Polish Naval Memories of WWII









Karol Korytowski, Deputy Chief of Polish Navy Command, Rear Admiral

Naval officers murdered in Katyń , April – May

Rear-Admiral Karol Kortytowski

In 1939 (then) Komandor Karol Korytowski was successfully evacuated from Poland to G.B. to become vice Chief of the Directorate of the Polish Navy Command. Over 60 senior Polish Navy officers, including Rear Admiral Xawery Czernicki, were captured by the Soviets and murdered in the Katyń massacres.

Naval Officers Murdered in Katyń

At the outbreak of war in 1939, Komandor Karol Korytowski was the Chief of Staff of General Command of the Polish Navy (Szef Sztabu Kierownictwa Marynarki Wojennej) in Warsaw.  After the September Campaign he was evacuated to Rumania, then to France and, finally, G.B. where he became vice Chief of Directorate of the Polish Navy Command (KMW-Kierownictwo Marynarki Wojennej).

His was a lucky escape. His colleague Rear Admiral Xawery Czernicki, together with over 60 officers from the Polish Navy Command, were captured and murdered by the Soviet NKVD in the Katyń massacres.

Czernicki was a Polish engineer, military commander and one of the highest-ranking officers of the Polish Navy. He held the rank of Rear Admiral and was Deputy Commander of the Chief of the Polish Navy in the Ministry of Military Affairs. After the Nazi German invasion of Poland on 1st September 1939 Czernicki was evacuated from Gdynia to Warsaw and then eastwards to the area of Pińsk and Brody. In the village of Derażny Czernicki was captured by the Red Army, which had invaded Eastern Poland on 17th September. Transferred to Równe, the captured Polish Navy officers were to be sent home. However, instead they were arrested by the NKVD and sent to various prisons and camps in the USSR. Czernicki was sent by the NKVD to the special camp of Kozielsk, a ruined monastery near Smolensk in Soviet Russia. The Polish Navy POW’s were all held in the three “special camps” of Kozielsk, Starobelsk and Ostashkov.

At the beginning of April 1940 Rear-Admiral Czernicki was taken from Kozielsk by train to Gniezdovo Station. A lorry then took him to a forest in Katyń, near Smolensk. The diary of Major Adam Solski, shot at Katyń on 8th April, records his last eerie moments:

“A transfer in the boxes of black maria. It’s frightening. We were brought somewhere into a forest like an out-of-town resort. We were searched thoroughly. They were interested in my wedding ring and took away the roubles that I had, and also my belt, my penknife and my watch, which showed the time to be 6.30”.

The diary stops here.

The Polish POWs were bound, gagged and led to the edge of a pre-prepared ditch. NKVD guards approached from behind, then shot them, to the base of the skull, with the bodies falling into the tightly packed grave. In the Katyń forest Rear-Admiral Czernicki and 4,420 Polish Officers were executed.

Altogether in the Katyń Massacres 21,857 Polish POWs, Policemen and civilian prisoners were murdered by Stalin’s NKVD in the spring of 1940 – not only in the Katyń forest but also at Charków, Tver, Bykownia and still undisclosed locations in Belarus.

Polish Navy Personnel murdered in the Katyń Massacres:

At KATYN : C.Basinski, B.Bonczak, Z.Bakowski, B.Brodowski, K.Czernicki, C.Czyzewski, T.Duracz, E.Finger, S.Gargul, M.Genzel, S.Godek, J.Graniczny, I.Grudniewicz, W.Iwaszkiewicz, Z.Jastrzebiowski, E.Jodkowski, E.Jozwikiewicz, W.Kaczynski, S.Kamienski, T.Karge, A.Zachoranski, W.Kitlas, R.Kuzio, F.Lambert, J.Lipka, B.Lubinkowski, S.Maltze, N.Maluszynski, J.Molewicz, A.Marzecki, L.Moszczenski, A.Mrozik, M.Niemirski, G.Niezabitowski, S.Paciorkowski, L.Pawlikowski, R.Pienkowski, F.Politur, A.Popiel, B.Porydzaj, R.Pufahl, E.Rojek, B.Rutynski, S.Rybinski, A.Sadowski, E.Siekierski, M.Sierkuszewski, B.Sokolowski, W.Staszkiewicz, J.Steibal, L.Szefer, Z.Szymkiewicz.

At CHARKÓW: W.Jasik, J.Kierkus, J.Marciniewski, J.Maj, S.Murzicz, J.Podczaski, S.Sowinski, K.Taube, M.Wojciechowski.

At MIEDNOJE : H.Sulkowski.


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