PREMEDITATED MURDER OF 25 POLISH PROFESSORS, AND IN ADDITION THEIR FAMILIES AND GUESTS, ON JULY 4, 1941 IN LWÓW, POLAND
In September 1939, Hitler's Nazi-German armies have attacked Poland from the West and the Stalin's Soviet Russian armies have attacked from the East. Thus, the Germans and Russians, who became allies after signing a secret pact in August 1939, have partitioned Poland, 49 to 51%.
Between September 1939 and June 1941, the fate of Polish citizens and University Professors could be summarized as follows:
(I) The German-occupied 49% of Poland, was subdivided into the German (Reich) and not-German (General Gouvernement) areas, Polish population was brutally sorted between this areas, concentration Camps were established, mainly for Poles, and the Polish intellectuals were selected to be first of those systematically liquidated. The University professors in Cracow were arrested on November 6, 1939 and interned in concentration camps, where many of them died.
(II) In the Soviet- occupied Poland, which included the Polish city of Lwów, horrendous, but unpunished, crimes against humanity were committed by the Soviets and their henchmen during these 22 months. About 20 000 Polish 'reserve' officers, including many university graduates and faculty, were immediately arrested and systematically murdered ("Katyn massacre" in Spring 1940). In addition, various classes of population, predominantly Polish intellectuals, were systematically arrested and deported to Siberia [husbands to the North, and wives and children to the South, mainly to the wilderness of Kazakhstan]. Over one million of Poles (of Catholic and Judaic background) were deported under totally inhuman conditions, and high proportion of them has perished, manly of hunger and diseases. In addition to those murdered by Soviets in Katyn, individual University Professors were arrested, some executed and some deported.
In June 1941, Hitler betrayed and attacked his faithful Soviet ally. At the beginning ot this campaign, Soviet troops were defeated, and Lwów together w the rest of Soviet-occupied eastern half of Poland fell into Nazi's hands. Then within about a week the horrible mass murder of Lwów University Professors took place, while the Nazi-Soviet war raged to the east of Lwów. The Lwów institutions of higher learning, including the University of Jan Kazimierz (UJK), the Lwów Institute of Technology (Politechnika Lwowska), Academy of Veterinary Medicine and Academy of Foreign Trade have lost nearly 50 of their Faculty members including members of their families, both wives and children. The circumstances and history of this abominable massacre or slaughter are described below by Zygmunt Albert, in the book "Kazn Profesorow Lwowskich" (Murder of the Lwowian Professors).
Several of the murdered Professors were closely connected, personally and/or professionally, with Waclaw Szybalski. Professor Franciszek Groër was his pediatrician and his daughter was his friend. Professors Jerzy Grzedzielski, and Roman Rencki, were his grand mother's physicians. Professor Henryk Hilarowicz, was family surgeon. Professors Stanislaw Pilat (chemistry), Kazimierz Bartel (descriptive geometry) and Wlodzimierz Stozek (mathematics) were his beloved teachers at Politechnika Lwowska. Professor Antoni Lomnicki (mathematics) was the father of his girlfriend, Ewa Lomnicka, and they both visited World Fair in Paris in 1937 and Italy in 1938. Prof. Cieszynski was his mother's dentist; he and his wife, Roza, were ther family friends and his three children were Waclaw's close childhood friends and colleagues. Also the children o Professor Roman Longchamps de Bérier were Waclaw's close childhood friends and colleagues, participating in many teenage or student dancing home parties.
THE MURDER OF LWÓW PROFESSORS BY GERMAN AUTHORITIES IN JULY 1941
In 1941, the third year of the Second World War (WWII), Nazi Germany decided to attack the Soviet Union. The leadership of the Third Reich prepared this venture most thoroughly both in the politically and militarily. While attempting to destroy Poles as ideologically hostile nation, they resolved to dispose not only of the Jews and communist leaders, but selected already prior to starting WWII many the other Polish intellectuals, some of which in 1939 - 1941 already died or were deported by Soviets to Siberia. They intended not only to place these national groups in prisons or concentration camps, but planned their physical liquidation - a term frequently used by the Germans themselves.
Let us recall the words of the Governor General Hans Frank referring to the Cracow professors arrested in 1939: "The fuss made about the Cracow professors was indescribable and inconvenient for German Reich . The whole affair would have taken a different course if we had settled the matter on the spot, i.e. liquidate the Cracow professors. I must insist, therefore, that from now on no one will be sent to concentration camps in the Reich but liquidated then and there or 'punished according to the law'. Any other procedure will encumber the Reich and create additional difficulties for us. Different methods are required here and must be employed henceforth" 1.
This speech was held by Frank to representatives of the SS and police on May 30, 1940, but it was not made known to the majority of Germans. The Poles learned of this ominous threat only after the war, but they experienced it sooner, already after September 1939, because the extermination of the Polish leadership and the country's intellectuals had been decided prior to World War II. The British prosecutor Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe quoted on September 29, 1946, on the 214-th day of the Nuremberg Trial, excerpts from Himmler's speech delivered in 1941 to officers of the SS-Leibstandarte:
"Members of the Waffen SS often have thoughts of the deportations taking place. I am also aware of the problem when watching the difficult work of the security forces assisted by our men. It was the same in Poland during a forty degree frost when we had to drive thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people and could not be hampered by scruples when - you must hear of it but forget about it immediately - thousands of leading Polish personalities had to be shot".
Special units known as Einsatzkommandos were established for this purpose by Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer, chief of police and at the same time head of the infamous Schutzstaffeln (SS). These units, led by high-ranking SS and police officers were to follow the army, arrests prominent individuals according to the beforehand prepared proscription lists, and shoot them. Hitler and Himmler warned that actions performed by these special units were not subject of control either by prosecutors or courts of law and that any attempt at interfering with these activities would be decisively punished.
The German Army, occupied Lwów on June 30, 1941, and was considered as Austrians and improvement over the brutal Soviet occupation. They were warmly greeted there by the Ukrainian part of the population, which swelled from 5% in 1939 to much higher number during Soviet occupation.. Numerous groups of Ukrainian youth wearing yellow-blue armbands or rosettes appeared on the streets of Lwów and dragged the Jews out of their houses and ordered them to pick up with bare hands the glass from broken windows lying thick on the pavement. Several Einsatzkommando units - one led by the SS Brigadenführer Dr. Eberhard Schöngarth - entered the city on the following day. This man, holding the rank of a general, was well known to Poles in the General Government. It was his unit which, on the order of Himmler, arrested on November 6, 1939, the University professors in Cracow and interned them in concentration camps. Many of them died there or soon after the war. Schöngarth's group began its activities in Lwów the next day after entering the city and as first they were arresting only Jews. Then on July 2, they arrested the famous 59 years old mathematician, Kazimierz Bartel, Professor of the Lwów Institute of Technology (Politechnika Lwowska), a the former Polish Prime Minister. The professor's wife and daughter were immediately thrown out of their house, with hardly any personal belongings. The professor was taken to the building of the pre-WWII cental office of the City Street Car Administration at Pe3czynska street, used by Soviet Secret Police during 22 months of Soviet occupation, and then occupied by the leadership of Schöngarth's group.
No one among the Lwów citizens was aware that Professor Bartel's arrest was only a prelude to the tragedy which was to follow the next day. In the night of July 3/4, 1941, between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. several units composed of the SS, police and field gendarmerie under the command of SS officers rushed into private homes of the professors of the higher academic institutions and arrested all men above 18 years of age found in their houses. Everything was done in a hurry, the arrested were told to dress quickly (most were asleep), a cursory search was usually carried out, gold, money and valuable objects - in one case a typewriter - were confiscted. The German leaders of particular units knew well what was in store for the professors and their sons. Prof. Cieszynski's son, Tomasz, although he was twenty, somehow escaped of being arrested with his father. Perhaps the officer 'overlooked ' him out of some humane feelings for grief of his stunningly beautiful and aristocratic mother. This was the only case that a man over 18 was not arrested. Police officer Kurt, who arrested Professor Solowij, questioned his daughter, Mrs. Miesowiczowa, whether she had other children besides her 19 year old son Adam who was present there at the time. Disoriented of what the officer wanted she said she also has a daughter. This was probably why her son was seized together with his 82 years old grandfather. These two cases show that the officers, while arresting the professors, could have saved the life of their sons, but did not do it with only one exception.
Professor Witold Nowicki, the 63 years old head of the Institute of Pathological Anatomy, was arrested together with his 29 years old son Jerzy, doctor of medicine, older assistant at the Institute of Hygiene. Jerzy had been taken prisoner by the Russians in September 1939 and released in Summer 1941, due to persistent efforts of his father. The Irony is that six months later they were both arrested and executed/murdered by the Nazis.
