The Koniuchy Massacre

The following is an unofficial translation by Peter K. Gessner of a document posted with the date of September 5, 2002 on the website of Poland's Institute of National Memory, the investigative arm of the Polish Government in matters of crimes against the Polish nation.

Regional Commission in Łódż

Investigation in the matter of the murder by Soviet partisans in January 1944 of the inhabitants of the village of Koniuchy, township of Bieniakonie, district of Lida, Nowogrodzkie province.

The Łódż Regional Commission of the Commission for the Investigation of Crimes against the Polish Nation in the process of investigating the matter of the January 1944 pacification of the village of Koniuchy, township of Bieniakonie, district of Lida, Nowogrodzkie province.
        The village of Koniuchy lay on the edge of the Rudnicki Forest, wherein numerous units of Soviet partisans had their bases. The members of those units frequently carried out raids on nearby villages and settlements, among them Koniuchy. The purpose of the raids was taking possession of the property of the local population, primarily clothes, footwear, cattle, supplies of flower. In the course of the raids violence was used against the owners of the property being stolen. The inhabitants of Koniuchy organized a self-defense. The local peasants guarded the village, thereby preventing further robberies. For this reason on the night of January 28, 1944 a group of Soviet partisans from Rudnicki Forest surrounded the village. In the early morning, employing incendiary munitions the village structures were being destroyed and the people running out of them shot - men, women and children. Concurrently fire destroyed the majority of the houses. About 36 to 50 individuals were killed, a portion of the inhabitants were wounded, Those who survived run away to neighboring villages.
        The Soviet partisans stationed in Rudnicki Forest were under the command of the Central Partisan Command in Moscow. The raid was carried out by ca. 100-120 partisans from various units. Among them there was, intra alia, a 50 person strong group of Jewish partisans.

The inditement in the matter of the perpetration of this crime was lodged by the Polish Canadian Congress. The investigation was began on March 8, 2001.
        In the course of the investigation, carried out intra alia via press releases, and contacts with the World Association of the Soldiers of the Home Army, the names and addresses were established and subsequently 17 witnesses were deposed. These are soldiers of the Home Army who were stationed in the Rudnicki Forest as well as members of the families of the victims. Some of the deposed witnesses gave the surnames or pseudonyms of Soviet partisans, the location where those units were stationed, their size, confirming that the most numerous group consisted of partisans of Jewish nationality. These units were called in common parlance, Wisińca (from the location of their base between the village of Wisińca and Lake Kiernowo). One of the witnesses was in Koniuchy on February 2, 1944, hence a few days after the raid. He testified that he saw burned-out houses, despairing individuals, abandoned children. From the statements of an individuals who managed to hide during the raid, he learned that the village was set on fire from both ends and then they shot at the fleeing individuals. The attack took place after a lengthy observation, when the self-defense forces left their posts. The inhabitants of Koniuchy, in relating the details of the raid, used interchangeably the descriptors Jews and "Ruskies." From the testimony of the witnesses it results that a portion of the victims, particularly the elderly and the infirm, perished burned in their own homes. On the other hand, those inhabitants who sought to flee were shot. In this manner perished members of the family of P. The burnt bodies of Stansislaw and Kararzyna P., husband and wife, were found in their house. The body of their daughter, Genowefa P. was found in the yard with burnt soles of her feet and evidence of bullet wounds.
        To the records of the investigation was added an authenticated copy of a situational secret report prepared by Operational Division of the Wermacht Command Ostland prepared on February 5, 1944 in Riga. From the content of the report it results that there appeared in Koniuchy "a medium size group of Jews and Russians" ... "36 inhabitants were shot, 14 were wounded. The locality was turned into mostly charred ruins."
        Currently, historians in the Expert and Documentation Section of the Main Commission are searching for documents created by the Soviet partisans regarding these crimes as well as for information regarding the composition of the personnel of the Soviet units stationed in Rudnicki forest. Efforts are also continuing to locate soldiers of the Home Army who were members of the "Frycz" diversionary unit. Since it has been established that a portion of the men who survived the massacre in Koniuchy later fought in that unit. The addresses of the next witnesses whose relatives perished in Koniuchy have been established. Requests have been made to Canada, Lithuania and Belarus for legal assistance in the deposition of the witnesses and discovery of archival documents relating to this subject matter.

September 9, 2002


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