsaw City metropolis in Masovia, Poland

Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula River in east-central Poland and its population is officially estimated at 1.770 million residents within a greater metropolitan area of 3.1 million residents, which makes Warsaw the 8th most-populous capital city in the European Union. The city limits cover 516.9 square kilometres (199.6 sq mi), while the metropolitan area covers 6,100.43 square kilometres (2,355.39 sq mi). Warsaw is an alpha global city, a major international tourist destination, and a significant cultural, political and economic hub. Its historical Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Poles people from Poland

The Poles, commonly referred to as the Polish people, are a nation and West Slavic ethnic group native to Poland in Central Europe who share a common ancestry, culture, history, and are native speakers of the Polish language. The population of self-declared Poles in Poland is estimated at 37,394,000 out of an overall population of 38,538,000, of whom 36,522,000 declared Polish alone.

General Government German-occupied zone in Poland in World War II

The General Government, also referred to as the General Governorate for the occupied Polish Region, was a German zone of occupation established after the joint invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 at the onset of World War II. The newly occupied Second Polish Republic was split into three zones: the General Government in its centre, Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany in the west, and Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union in the east. The territory was expanded substantially in 1941 to include the new District of Galicia.

There is a one place in this country which is a source of all our misfortunes it is Warsaw. Without Warsaw we wouldn't have four-fifths of the troubles which we're facing now. Warsaw is the focus of all disturbances, the place from which discontent is spread through the whole country. [3]

The Polish capital surrendered to the Wehrmacht armies on 28 September 1939. Three days later members of Einsatzgruppe IV led by SS-Brigadeführer Lothar Beutel entered the city. They immediately conducted a search in public and private buildings, as well as mass arrests. [4] On 8 October 1939 about 354 Polish teachers and catholic priests were detained because occupational authorities assumed that they are “full of Polish chauvinism” and “created an enormous danger” for public order. [5] Soon Warsaw's prisons and detention centers Pawiak, Mokotów Prison, the Central Detention Center at Daniłowiczowska Street, the cellars of the Gestapo headquarter on 25 Szucha Avenue were full of inmates. [6] Many of the prisoners were deported to Nazi concentration camps. Many others were murdered.

<i>Wehrmacht</i> unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945

The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe. The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.

<i>Einsatzgruppen</i> Nazi paramilitary death squads, part of the SS

Einsatzgruppen were Schutzstaffel (SS) paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany that were responsible for mass killings, primarily by shooting, during World War II (1939–45) in German-occupied Europe. The Einsatzgruppen were involved in the murder of much of the intelligentsia, including members of the priesthood, and cultural elite of Poland, and had an integral role in the implementation of the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" in territories conquered by Nazi Germany. Almost all of the people they killed were civilians, beginning with the intelligentsia and swiftly progressing to Soviet political commissars, Jews, and Romani people as well as actual or alleged partisans throughout Eastern Europe.

<i>Brigadeführer</i> Nazi party paramilitary rank

Brigadeführer was a paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) that was used between the years of 1932 to 1945. It was mainly known for its use as an SS rank. As an SA rank, it was used after briefly being known as Untergruppenführer in late 1929 and 1930.

In the first months of German occupation political prisoners from Warsaw were secretly executed in the back of the Polish parliament (Sejm) building complex at Wiejska Street [lower-alpha 2] (in the so-called Sejm gardens, ogrody sejmowe). Between October 1939 and April 1940 several hundred people were murdered in this place. However Nazi German police authorities soon realized that they would not be able to keep executions secret if they were conducted in the very center of a large city. [7] It was decided that henceforth mass executions would be carried out in the small forest glade in Kampinos Forest, located near the villages of Palmiry and Pociecha, [8] about 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Warsaw.