Professor Stanislaw Progulski, a 67 years old pediatrician, was seized together with his 29 years old son Andrzej, an engineer. His other son was luckily not at home and thus survived the massacre.
Together with 70 years old Professor of Forensic Medicine, Wlodzimierz Sieradzki Gestapo arrested four more persons: his tenant Wolisch, 44 years old surgeon, Professor Wladyslaw Dobrzaniecki, the septuagenarian Tadeusz Tapkowski, Doctor of Law, and the husband of the housekeeper Eugeniusz Kostecki. The Gestapo asked Kostecki if he belonged to the domestic service, and when they did not understand his answer in Polish, he was taken away.
The intrusion into the house of Professor Jan Grek, a well-known expert in internal medicine, led to the imprisonment of Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, a famous literary figure and translator of masterpieces of French literature. In September 1939 he escaped from Warsaw when Germans were approaching the capital and was guest in the house of Professor Grek, his brother-in-law since both men married two sisters: Maria and Zofia Parenski, memorized by leading Polish poet and artist, Wyspianski, in his epoch-making play Wesele (Wedding). At the time of their execution/murder Grek and Boy were 66 years old.
The Einsatzkommando found by chance a larger group in the house of Professor Tadeusz Ostrowski, a 60 years old surgeon. They were his friend, a disciple of Rydygier, the 69 years old surgeon Stanislaw Ruff, his wife and their 30 years old son Adam; Maria Reyman, a nurse and social worker, Katarzyna Demko, a teacher of the English language; a 29 years old priest, Wladyslaw Komornicki, Doctor of Theology, whose brother was married to a daughter of Mrs. Ostrowska from her first marriage. All the men were arrested and taken away.
This was not the end of the tragedy of the Grek and Ostrowski families. The German messengers of death returned after two hours and with a still greater haste took away all the women, including domestic help. There is little doubt that simple robbery was the motive for arresting and murdering the owners and tenants of these two houses which were very wealthy, filled with antiques, valuable carpets and paintings and other art objects. The Nazis may have assumed that there were also precious jewels and gold somewhere. Considering the Ostrowski house as secure, two aristocratic families - Badeni's and Jablonowski's - gave them their most valuable objects for safe keeping. No wonder the Nazis were eager to steal it all. A part in this action may have been played by a Dutchman Pieter Nikolaas Menten who had bought an estate in Poland after the First World War and was well acquainted with Lwów patrician families by being invited to their wealthy homes, including some belonging to University professors. He knew well which families were prosperous. It is a fact that Menten was wearing an SS uniform, and obtained from the Gestapo a death certificate of the Ostrowski's family, which permitted him to acquire cheaply the belongings from their home and perhaps also the home of the Grek family. A Dutch court was later 'unable' to prove that Menten was in Lwów and took a direct part in Professors' arrests, but it proved him guilty - as a Gestapo officer - of murdering a large number of Poles and Jews, his neighbors at his estate in Urycz and Podhorodce. Therefore, one might assume that he would not have hesitated to somehow participate in the murder the professors as to appropriate their fortunes.
During that eventful night the Germans arrested Stanislaw Mączewski a 49 years old assistant professor of gynecology and Jerzy Grzędzielski, a 40 years old assistant professor of ophthalmology. The latter was arrested instead of his late superior Professor Adam Bednarski. When the Nazis entered the widow's home and learned that her husband died, they asked became his successor. Not suspecting anything, she gave the name of Grzedzielski. The squad went immediately to his apartment and arrested him.
Professor Roman Rencki, a 74 years old internist famous as unerring diagnostician, who just had been released from being imprisoned by Soviets, was re-arrested again by the Gestapo three days later. Henryk Hilarowicz, a 51 years old surgeon was also among those seized. He was the third eminent surgeon arrested that night.
Besides the Medical Faculty, which lost 12 professors or assistant professors that night, the the Institute of Technology (Politechnika Lwowska) lost 8 professors, including Professor Bartel.
Wlodzimierz Stozek, the 57 years old member of the Department of Mathematics was arrested together with his two sons: the 29 years old engineers Eustachy and a 24 years old Emanuel, graduate of the Institute of Technology.
Professor Kasper Weigel, the 61 years old Chairman the Department of Surveys was seized together with his 33 years old son Joseph, Master of Law.
Professor Kazimierz Vetulani, the 52 years old head Chairman of the Department of Theoretical Mechanics lived alone and only his neighbor Lidia Szarguowa saw through a door pane how the Gestapo men led the professor down the steps to their car.
Professor Roman Witkiewicz, the 55 years old Chairman of the Department of Machine Survey, met the same fate. He was arrested together with his tenant, Józef Wojtyna, janitor at the Institute of Technology. That night another Gestapo squad arrested the brother of Prof. Witkiewicz's wife, Professor Edward Hamerski, the 43 years old Chairman of the Department of Infectious Diseases of Small Animals at the Academy of Veterinary Medicine.
The remaining members of the Institute of Technology taken away by the Germans included: Professor Stanislaw Pilat, the 60 years old Chairman of the Department of Petroleum and Earth Gas Technology. This outstanding expert was sought several days after his arrest by the German authorities who wanted to utilize his comprehensive knowledge of the Baku oil fields In Russia. Too late.
Another victim of the Gestapo was Professor Wlodzimierz Krukowski, the 53 years old Chairman of the Department of Electric Measurements and also head of the Electotechnical Laboratory.
The last of the 8 arrested professors was Antoni Lomnicki, the 60 years old Chairman of the Department of Mathematics.
Besides the 12 professors from the Medical Faculty, the University lost that night two more professors. One was the already referred to Tadeusz Boy-Zelenski, Chairman of the Department of Romance, the other - Professor Roman Longchamps de Bérier, Chairman of the Department of Civil Law. He was arrested together with his three sons: Bronislaw, a 25 years old, Zygmunt, 23 years old, both graduates of the Institute of Technology, and Kazimierz, an 18 years old high school graduate. Only the fourth, 16 years old son remained with the grieving mother.
The conduct of the Gestapo during the arrests ranged from a rarely relatively civil to a more often brutal behavior. Mrs. Hilarowicz, a physician, told me that when her husband was dressing and she was in a state of shock, a Gestapo officer, holding and petting her two cats, asked mockingly why she was so perturbed, didn't she believe in her husband's innocence? And these officers knew only too well that a completely innocent man would be murdered.
Olga Nowicka wanting to give her husband a piece of soap and a towel heard the brutal truth: "He won't need it". Several weeks later, when her friend tried to comfort her saying that her husband and son are somewhere in a camp, she kept repeating her desperate question: why did the Gestapo say "He won't need it"? Alas, the officer knew well what he meant.
Breaking into Prof. Longchamp de Bérier's house the Germans behaved brutally, they knocked a cigarette-case out of his hand, did not allow those arrested to take their coats shouting that they won't be necessary and prevented the professor's wife from saying goodbye or accompanying the prisoners to the gate.
Professor Cieszynski, was not allowed to take his heart medicine that he had been prescribed to take for some time.
At the homes of the Ostrowski, Cieszynski, Grek and Hilarowicz families, the Germans have plundered gold, jewelry and foreign currency, filling their pockets with the booty.
Józefa Kostecka, Prof. Dobrzaniecki's housekeeper, wrote that the Nazis emptied the safe of jewelry and gold dollar coins, took three pairs of chamois-leather gloves and other things - filling suitcases with the plunder. The antiques, Persian rugs, paintings by famous painters and many other art objects were robbed and taken away by Germans on the third day after the murders.
All arrested men were taken to the Abrahamowicz Institution at the street bearing the same name (at present Boy street). The behavior of the Gestapo men was extremely brutal: Adam Ruff, an engineer, was shot while having an attack of epilepsy, Mrs. Ostrowska was ordered to wash Ruff's blood from the floor and when a pouch containing some valuables slipped out of her blouse a Gestapo man not only took it away but kicked her furiously.
