Mokotów Prison

Coordinates: 52°12′27″N 21°0′40″E / 52.2075°N 21.01111°E / 52.2075; 21.01111

Mokotów Prison (Polish: Więzienie mokotowskie, otherwise known as Rakowiecka Prison) is a prison in Warsaw's borough of Mokotów, Poland, located on Rakowiecka street 37. During World War II and until 1989 it was a place of detention and execution of the Polish opposition and freedom fighters.

The Mokotów prison was built in early 20th century as a tsarist prison used by the local criminal police of Warsaw. After Poland regained her independence in 1918, the site was refurbished and significantly expanded and, until 1939, it served as the main prison site of the attorney general's office.

After the Invasion of Poland (1939), the prison became part of the German District of Warsaw, a borough reserved for the German administration of the General Gouvernment and the occupation forces. The prison itself became one of several prisons of the Gestapo in Warsaw. It housed Polish politicians, freedom fighters, resistance workers and ordinary people caught in łapankas on the streets of Warsaw. The site became infamous due to constant torture of the inmates and became known as one of the places of no return, from which the only way was to the execution site - or to German concentration camp. It was also a place of detention of hostages, taken by Germans as a result of actions by the Home Army, after which the hostages were executed as a reprisal.

During the first hours of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, the prison was attacked from the outside by the WSOP platoon of the GRANAT group of Home Army. The partisans successfully broke into the prison and liberated approximately 300 inmates. However, they did not manage to capture entire prison and were soon counter-attacked by the SS forces stationed nearby and forced to retreat. As a reprisal, the SS and Wehrmacht murdered approximately 500 inmates still kept in wards. Until the end of the uprising both the prison and the area of Rakowiecka street were held by the Germans, despite numerous attacks by the Home Army. After the Uprising the German District was spared the fate of the rest of Warsaw and survived the war in a relatively good condition.

In 1945, when the Red Army finally entered the ruins of Warsaw abandoned by the German troops, the prison was turned into a site of detention of Germans and Poles who crossed occupying authorities, the NKVD and the local Urząd Bezpieczeństwa. During the stalinist years it was one of the best known temporary prisons of the secret police. The prisoners kept in tiny concrete cells in inhumane conditions, were subject to interrogation and torture. Among those held in it were numerous German war criminals, as well as members of the Polish underground, democratic opposition and intelligentsia, who were considered a threat to the regime of the Soviet-controlled communist government of Poland. After several months or years the detainees were usually either executed (in the old boiler room) and their bodies disposed of in the dump in Służewiec, or transferred to other prison sites in Poland, including the infamous Montelupich Prison in Kraków, Lublin Castle, Wronki, Rawicz, Strzelce Opolskie, Sztum, Fordon and Inowrocław. Many of the executions of the members of the Democratic opposition were carried out by Staff Sergeant Piotr Śmietański, a notorious full-time UB executioner, nicknamed by the prisoners the "Butcher of the Mokotow Prison." Smetanski is believed to have emigrated to Israel in and around 1968. Among those held and executed in the prison were:

  • Witold Pilecki (executed)
  • Hieronim Dekutowski (executed)
  • Gen. Emil Fieldorf "Nil" (executed)
  • Bolesław Kontrym (executed)
  • Kazimierz Moczarski
  • Zygmunt Szendzielarz (executed)
  • prof. Marian Grzybowski
  • Jürgen Stroop (executed)
  • Łukasz Ciepliński (executed)
  • Kornel Morawiecki
  • Josef Albert Meisinger (executed)
  • See also 1951 Mokotów Prison execution

After the end of Stalinism in 1956 the prison was officially transferred to the civilian authorities, although it still served as a prison for political prisoners. After Poland regained her independence in 1989, the prison was transferred to the Polish law-enforcement agencies and currently it serves as a short-term prison for people accused of various criminal offences. In 1998 a memorial plaque was erected on the prison wall to commemorate 283 political prisoners executed on Rakowiecka street between 1945 and 1955, as well as hundreds of others whose names and place of burial remain unknown.


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