Modus operandi

"Glade of death" near the Palmiry. Post-war photography Glade of death near Palmiry.jpg
“Glade of death” near the Palmiry. Post-war photography
Pamiry. Prisoners are blindfolded before execution Polish Hostages preparing in Palmiry by Nazi-Germans for mass execution 2.jpg
Pamiry. Prisoners are blindfolded before execution
Victims and their executioners Palmiry before execution.jpg
Victims and their executioners
Death transport with empty trucks back to Warsaw after the execution in Palmiry Palmiry death transport.jpg
Death transport with empty trucks back to Warsaw after the execution in Palmiry
Official death notice sent by Nazi authorities to the family of one of the victims Museum of Palmiry massacre - 15.jpg
Official death notice sent by Nazi authorities to the family of one of the victims
Forester Adam Herbanski (right) with Stanislaw Ploski, Chairman of the Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Warsaw Investigation at the place of mass executions in Palmiry 02.jpg
Forester Adam Herbański (right) with Stanisław Płoski, Chairman of the Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Warsaw

Executions in Palmiry were carried out by the members of the Ordnungspolizei or by the SS-Reiterei  [ de ] (SS Cavalry) regiment which was quartered in Warsaw. They were overseen by Gestapo officers led by the SD and Sicherheitspolizei Commander in Warsaw, SS-Standartenführer Josef Meisinger. [9]

In every case mass executions in Palmiry were prepared in a careful manner. Mass graves were always dug a few days before the planned execution. Usually it was done by the Arbeitsdienst unit which was quartered in Łomna or by Hitlerjugend members who camped near Palmiry. In most cases the graves were shaped like a ditch and were more than 30 metres (98 ft) long and 2.5–3 metres (8 ft 2 in–9 ft 10 in) deep. Sometimes, for smaller groups of convicts or for individual victims, irregularly shaped graves were prepared, similar to natural terrain landslides or to explosion craters. The glade where executions took place was soon enlarged by tree-cutting. [10] On the day of planned execution Polish forestry workers always received a day off. In the meantime German police undertook intensive patrolling near the glade and in the surrounding forest. [11]

Victims were transported to the place of execution by trucks. Usually they were brought from Pawiak prison, rarely from Mokotów Prison. SS soldiers tried to convince their victims that they are going to transfer them to another prison or to a concentration camp. For this reason, death transports were usually formed at dusk and prisoners were allowed to take their belongings with them. Sometimes before departure convicts received an additional food ration and they were given back their documents from the prison's depository. [12] Initially, these methods were so effective that the prisoners were not aware of the fate awaiting them. [13] Later, when the truth about what was happening in Palmiry spread through Warsaw, some victims tried to throw short letters or small belongings from the trucks, in hopes that in this way they would be able to inform their families about their fate. [12] During postwar exhumation some bodies were found with a card reading "Executed in Palmiry", written by the victims shortly before their death. [14]

At the glade the prisoners' bags were taken but they were permitted to keep their documents and small belongings. Jews could keep their yellow badges, and people who worked in Pawiak's infirmary could keep their badges with the Red Cross symbol. Sometimes prisoners' hands were tied and their eyes blindfolded. The victims were then taken to the edge of the grave and executed by machine gun fire. Sometimes victims were forced to hold a long pole or ladder behind their back. Such supports were later lowered so that the bodies fell into the grave in an even layer. Postwar exhumation proved that the wounded victims were sometimes buried alive. [12] [15] SS and OrPo members photographed the executions until it was forbidden by the SS-Standartenführer Meisinger, as happened on 3 May 1940. [16] After the execution was finished, the graves were filled in, covered with moss and needles, and then planted over with young pine trees. Families of the victims were later informed by the Nazi authorities that their relatives had "died from natural causes". [11] [17]

Despite all efforts, the Nazis were not able to keep the massacres secret. Local Polish inhabitants, especially forestry workers and inhabitants of Palmiry and Pociecha, had many opportunities to observe the death transports and to hear the gunshots. Several times they also saw groups of convicts being led to the place of execution. Forester Adam Herbański and his subordinates from the Polish Forest Service helped reveal the truth about the Palmiry massacre. At risk of their lives, they visited the forest glade after the executions (usually at night) in order to secretly mark out the mass graves. [11] Also, a few photos taken by the executioners in Palmiry were stolen by members of the Union of Armed Struggle. [lower-alpha 3]