Here is what the sole survivor, Professor Groër said: "We were taken to the Abrahamowicz dormitory. The car was driven into the courtyard, brutally pushed we were crammed into the building and told to stand facing the wall. There were already many professors there. We were ordered to lower our heads. If someone moved he was hit with a rifle butt or his head was struck with fists. Once, when a new group of captured men was brought in I tried to turn my head but was immediately hit with a rifle butt and, henceforth, I refrained from such attempts. It was probably half an hour past midnight, and I stood motionless until 2 AM. More victims were brought in and told to stand against the wall. Every ten minutes or so we heard screams from the cellar and sounds of shots commented by one of the Germans: "Einer weniger" (one less)2, which at that time I considered to be an attempt of terrorizing us. Every few minutes the name of a professor was called and the man was led to a room on the left. I remember well that Prof. Ostrowski was called, afterwards I was the tenth or perhaps twelfth to go as the next. If found myself in a room where there were two officers, a younger one who arrested me and another one of a higher rank, a large, portly man. He immediately shouted at me: "You dog, you are a German and have betrayed your German country. You served the Bolsheviks! Why didn't you, when it was possible, depart with all the other Germans to the West? " I began to explain, at first quietly and then louder, as the officer raised his voice, that although I was of German descent I considered myself a Pole. Secondly, even had I intended to go West, the Soviet authorities would not have permitted it because of my high social position as University Professor and well-known clinician - they considered me indispensable. I was then asked to explain the meaning of the visiting cards of British consuls found in my possession. I replied that I was married to a titled English lady and we were often visited by British consuls. He grew quieter, and apparently impressed he said: "I'll have to speak to my boss, we shall see what can yet be done for you" and hurriedly left the room.
The younger office who remained with me said quickly: "That really depends only on him, since has got no superior here. Tell him you have made an important medical discovery, which may be useful to the German Army. This could save you." At that moment the other officer returned. There was no time to say a word because they ordered me out of the room. I was taken to the opposite, i.e., left side of the corridor, allowed to sit down and smoke a cigarette. I was even given a glass of water. Beside me there were standing professors Solowij and Rencki. After a while one of the Gestapo men asked them how old they were. I think they said 73 and 763. I was certain that due to their age they would be set free. I also thought that my case was not quite hopeless. The officer who interrogated me came and told me to go into the yard and walk, adding: "Behave as though you were never arrested". I began to walk round the yard smoking one cigarette after another. I kept my hands in my pockets. Some time went by. All at once two Gestapo men entered the yard from the street. The building and the yard were of course guarded. The two saw me, rushed at me, slapped my face shouting furiously what business I had in the yard strolling with my hands in my pockets. I said I was told to behave as a non-arrested person. They grunted something, lost interest in me and entered the building.
It was perhaps four o'clock in the morning when a group of 15 to 20 professors was led out of the building. The group was headed by four professors: Nowicki, Pilat, Ostrowski and, I think, Stozek who carried the bleeding body of young Ruff. They were followed among others by Witkiewicz. When they passed the gate and disappeared on the Abrahamowicz street, the Gestapo ordered Mrs. Ostrowska and perhaps also Mrs. Grek to wash the blood off the stairs.
Twenty minutes later I heard some shots from the direction of the Wulecki Heights. Shortly afterwards a group of 20 to 30 persons was led into the yard through the same back door of the building and was told to stand in two-three rows facing the wall. Among them I recognized only Assistant Professor M1czewski. Some time later the Germans led out of the building Dobrzaniecki's service staff4, Ostrowski's cook and a younger female servant, Grek's cook and domestic servant and the English teacher who stayed with the Ostrowski family. The Gestapo chief, who had earlier interrogated me, asked them if they all belonged to the domestic service. Only the teacher replied negatively stating who she was. The German obviously annoyed ordered her to join at once the group facing the wall and told his comrade loudly that those (standing at the wall) were to be taken to prison, while those ohers (indicating the servants and me) are to go free. I noticed that the servants talked with the Gestapo man and a civilian agent5. The Gestapo man told the servants to return home, take their belongings and go wherever they wanted. They may look for work. All would be well now, no more Poland or Soviets, henceforth there would be only Germany forever.
When I was about to leave I went up to a Gestapo men and asked him if I could get back my photo camera. He pointed to a room where another German arranged all the plunder. Being afraid they may remember the 20 dollars I had, I gave these to the Gestapo man and he returned my belongings. As I was leaving the room he rushed out saying: "Listen, give us your address because another unit may come and take you in again. We shall make a note here, so you will be left alone and not bothered again"6. He wrote down my address in his notebook, I left the building and went home. Later, the same morning, on my way to the clinic, I met near Prof. Ostrowski's apartment the Gestapo officer, who had arrested me on the previous night. Smiling he said: " You were very lucky". Several days later I was visited by two German officers. who were present at my arrest. They wanted to buy my photo camera and carpets. During their visit I found out their names, one was Hacke, the other - Keller or Köhler. In the following two or three months, despite evicting me from my apartment, the Germans came several times, beguiling me out of various valuable objects, for instance, photo cameras which I have been collecting. Once I ventured to ask Keller what happened to the other professors. Waving his hand he said: "They all were shot that night.".
It cannot be ruled out that Prof. Groër owed his release to his prewar acquaintance with the Dutchman Pieter v. Menten who appeared in July 1941 in Lwów in an SS uniform and belonged to the SS group of the General Schöngarth. Menten, as was said above, bought in prewar Poland an estate and was eager to make acquaintances among the Polish elite. He knew the homes of Lwów professors and was able to indicate which families were to be liquidated in order to rob their possessions. The assumption that Menten could have saved Groër has been supported by the evidence given by Groër at a trial held after the war by a military court in Amsterdam, at which Menten was accused of collaborating with the Nazis. The Dutch prosecutor Peters disclosed in 1980 that Groër told the court that Menten behaved well towards the Poles and Jews. However, it became known, but only in 1980, that Menten, together with other members of the Gestapo, murdered Poles and Jews in 1941 at his estate in Urycz and Podhorodce.
The rumor that Prof. Groër survived only because he told the Gestapo at the Abrahamowicz Educational Institution that he was a German is absolutely untrue. Shortly after his release on July 4 he was evicted by the Germans from his apartment - something they never did to their fellow countrymen. When, in 1942, the Germans re-opened the Medical Department in Lwów, a certain Dr. Hildegarde Charlotte Becker from Hamburg wanted to work at Groër's Clinic. I have read the reply to her request written by Assistant Professor Karl Schulze, director of the Department. He explained that as a German, Dr. Becker could not work under Professor Groër, because he was non-German. She would receive a post at the Institute of Pathology headed by a German (Schuster) and in such way she could work with Groër. Finally, when on November 11, 1942, the Gestapo, fearing an uprising, arrested almost 80 Poles as hostages including ten professors and assistant professors from the Medical Department, Professor Groër was among them. Thus the suspicion that he gave up Polish nationality is groundless.
Many professors lived at Nabielak street near to the the Wulecki Heights, and Abrahamowicz Institution. The arrests of professors living at this street alarmed not only their families but also their neighbors. Watching through windows many of them impatiently waited for the daybreak. Let us listen to their stories.
Tadeusz Gumowski, an engineer, and his family lived at Nabielak street 53. During the night from July 3 to 4, 1941, they were woken up by the Germans and Ukrainians who demanded to see their registration papers. He described the events: "[...] I spent some time sitting in the garden. At the first light of the day I saw soldiers digging a hole on the slope of Wulecki Heights. Feeling apprehensive, I called my family and we watched the Germans through the window. The pit was dug in about 30 minutes. The prisoners were brought in batches of four from the direction of the 'Abrahamów buildings' (this was their name if I remember correctly)7 and made to stand in line facing us along the edge of the pit. The firing squad stood on the opposite side of the grave8. A volley rang out and almost all fell into the pit. Prof. Witkiewicz crossed himself and collapsed. The men were not handcuffed. We counted the groups of four. If I remember correctly there were about five such groups. I think there were also three women. The whole action did not take long and other batches of four persons waited near by. After the execution the ditch (grave) was quickly filled up, the earth stomped down. This was done by German soldiers. We, myself, my father, wife and sister, watched the execution in turn through field-glasses. At present my sister lives abroad, the other members of my family are dead. We watched from the same room and the same window. I recognized no one besides Prof. Witkiewicz. But the others recognized several persons including Professor Stozek and his sons, Professor Ostrowski and his wife, Professor Longchamps and probably his wife9, and others. One of the ladies wore a blue shawl. There were probably three women. One of them, unable to walk, was dragged by two soldiers. My sister Zofia Nowak-Przygodzka, lives now in Paris VII, 31 rue Rousselet. Approximately twenty persons were shot that night. None of them received a 'coup de grace after the volley. It is quite probable that some were buried alive. On the second or third day after the execution, I, my sister and my wife went towards the grave. It was rather indistinguishable and we found it only because we knew the exact spot. A bunch of flowers was on it., and this may have been an indication to the Germans that the grave site was known; so, several days later, they excavated the bodies and took them away10. I did not see the exhumation. We assumed it took place, because we noticed that the grave was dug up [...]".
Gumowski's sister, Dr. Zofia Nowak-Przygodzka, who moved to Paris after the war, stated: "[...] In Lwów I lived in a villa at 53 Nabielak street, next to the condominium of professors from the Institute of Technology, and also Prof. Witkiewicz. Our villa stood on a 12 meter high embankment, several hundred meters from the Wulecki Heights, where the Abrahamowicz Educational Institution and the II House of Technicians were.
