Gruesome remains found on housing estate at site of former secret police prison
The remains of three people have been found on the site of a former communist-era prison in Warsaw, where anti-communist fighters were imprisoned.
Known as “Toledo”, Criminal Investigation Prison No. III in Warsaw operated in 1944-1956. At first, it was run by the Soviet NKVD, and later by Poland’s communist-era Ministry of Public Security.
The prison was established for opponents of the Soviet forces and the new communist regime, including Home Army soldiers and other underground fighters. Executions were conducted onsite.
Located inside a former army barracks in Warsaw’s Praga district, the prison was surrounded by a high wall. After 1956, it was turned into a prison for women and later demolished.
A statue commemorating the people murdered in prisons in Praga in 1944-1956 – which features a man tearing apart prison bars – was built on the former site of the prison in 2001.
Now a mass grave containing the remains of three people has been found on the site of the former prison, where a housing estate is now located.
Construction works – specifically, the hardening of a parking lot – have been taking place on site in recent weeks, observed by archaeologists from the Search and Identification Office of the Institute of National Remembrance, which investigates crimes committed during the communist period, among other responsibilities.
According to its experts, “the lack of traces of coffins, as well as the arrangement of the remains may indicate that prison burials from the communist period have been discovered”.
Specialists have studied the site, combining findings from archival documents with those from prisoners’ accounts, aerial photography and geodetic maps.
This research shows that a small area on the site of the former prison, which has still not been built on, could have been used for executing and burying prisoners during the Stalinist terror in Poland.
Following the discovery, the Office is applying for permission to conduct full archaeological research on the site, to find out more about what happened there over sixty years ago.