Timeline of the Palmiry massacre

First executions

Probably the first executions in the forest glade near Palmiry were carried out on 7 and 8 December 1939, when 70 and 80 people were murdered, respectively. According to the Wehrmacht soldiers who guarded a nearby ammunition warehouse, all the victims were Jewish. However, it is impossible to confirm that information. [18]

The next execution was conducted on 14 December 1939 when 46 people were shot dead. At least some of the victims came from Pruszków. Among them were Stanisław Kalbarczyk, a Polish teacher from Pruszków, and two unidentified women. [19]

Mass execution in Palmiry Egzekucja w Palmirach.jpg
Mass execution in Palmiry

The circumstances of the last mass execution conducted in Palmiry in 1939 are at least partially known. However, according to Maria Wardzyńska (a Polish historian employed in the Institute of National Remembrance), at least 70 other people were secretly executed in Palmiry before the end of 1939. [20]

In January and February 1940 the Gestapo infiltrated and crushed the underground organization Polska Ludowa Akcja Niepodległościowa (PLAN) ("Polish People's Independence Action"). On 14 January, the PLAN commander, Kazimierz Andrzej Kott, escaped from the Gestapo headquarters at 25 Szucha Avenue. Soon after, several hundred people were arrested in Warsaw, among them 255 leading Jewish intellectuals. [19] On 21 January about 80 hostages, including two women, were executed in Palmiry. Among the victims were Fr. Marceli Nowakowski (rector of the Church of the Holiest Saviour in Warsaw, and former member of parliament) and 36 Jews (including attorney Ludwik Dyzenhaus, dentist Franciszek Sturm and chess master Dawid Przepiórka). Another 118 people arrested after Kott's escape, mostly Jews, were probably murdered in Palmiry in the first months of 1940. [21]

According to Maria Wardzyńska, about 40 inhabitants of Zakroczym were also executed in Palmiry in January 1940. Among them was the mayor of Zakroczym, Tadeusz Henzlich. [20]

The next mass execution in Palmiry was carried out on 26 February 1940. In retaliation for the death of the German mayor of Legionowo, who had been assassinated two days earlier by unknown perpetrators, about 190 people were murdered at the "glade of death". Among the victims were six women. In most cases the victims of this execution came from Legionowo or from surrounding localities. [22] [23]

On the night of 28 March 1940, German police officers entered the house at Sosnowa Street in Warsaw where Józef Bruckner, commander of the underground organization Wilki ("The Wolves"), had his conspiratorial flat. Bruckner and his aide opened fire on the policemen, and after a brief fight, they escaped from the building. In retaliation, the Germans arrested 34 Polish men who lived in this building (aged 17 to 60). All of them were murdered in Palmiry on 23 April 1940. [24]

On 2 April 1940, about 100 inmates of Pawiak and Mokotów prisons were murdered in Palmiry. The execution was conducted in retaliation for the assassination of two German soldiers in Warsaw. Among the victims were Fr. Jan Krawczyk (theologian, parson of Catholic parish in Wilanów), Bogumił Marzec (attorney), Stefan Napierski (literary critic, editor of monthly magazine of literature Ateneum), Bohdan Offenberg (deputy director of the Labour Fund), Zbigniew Rawicz-Twaróg (captain of the Polish Army), Jacek Szwemin (architect), and 27 women. [25]

According to Polish historians, between 700 [26] and 900 [27] people were executed in Palmiry from December 1939 until April 1940.