That critical night I got up as usual to take a look at my little children. As always I went up to the window to look around. We have been living in constant fear because of German searches and arrests. (Two nights before they sought Prof. Witkiewicz in my house. He was arrested the same night together with two other professors from the Institute of Technology).
I noticed some unusual movement on the Wulecki Heights, several, men were digging. I woke my parents (who are no longer alive) and we began to watch, but taking care not to be seen.
After some time we saw people coming down on the left side of the hill in a file along a pathless tract. I noticed soldiers in German uniforms and a dozen or so civilians. Some women (perhaps three) were at the end of the column. One wore a shawl, which was well visible because it undulated in the breeze. The soldiers helped some persons to walk down. Several persons were then lined up along the pit, which just had been dug. We heard dry cracks (shots), and the persons dropped from the row no the pit.
Another group followed the first to be executed. Distinguished among them was a gray-haired man who crossed himself11. The women were in the rear. The pit was filled up. Watching the execution we had no idea what it was all about. There was no mention about it anywhere next day. We knew that to have witnessed it was dangerous to us. The execution was also watched from the neighboring houses and it became known that professors were murdered.
Weeks later I ventured to go up the Wulecki Heights as though taking my children for a walk. I found the place of the execution. It hardly differed from the surroundings, the soil was slightly depressed, grass grew as everywhere. I would not have found it had I not known the area well. I was told later that the Germans secretly exhumed the bodies".
This is how Mrs. Lomnicka described the execution: After her husband was arrested "[...] sleep became impossible, I stood at the window for hours waiting for daybreak, wishing to go out and find out more about the raid. At dawn I saw from the window of our third floor apartment some movement on the Wulecki Heights. Silhouettes appeared, a group separated from the others who remained near the Abrahamowicz Institution, went down the slope and disappeared from sight behind the house of Dr. Nowak-Przygodzki. I sat on the couch wondering what was going on at such an early hour (4 AM). At this moment I heard the first shots and all became clear. I rushed to the staircase where the window looked out to the right and made a better observation possible. I saw that those who came down the hill stopped midway in a small dale. I recognized German soldiers and men in civilian suits. There were also women, one figure gave the impression of being a priest in a cassock. One of the men wore a gray suit. He looked like my husband, but I quickly rejected the gruesome thought. They led up groups of five at a time and I saw how they collapsed after each volley of shots. I stood there 'frozen to the floor', semi-conscious, watching the ghastly spectacle. Two ladies from the neighborhood were with me: Mrs. Janina Wieckowska, later to become the wife of judge Zenek in Cracow, and Mrs. Solecka, wife of a secondary-school professor in Lwów at Kazimierzowska street. Were those people the professors arrested that night? Was my husband among them? It was impossible to be certain because of the distance [...]".
Maria ZaLeska, an artist who also lived at Nabielak street, stated: "[...] Those to be executed were brought down the hill in pairs. The place of execution was not directly in front of us but slightly to the right. It was a small depression among the trees. I saw three of them standing on the embankment. One group after another came down the hill. If I remember correctly, one person was dressed in black - it could have been a woman or a priest. My son, with whom I shared the field-glasses, watched other groups. I saw at the rear a slowly walking, lone woman. In our field of vision there were three soldiers from a special squad. The area was so narrow and steep that it is doubtful whether there were more than six. If I remember correctly, the men I saw were hatless. I did not recognize anybody. We thought in horror that they might be executing Jews. Soon after the execution we were told that the grave was watched. I was there in winter or early summer, 1959. I knew nothing of the exhumation and was surprised that there was a depression where the grave was supposed to be and no embankment near by. During that tragic night the events were also watched by my son - he was executed in Stutthof in 1944. In my opinion, most information could be obtained from Prof. Witkiewicz's tenant12 and Dr. Ostrowski's housemaids - but who knows where they are?
Here is some hearsay evidence: "the last to be shot was Mrs. Ostrowska who could barely walk suffering from a leg ailment. A woman with a bright scarf was seen. Prof. Witkiewicz, easily recognized by his neighbors, was hatless. It was said that the Germans made the arrests assisted by Ukrainians, and that the list of those to be seized must have been prepared some time ago, because they also came to arrest Professor Dr. Leszczynski. who died already some time ago, as a victim of Soviets".
Zofia Orlinska-Skowronowa related: "[...] We lived in a villa with a small garden at 55 Nabielak street, facing Wulecka street and, for this reason, could see the Wulecki Heights from the window of my room on the second floor. On the tragic day I was awoken by a volley of shots from the direction of Wulecki Heights. Approaching the window I saw a group of persons, about 36, walking in a file from Abrahamowicz Institution in groups of five or six, assisted by a German, towards the foot of the hill. They stopped on the flat part of the slope, a clearing, stood in a row with their backs to Wulecka street, facing the Abrahamowicz Institution. My attention was drawn to the firing squad consisting of about ten soldiers in grey-green uniforms, who shot those standing in front using automatic weapons. As the bodies that collapsed could not be seen on the surface, it was obvious that a pit had been dug, but I do not know when and by whom.
I have also noticed that at the left side of the pit there was a small group of military men. They may have been German officers. The execution described above was repeated until all prisoners, including one woman, were killed. I recognized Professor Wlodzimierz Stozek and his son Emanuel (called Mulek) among those executed. Concerning Emanuel, I remember a horrible moment: after the volley all persons except Mulek Stozek fell into the pit. He remained standing, but soon a single shot threw him into the common grave. He was dressed in a tobacco-brown coat and gray trousers. Prof. Stozek wore a dark overcoat. I watched the execution through binoculars from about 3:30 to 4 a.m. Shortly afterwards, several soldiers - they may have been either from the firing squad or from the group standing near by - filled the pit up [...]".
But the most detailed statement describing the execution was made by Karol Cieszkowski, an engineer: "[...] During the night, from July 3 to 4, about 10 p.m. I heard violent knocking on the door of the neighboring house, i.e., 53c Nabielak street, where Prof. Witkiewicz lived. Because no one opened the door, the intruders - I was told later - shot into the lock. --- At about thirty minutes past midnight the Germans came to our house and took away Professor Stozek - who lived on the ground floor - and his two sons. I do not know whether they went by car or were led away on foot. As I was very upset I could not sleep all night.
At 4 a.m. - I remember the time well because I was just checking my pulse by means of a phosphorescent watch - I heard some shots from the direction of Wulecki Heights. The day dawned. On the slope of the Wulecki Heights, well seen from the window of my corner room extending to the north, I saw some scores of civilians standing in a row and at a distance, right and left of them there were several smartly, one could say elegantly dressed German officers with revolvers in their hands. I did not count the civilians, there may have been about 40 to 50 persons. ---- Somewhere in the middle of the slope I saw on the edge of an excavated pit four civilians facing the slope with their backs to me. Behind them were four German soldiers armed with rifles. An officer was near by. Probably at his command, the soldiers fired simultaneously and the four persons fell into the pit. --- Another batch of four was led down the path and the action was repeated. This went on until all civilians were brought down and murdered. The last to be shot down was an elderly woman in a long black dress. She was alone and walked staggering. As she was led to the edge of the pit filled with corpses she reeled and was held up by an officer. A soldier shot her and she fell into the common grave.
As regards details of this execution, I recognized some persons with certainty, not only because I watched the proceedings through binoculars but some of them I knew very well and even with the naked eye I recognized their suits, characteristic movements, etc. I distinguished Prof. Stozek beyond question. He stood at the pit in his characteristic pose with his hands clasped behind his back. But I failed to see the professors Lomnicki, Pilat and Witkiewicz. I did not see or recognize professors Weigl and Krukowski. But I failed to see the execution of the first victims because I approached the window after the first shots were fired. Nor did I see any more women n addition to the one killed at the end.
I distinctly remember that four of the condemned came down the slope carrying an unconscious man13. Another group of four came down slowly because one of them visibly limped. I suppose it might have been Prof. Bartel, but I failed to recognize him14. I remember that when one of the groups of four stood at the edge of the pit, with their backs to the soldiers, one of the condemned turned to the killers and holding his hat in his hands (all condemned men took off their hats probably by order) began to remonstrate animatedly gesticulating. An officer standing at the side made a gesture as though telling him to turn round, and when the man obeyed, the soldiers shot him down.
I remember other details. A second before the order to "fire" was given, one of the victims jumped into the pit, probably to save himself, and tried to get out immediately after the volley, but a soldier shot him; the man staggered and fell into the grave.
The pit was rectangular, divided by a non-excavated strip of earth, so that the victims standing on it fell, after being shot, forwards or backwards always into the pit. It happened only once that one of Prof. Stozek's sons standing on this narrow strip at the end of the line of four did not - after the volley - fall into the pit, but his body was pushed down by soldiers.
