Mokotów Prison
Mokotów Prison is a prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

 in Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

's borough of Mokotów
Mokotów is a dzielnica of Warsaw, the capital of Poland. Mokotów is densely populated. It is a seat to many foreign embassies and companies...

, Poland, located at Rakowiecka 37 street. It was built by the Russians
Russian partition
The Russian partition was the former territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that were acquired by the Russian Empire in the late-18th-century Partitions of Poland.-Terminology:...

 in the final years of the foreign Partitions of Poland
Partitions of Poland
The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

. During the Nazi German occupation and later, under the communist rule, it was a place of detention, torture and execution of the Polish political opposition and underground fighters.

Before and during World War II

The Mokotów prison was built in early 20th century by the Russian forces, and used by security and criminal police of Warsaw (see also: Tsarist Citadel
Warsaw Citadel
Cytadela is a 19th-century fortress in Warsaw, Poland. It was built by order of Tsar Nicholas I after the suppression of the 1830 November Uprising in order to bolster imperial Russian control of the city. It served as a prison into the late 1930s.- History :The Citadel was built by personal...

 in the Żoliborz
Żoliborz is one of the northern districts of the city of Warsaw. It is located directly to the north of the City Centre, on the left bank of the Vistula river. It has approximately 50,000 inhabitants and is one of the smallest boroughs of Warsaw....

 district). After Poland regained her independence in 1918, the site was refurbished and until World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, served as the main prison facility of the Polish attorney general
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

's office.

After the Invasion of Poland (1939)
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

, the prison became part of the German District of Warsaw, in the borough, reserved for the German administration of the General Gouvernment and the Nazi occupational army. The prison was one of several prisons of the Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 in Warsaw. It housed Polish politicians, freedom fighters, resistance workers and ordinary people caught in łapanka
A roundup was a World War II practice in German-occupied Poland, whereby the German SS, Wehrmacht and Gestapo rounded up civilians on the streets of Polish cities...

on the streets of Warsaw. The site became infamous due to constant torture of the inmates. It was known as one of the places of no return
Nacht und Nebel
Nacht und Nebel was a directive of Adolf Hitler on 7 December 1941 signed and implemented by Armed Forces High Command Chief Wilhelm Keitel, resulting in the kidnapping and forced disappearance of many political activists and resistance 'helpers' throughout Nazi Germany's occupied...

 (Nacht und Nebel), from which the only way out was to the execution site, or to German concentration camp. It was also a place of detention of innocent hostages, taken by Germans as punishment for actions by the Home Army. Later they were killed in mass executions announced publically.

During the first hours of the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

 of 1944, the prison was attacked from the outside by the WSOP platoon of the GRANAT group of Home Army. The partisans successfully broke into the prison and liberated approximately 300 inmates. However, they did not manage to capture entire prison and were soon counter-attacked by the SS forces stationed nearby and forced to retreat. As a reprisal, the SS and Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 murdered approximately 500 inmates still kept in wards. Until the end of the uprising both the prison and the area of Rakowiecka street were held by the Germans, despite numerous attacks by the Home Army. After the Uprising the German District was spared the fate of the rest of Warsaw and survived the war in a relatively good condition.

Under Soviet domination

In 1945, when the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 finally entered the ruins of Warsaw – abandoned by the German troops – the prison was turned into a site of detention for Nazi Germans, as well as Poles who crossed the Russian authorities, the NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 and the local pro-Soviet Urząd Bezpieczeństwa. During the Stalinist years it was one of the best known prisons used by the secret police. The prisoners, kept in tiny concrete cells in inhumane conditions, were subject to interrogation and prolonged physical torture later described by Kazimierz Moczarski
Kazimierz Moczarski
Kazimierz Damazy Moczarski was a Polish writer and journalist, officer of the Polish Home Army...

 in his prison memoirs. Among those held there were German war criminals such as Jürgen Stroop
Jürgen Stroop
Jürgen Stroop, , was a high-ranking Nazi Party and Gestapo official during World War II. In 1952, he was extradited to Poland, convicted of war crimes, and hanged.-Early life:Jürgen Stroop was born in Detmold, in the Principality of Lippe, German Empire, the son of a police officer...

, but also the members of Polish underground, democratic opposition and intelligentsia
The intelligentsia is a social class of people engaged in complex, mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them...

, who were considered a threat to the regime of the Soviet-controlled communist government of Poland
People's Republic of Poland
The People's Republic of Poland was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1990. Although the Soviet Union took control of the country immediately after the liberation from Nazi Germany in 1944, the name of the state was not changed until eight years later...

. After several months (or years) of mistreatment the detainees were usually either executed (in the old boiler room) and their bodies disposed of in the dump in Służewiec, or transferred to other prison sites in Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, including the infamous Montelupich Prison
Montelupich Prison
Montelupich prison was a prison located in Kraków, which was used by theGestapo throughout World War II. Prisoners in Montelupich included politicalprisoners, members of the SS and Security Service who had been...

 in Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

, Lublin Castle
Lublin Castle
The Lublin Castle is a medieval castle situated in Lublin, Poland, adjacent to the Old Town district and close to the city center. It is one of the oldest preseved Royal residencies in Poland, established by king Casimir II the Just.-History:...

, and in towns of Wronki
Wronki is a town in the Szamotuły County, western-central Poland, situated in the Greater Poland Voivodeship , previously in Piła Voivodeship . It is located close to the Warta River to the northwest of Poznań, and has a population of approximately 11,000...