Secret list smuggled from Pawiak by the Polish female guard Janina Gruszkowa (member of the Polish resistance). It contains some of the names of Polish political prisoners who were executed in Palmiry on 20-21 June 1940 Secret list of the Palmiry massacre victims.jpg
Secret list smuggled from Pawiak by the Polish female guard Janina Gruszkowa (member of the Polish resistance). It contains some of the names of Polish political prisoners who were executed in Palmiry on 20–21 June 1940
Grave of Maciej Rataj at the cemetery in Palmiry Palmiry cemetery 20080713 02.jpg
Grave of Maciej Rataj at the cemetery in Palmiry

In the spring of 1940, the highest NSDAP and SS authorities in the General Government decided to conduct a wide-ranging police operation aimed at the extermination of the Polish political, cultural, and social elite. The mass murder of Polish politicians, intellectuals, artists, social activists, as well as people suspected of potential anti-Nazi activity, was seen as a preemptive measure to keep the Polish resistance scattered and to prevent the Poles from revolting during the planned German invasion of France. This operation was given the code name AB-Aktion (shortcut from Außerordentliche Befriedungsaktion [lower-alpha 4] ). [28] [29] It officially lasted from May to July 1940 and claimed at least 6500 lives. [5] [30] [31]

At the end of March 1940, Warsaw and surrounding cities were hit by a wave of arrests. During the next two months, hundreds of Polish intellectuals and prewar politicians were detained and imprisoned in Pawiak. [20] On 20 April, the Gestapo arrested 42 Polish attorneys in the building of Warsaw's Chamber of Attorneys. On 10 May, occupants detained over a dozen Polish school headmasters who, despite the German interdict, had closed their school on May 3rd Constitution Day. [32] The frequency and number of executions in Palmiry increased with the beginning of AB-Aktion. [33]

The first mass execution conducted in Palmiry in the course of AB-Aktion took place on 14 June 1940. About 20 people were murdered on that day, among them Polish historian Karol Drewnowski and his son Andrzej. [34] [35]

The best-documented massacre took place on 20–21 June 1940 when three transports with 358 inmates were sent from Pawiak to the place of execution near Palmiry. Among the victims were: [36] [37]

Last executions

SS-Gruppenfuhrer Paul Moder announcement of execution of "a number of Poles" in retaliation of death of Igo Sym Announcement of death of Polish hostages executed after the death of Igo Sym.jpg
SS-Gruppenführer Paul Moder announcement of execution of “a number of Poles” in retaliation of death of Igo Sym

On 23 July 1940, Governor-General Hans Frank officially announced the end of AB-Aktion. Despite that, massacres in Palmiry continued for over a year. On 30 August 1940, at least 87 persons were executed at the forest glade. Among the victims were a number of people who were arrested in Włochy three months earlier. [38]

Another mass execution was carried out on 17 September 1940 when about 200 prisoners of Pawiak, including 20 women, were murdered at the forest glade near Palmiry. Among the victims were: Tadeusz Panek and Zbigniew Wróblewski (attorneys), Fr. Zygmunt Sajna (parson of Catholic parish in Góra Kalwaria), Jadwiga Bogdziewicz and Jan Borski (journalists). [39] According to Regina Domańska, this massacre might be connected with the uncovering of an underground printing house at Lwowska Street in Warsaw. [40]

This was the last execution conducted in Palmiry in 1940 for which circumstances are at least partially known. However, during the postwar exhumation, three mass graves filled with 74, 28, and 24 corpses respectively, were found at the forest glade. It is certain that first two of them were filled and buried in the winter of 1940, while the third one was probably dug in the winter of 1940 or 1939. [41] Polish historians were not able to determine the circumstances of those massacres. According to Regina Domańska, about 27 prisoners of Pawiak were executed in Palmiry on 4 December 1940. [42] According to Maria Wardzyńska, up to 260 people could have been murdered in Palmiry in the winter of 1940. [43]

On 7 March 1941, actor Igo Sym, well-known Nazi collaborator and Gestapo agent, was assassinated by the soldiers of the Union of Armed Struggle. In retaliation, 21 Pawiak prisoners were executed in Palmiry four days later. Among the victims were Stefan Kopeć (biologist, professor at the University of Warsaw) and Kazimierz Zakrzewski (historian, professor at the University of Warsaw). [44] [45]

On 1 April 1941 about 20 men from Łowicz were executed in Palmiry. Among the victims was deputy mayor of Łowicz, Adolf Kutkowski. [46]

