Two months after the end of the Second World War, in July 1945, about 40 thousand soldiers of the Red Army entered onto the area of three districts of today’s Podlasie province. Over 7 thousand people connected with the underground were arrested, including a few dozen pregnant women and a dozen of underage boys and girls. Around 1500 people have not returned to their houses till today.

As it is results from the recently declassified document of the director of the military counterintelligence Wiktor Abakumow, those people were murdered. The leader of ‘Smierszy’ reported to the People’s Commissioner of the Inner Affairs of the Soviet Union on 21 July, and also the vice-president of Beria: ‘(...) All revealed criminals, in the amount of 562 people, must be liquidated. (...) The rest of arrested 828 people will be checked in the period of five days and all revealed criminals will be liquidated in the same way (...)’.

Fabian Danilowicz, a soldier of the National Army acting on the area of Suwalki province, avoided the big chase. Later he was arrested in a ‘little raid’ which took place in January 1946. It was led by the soviet and People’s Polish Army and the functionaries of the offices of public security in three districts. The round-up was attended also by confidants who had been acting on the area of these three districts. Among them there was the future Interior Minister Miroslaw Milewski. – During the so-called Augustow chase I was in the association Freedom and Independence – mentions Fabian Danilowicz. – We found out about a planned action from a functionary being in conspiracy with the Security Office in Suwalki. And it was not precise information; only that some actions were to be carried out on a wide scale against us. We did not have to wait long. The Soviets set off to follow our partisan army like a chase after an animal; through villages and forests. Our division got spread and we hid in households. Some of us managed get rescued, others were caught. The Soviets had exact information on who was where. There were still many of us in forests after the German occupation. We were organising ourselves. But also the Security Office created the so-called partisan army. They set up fictional divisions which people joined who wanted to fight against new invaders and then they arrested them. They shot at them or sued them to the court. There were long-term verdicts of imprisonment or death penalty.

Antoni Gwiazdowski also escaped the ‘Augustow chase’. He was arrested in February 1945. – Many of us did not fight a lot. Hardly had they come back from prisoners of war camp and they were caught by NKWD. They surrounded our areas and started catching them as potential partisans – says Antoni Gwiazdowski. – They arrested and transported them out. Some of them came back after a few years from the Soviet camps, whereas the news about the others got lost. My division of Freedom and Independence did not undertake any military action. We were trained for further fight, and for the time being we were giving out leaflets informing the local people what the people’s authority was. One day I was coming back home and on a village road, when a dozen of the Soviets accompanied by our security officers stood in my way. I was arrested. I was sentenced to 9 years, among the others, for ‘fighting the Government of National Unity’.

A nun was murdered during a hearing

The parents of prelate priest Stanislaw Wysocki, today the chairman of the ‘Association of the Augustow chase of July 1945’, had their household on the area of 30 acres in Biala Woda before the war, distanced a few kilometres from Suwalki. They had seven children. During the German occupation the parents of the future priest acted in the partisan army. Also some adolescent siblings were following their example. When the Soviets entered, the Wysocki family stopped fighting, thinking that the Russians are other invaders. In their vast household there was a Chancellory of the Suwalki District of the National Army. On 27 July 1945, during the partisan staff council with the participation of the leader of the division – Mieczyslaw Ostrowski, the Soviets did the invasion into a farm. Before arresting Ostrowski, an older brother with the staff rescued a future priest. Soldiers ran out of the house and they managed to run away to the nearby brushwood through a barn. The Soviets did not dare to run after the refugees; whereas in the house of the Wysocki family they set up a two-day ‘cauldron’. NKWD surrounded the household. A 15-year-old boy, who had warned partisans, was battered, and next everybody was gathered in one room. They were ordered to stand at the wall and particular people were called for hearings. The father of the family was arrested, 50-year-old soldier of the National Army - Ludwik Wysocki and his two daughters: 22-year-old Kazimiera and 17-year-old Aniela, also acting in the underground. The fiancée of Kazimiera, Leopold Gliniecki, was arrested, and the Soviets were brought to the household by somebody who knew the underground activity of the Wysocki family. – The younger sister recognised him. It seemed to be her friend from Suwałki, perhaps a mediator. It is not known – says a witness of that event, today a retired captain Stanislaw Wysocki. – When we were standing so at the wall, this man entered the room and said: ‘Good evening, ladies and gentlemen’. He went up to the younger sister Aniela and asked: ‘What were you doing in Suwalki at Galaj street? Aniela fainted when she heard it. The activist of NKWD let her mother help her regain consciousness. After some time our older neighbour, Mrs Krzywicka came with her relative Zofia Cugnowska. Krzywicka was released and Cugnowska, who was at the same age as my older sister, was arrested. Everybody was led out and loaded into a box of a van. Today I know – from tales of many witnesses and just Mrs Cugnowska – that they were transported to military camps in Suwalki. And they were separated there. The older and younger sister were being led separately; similarly the father and Mr Gliniecki; whereas Zofia Cugnowska was taken to NKWD and sent to a hearing. repeated that she had come to her relatives to borrow a loaf of bread. At one moment, being in psychic shock, she started laughing. A Soviet man looked at her and, perhaps thinking that she had gone mad, ordered to release her. She had been in a hall earlier where two women had been lying on hay. One of them, a teacher from Filipow, was maltreated. In the next room, as Mrs Cugnowska said, my older sister had been being heard. She was terribly tortured. At some moment when I was told about that, she looked at me and said: ‘Dear priest, Kazia was killed by them at once during that hearing’.

