Murder in Concentration Camp Poland 30 March 2014

LS Borkowski

Release 10, Poland, 30 March 2014

doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.22125.69603

Murder in Concentration Camp Poland

Hannah Arendt wrote that concentration camp is a place where everything is possible.

Contemporary Poland is exactly this kind of place. Here everything is possible. The entire territory of Poland belonged to the camp uninterruptedly since the Second World War. At a certain point the transition from the communist camp to a democratic state was simulated. However this was only a transformation of one state of exception into another, albeit a more advanced one. The entire public narrative continues to be completely falsified and the entire public life remains under the meticulous control of the junta functionaries.

This is the camp of social death, because the killing of the prisoner involves the annihilation and hijacking of the entire social sphere of his existence, his career, identity, social image, documentary evidence. Predictably, the killing is preceded by stripping the target of dignity.

The functionaries engaged in this murderous enterprise are guaranteed full impunity. They receive awards, rewards, and promotions.

Each junta functionary has the freedom to carry out mental beating of each of the camp inmates and killing his social persona. The officially declared law serves only a decorative purpose.

In the relation between the camp functionary and the prisoner it is obviously the functionary who decides everything. He is the master of the prisoner’s fate. The inmate, who naively tries to invoke his rights seemingly grounded in the officially declared law, has no chance for justice. An inmate is usually unaware of having been designated for liquidation by the junta functionaries. This kind of sentence is not announced openly. The prisoner can only guess that the order to annihilate him as a social being and to reduce him to bare life was issued.

The novelty of this concentration camp lies in the fact, that the functionaries and the prisoners dress alike and look similarly on the street and at work.

It is very easy to determine however, which group the person belongs to. One only has to observe, whether one receives full and correct information, whether one’s efforts are appreciated and properly rewarded, whether one is treated with dignity and whether one’s officially declared rights are respected.

The camp functionaries hide true aims of extermination by using excuses. These can be pronouncements about mistakes, unfortunate circumstances, about the lack of knowledge on the part of the guard, about someone forgetting to pass on a piece of information; that functionaries of some institution failed to anticipate some particular situation.

The prisoner, who is not sure of his status, may do a simple test, trying to exercise the officially declared law. Enclosed in this release is an excerpt from Alexander Dolgun’s story, who was arrested and imprisoned in a Moscow prison in 1948, where he subsequently tried to invoke rights to which he was theoretically entitled.

Alexander Dolgun with Patrick Watson, Dolgun, Fontana/Collins 1976, pp. 25-26

I had a sudden idea. My accent in Russian was not too bad, but I let it slip a little below its normal level and said hesitatingly, ‘Maybe I am not understanding you very well. Could we get an interpreter? My Russian is not too good, I’m afraid.’

Sidorov’s eyebrows went up for a moment. Then he stepped to the door and spoke to the guard. While he waited he read through the file folder, which was quite thick, nearly three inches, and pulled out a cigarette. I pulled my cigarettes out and said in halting Russian, ‘Would you like to try an American cigarette?’

Sidorov hesitated a moment. He said, ‘Of course Russian cigarettes are much better’ (which is definitely not true) ‘but to be polite, yes, thank you.’

I said, ‘I am sorry, sir, but I did not understand everything you said.’

He just smiled and took the Chesterfield I offered him and lit mine and then his own.

Quite soon a young junior lieutenant arrived with a stenographer’s notebook. Quickly, and in more serious style, Sidorov told him to tell me I was charged with espionage against the Soviet Union. My face must have shown shock when I heard the words in Russian. But I waited for the interpreter. Then I said in English, pretty emotional at first, ‘There’s been a terrible mistake! Tell him I’ve never engaged in any such activities. I’m a file clerk at the American Embassy, for heaven’s sake. He’s got the wrong man!’

The interpreter’s English was not really up to the task. With a strong Ukrainian accent, he translated this as ‘There has been a terrible mistake. I always engaged in such activities with a file clerk at the American Embassy. He is the wrong man.’

I was furious at this stupidity. I yelled at Sidorov in Russian, ‘No, no, for Christ’s sake. This guy’s no good. I said I’ve never engaged in any such activities? I . . .’ Then I realized I had trapped myself. I think I even spoke Russian better than this Ukrainian kid who was supposed to be an interpreter.

Sidorov smiled quite a broad smile this time, showing a good deal of gold. He nodded a dismissal at the junior lieutenant. ‘Vsye,’ he said. ‘That’s all.’ And the kid left the room.

‘Let’s not waste any more time, Citizen Doldzhin,’ he said easily, still smiling. ‘You say we have made a mistake. I tell you we never make mistakes. You say you have never engaged in any espionage activities. I tell you that we can prove it very easily.’ He picked up the file. Then I saw it was really two soft-backed file folders, one on top of the other.

He said, ‘It’s in here. Places, dates, names of accomplices. All here. We have quite a file on you. Really! It’s quite a file. So don’t worry.’ (Again!) ‘Don’t worry about its being a mistake!’

Then he leaned over the desk and looked very sternly and said in a very quiet voice, ‘The MGB does not make mistakes, my friend. We Never Make Mistakes.’

He thrust a piece of paper at me. It had an official stamp on it. It was an order for my arrest. It stated that under Article 58, sections 6, 8, 10, etc., of the Soviet Criminal Code I was charged with espionage, political terrorism, anti-Soviet propaganda, etc., etc. But the most impressive single thing about this document was the signature: Rudenko.

General Roman Rudenko was the chief prosecutor of the Soviet Union. I was shaken, and yet impressed with my importance at being charged by the top brass.

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

Polish version

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