Another massacre was conducted on 12 June 1941 when 30 prisoners of Pawiak, including 14 women, were murdered in Palmiry. Among the victims were: Witold Hulewicz (poet and radio journalist), Stanisław Piasecki (right-wing politician and literary critic), Jerzy Szurig (lawyer, syndicalist), Stanisław Malinowski (attorney). [47] [48]

The last known mass execution in Palmiry was carried out on 17 July 1941 when 47 people, mostly prisoners of Pawiak, were murdered in the forest glade. Among the victims were Zygmunt Dymek (journalist and labor activist) and six women. [14]

After 17 July 1941, German authorities ceased using the forest glade in Palmiry as a place of mass executions. The reason probably was that they realized the Polish resistance and the civilian population were well aware of what was happening in Palmiry. [49]


Exhumation in Palmiry in 1946 Exhumation of bodies of victims massacred by Nazi-Germans in Palmiry 01.jpg
Exhumation in Palmiry in 1946
Human skull found in a mass grave. Note entrance and exit gunshot wounds. Exhumation of bodies of victims massacred by Nazi-Germans in Palmiry 03.jpg
Human skull found in a mass grave. Note entrance and exit gunshot wounds.
Cemetery and a mausoleum in Palmiry Palmiry Cemetery.JPG
Cemetery and a mausoleum in Palmiry
Palmiry National Memorial Museum. Part of the exposition Museum of Palmiry massacre - 12.jpg
Palmiry National Memorial Museum. Part of the exposition

After the war, the Polish Red Cross, supported by the Chief Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, began the search and exhumation process in Palmiry. The work was carried out between 25 November and 6 December 1945, and later from 28 March until the first months of summer 1946. Thanks to Adam Herbański and his subordinates from the Polish Forest Service, who in the years of occupation were risking their own lives to mark the places of execution, Polish investigators were able to find 24 mass graves. More than 1700 corpses were exhumed, but only 576 of them were identified. Later Polish historians were able to identify the names of another 480 victims. [17] [50] It is possible that some graves still lie undiscovered in the forest near Palmiry. [11]

In 1948 the forest glade near Palmiry was transformed into a war cemetery and a mausoleum. [51] Victims of Nazi terror whose bodies were found in some other places of execution within the so-called "Warsaw Death Ring" [lower-alpha 5] were also buried in the Palmiry cemetery. Altogether, approximately 2204 people are buried there. [52] In 1973, the Palmiry National Memorial Museum, a branch of the Museum of Warsaw, was created in Palmiry. [51]

Fr. Zygmunt Sajna, who was murdered in Palmiry on 17 September 1940, is one of the 108 Polish Martyrs of World War II beatified on 13 June 1999 by Pope John Paul II. [53] [54] Fr. Kazimierz Pieniążek (member of the Resurrectionist Congregation), another victim of the Palmiry massacre, has been accorded the title of Servant of God. He is currently one of the 122 Polish martyrs of the Second World War included in the beatification process initiated in 1994. [54]

Palmiry has become, as Richard C. Lukas puts it, "one of the most notorious places of mass executions" in Poland. [1] It is also one of the most famous sites of Nazi crimes in Poland. [55] Along with the Katyn Forest it became a symbol of the martyrdom of the Polish intelligentsia during the Second World War. [56] In 2011 Polish president Bronisław Komorowski said that "Palmiry is to some extent the Warsaw Katyn". [57]


Some of the Palmiry murderers were brought to justice. Ludwig Fischer, governor of Warsaw district in 1939–1945, and SS-Standartenführer Josef Meisinger, who occupied the post of SD and SiPo Commander in Warsaw in years 1939–1941, were arrested after the war by Allied forces and handed over to the Polish authorities. Their trial took place between 17 December 1946 and 24 February 1947. On 3 March 1947, the Supreme National Tribunal in Warsaw condemned both of them to death. Meisinger and Fischer were hanged in Mokotów Prison in March 1947. [58]

SS-Gruppenführer Paul Moder, SS and Police Leader in Warsaw district in 1940–1941, was killed in action on the Eastern Front in February 1942. [59]


