‘We mustn’t forget’: Polish PM on German WWII pacification of Torzeniec

It was in the very first hours of WWII when German troops invading Poland entered the Polish village of Torzeniec in the western Wielkopolskie Province, bestially murdered 37 of its inhabitants and razed half of its infrastructure on September 1-2, 1939. In his Monday’s Facebook post, PM Mateusz Morawiecki appealed for remembering well “who was the murderer and who was the victim.”

“This post is an appeal as the case has not been given enough publicity whereas it deserves to be spoken about in the loudest possible way,” the PM wrote.

The official went on to recount the proceedings of the lawsuit against the German soldiers responsible for the atrocious crime. “As a result of Poland’s multiple calls on the German judiciary, it has finally took up the case of the massacre of the inhabitants of Torzeniec carried out on September 2, 1939, on the order of the Wehrmacht 41st Infantry Regiment’s commander Colonel Friedrich Gollwitzer – a massacre that brought about the death of 37 Poles.”

“It seemed that truth and justice would triumph. However, despite the German leader was accused of ‘glaring violation of international law’ that resulted in the death of Polish inhabitants of Torzeniec, the German barbarity of burning Polish women and children alive, and the bestial murdering and shooting to death perpetrated with cold blood by the Wehrmacht soldiers were found justified. The perpetrators have not been punished in any manner at all,” the PM stressed.

Mr Morawiecki went on explaining that it was because the German soldiers’ action “was recognised as a response to an attack by Polish guerilla.”

The lawsuit on the massacre of Torzeniec was initiated in 1964 and dropped. It was only thanks to a letter from a Wehrmacht veteran by the name of Ferdinand D. that the case was renewed in 1968. In his letter, D. wrote that “the actions of the 41st Infantry Regiment under Colonel Gollwitzer were nothing else but instances of genocide. Although there were no guerillas in Poland at that time, no village was left standing at the stretch between [the Polish cities of] Kalisz and Warsaw, because Gollwitzer provoked and stirred guerilla psychosis in his soldiers.”

During the court hearing, Gollwitzer’s line of defence based on the presumption that the massacre of the Torzeniec village was justified as a response to an attack by Polish guerillas was upheld regardless of Wehrmacht veteran Ferinand D.’s reference to Gollwitzer’s gaslighting of his subordinates. The court deemed it impossible to prove murder to Gollwitzer.

PM Morawiecki wrote that the fact that the German officer had not been proven guilty of murder was tantamount to approval of murdering women, children and elders, of “shooting at children and burning them alive” in such circumstances. “It had been simultaneously deemed [by the court] that there was no need for any further investigation, particularly on the scene of the crime, as such actions would not bring anything new to the case,” the PM recounted.

Poland’s PM assessed that “from the very beginning, the German ‘judiciary’ was protecting German criminals, not the victims,” adding that German Wehrmacht soldiers had committed a similar crime in a neighbouring village of Wyszanów. “There were over a THOUSAND such pacifications on the territory of Third Reich-occupied Poland. It had truly been as the Torzeniec inhabitants had written in 1947: these atrocious crimes were committed by inhumane German soldiers.”

“This is why today, while paying tribute to the victims in Torzeniec, we call out loudly for truth. This is because we must not forget who was the victim and who was the cruel murderer, an executioner,” the PM stressed. Mr Morawiecki’s post was complemented with photos of the German soldiers of the 41st Infantry Regiment stationed in Torzeniec.

“German neighbours! Go through your fathers and grandfathers’ memoirs. Go through them and check whether any of them used to serve in Gollwitzer’s 41st Infantry Regiment of the Wehrmacht. Check that and come visit Torzeniec, Wyszanów and thousands of Polish localities like the former two. Bow to the victims who meant less to the German judiciary than the security and comfort of their murderers,” PM Morawiecki concluded his appeal.