After the execution the squad led by an officer remained at the pit. The soldiers took off their coats, rolled up their sleeves, picked up spades and began to fill up the grave. At first, they proceeded carefully because the earth was spattered with blood, which I saw as large red patches. From time to time the soldiers interrupted their work and listened to the officer who seemed to talk to them or explain something.
The execution was watched from my window by my father, my sister and a tenant. They all came to my room because being farthest to the north, it was nearest towards the Wulecki Heights. Watching the murders, my father did not say a word and afterwards never talked to me about them. But my sister and the tenant recognizing individual persons (for instance when Prof. Stozek's sons were led to the pit) cried: "Oh, they are leading Mulek!".
A year later there was much talk about the murders of the professors and their burial on the Wulecki Heights.
Seeing from my window that no one watched the grave, I went up the next day after the execution and saw the fresh grave. I noticed that the cattle grazing nearby stopped at the grave and sniffled for a long time. The grave was leveled out and when I walked there some weeks later I notced a lot of thistle probably planted by the soldiers.
As regards the professors' exhumation in 1943, I do not know the exact facts because some time earlier we (my family and I) were forced by the Germans to move from our house at Nabielak street, However, no one moved in after we were forced to leave, and the house remained empty". That much from engineer Cieszkowski.
On May 16, 1945, I went to the place of the execution together with Professor Stanislaw Ocheduszko from the Lwów Institute of Technology (Politechnika Lwowska) and engineer Cieszkowski. Following the latter's instruction we timed how long it took the groups of four to walk down the rather steep slope, to be placed in line along the pit and to be killed. It took about two minutes. The execution of ten groups consisting of four persons lasted 20 minutes, together with the filling up of the grave - about 30 to 40 minutes. One wonders how quickly can forty human beings be killed, how easy it is to usurp the right to decide about life and death!
I must be remembered that the condemned men were aware of their fate because every few minutes another batch of four was taken away and after a while shots were heard. Professor Ostrowski's wife was the last to be shot. Could it have been the Gestapo's revenge for her exclaiming during the plunder of their house: "Bandits!", to which the Gestapo replied: "shut up!" Of course, reports made by individuals differed in details, but every physician and psychologist knows that the more terrifying the impression the deeper do certain details sink into one's memory while at other times, impressions that had been originally strong - may completely disappear. The duration of the recording of an impression is limited in our brain and the fact that I am able to reveal so many details is due to my writing down immediately and thoroughly all perceived and heard details. When engineer Cieszkowski said that one of the professors turned to an officer a moment before he was shot and animatedly gesticulating began to remonstrate with him, I guessed it could have been Prof. Cieszynski who spoke the German language well and always reacted strongly. When after years I asked his son Tomasz how he would have identified the man, he said without hesitation it was his father.
Aleksander Drozdzynski and Jan Zaborowski have written in their book Oberländer15 that the professors were executed at two places, but this was a product of their imagination. I asked the press photographer Andrzej Ziemilski to take a photograph - according to my specifications - of the place of execution on the slope of the Wulecki Heights, seen from the house at Nabielak street. The authors referred to were sent a photo and showed it to Helena Kucharowa, living at Malachowski street who together with her husband had watched the execution. She confirmed that it indeed depicted the place where the professors were murdered, supporting the fact that the inhabitants of Nabielak street and Malachowski street saw the same place of execution. Nonetheless, I do not know on what grounds Drozdzynski and Zaborowski maintained that Kucharowa and the inhabitants of houses at Nabielak street saw two different places of execution. Unfortunately, this groundless supposition has been repeated by other authors 16.
Still to be explained is the taking of the prisoners from the Abrahamowicz Institution to the place of execution. Professor Groër who was released by the Gestapo, remained in the garden at the back of the Institution. He was allowed to go home after curfew, i.e., after 6 a.m. Thus he saw everything that happened at the back of the building. As we have already said, at 4 a.m. a group of professors, about 15 to 20 persons, left the Institution through the back door and was led through the yard gate to Abrahamowicz street and towards the Wulecki Heights. Groër insisted repeatedly that professors Rencki and Solowij were not among those arrested. When the group referred to left, Groër saw that Mrs. Ostrowska (perhaps Grek) and Ruff washed the blood from the steps at the back exit down to the yard and afterwards re-entered the building. Although Prof. Groër failed to notice women among the group of professors, they were seen on the slope by other witnesses of the execution. Groër saw 15 to 20 persons led away by the Germans, other witnesses stated that there were about 40, while the Jews who later exhumed the bodies - counted 38.
According to my exact data the Germans arrested 49 persons during the night on 3 to 4 July. Prof. Groër, four servants from the Grek, Ostrowski and Ruff households, the janitor Wojtyna and Prof. Ostrowski's driver Kostyszyn were released; assistant professor Maczewski and Katarzyna Demko remained up to the moment Prof. Groër went home in the courtyard of the Abrahamowicz Institution - this leaves a number of 40 persons who were executed. As the Gestapo men led their victims in fours at a time, there had to be nine groups of four, the single woman at the end makes 37 persons. If we add the carried body of the previously shot engineer Ruff, the sum 38 would tally with the number quoted by the Jews. But we cannot rule out the possibility that - as happened to assistant professor Mączewski - the Gestapo could have excluded two or three persons from the larger group to kill them some other day - hence the difference of two persons between my count and the number given by the Jews. Moreover, Weliczker said that three women were exhumed from the professors' grave. It is also possible that the Jews did not remember the correct number of bodies. Two witnesses of the execution also saw three women. There is one woman missing, therefore, perhaps she was separated from the prisoners.
There is still the important question, which way the remaining persons were led out of the building and how they were brought to the place of execution. Evidence in this case was given by Dr..of engineering, Zbigniew Schneigert17. His statement made in 1971 could be quoted in extenso in the relevant documentation (p. 308) here I shall give the most pertinent information: "On the day of the execution I was visited at 7 a.m. by a friend from the Lwów Institute of Technology (I forgot his name18, he was then in charge of the buffet in the University and lives somewhere in Silesia) who said he heard at dawn movements below his window and looked out. He saw several people getting out of a truck. Among them he recognized Professors Lomnicki and Stozek. My friend lived at Kosynierska street. The captives were led to the rear of the House of Technicians19. Later he heard some shots. I went out to walk my dog (at that time I lived at Pochyla street) and followed the route probably taken by the captives. At a certain place (cf. the drawing20) I noticed traces of digging, upturned earth. At a recess in the slope over a surface of a dozen or so square metres, the turf was leveled out, mixed with clay and soiled with many traces of blood - which my dog began to lick. I stepped on the turf which perceptibly sagged under my feet suggesting that something resilient, probably bodies, was buried beneath.
The place of execution was chosen in such a way that it was quite invisible from any side. It cannot be true as some time ago a surviving Jew wrote in the periodical "Przekrój", that the execution was seen from the windows. The nearest windows were not less than 500 metres away and the view from there was obstructed by the slope".
Dr. Schneigert's version reveals that about half of the group of professors and their relatives were loaded into a truck and taken by a roundabout way to the place of execution21, unloaded and after a short march made to join the first group (Fig.). Since Prof. Groër saw only 15 to 20 persons led out, i.e., half of those executed, it may be assumed that the group referred to by Dr. Schneigert was led out of the Abrahamowicz Institution onto the street of the same name through the front gate and not through the backyard. But women were not seen in either of these groups and yet, there were about four women, because the fifth, Katarzyna Demko, remained in the yard of the Institution. It may be assumed again that the group of women was led out separately because Prof. Groër did not see them. They also left through the main gate onto the street. We do not know whether they were told to walk just as the first group of men or whether they were driven in the truck with the second group.
How to explain the dividing the prisoners into three groups? The Gestapo men probably wanted to baffle the prisoners, to bring them without much ado to the place of execution. Dr. Schneigert, following the indications of his friend, found the professors' grave, proving that the description was correct. But Dr. Schneigert's assertion that it was impossible to watch the execution from afar was incorrect. On a plan of Lwów I checked the distance from Nabielak street to the place of execution. It was 400 metres in a straight line, so the execution could have been seen by the naked eye, not to say through field-glasses. Anyway, photographs of Nabielak street, taken from the place of execution and vice versa show irrefutably that viewing it was quite possible.
Dr. Schneigert was certainly the first man to walk up to the mass grave, because it was only three hours after the murders. One may imagine his shock when he saw the bloody earth and felt the bodies of his professors sag under the layer of soil.
