Investigators uncover remains of teenagers murdered in Stalinist horror jail
The skeletons of teenagers murdered by secret police at a Stalinist horror jail in communist Poland were discovered yesterday in the Praga district of Warsaw.
The remains of three bodies belonging to victims judged to be around 19-20 years old were found by the Search and Identification Bureau of the Institute of National Remembrance.
Head of the search team Professor Krzysztof Szwagrzyk said at a press briefing yesterday: “We will do our best to have the whole area examined by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.
“Only then will we be able to say precisely that there are no more human remains.
“The area we are in still hides many dramatic secrets, and we are here to clear them all up."
The team has been carrying out searches at the prison, which was used by the NKVD and the Public Security Office, communist Poland’s Stalinist secret police, to interrogate, torture and murder former Home Army and National Armed Forces members as well as other regime opponents.
The searches, which started last spring, have so far revealed the remains of 20 people.
Last week, under layers of rubble and asphalt, the remains of a man aged 35-45 were discovered, buried without a coffin in a small, nameless grave.
Talking of the latest grim find Szwagrzyk said: “The way the bodies were arranged and where they were found indicates that this is a continuation of those earlier discoveries.
“This is definitely not the time to talk about names.”
The prison was known colloquially as Toledo and operated up to 1956. It was described by former inmates as the harshest of all communist interrogation centres.
Archaeologists are examining an area between and underneath garages that were built on the site sometime after the prison was closed.
The area used to be the prison garden where, according to witnesses, the bodies of prisoners who had been murdered were buried.
Toldeo’s official name was Penal and Investigative Prison Warsaw III and was a prison of the Public Security Office and the NKVD.
It started to function as soon as Soviet troops entered the Praga district of Warsaw in 1944 at the barracks of the 36th Infantry Regiment of the Academic Legion, built in the times of Tsarist Russia.
From the very beginning of its existence, it was a place of execution for soldiers of the armed underground and members of secret organisations.
It was considered one of the harshest prisons of its kind, famous for its torture and numerous executions.
Toledo was fenced off by a three-metre-high wall, with barbed wire and shards of glass embedded with sharp edges upwards.
There were guard towers with searchlights at the corners. From 1951, the death cells were located on the first floor.
The corpses were buried in a ditch on the prison grounds. The bodies were deposited alternately with rubbish and covered with lime.
After 1956, Toledo was turned into a women's prison. In the 1970s or 1980s the building was demolished and blocks of flats were built on the site.
In 2001, on the site of the prison a monument was erected, “In Honour of those Murdered in Praga’s Prisons 1944-1956”.
The foundations of the prison wall were used to build the monument.