Today Zofia Cugnowska is 94 years old and she tells her stories what happened around 70 years ago. At that time the activist of NKWD forbid her to speak about what she knew – under the threat of the arrest and death. She told priest Stanislaw Wysocki about everything after a few dozen years. Mother of priest Stanislaw Wysocki had looked for the missing daughter and husband for years; similarly as about 1500 other families from Suwalki region. She even wrote to the International Red Cross and also to Stalin. To her astonishment, she received a reply. It was surely due to the fact that the Wysocki family supported the Russians with food during the war and who were in a nearby German POW camp on the area of Prussia. Stalin’s Chancellory answered that there were no Polish citizens of this surname on the area of the Soviet Union. – Mum used to go to the District Office of the Public Security in Suwalki. She was trying to reach to the truth about the family also through some acquaintances – says Fr. Stanislaw Wysocki. – She was said that she did not have either father or daughter in Suwalki; that they were probably in Bialystok. Mother used to take presents to those from Suwalki; they took them and pretended that they knew something. But they did not know. After a few years, during one of the visits in Bialystok, one of these activists of the Security Office asked: ‘Do you still have any children?’ Mum said that she had five children. ‘So, drop this matter and take care of them’.

In the 70s Mrs Wysocka intervened in the Soviet Embassy in Warsaw. She was said that the issue was very difficult and that they had been probably shot in the Augustow forests. But nobody knew anything exactly. – Mother did not stop searching till her death. It was a continuous trauma in our family – says Fr. Wysocki.

The soviet genocide, called the Augustow raid today, was also attended by the People’s Polish Army, that is, the First Prague Infantry Regiment consisting of nearly 200 soldiers. Also a soviet confident participated in it, and later an Interior Minister of the People’s Polish Republic, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party Miroslaw Milewski, confidential to Wojciech Jaruzelski. Also another confident of the NKWD acted in the ‘chase’ and later a functionary of the Security Office: Jan Szostak, a local sculptor at his late age, and also a co-operator of the ‘Smiersza’, a later writer Aleksander Omiljanowicz. None of them took responsibility in reference with this matter.

Documents are only a confirmation

On the area of Suwalki we had an excellently organised partisan army – says dr Jan Jerzy Milewski from Bialostok department of the Institute of National Remembrance. – But during fights against the Germans in the action ‘Burza’ we were supported by the soviet sabotage and reconnaissance units of the mayor Wlodzimierz Cwitynski ps. Orlow. Inevitably, there was de-conspiracy of the National Army units. And our tragedy was based on it... Later, much easily, Polish soldiers were arrested. The first arrests by the Soviets were in the beginning of January, the biggest ones during the so-called Augustow chase, that is, on 12-27 July 1945. The document of Abakumow is not a novelty. It only confirms our earlier hypothesis. In 1995 we received a reply from the Main Military Procurators of the Russian Federation to the question of the Polish party in the matter of the ‘Augustow chase’. At that time the soviet military procurators was based on this document. But somehow our procurators, for unknown reasons, did not conduct this investigation any more. We had earlier been familiar with the documents given in April this year, from the notes of Professor Nikita Pietrow from the Russian Association ‘Memorial’.

It was loudly said about the ‘augustow chase’ in 1987, due to Stefan Myszczyński, the Soviets murdered his three brothers and stepfather. In his every free moment, this farmer was looking for probable graves of the murdered in forests. In 1987 they came across a big collection of human bones near Giby. Most missing people came from this commune, because 90 people. Today it is known that these were the remains of a German front hospital. At that time the inhabitants set up a cross in this place and set up ‘A civic Committee of Searching the Inhabitants of Suwałki area, the Missing in July 1945’. However, from the beginning communists lied by assuring that this event had not taken place. Radical changes were brought not earlier than in the years of the Third Polish Republic. The investigation in this matter has been being carried out since the year 2002 by Bialostok department of the Institute of National Remembrance. Many works on this ‘chase’ were created- many documentary films, radio reports by Alicja Maciejowska and also a book of the same author. The knowledge was also perfectly broadened by a work edited by the Bialostok department of the Institute of National Remembrance two years ago, under the authorship of Jan Jerzy Milewski and Anna Pyżewska, ‘Augustow chase – July 1945...’. However, till now, none of these documents, like those published in a book edited by the Institute of National Remembrance, has not showed the genocide so explicitly, which had been committed against the Poles by the Soviets, like the one which was received and published by the Institute of National Remembrance.

Two years ago, the President-elect Bronisław Komorowski, who has a bungalow on Suwałki area, assured families that the matter of the ‘augustow chase’ would be explained with the president Dmitrij Miedwiediew. However, no explanation was done. In the end of April this year, during a meeting with the representatives of families murdered in Giby, who had submitted a petition concerning the crime – Komorowski made a similar promise.


"Niedziela" 28/2012

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