There is still the matter of the death of the assistant professor Stanislaw Maczewski and Katarzyna Demko - the teacher of English. Returning home at 6 a.m. Prof. Groër saw a large group including Maczewsju and Demko. The latter would have been released if she had joined the group of servants and Wojtyna who were allowed to go home after curfew. Asked by Gestapo if they all were servants, Miss Demko replied negatively and was immediately moved to the group to be executed. Because all other women in the group of professors have already been taken to the place of execution she was not killed that day but was murdered later, probably the next day, just as Maczewski. There is still the question why assistant professor Maczewski was separated from the main group. No answer has been found so far. Anyway, assistant professor Maczynski and Katarzyna Demko musy have been killed because they have never been seen again.
The day following the arrests, on July 4, after the curfew at 6 a.m., the terrified wives and mothers rushed to their families and friends. Mrs. Witkiewicz learned that besides her husband she had lost that night also her brother, Professor Edward Hamerski; Mrs. Miesowicz lost not only her father and her son but also her brother-in-law, Professor Wlodzimierz Sieradzki and her cousin, Professor Longchamps de Bérier with his three sons. Mrs. Progulska learned from her friend, Mrs. Nowicka, that she also lost her husband and her son.
Alone or together with other ladies they began to search for their husbands and sons. No one wanted or could explain what happened to those arrested and where they were kept. There was no one either at the Gestapo headquarters at Pelczynska street or at the City's Military Command in the Town Hall, or at the Abrahamowicz Institution who admittet that they knew or heard anything. Some ladies were told by the Gestapo men that "the arrests were made by the front-line Gestapo unit, but they moved eastwards and we here know nothing". This was only a half truth because a part of Schöngarth's group remained in Lwów, set up a command for the city and the District of Galicia, and kept exact records of all executed persons.
Mrs. Cieszynska and Mrs. Nowicka, each on her own, went to the Town Hall and talked with two high-ranking officers. The first spoke to a dentist who knew her husband. These two officers were shocked hearing about the arrests and advised an immediate visit to the Gestapo office because "perhaps it is not too late yet". Alas, it was too late. Both officers were well acquainted with Gestapo methods. Mrs. Cieszynska wrote to the Gestapo asking for information about her husband. Several weeks later she was requested to appear at the Gestapo office and was told that her husband died of a heart attack, perhaps caused by too strenuous work.
Assistant professor Krukowska also was for some days unable to obtain news of her husband's fate. Some days later she was told by in the Gestapo office that those arrested were removed from Lwów. But on August 4, they told her that her husband died of a heart ailment on July 7. Another Gestapo man contradicted this, saying that all those arrested had been taken away earlier.
Assistant professor Witold Grabowski, taking advantage of his acquaintance with a German officer, also a physician, asked him at the beginning of July to make inquiries about the whereabouts of the professors. After a visit to the Gestapo office the doctor said he was "blushing down to his fingertips because they all were dead".
I was also told by a Ukrainian professor of internal medicine, Marian Panczyszyn, in April 1942, that my chief, Professor Witold Nowicki died during that July night22.
The head of a military pathological anatomy unit [at the Department of Pathological Anatomy] was Oberfeldarzt Dr. Gerhard Sponholz. On one occasion he told me that when his friend Dr. Karl Schulze re-opened the faculty of medicine to become its director and went in October 1941 to the Gestapo asking if he could count on the co-operation of the arrested professors, he was told that none of them was alive23.
An SS officer, who was with the units that arrested Groër, kept pestering the released professor (as already referred to). Asked by Groër what happened to the others, he frankly replied that they were all shot that night.
Dr. Eier, an officer and head of the Anti-Typhus Institute in Lwów told assistant professor Schuster that she should prepare her sister, Mrs. Nowicka, for the bad news that her husband and son were dead.
All these facts indicate that Gestapo generally made no secret among the Germans in Lwow about murdering the professors. The murderers were confident about winning the war, and Hitler, their leader, said that no one judges the victors. Anyway, after the war we saw that neither the defeated Germans nor the Soviet murderers were judged or punished for their crimes against humanity.
Shortly after the murders, the Gestapo gave up concealing their heinous deeds, also in contacts with Poles. Upon request, Prof. Pilat's widow received her husband's death certificate, from the Gestapo office at Pelczynska street. This was clear evidence of who committed the terrible and groundless crime. Also Menten received from the same Gestapo office Ostrowski's death certificate - this was seen by Prof. Groër.
On July 11, one week after the bloody night on July 3 to 4, the Germans arrested two more professors, both from the Academy of Foreign Trade: the 51 years old mathematician Stanislaw Ruziewicz and the 53 years old economist Henryk Korowicz. They were taken from their houses in the afternoon and subsequent inquiries at the Gestapo and Ukrainian Police stations were unsuccessful. They must have been also murdered, since no one saw or ever heard about the arrested men.
Professor Kazimierz Bartel was imprisoned by the Gestapo at Pelczynska street. The Lwów Gestapo probably waited for instructions from its headquarter in Berlin. He wrote a letter to his wife on July 16, 1941, relating that he was not even interrogated: "I assume from talks with officers that I may be in danger because of my former position as Poland's Prime Minister. In Moscow I conferred (!!) with Stalin, here I held certain positions (!), we heard about it even here in Churchill's and Sikorski's speeches. They told me directly, that their aim was to organize co-operation with the Bolsheviks, and who would be better suited for it than me".
Antoni Stefanowicz, who was imprisoned with Bartel, corroborated that the latter was not interrogated and that there was no trial. The behavior of the Gestapo towards Bartel was reasonably correct during his arrest at Pelczynska street; they allowed him to receive lunches from home, and to write to and receive letters from his wife However, it all changed after his transfer to the prison at Lacki street (on July 21, according to Mrs. Bartel) and his treatment became brutal, though he still received food from home. He was called a Jewish-communist flunkey and at a time, as Stefanowicz related, the Gestapo ordered Bartel to clean the boots of a Ukrainian from the auliary Gestapo units (Hilfsgestapo), so that it would be known that "a Polish professor and prime-minister had to polish boots of a Ukrainian stable-boy". Bartel was psychically broken and, as Stefanowicz wrote to me, was unable to comprehend the gist of the entire tragedy.
There is some doubt with regard to Bartel's meeting with Stalin, but he had gone to Moscow - as Mrs. Bartel said - to translate his manual "Painting Prospective" into the Russian language. Of course, a trip to Moscow in such a matter may have incited speculations because it could have been done in Lwów. Many were curious why Bartel did not go to Moscow with an excursion organized for academic professors from Lwów in 1940, but went there on his own at some other time24. The Russians, known for their far-sightedness in the matters of policy, could have considered Bartel as Poland's future leader. I do not intend to speclate whether he would have agreed to such a role. The fact that the Germans kept him in reasonably good conditions suggests that they also saw in Bartel an eventual future leader. It is possible that, when in 1941 they won one victory after another, and became sure of he final victory, they gave up their plans concerning Bartel , and killed him on Himmler's order at dawn on July 26.
The Hamburg daily "Die Welt" reported on August 2, 1968, that a document of the Reich's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NG 4567) was discovered at Nuremberg. The document stated that Cezare Orsenigo, the papal nuncio, intervened on May 26, 1942, at this Ministry's Under-secretary of State Ernest von Weizsäcker on behalf of the imprisoned Lwów professors, whose names he supplied. Von Weizsäcker replied that this intervention had no formal grounds because there was no clergy among those arrested. This was not true. As we know, there was a priest, Dr. of Theology, Wladyslaw Komornicki among the murdered professors. Von Weizsäcker, as was related by the docent, was informed by the Gestapo what had happened to the professors, because he himself wrote on the document the word "liquidiert". So far the information printed by "Die Welt" was based on the original document. Subsequent information was guess-work. It said that the Berlin Gestapo asked its Lwów branch to inquire whether the arrested former Prime Minister Kazimierz Bartel would collaborate with the Germans in exchange for sparing his life. Professor Bartel rejected this offer, without hesitation, and subsequently was murdred on Hitler's order.
Jan Weinstein 25 quoted in the Parisian "Zeszyty Historyczne" ("Historical Journals") the text of an 'express letter' (Schnellbrief), signed by Müller, deputy chief of the Security Police and Security Service (Heydrich) sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It said that the Polish Professor Kazimierz Bartel "already at the beginning of 1941 negotiated with the Soviet authorities intending to set up under his leadership a government (Landesregierung) which, together with the Soviet Union, would declare war on Germany. This was the reason for this trips to Moscow. The German counter-offensive put an end to these scheming. On July 26, 1941, Bartel was convicted in accordance with the law". We have no confirmation of Bartel's "guilt" but he was certainly killed without a court sentence because Antoni Stefanowicz, who was in prison with the professor, would have known about it.
