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The JU Archives receive a new account of "Sonderaktion Krakau"

In October 2011 the JU Archives received an invaluable account of the arrest of the Jagiellonian University Professors on November 6, 1939. It had been written by Zygmunt Starachowicz, the JU Faculty of Law graduate randomly arrested during Sonderaktion Krakau.

It seemed that everything that was possible to say about what happened at the Jagiellonian University on November 6, 1939 had already been said. After the Second World War the memoirs of the JU professors who had been imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp were published, along with numerous books and other publications about the Nazi occupation of Krakow and the fate of its inhabitants.

Yet, in the recent days a new, previously unknown, memoir account of Sonderaktion Krakau has emerged. It was written by Zygmunt Starachowicz, the JU Faculty of Law Graduate randomly arrested during Sonderaktion Krakau.

The memoir covers the "Krakow period" of the academics' captivity, before they were taken to Wrocław and then to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg near Berlin. It is, for the time being, the longest and the most detailed known memoir account of Sonderaktion Krakau. It includes hand drawings by the author, depicting the prison chapel in ul. Montelupich, where the detainees were held during the first night after the arrest, and the premises of the barracks in ul. Mazowiecka, where they were moved on the following day. What is most interesting, however, is the description of experiences, emotions and dramatis personae. Zygmunt Starachowicz has turned out to be a master in depicting reality with the written word.

Prof. Adam Krzyżanowski, an economist … , has settled in a confessional. His old man's face was pale and strangely distressed, and his eyes seemed to wander somewhere in the world of abstraction.  Everything was sinking in the darkness of the confessional, and the only thing one could clearly see in the pale light coming through the dirty, opaque panes were the long, delicate fingers, as if made of wax, and the golden ring shining warmly on one of them.

The memoir has been made available to the JU archives by Zygmunt Starachowicz's granddaughter, Katarzyna Starachowicz. It is already being edited and prepared for print. The publication will be supplemented with a short biography of the author, who, after detention in Sachsenhausen and Dachau, was again arrested for the active membership in the Polish insurgent Home Army and executed in September 1944 in Krakow.

Published Date: 03.11.2011
Published by: Kinga Mieszaniec
Uniwersytet Jagielloński

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