Father, Forester and Family Man.

Father, Forester and Family Man.

Wladyslaw Muskus was born in 1898 near Lezajsk, the eldest son of a farmer. He enjoyed school and was the first in his family to go to university where he studied forestry and surveying. He helped finance his studies at Lwow by tutoring other students in mathematics. I believe that he may have been a Lwow Eaglet, he was certainly an officer in the Polish- Bolshevik War 1919-1921. Falling sick with typhus he was left in Odessa when the Polish Army withdrew to the new agreed border. Miraculously he managed to walk home, a distance of some 800km, travelling mostly at night to avoid the Ukrainian population.

He took a job as a forest manager near Rawa Ruska and in 1924 married Urszula Latawiec. They had two children. When the Germans invaded in 1939 he was a self employed forestry consultant. At the start of hostilities he set off to where it was rumored that Polish forces were concentrating, but returned a couple of weeks later exhausted and demoralized.

Wladyslaw was arrested by the NKVD on 6th January 1940 and kept in prison in Rawa Ruska for a few weeks before being moved to Brygidki prison in Lwow. It was during this transfer that his wife managed a few brief words with him through a closed window at the railway station, and this was the last time that she and the children saw their father. Urszula threw him a bag of food as he shuffled off to the waiting wagon.

When Urszula was a gulag prisoner she met a man from Rawa, a friend of her brother. He informed her that Wladyslaw was shot by the NKVD when they murdered all the prisoners in Lwow before fleeing the German advance in June 1941. This information was probably incorrect.

Polski MemorialWladyslaw’s family received the first official record in April 1995 from Polski Memorial. It states that Wladyslaw is number 2022 on the Ukrainian Katyn list, that his estimated place of execution is Zamarstyn Prison in Lwow, but that the dispatch list has not yet been found.

Polish Red CrossA few months later the Polish Red Cross provided more details including the dispatch list number 71/1-51 and the fact that his prison papers were passed from the Ukrainian NKVD to Moscow NKVD on 25.11.1940.

Then in 2012 I was invited by the Polish Government to attend the opening ceremony for the new memorial built at Bykownia to honour the 3435 Poles on the Ukrainian Katyn list. Most are thought to be buried at Bykownia with the others at Charkow and Cherson. Over 100,000 Ukrainians are buried in the same forest.

My next task is to find out what happened to my grandfather between his leaving Rawa Ruska and his murder near Kiev. What documents came to light that changed his estimated place of execution from Zamarstyn Prison in Lwow to a mass grave near Kiev?


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