Not only the Soviet and German authorities thought about offering Prof. Bartel a responsible political position. After his agreement with Stalin, General Sikorski intended to appoint Bartel to the post of the Polish Ambassador in the USSR. As Professor Kot26 wrote, Sikorski appreciated Bartel's attitude in 1939-1941 as dignified, reasonable and courageous and searched for him in the Soviet Union. Not finding him there, he appointed Professor Kot to this post. It should be mentioned that Dr. Eberhard Schöngarth, chief of the Lwów Gestapo, moved into Bartel's villa at 5 Herburtów street, van Menten occupied the Ostrowski apartment, while the apartment of Prof. Dobrzaniecki was taken by van Menten's friend, Dr. Wreciono, a Ukrainian, brother of the Chief of the Ukrainian Police in Lwów.
When the Nazi war victories ebbed in 1943, the Gestapo began to erase traces of their crimes committed on Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Russians and other nations or nationalities. The Sonderkommando 1005 made up of Jewish prisoners, was ordered to dig up graves, excavate bodies, take them to the Krzywczycki Forest and incinerate. Four years of mass murders in Lwów have taken place on the so called Janowski Sands and in the Krzywczycki Forest, beyond the Lyczaków toll-gate. It is probable that Prof. Bartel was killed on the Janowski Sands and was buried there. In the Krzywczycki Forest the Gestapo first murdered Russian prisoners, then Poles and finally and above all, Jews. A description of the setting up and activities of the Special Squad 1005 was provided by Leon Weliczker in his interesting work: " The Death Brigade: Sonderkommando 1005". Another member of this squad, a Lwowian of Jewish faith Edward Gleich, confirmed Weliczker's statement in a lengthy report sent to me in writing. Together with Tomasz Cieszynski and three former Jewish members of Sonderkommando 1005, I visited on September 3, 1944, the liquidated camp in the Krzywczycki Forest. The remains of a dozen or so mass graves, from 5 by 5 to 7 by 7 meters and of various depth, were still well visible, though the bodies had been exhumed and incinerated. Soil saturated with blood was discernible at random diggings. The abominable smell of putrid bodies prevailed through they had been incinerated long ago. One wonders what organization was needed to kill hundreds of thousands healthy human beings, men, women and children, bury them, later exhume and incinerate. How many tens of thousands of Jews were brought here, ordered to undress, shot down and incinerated. Their ashes were sifted with sieves to regain gold teeth and valuables previously hidden in the alimentary canal or women's genitalia; bones not entirely reduced to ashes were ground in gravel mills and together with the ashes strewn over the forest. Sometimes during one day 2400 Jews were killed or 3000 exhumed bodies incinerated.
According to the evidence of Weliczker and Gliech on the eve of the Jewish Jom-Kipur holiday, that is on October 8, 1943, late evening, a group of 20 Jews led by the SS men went from the Krzywczycki Forest camp to the Wulecki Heights to dig out the bodies of the professors and their unfortunate companions. When, after digging several meters down they failed to find the bodies, one of the officers returned to the Gestapo office at Pelczynska street and came back accompanied by Kurt Stawizky, a higher ranking officer who, without hesitation, pointed to the right spot. This proves his presence during the actual execution. We must remember that Gestapo had exact records of every grave and the exact number of interred persons. The Jews noticed that the victims had been people from the "upper classes" because they had expensive suits, out of the pockets dropped gold watches, chains, fountain pens with engraved names: Witold Nowicki, Tadeusz Ostrowski. The Jewish members of Sonderkommando 1005 assumed that this was the burial place of the professors who were well known in Lwów. Because Prof. Bartel - who died 24 days later, a fact unknown to the Sonderkommando 1005 diggers - was associated with these men, his name was automatically linked with Ostrowski, Nowicki, Stozek, and others. I was asked by persons interested in those murders whether Prof. Bartel's body was not thrown into the common grave. But why would the Germans have done it? Would they have had the grave dug up only to bury all professors in one place? In my opinion, Bartel, Ruziewicz, Korowicz and Maczewski were shot and buried at some other place, probably on the Janowski Sands on Lwów peripheries.
The exhumed bodies of the professors and other victims executed at the Wulecki Heights were immediately taken to the Krzywczycki Forest and on the next day, October 9, thrown on the heap of hundreds of other bodies and burned on a huge pyre. Vestiges of bones were ground in a gravel mill and strewn over the nearby forest.
On May 6, 1945, accompanied by Wladymir Bielajew, I went to the empty grave of the professors on the slope of the Wulecki Heights. Bielajew was interested in that tragedy and has published relevant data27. Previously, he had found at this spot several cartridge-cases, a shred of cloth and a temporal bone diagnosed as human by Tadeusz Marciniak, Professor of Anatomy. I myself found presently another cartridge-case, a shred of cloth and a human metacarpal bone. If the grave were to be dug up again, plenty objects could be found to prove the Nazi crime.
Many Poles still think that the professors were massacred by the Ukrainians. If this were so, the Hamburg prosecutor would not have admitted after the war that it was done by his fellow countrymen - the Germans. When Helena Krukowska lodged a complaint at the Ludwigsburg Court concerning the murder of her husband Wlodzimierz and other professors, Prosecutor Below replied that those guilty of the murder were: Himmler, Frank, Schöngarth, SS-Standartenführer Heim and probably SS-Hauptscharführer Horst Waldenburger, but they were no longer alive and the remaining guilty individuals were still being sought. The prosecutor admitted that only the firing squad consisted of Ukrainians dressed in SS uniforms.
In 1976, I was requested by the prosecutor Nachtigall-Marten from Hamburg to supply the names of the Gestapo men who arrested the Lwów professors. I gave the names: Hans Krüger, Walter Kutschmann, Kurt Stawizki, police officer Kurt, non-commissioned officers Hacke and Köhler and the Dutch collaborator Pieter Nikolaas Menten.
Assistant professor Karolina Lanckoronska arrested in 1943 by Hans Krüger28, the Gestapo chief at Stanislawów, learned from him that he took part in arresting the professors during the night on July 3 to 4, 1941. Krüger, being intoxicated, was sure she would be executed together with his 250 victims, teachers of primary and secondary schools, lawyers, judges, doctors, and wit tens of thousands of Jews, known to have been victim of that massacre. Mrs. Lanckoronska, due to the intervention of the Italian Royal Court was at the last moment snatched out of Krüger's hands by the Lwów Gestapo. There she met Walter Kutschmann, Krüger's personal enemy, to whom she disclosed her knowledge about the execution of the Lwów professors. Kutschmann initiated in Berlin a trial against Krüger, at which the latter was sentenced for revealing official secrets29. Mrs. Lanckoronska was sent to the concentration camp at Ravensbrück from which she was released thanks to the efforts of her friend Professor Burckhardt, President of the International Red Cross in Geneva. A very interesting account of these events was published by Lanckoronska in the London issues of "Orzel Bialy" (The White Eagle), Nos. 46-4830. I repeated parts of this account in 1964.
After the war, Mrs. Lanckoronska, living abroad, read in a newspaper about the trial against Krüger held in Münster. He was charged with murdering thousands of Jews in Stanislawów, but not Poles. She went there as a witness and accused him with the murder of the Lwów professors. The court, however, concluded that there was no evidence proving his participation in the murder of the professors and implied that this may have been only boasts and attempts to intimidate the arrested woman. For his crimes committed in Stanislawów Krüger was nonetheless sentenced to imprisonment for life. Consistent with the West German law a person receiving capital punishment (there is no death penalty in Germany) cannot be called to account for other even most serious crimes. This made it impossible to judge Krüger for the murder of the professors. On the request of Wladyslaw Zelenski, the prosecutor interrogated Krüger but he denied taking part in the Lwów crimes. The prosecutor suspended additional investigations implying that further details were of concern only to historians. All attempts of Mrs. Lanckoronska, Mrs. Krukowska, Wladyslaw Zelenski (Tadeusz Boy-Zelenski's nephew) and others failed to advance the case and to bring to justice the perpetrators of the bloody July night. Wladyslaw Zelenski published several articles in the London "Wiadomosci" (News) about the Lwów crime31. He rectified in "Die Welt" the erroneous information suggesting that the murder of the professors was committed on racial grounds, because those killed were supposed to be Jews. Zelenski stated that there was no one who could be considered Jew in a religious sense among the 22 professors shot on July 432. Only Henryk Korowicz, killed on July 11 was of Jewish descent, but he had a Polish name and was certainly not arrested by the Gestapo as a Jew but as a Polish scholar, just as the other 22, including Ruziewicz and Bartel.
