Death of Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko was planned with cold blood. Culprits acted with premeditation – emphasizes Jakub Gołębiewski from the Institute of National Remembrance, an author of the second volume of documents collection concerning the kidnapping of priest Jerzy

Jakub Gołębiewski, an author of a work ‘Apparatus of repression towards priest Jerzy Popiełuszko 1984’, admits that it is not an easy book. – It is mainly addressed to researchers and publicists but also ordinary lovers of history will find the book interesting and informative. Nearly 200 documents collected in it show what the People’s Polish Republic was and its military arms: the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Services, where murderers of the priest and their supervisors worked, who were inspiring that crime.

All the documents were created in 1984 – from 19 October, the day of death of the priest, to 10 December when the indictment was made against the culprits. The prevailing part of materials are protocols of hearings of the indicted in the court case in Toruń: Piotrowski, Chmielewski, Pękala and Pietruszka. The case was led by the District Procurators in Toruń, whose 22 volumes of control acts of the investigation got to the Institute of National Remembrance.

Within the limits of risk

During nearly every talk with me and Pękala about the actions towards Popiełuszko, Piotrowski said that he had acceptance to these actions from his direct supervisor Adam Pietruszka – said Waldemar Chmielewski.

His colleague from the Security Services – Leszek Pękala said that he was certain about the fact that the details of the action towards Fr. Popiełuszko had been planned by people unknown to him and who ‘were interested in concealing the whole action in the future. Such understanding allowed me to act within the limits of risk, without any anxiety about left traces’.

Whether only direct supporters of Grzegorz Piotrowski from IV Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were supposed to provide peace or people of the supreme levels of the department run by Czesław Kiszczak were to give their support – we do not know it. However, murderers were self-confident and acted lightly. For example, in Bydgoszcz they changed the license plate of cars in such a way that they were noticed not only by functionaries observing the church in which the Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr. Popiełuszko, but also by other people. They threw away the priest’s body from a tama in Włocławek, although they had been seen by a patrol of militia earlier.

Useful to attack

The investigation of 1984 was – at least officially – treated as a priority. In the beginning it was conducted by the District Procurators in Toruń, but now when it was taken over by the Investigation Office, a special unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, clearly accelerated. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Services became judges in their own matter.

What attracts attention is a document – a protocol of a hearing of Piotrowski from the end of October 1984, during which he described preparations for kidnapping of Fr. Popiełuszko. As he explained, he had told Chmielewski and Pękala to collect ‘objects useful to the action of attacking Fr. Popiełuszko’: rope, knife, shovel, sack, ether, handcuffs, false license plates and a bag of stones.

The first attempt of attacking - when Piotrowski, with help of Chmielewski and Pękala were trying to crash into a rushing car driven with the priest, the activist of ‘Solidarity’ Seweryn Jaworski and a driver – was not successful. And another attempt was planned.

Manipulations of the court

The analysis of materials of the investigation proves that some circumstances of the issue have not been explained. – We cannot explain why Fr. Popiełuszko was killed at all, although Waldemar Chrostowski escaped and culprits might have been afraid of de-conspiracy – says Jakub Gołębiewski. It was not explained in the investigation and the court case.

Documents from the book, confronted with the proceeding of the court case of murderers prove that the process was manipulated. Some materials collected in the investigation were not quoted in the court or were used selectively. Doubts are caused by the method of documenting testimonies of culprits. Questions were not quoted, today it is impossible to evaluate which sentences were said freely, which were made during a process of hearings or which were withdrawn.

Prof. Jan Żaryn who participated in the presentation of the book in the Educational Centre of the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw emphasized that documentation collected in the book shows the repression system of the Polish Republic towards enemies of the authority. – We can state that the priest was killed on 19 October 1984 by three bandits who were functionaries of the Ministry of Internal Affairs – said prof. Żaryn. – But it does not mean that communists did not leave us with doubts.


„Niedziela” 46/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: