Warsaw, 5 October 1989
the Editorial Office of the “Zorza” weekly
Mr Jędrzej Tucholski
I turn to you in connection with your radio appeal for the submission of additional information about the victims of Katyn, and also in the hope that it will be possible to explain the fate of my Father, the late Antoni Prokop, which remains unclear to the present day.
My father was called up in 1939 and posted to the Military Police. I know nothing of his fate during the initial phase of the War, only that on 17 September 1939 (?) he was interned in Tarnopol by the Red Army. From that moment on we received no information from Father.
What do I know about subsequent events?
|1.||After the War I was notified by the International Red Cross that Father had perished in Katyn (he figures on the Katyn List).|
|2.||I received the same information from the Polish Red Cross, to which I turned twice, most recently in 1989.|
|3.||My Father’s surname and his correct date of birth are also on the list of officers from the camp in Kozelsk, which was published in “Zorza” no. 20, 14 May 1989, item 36/3.|
|4.||What is more, in the book entitled “Katyń. Lista ofiar i zaginionych [jeńców obozów Kozielsk, Ostaszków, Starobielsk]”, published by ALFA in 1989, my Father’s surname appears on page 133, on the list of identified victims, however it is accompanied by additional comments that are not completely comprehensible: “Prokop Antoni, Captain, 4 Leg. (Polish Social Welfare Committee, Regional Branch Board of the Polish Red Cross, and officers), 2 postcards, a letter, a telegram (AM799); only the following has been read from the documents: Vpro (?) Antoni, Captain (Victim List – page 11)”. – Does this note mean that only “Vpro, Antoni, Captain” was read from all of the documents in question? How then was it determined that “Vpro” stood for “Prokop”? – Or was the surname “Prokop” read from one of the said documents, and this unintelligible abbreviation originates from different documents altogether?|
|5.||In January 1940, the family of one of the officers held captive in Kozelsk received a similar letter, and it indicated that my Father had been in the camp at that time (I do not know any surnames or other details).|
|6.||An oral statement mentions that Father was seen in mid-1940 in Kazakhstan; however, this piece of information comes from a letter sent to her family by an acquaintance of Father – an elderly person, one Mrs Villaume (from Lwów), who had also been deported there and died, still in exile, shortly thereafter, before her information could be confirmed or corroborated. Her address was as follows: Anton Bułak, Comintern Farm, Semipalatinsk Oblast – Kazakhstan, while Father supposedly lived on a neighboring farmstead. My inquiry regarding this information and the above address, sent to the Polish Red Cross in 1959 and to the Polish Embassy in Moscow, only elicited the response that “according to information in the possession of the Soviet Red Cross in Moscow, the aforementioned has not been located on the territory of the USSR”.|
|7.||Furthermore, according to other oral statements, information about getting in touch with Father after 1940 in Kazakhstan was supposedly submitted by my Father’s cousin, Franciszek Prokop, a Commissioner of the Police in Lwów, who had been arrested and deported to a camp unknown to me, and who it was said remained in touch with his family – they had also been deported to Siberia – even until 1944, whereafter he was not heard of or from again.|
If the information under points 6 and 7 were to be true, this would have to mean that Father was sent from the camp in Kozelsk not to Katyn, but along with one of the few surviving groups of officers in a different direction – in this case other officers would have survived, too, remaining in the same vicinity or elsewhere. Maybe some information can be found concerning the topic?
But this is contradicted by a number of the documents found in Katyn – and it would be hard to assume that Father would have simply handed over his documents and correspondence, at the time an important keepsake, to someone. It would only be necessary to clarify what was actually read from those documents. (Or perhaps, taking into consideration that Father was called up to the Military Police, the abbreviation “Vpro” would stand for “V-prokurator” [V-prosecutor])? Have the documents which were found in Katyn somehow survived somewhere? I conjecture that most unfortunately not, or in any event that they are inaccessible.
By way of closing, I would like to give Father’s personal details. He was born on 3 June 1893 in Szynwałd, district of Tarnów, Kraków Voivodeship. His parents’ names were Antoni and Zofia née Robak. Prior to 1914 he studied at the Export Academy in Vienna, while during the First World War he served in the Austrian Army. Next, in the rank of Captain, he fought in the War of 1920 and was awarded the Virtuti Militari medal. He left the Army sometime in 1922–1923 (?), but later, on a number of occasions, took part in military exercises near Wilno. In 1925 he married Maria née Lewicka (she died in 1941). Before the War he worked at the PKO [bank] branch at Jasna Street. We lived in Warsaw at Filtrowa Street.
Two daughters remain from the family – I and my older sister Władysława. Mother died in 1941.
Maybe this information will help finally clarify the fate of my Father?
Attached please find a photograph of Father.