Many Poles asked themselves who supplied the Germans with the list containing the professors' names. This is of little substance to the case, because the names and addresses could have been copied from the pages of a prewar telephone book. But Walter Kutschmann has told Mrs. Lanckoronska that Ukrainians prepared the list for the Gestapo. Luckily there were only 25 names on it, although the University itself had 158 members of the Faculty; among Lwów Institutions of Higher Learning, there was also the large Institute of Technology, the Academy of Veterinary Medicine and the Academy of Foreign Trade.
Taking into consideration that Gestapo searched during that July night also for persons who recently died, for instance for the ophtalmologist Professor Adam Bednarski and the dermatologist Professor Roman Leszczynski33, we may assume that the list was prepared already earlier in Cracow. Since Lwów was then separated for 22 months by the German-Soviet border, the Cracow authorities did not know about those details. It seems most probable that the Cracow Gestapo asked - prior to the German-Soviet war - the Ukrainian students or graduates from Lwów academic institutions to supply a list of names and addresses of professors known to them. Hence the relatively - fortunately - short list.
In 1954, thanks to the initiative of Henryk Mierzecki, professor of dermatology, an inter-academic Committee for the Commemoration of Lwów Scholars was set up in Wroclaw. Its objective was to gather funds and build a monument in Wrocław. Due to the energetic efforts of Professor Wiktor Wisniowski, member of this Committee, this monument, the work of Borys Michalowski, an artist sculptor, was formally unveiled at the Grunwald Square on October 3, 1964, by Professor Stanislaw Kulczynski, former rector of the Lwów University, then deputy chairman of the Council of State. Unfortunately, due to orders given by authorities the inscription on the monument reads that it was erected to honor all Polish scientists who were killed or died during the German Occupation, instead of the Lwów professors only. Professor Kulczynski spoke during the unveiling ceremony exclusively about the executed Lwów professors.
In 1966, on the 25th anniversary of the professors' death, a commemorative plate was unveiled at the Franciscan Church in Cracow. It listed all names of those killed by the Germans, alas, with the exception of Professor Stanislaw Ruziewicz. There is a separate epitaph commemorating Professor Bartel beside this table.
Two plates with the names of Nazi victims were unveiled on June 29, 1981, some days prior to the 40th anniversary of the death of the Lwów professors. One, on the initiative of Professor Wlodzimierz Trzebiatowski in the hall of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Wroclaw at Podwale 75, the other, on the initiative of the University Rector, Professor Kazimierz Urbanik, in the main corridor of the University building. The unveiling of the latter plate was connected with a festive Scientific Session organized by the University. On the eve of the 36th anniversary of the first lecture delivered in Polish at the Wroclaw University and Institute of Technology34, namely on November 14, 1981, another plate inscribed with names of the murdered professors was unveiled this time at the monument at the Grunwald Square, erected in 1964. The plate was founded by the senates of academic institutions in Wroc3aw. Thus the monument ceased to be anonymous, those who did not stint time and money for it, finally saw the fulfillment of their noble intentions.
The ceremony took place in a most dignified manner. At the strains of Chopin's funeral march the monument was surrounded by honor parties of youth from all academic institutions, there was a delegation of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa - AK) of the Lwów District with their banner, all rectors and pro-rectors in gowns with insignias, the families of the murdered professors, their students, friends and crowds of Wroclaw citizens, majority of them uprooted citizens the ethnically cleansed Lwów.
The first to speak was the head of the College of Rectors, Professor Marian Wilimowski, Rector of the Medical Academy, the next, Professor Wiktor Wioniowski, who spoke in the name of the students of the murdered professors, and Professor Boguslaw Bobranski - in the name of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The plate was unveiled by Dr. Maria Witkiewicz, widow of Professor Witkiewicz. Bishop Urban consecrated the plate, the monument and the urn containing earth from the place of execution in Lwów, and afterwords he held a burial service, as those murdered had no funeral. The urn was embedded by assistant professor Tomasz Cieszynski, son of the murdered Professor Antoni Cieszynski. After the wreaths and flowers were laid, those assembled sang Konopnicka's Rota and the ceremony ended with the Chopin's funeral march.
The murdered professors were also to be commemorated in Lwów. In 1956, the authorities began to construct a monument at the place of execution on the Wulecki Heights. Scaffolding was put up, the monument began to take shape, but soon the work was interrupted by the Soviet authorities, the scaffolding dismantled after some years, the area leveled out.
The murder of the Lwów professors was described in detail already in 1964. Due to the efforts of Professor Józef Bogusz, the work by Zygmunt Albert " The Murder of Twenty-Five Academic School Professors in Lwów by the Nazis in July 1941" 35 was published in the first Oswiecim (Auschwitz) issue of the Medical Review. A slightly abbreviated and revised version was published in the II volume of the book 'Occupation and Medicine'36. Both works contained brief biographies of all murdered assistant professors and professors and photographs of professors from the Medical Faculty. The present publication contains photographs of all he murdered professors and their families (with the exception of Professor Korowicz whose photo, in spite of all efforts, could not be found). There are also new details about their execution, about investigations, the search for and discovery of perpetrators, carried by Poles at home and abroad. The weekly "Gwiazda Polarna" (Polar Star), published in the United States, reprinted in June 1975 the first part of the work referred to but without the photographs. In this way, the world became aware of one more horrible crime committed by the Nazis, this time on scholars of this nation whose extermination has been carefully planned for years.
The documents in this work, gathered under difficult conditions since July 1942, should elucidate the secret of the Lwów murders and preserve the memory of these events in human memory and in history.
Let this book, together with the erection of plates and the monument be our tribute to the memory about murdered professors and may they always be remembered by future generations.
Let us hope that such a crime against humanity and culture will never happen again!
Translated by Jan Rudzki/ edited by Waclaw Szybalski
LEAGUE OF DESCENDANTS OF LWOW`S PROFESSORS MURDERED BY GESTAPO IN JULY 1941
V e r s i o n of 18th September 2002
To The President of Ukrainian Republic Mr Leonid Kuczma
It is our moral duty to remind you, the highest Representative of Ukrainian Republic and of Ukrainian nation, of the genocidal murder perpetrated by Ukrainians together with Germans in Lwow at the time of the World War II in July 1941, on the eminent Polish scholars: - 25 Professors of Lwow's Academic Schools and their relatives, i.e,. our fathers, their wives, sons, a grandson, a catholic priest and their friends.
According to information received by us, the plan of this crime has arisen as cooperative effort of German authorities with the members of OUN (Ukrainian Nationalistic Organization) who, several month sooner, prepared the list of Lwow [Lvov] Professors to be murdered.
Immediately after Lvov was invaded by German troops - during the night hours of the 3rd on 4th July 1941 - a special battalion "Nachtigall" consisting of Ukrainians took active part in arresting Lvov's Professors with their family members and friends. Then as firing squad under the command of the Ukrainian Roman Szuchewycz - a Gestapo officer who shortly after became commander-in-chief of UPA (Ukrainian Uprising Army) - this Ukrainian battalion executed a genocidal murder of the victims in question at day break of 4th July 1941. The leadership over this monstrous operation consisted of an SS Hauptsurmfuhrer Hans Kruger, comander of a Gestapo front formation, assisted by German officers Walter Kutschmann and Albreht Herzner (both Obersturmfuhrers) and by the Ukrainian Roman Szuchewycz (Untersturmfuhrer).
Just for your information, Mr President, we present a detailed list of the victims of the murder perpetrated on Lvov's Professors, their family members and their friends, as follows:
Persons murdered on 4th July 1941 in the Wulecka-Hills dell
The acronyms for Institutions are:
With a heavy heart we have to inform you that a bust of Roman Szuchewycz glorifying him as commander-in-chief of UPA, has been placed on the front wall of the school with Polish teaching language in Lvov situated opposite to the St. Maria Magdalena church on the corner of two streets actually assigned as Suchewycz-Czuprynka streeet and Stepan Bandera street.
We do protest vigorously against glorification of genocide in the person of Roman Szuchewycz - the murderer of Lvov's Professors. We are compelled to direct your attention, Mr. President, to the necessity that you condemn in the name of Ukrainian Republic the genocide committed on Lvov's Professors.
It is also indispensable to liquidate the bust in question as well as to change the names of the adjacent streets, using names that would not remind us about the coauthors of genocide committed on Lvov's Professors. We are looking forward that you will use your authority, Mr. President to cause the accomplishment of the proposed changes as soon as possible.
With respectful regards,
Prof. Stanislaw Grzędzielski, The Board Member
To be delivered to : (1) The President of the Ukrainian Republic, Mr. Leonid Kuczma (2) The President of Polish Republic Mr. Aleksander Kwasniewski (3) The Media
1 Okupacja I ruch oporu w Dzienniku Hansa Franka (The Occupation and the Resistance Movement in Hans Frank's Dairy), Vol. I: 1939-1942, Warsaw 1970, pp. 217-218.