MAIN COMMISSION FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF

CRIMES AGAINST THE POLISH NATION

THE INSTITUTE OF NATIONAL MEMORY

00-071 Warsaw, 25 Krakowskie Przedmiescie Street

tel/fax 0 22 26 21 39

The Main Commission is a state organ included in the structure of the administration of justice.

Prof.Dr. Leszek KUBICKI, the Minister of Justice, Attorney General, holds the post of the Chairman of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation - The Institute of National Memory.

Dr Ryszard WALCZAK - Director General of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation - The Institute of National Memory.

Prosecutor Dr. Stanislaw KANIEWSKI - Deputy Director for the Investigations

Prof Dr. Andrzej SKRZYPEK - Deputy Director for Scientific Investigation and Research

Dr. Stanislaw BIERNACKI - Deputy Director for Archives

In the Main Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation - The Institute of National Memory there are following departments included:

  • The Investigation and Supervision Department for the Nazi Crimes
  • The Investigation and Supervision Department for the Stalinist Crimes
  • The Research and Scientific Investigation Institute
  • The Publications Department
  • The General Department
  • The Archive of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation - The Institute of National Memory.

    The Research Council counting thirty members - including renown specialists, mainly in law and history, coming from various universities and research communities, is the advisory organ to the Main Commission. Prof. Czeslaw Luczak is the Chairman of the Research Council.

    There are 16 Divisions subordinate to the Main Commission - the District Commissions for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation - which exist in the following cities: Bialystok, Bydgoszcz, Gdansk, Katowice, Kielce, Koszalin, Krakow, Lublin, Lodz, Olsztyn, Opole, Poznan, Rzeszow, Szczecin, Wroclaw, Zielona Gora.

    The Main Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation - The Institute of National Memory is an institution with a wide investigation as well as documental and research authority. It has a fifty years long history. The fiftieth anniversary of its creation was commemorated in 1995.

    The creation of the Main Commission for the Investigation of the German Crimes in Poland (that was the initial name of the institution) was proceeded by work done in London since 1943 by the Polish Government in Exile. Its aim was to put after the war on trial all those guilty of war crimes and crimes against the mankind. The result of those experiences - together with those gathered in Poland during the proceedings of the Auschwitz Commission and the Polish - Soviet Commission for the investigation of the German Crimes in Majdanek - were at the foundation of the decision defining tasks for the Main Commission. These tasks were expressed in the KRN (National Home Council - sort of a Parliament) decree of 10 November 1945 and obliged the Commission to:

  • gather, keep and make available documents and materials showing the fate of the Nation during the Second World War and the occupation,
  • carry on the investigations regarding crimes committed at that time,
  • carry on research on the question of the committed crimes and publish the results as well as sources,
  • to render the materials accessible to the "related foreign institutions".

    Furthermore, it was decided that the Minister of Justice will each time perform the function of the Chairman of the Commission.

    Thus defined main directions of the Commission's activity are binding to this day. These were maintained both in the 1984 act and in the 1991 amendment. After 1991 the tasks of the Commission were expanded because conducting investigations and research of the Stalinist crimes was passed to the Commission.

    In effect of many years of experiences a state institution was created which, as the only one in the world, is authorized to conduct simultaneously investigations and scientific activity, to carry out research on the history of Nazi and Stalinist crimes and to publish the results as well as to gather documents and materials showing the truth about fate of the nation and make them available. The institution created as a result of decades of work and experience was given the name of the Institute of National Memory; thus the role and importance of the Commission was confirmed.

    Since early nineties the Commission started to conduct research and investigations of the Stalinist crimes. It is obvious that the results of this work cannot be comparable to the achievements in research and investigations into the Nazi cases. A lot depends on the cooperation with the justice administration authorities of the states created after the disintegration of the former Soviet Union.

    The lasting almost four years current experience in applying the amended statue to the activity of the Main and the District Commissions showed that the Stalinist crimes against the humanity, the prosecution of which the Commissions have been authorized, can be formulated in five main groups:

    The first investigation group covers the tragedy of the 1.2 - 1.5 mln Poles from the eastern parts of the country who were deported by the NKWD to Siberia and the Kazachstan.

    The second group regards the crimes committed on tens of thousands of Poles, imprisoned after the 17 September 1939 in Lwow, Tarnopol, Wilno and Polesie provinces, and that includes crimes committed during the evacuation of prisons from these territories.

    The third group of investigations covers mass repressions against the officers and soldiers of the Home Army and other struggling for independence formations shortly after the Red Army entered Poland in 1944 and after the January offensive in 1945.

    The fourth group of investigations covers wide ranging action of the native repressive system against the members of various political, religious and social groups, and that includes officers of the Polish Army of the II Republic and the Polish Armed Forces in the West.

    The fifth group of investigations covers miscellaneous matters, which include deportations in 1945 of the inhabitants of Silesia and Pomerania to the Soviet Union, camps for the Germans and Ukrainians on the territory of Poland and other matters.

    Presentation of the findings resulting from the research done in the institute and publication of the sources, is the statutory obligation of the Main Commission.

    During the past 50 years, 130 research works were published. The Main Commission Bulletin appears since 1946. The latest volume of the Bulletin, nr XXXVIII, is devoted to the 50th anniversary of the Commission. The research works of the Main and the District Commissions, have allowed for publication of such fundamental works, among other things, as the extensive, 1979 encyclopedic guide-book, the "Nazi Camps on Polish territory 1939 - 1945", which covers 5877 items, as well as published in 1993 first volume of the "Register of the Soviet Camps - places of forced labour of Polish citizens in 1939 - 1943". This publication covers over 500 soviet camps. Work on the next volume is continued.

    The archival resources gathered during the 50 years are of priceless value. They contain 2000 running meters of documents (over 1000 archival units and collections). Among the best known are the Hans Frank Diaries (38 volumes), the Stroop and Katzmann rapports on the liquidation of the Warsaw and Lwow Ghettos, files of the International and the American Military Tribunal in Nurnberg, files of the National Tribunal and the Eichmann files.

    The currently conducted research, documentational and editorial works are concerned more with the Stalinist crimes, although the Nazi crimes are still being investigated and researched.

    To recapitulate the research work being done, one must remember that the Commission considers all victims of totalitarian crimes committed on Polish citizens of various nationalities. Due to the magnitude of crimes committed by the Germans on Polish citizens of Jewish nationality, these were the subject of research work, investigations and many publications. So since 1946, the particular death camps organized by the German occupant on Polish territory (as Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmno on Ner) in order to exterminate the Jewish population were described and analyzed in the Main Commission Bulletins.

    The subject of the Martydom of the Jewish Nation was constantly present during all symposia organized by the Main Commission and District Commissions. It was always thought that it is impossible to conduct a composite research on the martydom of the Polish Nation separate from the research on the tragedy provided for by the Germans to the Jewish population.

    The relations with the Jewish diaspora were always very important to the Main Commission in its international contacts. In the framework of this cooperation the Director General of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation - the Institute of National Memory, Dr Ryszard Walczak has signed in Washington in April 1996 an agreement with the Chairman Miles Lerman on research cooperation and exchange of archival resources with the Washington Holocaust Museum. It was signed in the presence of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dariusz Rosati, Ambassador of Poland in Washington, Jerzy Kozminski, US Ambassador in Warsaw, Nicholas Rey and others.

    An agreement was initialed between the Main Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation - the Institute of National Memory and the Special Investigations Office of the US Department of Justice regarding prosecution of war crimes and crimes against mankind.

    Previously similar agreements have been signed by the Main Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation - the Institute of National Memory with other countries, Canada, Israel and Australia among others.