The search after the war
The search for the missing began immediately after the roundup operation. At an early stage, the families traced them from where they had been arrested to filtration camps, but the trail ended there. The civil parish of Giby suffered particularly high losses and was the first to make official steps to establish the facts. According to the list drafted at the time, 109 of its residents, including over ninety arrested in the roundup (the rest had been arrested earlier), had been deported to the Soviet U_nion within the previous year.
It was already in November 1945 that the local council sent a delegation to Warsaw. However, the mission was unsuccessful and it is not clear whether its members were at all received, as planned, by Bolesław Bierut, the President of the State National Council (Krajowa Rada Narodowa, KRN). In the next move, the local council addressed the District National Council (Powiatowa Rada Narodowa), which sent the matter further up, to the regional level. As a result, the authorities drafted lists of those missing in each district. In 1946, the Giby council made an official request to the Prime Minister. In turn, the Prezydium of the government (the Prime Minister and his deputies) instructed the Polish embassy in Moscow to make enquiries about the matter. Around that time, hopes were revived as those interned in 1944 began to arrive back from the Soviet U_nion.
However, these hopes faded in the years to follow. With the consolidation of Stalinism the tragedy became a taboo: officials pretended not to know anything about it and the families had to make adjustments to their CVs so as not to run into trouble. It was only those most desperate and courageous, or perhaps naïve, who still tried to discover the truth. One of them was Jadwiga Pietrołaj, who kept making written enquiries about her missing son Tadeusz in various official institutions, including a letter to President Bierut in 1952. The question of the victims resurfaced with each and every of the so-called "thaws" in Polish politics. After 1956, local MPs, Jan Kłoczko and Antoni Palczak, tried to explain what had happened; there were also letters sent to "Fala 56" (a popular current affairs programme on the national radio), to Władysław Gomułka, the Polish communist party leader, and, as before, to the Polish Red Cross (PCK).
Documents: The search after the war
- downloadDecision to discontinue investigation (20.03.1958)
- downloadLetter from the residents of Augustów to the Public Prosecution Office (4.02.1957)
- downloadNote from the head of the PUBP office in Suwałki (14.09.1945)
- downloadNote from the Forest Inspectorate in Serwy (8.08.1945)
- downloadLetter from the Polish Red Cross (PCK) concerning the search for Helena Wnukowska
Gallery: The search after the war
Decision to discontinue investigation (20.03.1958)
Letter from the residents of Augustów to the Public Prosecution Office (4.02.1957)
Note from the head of the PUBP office in Suwałki (14.09.1945)
Note from the Forest Inspectorate in Serwy (8.08.1945)
Letter from the Polish Red Cross (PCK) concerning the search for Helena Wnukowska
Letter from the Head (Starosta) of the District of Suwałki