, Rawicz
Rawicz is a town in central Poland with 21,398 inhabitants . It is situated in the Greater Poland Voivodeship ; previously it was in Leszno Voivodeship . It is the capital of Rawicz County.-History:...

, Strzelce Opolskie
Strzelce Opolskie
Strzelce Opolskie is a town in south-western Poland with 19,628 inhabitants , situated in the Opole Voivodeship. It is the capital of Strzelce County. Strzelce Opolskie is one of the biggest centers of German minority in Poland....

, Sztum
Sztum is a town in northern Poland, located in the Pomeranian Voivodeship. It is the capital of Sztum County, with some 10,141 inhabitants .-History:...

, Fordon
Fordon, Bydgoszcz
Fordon, a district in Bydgoszcz, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland, the number of residents is about 75,000. However, at the beginning the district had only 8,000 residents...

 and Inowrocław.

Most of the executions of the members of the Democratic opposition were carried out by Staff Sergeant Piotr Śmietański
Piotr Śmietański
Staff Sergeant Piotr Śmietański , was one of the main executioners in Stalinist Poland, employed by the communist secret police Urząd Bezpieczeństwa. He was stationed at the Mokotów Prison in the Warsaw borough of Mokotów known also as Rakowiecka Prison located at Rakowiecka 37 street...

, a notorious full-time UB executioner, nicknamed by the prisoners the "Butcher of the Mokotow Prison." Smetanski is believed to have emigrated to Israel around 1968 according to Chodakiewicz
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is a Polish-American historian specializing in East Central European history of the 19th and 20th century. His historical works include: After the Holocaust: Polish-Jewish Relations in the Wake of World War II, and Between Nazis and Soviets: Occupation Politics in Poland...

. This information however, is not confirmed by Pawłowicz. Siergiejczyk mentions a different Śmietański, named Józef, who also left Poland in 1968 during the anti-Zionist campaign conducted by PZPR.. All personal data pertaining to Śmietański was removed from official government records, including the Ministry of Defence, and the Prison Services. Historian Jacek Pawłowicz from IPN
Institute of National Remembrance
Institute of National Remembrance — Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation is a Polish government-affiliated research institute with lustration prerogatives and prosecution powers founded by specific legislation. It specialises in the legal and historical sciences and...

 in his 2008 book about Pilecki claimed that Śmietański died of tuberculosis at the age of fifty.

Among those held and executed in the basement-boiler-room of the Mokotów prison, often maimed and tortured beforehand, were:
  • Witold Pilecki
    Witold Pilecki
    Witold Pilecki was a soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army resistance group and a member of the Home Army...

  • Hieronim Dekutowski
    Hieronim Dekutowski
    Hieronim Dekutowski was a Polish boyscout and soldier, who fought in Polish September Campaign, was a member of the elite forces Cichociemni, fought in the Home Army and after World War II, fought the communist regime as one of commanders of Wolnosc i Niezawislosc.- Early years :Dekutowski was...

  • Gen. Emil Fieldorf "Nil" (executed)
  • Bolesław Kontrym (executed)
  • Kazimierz Moczarski
    Kazimierz Moczarski
    Kazimierz Damazy Moczarski was a Polish writer and journalist, officer of the Polish Home Army...

  • Zygmunt Szendzielarz
    Zygmunt Szendzielarz
    Zygmunt Szendzielarz was commander of the Polish 5th Wilno Home Army Brigade.-Early life:...

  • Prof. Marian Grzybowski
  • Jürgen Stroop
    Jürgen Stroop
    Jürgen Stroop, , was a high-ranking Nazi Party and Gestapo official during World War II. In 1952, he was extradited to Poland, convicted of war crimes, and hanged.-Early life:Jürgen Stroop was born in Detmold, in the Principality of Lippe, German Empire, the son of a police officer...

  • Łukasz Ciepliński (executed)
  • Kornel Morawiecki
    Kornel Morawiecki
    Kornel Morawiecki - was the founder and leader of Fighting Solidarity one of the more radical splinters of Solidarity movement in Poland, during the 1980s. His academic background is that of a theoretical physicist.He was the son of Michał and Jadwiga...

  • Josef Albert Meisinger
    Josef Albert Meisinger
    Josef Albert Meisinger , also known as the Butcher of Warsaw, was a German Colonel of the Gestapo and Nazi Party member....

  • See also 1951 Mokotów Prison execution
    1951 Mokotów Prison execution
    On March 1, 1951, the Soviet-controlled communist Polish secret police, Urząd Bezpieczeństwa , carried out an execution of seven members of the 4th Headquarters of anti-Communist organization Wolność i Niezawisłość in the Mokotów Prison in Warsaw...

     of 7 officers of WIN

  • After the end of Stalinism
    Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

     in 1956 the prison was officially transferred to the civilian authorities, although it still served as a prison for political prisoners. After Poland regained her independence in the Revolutions of 1989
    Revolutions of 1989
    The Revolutions of 1989 were the revolutions which overthrew the communist regimes in various Central and Eastern European countries.The events began in Poland in 1989, and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and...

    , the prison was transferred to the Polish law-enforcement agencies and currently it serves as a short-term prison for people accused of various criminal offences. In 1998 a memorial plaque was erected on the prison wall to commemorate the 283 known political prisoners executed on Rakowiecka street between 1945 and 1955, as well as hundreds of others whose names and place of burial remain unknown.

    External links

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