Son of Polish WWII hero sues for EUR 5.5 mln compensation

Pilecki in the dock during his show trial in 1948. PAP

The son of war hero Witold Pilecki has brought a legal case against the State Treasury for PLN 26 million (EUR 5.53 million) for the harm his father suffered under communism.

The first hearing of the case was held at the Warsaw District Court on Thursday having been brought to the court a year ago.

Captain Witold Pilecki deliberately allowed himself to be captured by the Germans and to be sent to Auschwitz to gather information about the camp and form an underground resistance organisation.

He was the author of the 'Witold's Report' - the first comprehensive account of the atrocities committed at the camp, which was becoming the epicentre of the Nazi Holocaust of Europe's Jews.

Pilecki later fought in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Arrested on May 8, 1947, by Poland's then communist authorities on charges of working for "foreign imperialism," he was sentenced to death after a show trial and executed. His burial site remains unknown.

His son argues that he is due money despite a 1990 settlement in which Pilecki's descendants received damages, with his daughter, Zofia, and son receiving PLN 500 million in the old Polish currency on behalf of Witold Pilecki's wife, Maria.

Katarzyna Szybowska, a legal representative of Andrzej Pilecki, the son, told the court: "The claim that is subject to the proceedings is a derivative claim that would have been due to the deceased Captain Witold Pilecki. In connection with the above, the legitimacy of pursuing this claim is beyond doubt and we uphold the claim in its entirety."

Adam Szczepanik, a lawyer representing the State Treasury, told the court that the damages due to Andrzej Pilecki were half the sum received in 1990.

But another lawyer for Andrzej Pielecki, Anna Bufnal, argued that the sum paid in 1990 was based on a case brought under the Penal Code and that its wording indicated that in the event of Witold Pilecki's death, the damages were due to those denied his maintenance.

However, she argued that this was not the same compensation as what was now being claimed was for his treatment at the hands of the state and was governed by separate laws.

"We're talking about compensation for that harm that was suffered by Mr Witold Pilecki at the moment he was arrested, tortured and finally wrongfully killed," Bufnal said.

Andrzej Pilecki, who was present in court, said he never saw his father again after he was arrested by the communist authorities.