Cemetery - Mausoleum of the Victims of Nazi Terror, Palmiry
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Cemetery - Mausoleum of the Victims of Nazi Terror

Palmiry

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The cemetery-mausoleum has a particular value as a National Memorial Site: it is a place of execution and burial of over 2 thousand Poles who fell victim of the Nazi terror during World War II. An aesthetic value of the cemetery, designed by a well-known Warsaw-based architect Romuald Gutt and a sculptor Ewa Śliwińska, is also worth emphasizing.

History

The cemetery-mausoleum in Palmiry was established in 1948 in the place of execution of victims of Nazi terror. In the years 1939-1943 in the Kampinos Forest and its surroundings, the Nazi troops carried out numerous executions of Polish citizens. The victims included persons of Polish and Jewish origin. The vast majority of those who were killed here had been brought from Warsaw prisons. A large group of victims was executed as part of the A-B action (Ausserordentliche Befriedungsaktion, the so-called Extraordinary Pacification Action), aimed at exterminating Polish intelligentsia. During the executions plenty of outstanding representatives of political, social and intellectual circles were murdered. The victims included, among others, Maciej Rataj - an activist of the People’s Party (SL) and Marshal of the Sejm, Jędrzej Cierniak - a folk activist, Mieczysław Niedziałkowski - an activist of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), Janusz Kusociński - a sportsman, gold medallist of the Olympic Games, Witold Hulewicz - a poet, novelist and translator.

Executions were aimed to kept secret and mass murder sites were meticulously masked with planted trees and moss. Only owing to a forester and local residents who watched the killings and marked the execution sites, did we manage to discover the facts about these events.

Remains of 2115 victims exhumed from mass graves in Palmiry, Szwedzkie Góry, Legionowo, Laski, Stefanów, Wólka Węglowa and on the dunes of Łuże rest in forest clearings of Palmiry. These sites are marked by crucifixes.

Description

The cemetery is located approx. 5 km south of the Palmiry village, within the area of the Kampinos National Park. An architect Romuald Gutt and a sculptor Ewa Śliwińska designed the cemetery. The graveyard was planned on a rectangular plan, with an elongated arrangement of 30 narrow sections. Most graves have a homogenous form of low concrete crucifixes or standing boards with semi-circular tops, reminiscent of matzevot. Several other, singular forms of gravestones are found here as well.

Along the complex’s axis, in the north, three concrete crucifixes were planted on a small mound. Their elongated arms symbolise stretched arms of a shot person.

From the south, the border of the cemetery is delimited by a wall including an entrance gate. A marble board with an inscription carved by an unknown prisoner in one of the cells of the Szucha Avenue prison (Warsaw) was installed on a gate’s post. It reads: “It is easy to talk about Poland, harder to work for it, even harder to die for it, while to suffer for it is the hardest.” A concrete altar covered with a roof abuts on the wall. The entire structure was built in the 1970s.

Only a small share of the victims was successfully identified, therefore the most graves only include a date of execution. Some of the cemetery’s gravestones are only symbolic, as plenty of mass graves could not have been found.

A Museum is located next to the cemetery - the Palmiry Memorial Site. Its exhibition commemorates those tragic events.

The historic site is open to visitors.

Compiled by Alicja Suchecka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw, 15.10.2014.

Bibliography

  • T. Glinka, M. Kamiński, M. Piasecki, K. Przygoda, A. Walenciak, Mazowsze północne. Przewodnik, Warszawa 1998.
  • L. Herz, Mazowsze, Warszawa 2005.
  • Decyzja wpisu do rejestru zabytków z dn. 27.10.2009 r., nr. dec. 1230/09, MWKZ w Warszawie.
  • Wirtualny Sztetl [http://www.sztetl.org.pl/pl/article/palmiry/13,miejsca-martyrologii/1170,palmiry-miejsce-masowych-egzekucji/], dostęp: 15.10.2014.
  • Palmiry… historia i teraźniejszość [http://www.palmiry.eu/cmentarz-w-palmirach/], dostęp: 15.10.2014.

General information

  • Type: cemetery
  • Chronology: 1948 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Palmiry
  • Location: Voivodeship mazowieckie, district nowodworski, commune Czosnów
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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