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Current developments in the Augustów Roundup investigation

Current developments in the Augustów Roundup investigation

On 28 October 2014, the Central Military Archives (Centralne Archiwum Wojskowe, CAW) in Warsaw-Rembertów is going to provide Public Prosecutor Zbigniew Kulikowski with aerial photographs located in the course of a research query concerning the investigation into the crimes of the so-called Augustów Roundup in July 1945…


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2014-10-27

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Celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Augustów Roundup: Augustów and Giby, 16-17 July 2005

Celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Augustów Roundup: Augustów and Giby, 16-17 July 2005 | Augustów Roundup July 1945

The celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Augustów Roundup, the greatest Soviet crime against Poles after the Second World War, were held in Augustów and Giby on 16 and 17 July 2005. The event was organised by the Branch Office of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Białystok and the local councils of Augustów, Sejny, Giby and Suwałki, and attended by representatives of the highest state and Church authorities: General Tadeusz Bałachowicz, representing the President of the Republic of Poland and the Undersecretary of State Olga Iwaniak, representing the Prime Minister. Among those present were also: the President of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), Professor Leon Kieres, Deputy Presidents of the IPN, Professor Witold Kulesza, Dr Grzegorz Ciecierski and Mr Janusz Krupski, and the Chairman of the IPN Council, Dr Franciszek Gryciuk.

It was for the first time that the celebrations were intended not only as a local, but also a national event. They opened with an academic conference, held on 16 July in the parish centre at the Basilica of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Augustów. Chaired by a Deputy President of the IPN, Mr Janusz Krupski, and immensely popular with the public, the conference included six papers:

  1. Piotr Łapiński (IPN Białystok): National resistance movement in the districts of Suwałki and Augustów 1939-1944. An overview
  2. Zbigniew and Danuta Kaszlej (Augustów): National resistance movement in the Suwałki region
  3. Mariusz Filipowicz (IPN Białystok): The Augustów Roundup, June 1945
  4. Tadeusz Radziwonowicz (Suwałki): The Augustów Roundup and the local authorities
  5. Jan Jerzy Milewski (IPN Białystok): The persons went missing in the Augustów Roundup: Search and memory
  6. Public Prosecutor Tomasz Kamiński (IPN Białystok): Characteristics of investigations into Communist crimes: Selected issues on the example of the Augustów Roundup investigation.


After the conference, the participants marched to the tune of patriotic music played by a local youth brass band as they proceeded along the streets of Augustów to the Basilica square, where an exhibition ‘Missing in the Augustów Roundup’ (Zaginieni w obławie augustowskiej) was opened with a large participation of members of the local public. It was an emotional moment for all present, particularly the families and friends of those missing in the roundup. The first day of the celebrations concluded with a poetry evening ‘Let us hurry to love people…’ (Spieszmy się kochać ludzi...) featuring poems by Father Jan Twardowski read by Krzysztof Kolberger to the music performed by ‘Wieża Babel’ (The Tower of Babel) ensemble.


On 17 July, the celebrations moved to Giby. Over a thousand people, including families of those missing in the roundup, veterans and tourists from all over the country taking their holiday in the area, gathered at the monument in the village, a symbolic grave of the victims. The Holy Mass was concelebrated by three bishops: Archbishop Edmund Piszcz, the Metropolitan of Warmia as the main celebrant, Antoni Pacyfik Dydycz, the Bishop of Drohiczyn giving a sermon, and Jerzy Mazur, the Bishop of Ełk.

After the Mass, letters written for the occasion by the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, and the Prime Minister, Marek Belka, were read out. There were also letters from the Minister for Veterans, Jan Turski, and the Speaker of the Sejm (the lower chamber of the Polish parliament), Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz.

In his letter, the Prime Minister, Marek Belka said:

‘Over half a century has passed and we still cannot find elementary justice. Not only that, we cannot even trace the graves of the victims to commemorate their pain and suffering. Those who could help us do it, cowardly shy away from accepting their responsibility.’

He pointed out that units of the Polish People’s Army (Ludowe Wojsko Polskie, LWP), the Security Service (Służba Bezpieczeństwa, SB) and the Citizens’ Militia (Milicja Obywatelska, MO) had also been involved in the operation. The Prime Minister added:

‘I give my respect to all those who have tried to find out the truth, to spread the public awareness of the Augustów Roundup and give it a place in our history textbooks: historians and public prosecutors from the IPN, who are now, after all these years, trying to find out what happened in order to bring those responsible to justice.’

Professor Leon Kieres, the President of the IPN, declared that

‘Solving the mystery of the Augustów Roundup is currently one of the top priorities of the Institute of National Remembrance, although there is no Russian cooperation to help us find out the truth. Polish authorities will be determined enough to explain this case, even though it might affect the relations with Russia.’

