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OT: Was General Sikorski a victim of the Katyn massacre?

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Matthew Kruk

Nov 29, 2008, 4:27:36 AM11/29/08
Was General Sikorski a victim of the Katyn massacre?
Saturday, 29 November 2008 02:30 administrator
By Dr. Jozef Kazimierz Kubit
Part I

General Wladyslaw Sikorski, Chief Commander of Poland and Prime Minister of
the Polish Government-in-Exile.

Gen. Sikorski was 62 years old when he died as a soldier on July 4, 1943.
His visit in the Gibraltar fortress on the way from Cairo to London ended
tragically in mysterious circumstances, unexplained to the present day.

Lieutenant Ludwik Lubienski, the Chief of the Polish Military Mission in
Gibraltar, was an eyewitness of the events connected with General Sikorski's
death [7]. According to Lubienski, on Sunday, July 4, 1943, about 7 a.m.,
Russian Ambassador Ivan Maisky flew to Gibraltar, and after a meeting with
the British governor of the territory, Mason-MacFarlane, flew to Cairo, and
then to Moscow to report on his diplomatic efforts.

A more detailed report on his journey is given by Maisky himself [8, p.
369-371]. According to his memories from 1965, his plane left England on
July 3, around midnight, to land on Gibraltar on in the morning of July 4.
At midday his Liberator took to the air and proceeded eastward to continue
the journey. Usually, a plane flying from Gibraltar to Cairo had one landing
stage at the aerodrome of Castel-Benito, near Tripoli, but that time it went
a little farther. Maisky's plane landed at a military airport in the desert
around 6 p.m. on July 4, 1943.

According to Maisky, his plane was to leave around midnight and reach Cairo
on July 6, at 7 a.m., but this seems to be not credible. The route from the
military airport to Cairo would take around 31 hours, which is technically
unreliable. His story seems to be suspicious. It is also possible that
Maisky left Gibraltar not on Sunday, July 4, but Monday morning, July 5.

Even more improbable is Maisky's explanation of the reason for the landing,
not at Castel-Benito, but at the aerodrome in the Libyan Desert. According
to Maisky, Sikorski's plane departed on the morning of July 5 from Cairo and
the ambassador himself had left Gibraltar by that time. This way he admits
that he left Gibraltar not at noon on Sunday, but on the morning of Monday,
July 5 [8, p. 371]. It was obvious why Maisky's plane didn't land at
Castel-Benito. At that time Polish government didn't have diplomatic
relations with Soviet Russia, and the British, afraid of further
"misunderstandings", decided to prevent Maisky from meeting Sikorski, and
designated two different airports for them to land. So to hide the truth,
Ivan Maisky had to say that General Sikorski wasn't present in Gibraltar on
July 4 as he was in Cairo until July 5. Unfortunately, that kind of miracle
never happened. This is proof that Ambassador Maisky was shuffling.

According to Lieutenant Lubienski, during the night of July 3, courier Jan
Gralewski came to Gibraltar from Warsaw "with many coded reports from the
Commanding Officer of the Polish Underground Army". General Sikorski was
supposed to meet Gralewski right after 11 a.m. During the meeting Sikorski
was to decide whether Gralewski would fly with him to London on that day.
Then, at 1 p.m., General Sikorski inspected the Somerset Light Infantry. At
2:45 p.m., he met a group of 95 Polish soldiers evacuated from Spain,
waiting to be transported to the United Kingdom. As Tadeusz Kisielewski
recalls, the group contained at least 20 intelligence officers, who came
from the Near East or Algeria [6]. Then, according to Lieutenant Lubienski,
after a short rest, General Sikorski, together with British Minister of War,
Sir James Grigg, visited the Gibraltar fortress. Sikorski came back to his
apartment and at 6 p.m. participated in a cocktail party organized to
celebrate the 167th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the
U.S.A. As Lubienski describes, General Sikorski's plane took off at 11 p.m.
When the plane was taking off, one of the mailbags that were on board
slipped out, as it was probably close to the opened hatch [6]. After it
reached a certain height, the lieutenant noticed that the dwindling
navigation lights of the Liberator had stopped climbing. Slowly they began
to drop. The plane flew, on an even keel and apparently intact, into the sea
at an angle of about 10 degrees. The engines stopped suddenly. The plane
crashed into the water about 3/4 of a mile from the shore. Nobody except the
pilot survived. According to Lieutenant Lubienski, the body of Zofia
Lenniowska, the General's daughter, was never found. This may imply that, in
unknown circumstances, she managed to stay alive.

