With Chronicles of Terror, a project of the Witold Pilecki Center for Totalitarian Studies, Poland’s unique historical experience is given a chance to reach a wider audience both in Poland and abroad. From now on, personal accounts describing the experience of victims and witnesses of the terror of two totalitarian regimes will become known to a wider public, beyond the scholarly community.

The collected testimonies tell a story of many individuals, citizens of pre-war Poland who, following the invasion of the Second Polish Republic by Germany and the Soviet Union, experienced the consequences of living under a double occupation.

The main purpose of this edition of primary sources is to make the archival material available to all interested parties: Poles and the international community, scholars and students, journalists and creators of culture, families and local communities. We wish to popularize the materials which, so far, have been locked away in archives and hardly accessible.

The testimony database is not intended as a critical edition of primary sources. The creation of such an edition would require years of effort and a large research team. Instead, we present a readily available digital archive containing scans of the original documents and their transcripts, fully searchable in Polish and English.

It has been our aim to make as few amendments to the original material as possible. The task of analyzing and interpreting it is left up to the reader. Our goal is to create digital versions of original documents with only a basic editing touch. We want to give voice to the sources, for it is on their proper critique that knowledge of the past should be based.

The editing principles followed in adjusting the source material for online publication are those commonly used by Polish authors (see publications by Ireneusz Ihnatowicz, Józef Szymański, Janusz Tandecki and Krzysztof Kopiński). To ensure consistent linguistic standards, we follow PWN’s Słownik Języka Polskiego and Adam Wolański’s Edycja Tekstów. Grammar and spelling mistakes are corrected, as are slips of the pen (lapsus calami). These corrections are unmarked in the text, bearing in mind, however, that we make every effort to reproduce the documents as faithfully as possible. The language of the sources is modernized only to a small extent in order to preserve their original sound. Editing annotations, put in square brackets, are kept to an absolute minimum and all proper names (surnames, place names) are given in their original version, with obvious spelling mistakes corrected.

We do not reveal the identity of those who appear in accounts recording cases of rape. Rape is a particularly humiliating crime, hence out of respect for victims and their families, we have decided to conceal their identity. Whenever it is possible to identify a victim of rape, we provide only the victim’s initials, replacing the removed text with square brackets.