State funeral after 65 years for Polish navy officers killed by communists

State funeral after 65 years for Polish navy officers killed by communists

Three senior Polish navy officers on Saturday received a state funeral with honours 65 years after they were killed by the country’s former communist rulers.

President Andrzej Duda and a slew of other officials took part in the burial ceremonies in the northern coastal city of Gdynia, for Stanisław Mieszkowski, Zbigniew Przybyszewski and Jerzy Staniewicz, who were convicted and subsequently executed by the country’s communist authorities in 1952 on the basis of trumped-up charges, according to Polish Radio’s IAR news agency.

In 1939, all three defended Poland’s coast against a German attack. After Polish forces were overpowered by the invader, Mieszkowski, Przybyszewski and Staniewicz were sent to prisoner-of-war camps.

After the war, they returned to service in the Polish navy. But in the early 1950s, the country’s communist authorities falsely accused them of espionage, among other charges, according to IAR.

After several months of torture, a sham trial and being handed death sentences, they were executed with shots to the back of the head at an infamous prison for political prisoners on Warsaw’s Rakowiecka Street in December 1952.

On Friday, Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz led memorial ceremonies in the coastal town of Hel where the coffins of the three officers were displayed at a church before being shipped by sea to Gdynia.

The remains of the three officers, whom the communists buried secretly in unnamed mass graves at Warsaw’s Powązki cemetery, were unearthed in 2013 by a team from Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) led by Krzysztof Szwagrzyk.

They were laid to rest with honours at the Polish Navy Cemetery in Gdynia-Oksywie.

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