This is how General Sikorski's friend Karol Popiel, Polish parliament deputy
in 1922-1927, one of the most prominent Front Morges members and a member of
General Sikorski's government, describes the Gibraltar catastrophe in his
book [10, p. 190]: "One thing is sure for me beyond any doubts: General
Sikorski's death wasn't an accident. It was planned and it was supposed to
happen on his way to the Near East. That plan wasn't fulfilled, but it
succeeded six weeks later."

There are facts that prove that Lieutenant Lubienski's description the
events accompanying the death of General Sikorski was not truthful. After
Lubienski died, his daughter Rula Le?ska, a well-known in England actress,
said in one of her interviews: "I've got a feeling that my daddy was buried
keeping a big secret in his heart" [2, s.43]. Gralewski's wife, Alicja
Iwanska, in 1982 published his so-called letter-fragments [3]. On July 4th,
1943, at 6 p.m., Gralewski wrote [3, s. 198]: "Well, this phase is ending
and it ends unexpectedly impressively. Tonight I'm leaving Gibraltar. I'm
afraid the older gentleman [Sikorski] will tell me off for my conversation
in Madrid. But I'll defend myself. Moreover, there are high hopes for a
bright future... only a little bit... it's close. I can hardly write, too
many feelings, too many thoughts. Finally I've reached that stage of
intensity of life that it makes insight impossible. Maybe later, perhaps in
the future - and it will be a hundred times more exciting - I'll be able to
describe what's happening today." Nothing indicates that the real Jan
Gralewski met General Sikorski on that day. Gralewski would describe his
meeting with Sikorski. It was somebody else. It is obvious that Lieutenant
Lubienski, introducing somebody else to Sikorski, was aware of the
mystification. In the book mentioned above, Alicja Iwanska recalls her
conversation with Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz, a professor and long time friend
of her husband, who in his 1945 book "Remembering Past Philosophers,
1939-45" would write that: "Jan Gralewski died in the Gibraltar catastrophe
together with General Sikorski"[3, s.6]. Iwanska disagreed, saying that:
"(.) every death is a private death of an individual, and any attempt to
bind Gralewski with Sikorski, either for sensational or prestigious reasons,
would take his own death away from him." Her statement leads to the
conclusion that Jan Gralewski wasn't killed in the plane crash, but died in
a different way.

Czeslaw Szafran, in an article dedicated to controversies surrounding the
Gibraltar catastrophe, noticed that among the reasons why it can't be proven
that General Sikorski's death wasn't accidental are the difficulties in
identifying the way Jan Gralewski died [11, p. 245]. Eugeniusz Niebelski
thinks that Gralewski's body was found on the runway, but he doesn't give
the source of that information [9, p. 177].

The same was stated by Tadeusz Kisielewski. Alicja Iwanska in the
autobiographical novel called "Niezdemobilizowani" (Not Demobilized), in
which her husband bears the moniker Marek, wrote: "It was so-called luck,
that Marek did not struggle a lot; as they say, death from a bullet is easy:
a sharp pain and a brief moment of consciousness." [4, p.85]

From the documents of Jan Gralewski's file in the Polish Institute and
Museum of General Sikorski [1], we learn that he came with Boleslaw
Kozlowski to Gibraltar on June 23, 1943. These names are on the list of
passengers of the British cruiser "Carnival" and a battleship from Villa
Real to St. Antonio to Gibraltar. In remarks on that list it says Jan
Gralewski left under the name of Jerzy Nowakowski, and Boleslaw Kozlowski
left under the name of Wiktor Suchy. The same kind of list, from the same
ships, but dated on July 23, 1943, contains the names of Wiktor Suchy and
Jerzy Nowakowski. In remarks on that list it is stated that Wiktor Suchy
left under the name of Boleslaw Kozlowski, and Jerzy Nowakowski left as
Pawel Palkowski.

The passengers' list from June 23, 1943, contains the name of Pantaleon
Drzewicki, who left as Chaim Janowski, while the July 23 list has the name
of Stanislaw Izdebski, who left as Pantaleon Drzewicki. Tadeusz Kisielewski,
in his article, mentioned Stanislaw Izdebski as a supposed emissary of the
Polish Socialist Party (PPS), "who left Warsaw on March 28 and appeared in
Gibraltar on June 24." The author also brings up Józef Dunin-Borkowski as a
supposed courier from Skarzysko-Kamienna. The list of passengers from June
23 also contains a lance corporal Wojciechowski, who left for Gibraltar
under the name of Józef Dunin-Borkowski. The names of all people who came to
Gibraltar and their pseudonyms were put on the list according to a certain
plan. This plan made it possible for different persons who were not
necessarily on the lists to use the same names. The appearance of the same
names on the lists from June 23 and July 23 might have been caused by the
investigation of General Sikorski's death.

