Killing the Memory 1 June 2014

LS Borkowski

Release 12, Poland, 1 June 2014

DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.25607.29609

Killing the Memory

On 9 April 2014 we sent a letter to persons occupying top positions in the Polish state apparatus, including the Prime Minister and the President of Poland signed by Małgorzata Głuchowska. Here are its contents.

On 9 April 2014 a board bulletin was displayed in the State School of Music in Zielona Góra in Poland. The bulletin entitled Music in Concentration Camps commemorated the musicians imprisoned in concentration camps. The bulletin remained in its place for less than two hours. The school director called me (MG) in the early afternoon and informed that the bulletin has been taken down. I was ordered to report to the director’s office.

Music in Concentrations Camps; prisoner; Małgorzata Głuchowska
Board bulletin displayed by Małgorzata Głuchowska in the State School of Music in Zielona Góra, Poland, on 9 April 2014.

Up to this moment the director did not have any complaints against the bulletins I was supposed to present each month in the same place. This task was performed on director’s order, although she did not consult this decision with me. This order was simply imposed on me. I was made a member of the „visual communications team” without being asked for my consent. This was not even communicated to me personally. Care was taken to apply the usual dose of humiliation. I was performing this task diligently, as best I could. Preparing each bulletin required devoting a substantial amount of time, gathering material from different sources, from books as well as publications available on the Internet. An idea had first to be formulated, sufficient quantity of text and pictures had to be gathered, from which a narrative had to be assembled and presented. The narrative was most often dominated by pictures. Text was subordinated to the visual presentation.

From the beginning of the school year until now the director did not express a single word of praise or criticism. Not a word of encouragement. I comprehend fully now that the concentration camp prisoner should not expect normal communication from the director, as if being on par with the camp’s guards. An inmate is to learn from her everyday humiliations that she is only a prisoner. She is supposed to experience this insulting treatment in daily instalments and in isolation.

No one ever asked if I am bearing any expenses related to preparing the bulletins. Where did the sheets of color paper come from? Pictures? Printouts? Undoubtedly it is not the role of camp guards to investigate such elementary matters. A prisoner is merely a prisoner. She must bear her costs in silence. This is an element of unending sequence of everyday blows. The inmate must feel slowly and methodically, more and more trampled by the manifest lack of attention and evidently unjust treatment. The aim is destruction of prisoner’s psychological resilience. The inmate was not designated as inmate to be treated with a good word or, God forbid, with praise.

The prisoner should live her social death minute by minute, day by day. Contemporary concentration camp is not as primitive a place as it used to be. Today the prisoner is beaten first and foremost mentally. The aim is to destroy person’s dignity, the feeling of self-worth and disintegrate his or her psyche. The preferable outcome is the psychological, and possibly physical, self-liquidation under pressure.

The public use of the term „concentration camp” is forbidden in concentration camp Poland. May There Always Be Sunshine! Pust’ vsegda budet solntse![1]

The slogan „Never again!” used to condemn humanity’s terrible mistakes carries a very different meaning today. It means „no more such foolish mistakes in the policy of extermination!” No more leaving such obvious material evidence of persecution! People should be liquidated without leaving material traces: primarily by attacking the target’s psyche.

The destruction of memory is a multidimensional process and is applied to the past, present and future. Decisions about methods of falsifying tomorrow’s history are being made today.

My grandfather Aleksander Głuchowski was a prisoner of the Soviet POW camps in Kozelsk and Gryazovets in 1940-1941, and after returning from Great Britain in 1947 was a prisoner of the Communist Security Service (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa). Communist murderers in Poland carried to completion what the Soviet Union did not have time to do few years earlier. My grandfather avoided being shot in the back of the head by Moscow’s henchmen in 1940. Information about his imprisonment by Communist UB was absent from the database of victims of Soviet repressions 1939-1956 published by the KARTA Center (Ośrodek KARTA) in 2013, prepared from the public funds and handed over to the Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej).

Orodek KARTA, sfałszowana baza danych osób represjonowanych przez Związek Radziecki wydana w 2013 finansowana z pieniędzy publicznych
Falsified database of Soviet repressions published by the KARTA center and financed from the state budget, Poland 2013

In the same database there is no information about grandparents and parents of my husband Lech Borkowski. Quite obviously the decision has been taken to hide from future generations the fact that several dozen men actively opposed the genocide perpetrated by the Soviet Union in 1939-41 and 1944-45. They chose to take the highest risk rather than to make a military oath to murderers of Katyn scheduled for 14 January 1945. Bolesław Borkowski, my husband’s father, was among them. My husband’s mother, Irena Ostrowska, later Borkowska, also did not want to fight anyone. She was arrested by the Soviets in 1949 for providing food and shelter to the Polish resistance active in the Brasław county. Both the Soviet and Polish authorities decided to erase her and her family from history. Bolesław and Irena were imprisoned for ten and seven years, respectively, in Soviet concentration camps.

Thus, there is nothing surprising in continuing persecution of our family today, provided we realize where we live. This is a concentration camp whose gates carry the slogan „Solidarity makes free”. Solidarität macht frei!

It is also perfectly understandable that every pretext is used to avoid speaking about the Soviet crimes of 1939-41 and later years. This is the reason for silencing the subject of Katyn wood murders[2] and many other crimes by directing attention to artificially manufactured failure of investigation about the airplane catastrophe in Smolensk in 2010. The babble related to that last subject is used primarily to divert attention from all the earlier problems. This is nothing else than bullying and tormenting of prisoners of concentration camp Poland.

Devastation of memory follows directly from the concentration camp narrative, in which only the guards deserve to be truly commemorated and recognized by their names. Prisoners are to remain anonymous. Visiting the graves of victims murdered long time ago is permitted within this scheme because it provides a good cover for the action against those prisoners who are still alive.


[1] May There Always Be Sunshine. Soviet children song created in 1962 and used for propaganda purposes. It was also taught during Russian language classes in Polish schools.

[2] Józef Mackiewicz, The Katyn Wood Murders, Hollis and Carter (London, 1951).

Małgorzata Głuchowska, M.A.
Lech S. Borkowski, Ph.D.

Polish version