Speaking on behalf of the families of those missing in the Augustów Roundup, Jan Krzywosz, a member of the Citizens Committee for the Search for the Residents of Suwałki Region Who Went Missing in July 1945 (Obywatelski Komitet Poszukiwań Mieszkańców Suwalszczyzny Zaginionych w Lipcu 1945 roku), who lost his father in the operation, made a dramatic ‘Appeal from the Families of the Missing’:

‘Ever since the early 1990s, when the Russian President Boris Yeltsin knelt before the Katyń Cross at the cemetery of Powązki in Warsaw, when cemeteries were built on the sites where the victims of the Katyń massacre had been buried, we, the families of the victims of the July 1945 roundup, have been hoping again that the truth about their fate and their resting place will be disclosed. If the governments do not want to do it, we are now appealing for help from the people of Russia, Belarus and other nations of the former Soviet U_nion. We are asking for information from those involved in the operation and their families, from the guards transporting the prisoners, from all the people of our sister nations who might know anything about their eternal resting place. Please, help us find the graves of those we loved.’

Although the Augustów Roundup was the greatest Soviet crime against Polish citizens after the Second World War, until recently it was not even mentioned in school textbooks or encyclopedias.

In the late 1980s, there was a suspicion that the victims had been buried in a forest near Giby. At the turn of the decade, there were two series of exhumations carried out on the site, which eventually proved that the remains were in fact those of German soldiers. It was then that the residents of Giby erected a cross to mark a symbolic grave of the victims.
 
In spite of many questions asked over the years by the families of the missing, local authorities and local MPs of communist Poland, it was even in the late 1980s that the spokesman for the government at the time, Jerzy Urban, still insisted at a press conference that Polish authorities did not have any information indicating that there might be a group of Polish citizens that had gone missing in July 1945.
 
An investigation into the case which had been conducted by the Public Prosecution Office from the early 1990s was transferred to the Branch Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation in Białystok (Oddziałowa Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu) in 2001. However, in spite of a considerable effort, the fate of those missing, the perpetrators of their supposed murders and the site of their burial still have not been discovered. The IPN prosecutor in charge of the investigation has already exhausted all possibilities available in the country, and the requests for legal assistance from Russia have often been left unanswered.

Uroczyste obchody 60. rocznicy obławy augustowskiej – Augustów–Giby, 16–17 lipca 2005 r.Obława Augustowska 1945

Augustów, 2005. An academic conference on the Augustów Roundup. From the left: Dr Jan Jerzy Milewski, head of IPN Public Education Office (OBEP) in Białystok, Tomasz Kamiński, Public Prosecutor at the Branch Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (OKŚZpNP) in Białystok, Mariusz Filipowicz, historian at the OKŚZpNP Commission in Białystok, Piotr Łapiński, historian at the OBEP office in Białystok, Prof. Cezary Kuklo, Director of IPN Branch in Białystok, Janusz Ciecierski, Deputy President of IPN, Zbigniew and Danuta Kaszlej, historians from Augustów, Tadeusz Radziwonowicz, Director of State Archives in Suwałki.

 

Uroczyste obchody 60. rocznicy obławy augustowskiej – Augustów–Giby, 16–17 lipca 2005 r.Obława Augustowska 1945Suwałki, 2006. The opening of an exhibition in the courtyard of the City Hall. From the left: Stanisław Kowalczyk and Piotr Bajer, founders of the Citizens Committee for the Search for the Residents of Suwałki Region Who Went Missing in July 1945, Dr Jan Jerzy Milewski, head of the IPN OBEP office in Białystok, Tadeusz Gajewski, the Mayor of Suwałki. .

 

Uroczyste obchody 60. rocznicy obławy augustowskiej – Augustów–Giby, 16–17 lipca 2005 r.Obława Augustowska 1945Warsaw, 2010. The opening of an exhibition in the lobby of Sejm (lower chamber of the Polish parliament). From the left: Andrzej Arseniuk IPN spokesperson, Dr Franciszek Gryciuk, acting President of IPN, Dr Ewa Rogalewska, head of the Department of Historical Education at the IPN OBEP office in Białystok, Agnieszka Rudzińska, Director of IPN Public Education Office (BEP), Prof. Cezary Kuklo Director of IPN Branch in Białystok.

 

Uroczyste obchody 60. rocznicy obławy augustowskiej – Augustów–Giby, 16–17 lipca 2005 r.Obława Augustowska 1945

Giby, 28 May 2012. Participants of the 4th National Anthem Hike at the Memorial Cross in Giby. The participants paid their tributes to the victims and attended a lecture on the Augustów Roundup.


more at: http://szlakiem-hymnu.blogspot.com/2012/05/litwa-polska.html#more

 

Uroczyste obchody 60. rocznicy obławy augustowskiej – Augustów–Giby, 16–17 lipca 2005 r.Obława Augustowska 1945Giby, 2013. A souvenir photograph with scouts from the ‘Zawisza’ Catholic Scouting Association. IPN delegation in the middle: Barbara Bojaryn-Kazberuk, Director of the IPN Branch in Białystok, Dr Waldemar Wilczewski, head the IPN OBEP office in Białystok and Public Prosecutor Zbigniew Kulikowski, head of the Branch Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation in Białystok.

published: 2014-07-09


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