Tag Archives: Muskus

KATYN AND DEPORTATION – 13th April 1940

Katyn Forest Massacre. Marshall Islands

Issued 16.04.1990

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Marshall Islands issued a commemorative stamp in 1990 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Katyn Forest Massacre. (Katyn is one of several sites with the mass graves of 22,000 Polish officers and professionals murdered by Stalin’s NKVD in April and May 1940.) Why did the postal service on a group of coral atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean remember Katyn? I would love to know, especially considering that the UK, who had a close relationship with Poland during WW2, barely acknowledged the massacre had taken place by 1990. Can anyone help?

Katyn monument Jersey City

Photo from nj.com.

Here’s a photo from Jersey City where Polish residents came out to pay their respects and mark the 76th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre and the 6th anniversary of the Smolensk air crash.

I am lucky to have heard good stories about the grandfather that I never knew, and happy that one cousin is still alive who remembers his uncle, my grandfather, 76 years later. Wladyslaw Muskus was murdered at Bykownia near Kiev, and his family deported on 13th April 1940.

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DOLGIY-MOST, SIBERIA 1955

Tatiana in London 2015While in London last week I had an emotional meeting with Tatiana. In 1955 Tatiana travelled with her mother to Dolgiy-Most to meet her grandmother Jane Wilton for the first time. Tatiana was 17 years old. Jane, born in England, had been imprisoned in 1937, the year before Tatiana was born, accused of being a British spy after her husband, a Russian aristocrat, was shot. Following her release from prison she, like Urszula, was banished to the remote settlement of Long Bridge in the taiga.

Tatiana arrived in Kansk, east of Krasnoyarsk, after a five day rail journey from Moscow. Being September the daily bus service to Dolgiy-Most was cancelled because mud made the roads impassable so, following a three day wait, they organised a lift in a vodka delivery truck for the final 120km. They carried with them as much rice, flour, clothes and bedding as they could carry in order to trade and sell to fund the two month stay. Urszula was a close friend of Jane’s and was the main helper in selling the goods so Tatiana met Urszula once or twice a week during her stay.

This visit was after Kacuya had been allowed to return to Japan and Urszula was lodging in a cabin with a man who collected tree sap. Tatiana remembers that Urszula worked as a cleaner, probably in a public building like a school or hospital. When I asked Tatiana if Urszula had a dog, she exclaimed “Yes! A dog always followed Urszula, but I didn’t know if it was hers.” I assume that this was her faithful hound Mamataro.

Dolgiy-Most, Krasnoyarsk, Siberia

Front from left, Jane Wilton, Tatiana’s mother Irena, Urszula. Second row right, Tatiana. 

The amount of food on the table is interesting and some of them look quite happy. It suggests that conditions had improved by the autumn of 1955. Is Tatiana making “bunny ears” or victory signs? I look forward to seeing the rest of the photos that she has in Poland.

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950 Soviet victims in ‘new Katyn’

bones in Katyn A Polish-Ukrainian archaeological team has uncovered the remains of Polish WWII soldiers among about 950 victims of Soviet repressions in Volodymyr-Volynsky, western Ukraine. Whenever headlines like this appear it makes me wonder where my grandfather was murdered? Is he in this mass grave?

The remains were found on the premises of a former NKVD (Soviet secret police) prison that functioned intermittently between 1939 and 1956. Up until the outbreak of the Second World War in August 1939, Volodymyr-Volynsky (Wlodzimierz Wołyński) had been within Poland’s borders. Alexei Zlatogorski, head of the Ukrainian branch of the archaeological team, believes the victims were killed between 1940 and 1941, before Hitler turned on his Moscow ally and invaded Soviet-occupied territory. “So far, we have found the remains of about 950 people,” he told the Rzeczpospolita daily. “These include Polish soldiers, but also civilians,” he clarified. Polish archaeologist Dr Dominika Sieminska described the remains as being in “very bad condition,” noting that they had been covered with lime. The Rzeczpospolita paper referred the find as a “new Katyn”, in an allusion to the massacre of over 20,000 Polish officers by the NKVD in 1940 at various points across the Soviet Union, including the Katyn Forest near Smolensk. The exhumations are scheduled to continue for several more weeks.

This blog and photo are copied from News from Poland at: http://thenews.pl/1/10/Artykul/179931,Ukrainian-dig-reveals-950-Soviet-victims-in-new-Katyn

KATYN VICTIM No. 2022 – DISPATCH LIST No. 71/1-51

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?