Chapter 25


The Liquidating Commission to a large degree fulfilled its unofficial mandate to suspend  hostilities. The still existing partisan bands were a threat to the administration when the latter attempted any activity outside town limits, necessitating a strong armed escort  whenever such a foray was unavoidable. This made the implantation of the principles of "People's Democracy   very difficult. It must have been extremely galling to the internal security commissars to proclaim an amnesty and be forced to release from prison Col. Radoslaw, considered by us to be the very personification of resistance, and make him head of the Commission because he was the only one who would be trusted.  On our side there were no illusions as to the sincerity of the intentions of the KGB mentors of Bezpieka.  On the other hand the possibility of at least a temporary respite from being a fugitive would give  thousands of former Underground members, deserters from the "People's" army and those under suspicion a chance to hide in the postwar chaos.

The  officer in charge of the local detachment of the Bezpieka,  Lt. Klosinski, was a young fellow with secondary school education who had grown up in a suburban working class family and firmly believed in the communist system, though he seemed a little bewildered by the methods he was forced to use to incorporate it.  His authority however was overshadowed by the unofficial, but very much felt, presence of his guardian and tutor, the Russian KGB captain.

This captain had two major worries: were enough people reporting to our Commission and were partisans still operating in Ruchenski Forest?  After the first week we had indeed very few visitors and, knowing the local situation, we hardly expected many more. On the other hand we wanted to prolong our mandate so that those who required it had sufficient  time to make their new arrangements.  To do so we had to put to rest, as far as possible, the suspicions of our KGB overseer. To achieve both ends we explained to the captain that the reason so few people had visited the good offices of our Commission could well be the lack of information. After all there were very few telephones, practically no newspapers reached rural areas and hardly anybody had a radio receiver after the German occupation when possession of one meant instant entry to a concentration camp. Our argument must have made sense to the captain - I never knew his name - but it produced a rather unexpected reaction. On the very next day he gave us, for our sole disposal, a staff car with a driver in the person of a Russian air force sergeant. He even sought and took our advice that our chauffeur should be unarmed for his own safety. We had no more excuses. On every second or third day we would drive to a different  village, choose some "neutral ground" such as a local drinking hole usually combined with a general store and, over drinks,  talk with people who wanted to meet us. Our  Russian driver  meanwhile was secured with a bottle of vodka and some food to follow it up. He enjoyed this very much and we had no trouble with him especially as he had an uncanny ability to drive the car straight regardless of the amount of alcohol consumed. These excursions took about two weeks  and with a very few exceptions  failed to produce the results hoped for  by the KGB captain, but we had a chance to meet people and pass some advice to those who sought it.

To dispel the captain's fears about  Ruchenski Forest we proposed to him and Lt. Klosinski a hunting excursion to that forest with our guarantee of their safety. The proposal took them  by surprise. On one hand they were individuals trained not to trust anyone under any circumstances and, for them, the least trustworthy people had to be  "reactionaries" like ourselves.  On the other hand the KGB captain realized that our proposal was in response to his constant nagging  and  it was not becoming in an officer of the Red Army to show fear. Reluctantly they agreed to our suggestion.  Lt. Klosinski asked if he could take his wife along, perhaps  hoping that the presence of a woman may evoke some compassion  in case of trouble. I notified my friend Ciszewski, the old forest ranger, to make sure that on the specific day all the people and troops not friendly to UB and KGB stayed clear of the area for the duration of our expedition. On the agreed day the six of us, armed with rifles, rode to Ruchenski Forest by horse drawn cart and met Ciszewski who led us to the area where under normal circumstances we could expect to  get a boar. Since I had not asked him to provide the beaters knowing that Ciszewski would not approve wasting a good animal on the likes of our companions, there really was no hunt. Instead we engaged in target practice and wasted a substantial amount of ammunition. In all the war history of that forest never before had so many shots been fired in vain.  Even during our meal, Jozek, Zyzio and I always had the captain, the lieutenant or his wife as inseparable companions; they must have felt safer that way.

I do not know  if the excursion convinced our KGB captain that Ruchenski Forest was free of partisans, but he stopped nagging. Anyway, there was hardly need for it as no one else reported to the Commission and our task came to an end. The only person who regretted this was our Russian driver.

The next step  for me was to lose myself  in  a crowded  city before the "People's" justice  forgot about the amnesty and held out its bloody hand to punish those who had dared  oppose its conquest. I realized that my dossier in the files of UB must already be quite bulky. They may have had a temporary setback forcing the amnesty but time was on their side. I also knew that if I was arrested again I would never get out alive.