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    77th anniversary of a staged Trial of the Sixteen

    The Trial of the Sixteen was a staged trial of 16 leaders of the Polish Underground State (including Home Army and civil authorities) held by the Soviet authorities in Moscow in 1945 when all captives were kidnapped by the NKVD secret service and falsely accused of various forms of ‘illegal activity’ against the Red Army. They had been invited to help organize the new “Polish Government of National Unity” in March 1945 and were captured by NKWD.

    According to the description of the trial, after the Poles were brought from Łubianka, they were placed on the podium in two rows of chairs. Guards stood face to face in front of the prisoners and they were holding rifles with their bayonets set in their hands. Among others, US and British embassy officials and journalists attended the process. General Vasily Ulrich was not only the Chair of the Court but also the chairman of the Military College of the Supreme Court of the USSR then. In the years 1936–1938, in the same room, he presided over the courts which sentenced massively to death thousands of old Bolsheviks who were exterminated in the Stalin’s Great Purges.

    Upon their arrival, the NKVD treacherously abducted the entire delegation of all sixteen leaders of the Polish Council of National Unity. They were quickly transported on a special plane to Moscow and detained in a Lubyanka prison – the infamous Moscow’s torture center. Only six weeks later, the Russians revealed that they kidnapped and imprisoned the Polish leadership. 

    The trial that began on June 18, 1945 lasted just three days. Leopold Okulicki, Jan S. Jankowski, Adam Bien, and Stanislaw Jasiukowicz were charged with organizing and commanding underground forces at the rear of the Red Army, on the lands of western Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland. They were indicted for a terrorist campaign directed against the officers and soldiers of the Red Army. They were also indicted for killing 594 and wounding 219 soldiers and officers of the Red Army. In addition Okulicki was accused of espionage and directing intelligence operations at the rear of the Red Army. (

    Of the sixteen defendants, twelve were sentenced to prison terms ranging from four months to ten years, while charges against the four others were dropped by the prosecution.



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