  1. Before World War II about 40% of Polish university students and academic lecturers lived in Warsaw. There were more than 900 schools and colleges of various types, as well as about 200 museums, archives, libraries, theaters and cinemas. About half of all Polish newspapers and magazines were printed in Warsaw. See: Bartoszewski (1970), pp. 39–40.
  2. After the beginning of German occupation, the Sejm buildings were converted into barracks for Ordnungspolizei units.
  3. Some of these photos were included in a brochure titled Totaler Terror. Polen am Marterpfahl ("Total terror. Poland at the torture stake"), which was published by the Polish Underground State in 1943. The brochure was written in German because German soldiers stationed in occupied Poland were its target.
  4. English: "Extraordinary Operation of Pacification".
  5. In Lasy Chojnowskie, Laski, Łuże, Szwedzkie Góry, Wólka Węglowa.

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<i>Katyń</i> (film) 2007 film by Andrzej Wajda

Katyń is a 2007 Polish film about the 1940 Katyn massacre, directed by Academy Honorary Award winner Andrzej Wajda. It is based on the book Post Mortem: The Story of Katyn by Andrzej Mularczyk. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for the 80th Academy Awards.

Zdzisław Peszkowski Polish Army officer, Roman Catholic priest

Zdzisław Peszkowski, of the Jastrzębiec coat of arms was a Polish Roman Catholic priest and one of a small group of Polish army officers who managed to survive the 1940 mass execution of over 20,000 Polish citizens by NKVD, the Katyn massacre. Peszkowski was a leading advocate and chaplain for the Katyn Families Association, which works with survivors of the Katyn massacre and their families.

Ochota massacre

The Ochota Massacre was a wave of German-orchestrated mass murder, looting, arson, torture and rape, which swept through the Warsaw district of Ochota from 4–25 August 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising. The principal perpetrators of these war crimes were the Nazi collaborationist S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A., the so-called "Russian National Liberation Army", commanded by Bronislav Kaminski.


Intelligenzaktion was a secret mass murder conducted by Nazi Germany against the Polish intelligentsia early in the Second World War (1939–45). The operations were conducted to realise the Germanization of the western regions of occupied Poland, before territorial annexation to the German Reich.

Operation Heads was the code name for a series of assassinations of Nazi officials by the World War II Polish Resistance. Those targeted for assassination had been sentenced to death by Polish Underground Special Courts for crimes against Polish citizens during the World War II German occupation of Poland. The operation's code name, literally "Operation Little Heads", was a sardonic reference to the Totenkopf insignia on Nazi German SS uniforms and headgear.

Massacres in Piaśnica

The massacres in Piaśnica were a set of mass executions carried out by Nazi Germany during World War II, between the fall of 1939 and spring of 1940 in Piaśnica Wielka in the Darzlubska Wilderness near Wejherowo. The exact number of people murdered is unknown, but estimates range between 12,000 and 14,000 victims. Most of them were Polish intellectuals from Gdańsk Pomerania, but Poles, Jews, Czechs and German inmates from mental hospitals from General Government and the Third Reich were also murdered. After the Stutthof concentration camp, Piaśnica was the largest site of killings of Polish civilians in Pomerania by the Germans, and for this reason is sometimes referred to as the "second" or "Pomeranian" Katyn. It was the first large scale Nazi atrocity in occupied Poland.

<i>Intelligenzaktion Pommern</i>

The Intelligenzaktion Pommern was a Nazi German operation aimed at the eradication of the Polish intelligentsia in Pomeranian Voivodeship and the surrounding areas at the beginning of World War II. It was part of a larger genocidal Intelligenzaktion, that took place across most of Nazi-occupied western Poland in the course of Operation Tannenberg, purposed to install Nazi officials from Sipo, Kripo, Gestapo and SD at the helm of a new administrative machine.

Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East

The Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East is a monument in Warsaw, Poland which commemorates the victims of the Soviet invasion of Poland during World War II and subsequent repressions. It was unveiled on 17 September 1995, on the 56th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of 1939.