Jan Gralewski became a foreign courier on October 25, 1942, and started
passing through to France [3, p. 168]. He went there for the first time in
late November 1942 and came back before Christmas [5, p. 224]. His wife,
Alicja Iwanska, was already working for an underground organization army
(AK) "Lza-24", taking care of couriers traveling to France [3, p. 169-170].
At the beginning of January 1943, Gralewski left on another courier's
journey. His wife's task was to take care of the couriers getting ready for
a journey and coming back from it. She didn't help Gralewski as it was
against the rules of conspiracy. Iwanska was also providing couriers'
families with money during the time they were on the mission.

By the end of January 1943, Gralewski came back from the assignment only to
leave on February 8 under the pseudonym Pankracy for his last mission from
Poland. The Polish Underground State sent him to establish the track to
Spain for couriers. While Gralewski was away, Alicja Iwanska was taking care
of Boleslaw, another foreign courier much older than her husband [5, p.
228]. That Boleslaw might have been Boleslaw Kozlowski. In a conversation
with a Polish Home Army courier, Alicja Iwanska learned that Gralewski,
after a failed attempt to get from Paris to Vichy, was redirected to get to
Spain through the Pyrenees [3, p. 171]. On May 27, 1943, Jan Gralewski was
taken to Miranda del Ebro, a Spanish concentration camp [3, p. 186]. He was
hoping to be there for only 2 weeks, but he stayed in Miranda del Ebro until
June 23 - the day he came to Gibraltar. As Alicja Iwanska states, most
probably Gralewski left the camp thanks to the British [3, p. 171]. He wasn't
well-oriented in his plans as he wrote in a so-called letter-fragment to his
wife dated June 30:"Tomorrow we're going to be shipped to England".

The tragic fate of Jan Gralewski is probably a key to solving the mystery of
General Wladyslaw Sikorski's death. Tadeusz Kisielewski, in the article
titled "The mystery of the tragedy in Gibraltar," mentions the rumor noted
by Rev. Antoni Frugala in August 1943, about a secret order "telling every
Polish officer to shoot Wiktor Suchy, Polish Armed Forces officer"[6].
Unfortunately, the author didn't reveal the source of this information.

1. Archiwum Instytutu Polskiego i Muzeum im. gen. Sikorski, Londyn, Archives
Ref. No A.XII. 4/172.
2. Bzowska Katarzyna, Jedna noc w Gibraltarze, "Nowy Dziennik", New York,
July 4-6, 2003, p. 42-43.
3. Iwanska Alicja, Gralewski Jan, Wojenne Odcinki, Warszawa 1940 - 1943,
Oficyna Poetów i Malarzy, London 1982.
4. Iwanska Alicja, Niezdemobilizowani, Poznan - Warszawa 1945-46, Polska
Fundacja Kulturalna, London 1988.
5. Iwanska Alicja, Potyczki i Przymierza, Pamietnik 1918 - 1985, Gebethner i
Ska, Warszawa 1993.
6. Kisielewski Tadeusz A., Tajemnice tragedii w Gibraltarze, Cz. I. "Mówia
Wieki" 2001, nr 12, s.23-28: Cz. II "Mówia Wieki" 2002, nr 1, p. 23-27.
7. Lubienski Ludwik, The last days of General Sikorski: an eyewitness
account, in: Sword Keith (editor), Sikorski: Soldier and Statesman, A
Collection of Essays, Orbis Books (London) Ltd., London 1990.
8. Maisky Ivan, Memoirs of a Soviet Ambassador, The War: 1939-43, Charles
Scribner's Sons, New York 1968.
9. Niebelski Eugeniusz, Dobrze zasluzony Ojczyznie. W 120 rocznice urodzin
generala Wladyslawa Sikorskiego, "Rocznik Mielecki" 2001, t. IV.
10. Popiel Karol, Genera? Sikorski w mojej pamieci, Odnowa, London 1978.
11. Szafran Czeslaw, Kontrowersje wokól katastrofy gibraltarskiej, w:
Moszumanski Zbigniew, Zuziak Janusz (red.), General Wladyslaw Sikorski,
Szkice historyczne w 60. rocznice smierci, Wydawnictwo Adam Marszalek, Toru?


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