Tchorek plaques

Tchorek plaques are a common design of memorial plaque in Warsaw, Poland, used to commemorate places where battles or executions took place during the German occupation of the city during World War II. They are based on an original design by sculptor Karol Tchorek from 1949.

Franciszek Nogalski

Franciszek Nogalski was a Polish Roman Catholic priest and parochial vicar in Raciąż. He was executed by Nazi German occupants during the Rudzki Most massacre. Before his death Nogalski unsuccessfully tried to save other hostages by sacrificing himself. He has been accorded the title of Servant of God and he is one of the 122 Polish martyrs of the Second World War whose beatification process started in 2003.

Executions in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto (1943–1944) – mass executions of Polish Political prisoners and people of Jewish descent carried out secretly by German occupiers in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Massacre in the Mokotów prison

The Massacre in the Mokotów prison - mass murder of residents of the Mokotów prison in Warsaw by the Germans on the second day of the Warsaw Uprising. On August 2, 1944, soldiers of the Waffen-SS - SS-Pz. Gren. Ausb.-und Ers. Btl. 3 shot about 600 Poles on the premises of the prison at 37 Rakowiecka Street. It was one of the biggest crimes committed by the Germans in Mokotów during the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising. During the massacre, some prisoners actively resisted the Nazis, which allowed several hundred people to escape to the area controlled by the insurgents.


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  2. Dunin-Wąsowicz (1984), p. 5.
  3. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 442.
  4. Bartoszewski (1970), pp. 39–40.
  5. 1 2 Wardzyńska (2009), p. 240.
  6. Bartoszewski (1976), p. 15.
  7. Wardzyńska (2009), pp. 241–242.
  8. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 64.
  9. Böhler, Mallmann, Matthäus (2009), p. 89.
  10. Bartoszewski (1970), pp. 64–65.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Bartoszewski (1970), p. 66.
  12. 1 2 3 Bartoszewski (1970), p. 65.
  13. Domańska (1978), p. 27.
  14. 1 2 Bartoszewski (1970), p. 112.
  15. Bartoszewski (1976), p. 22.
  16. Domańska (1978), p. 58.
  17. 1 2 Wardzyńska (2009), p. 242.
  18. Bartoszewski (1970), pp. 67–68.
  19. 1 2 Bartoszewski (1970), p. 68.
  20. 1 2 3 Wardzyńska (2009), p. 244.
  21. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 73.
  22. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 74.
  23. Domańska (1978), p. 44.
  24. Bartoszewski (1970), pp. 78–79.
  25. Bartoszewski (1970), pp. 76–77.
  26. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 445.
  27. Wardzyńska (2009), p. 243.
  28. Bartoszewski (1970), pp. 60–62.
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  30. Mańkowski (1992), p. 13.
  31. Rozett & Spector (2013), p. 101.
  32. Mańkowski (1992), p. 21.
  33. Mańkowski (1992), p. 24.
  34. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 80.
  35. Bartoszewski (1976), p. 39.
  36. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 83–94.
  37. Wardzyńska (2009), pp. 262–263.
  38. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 94.
  39. Wardzyńska (2009), p. 263.
  40. Domańska (1978), p. 93.
  41. Bartoszewski (1976), pp. 102–104.
  42. Domańska (1978), p. 113.
  43. Wardzyńska (2009), pp. 263–264.
  44. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 105.
  45. Domańska (1978), p. 138.
  46. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 108.
  47. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 109.
  48. Domańska (1978), p. 158.
  49. Bartoszewski (1976), pp. 66–67.
  50. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 113.
  51. 1 2 Misiak (2006), pp. 6–7.
  52. Bartoszewski (1976), p. 7.
  53. Stelmasiak (2008)
  54. 1 2 Świątkiewicz (2015)
  55. Palmiry National Memorial Museum
  56. Sierchuła & Muszyński (2008), p. I.
  57. "Prezydent: Palmiry to warszawski Katyń" [President: Palmiry is a Warsaw Katyn] (in Polish). President of the Polish Republic. 31 March 2011. Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  58. Bartoszewski (1970), pp. 54 and 423.
  59. Bartoszewski (1970), p. 424.