Historical story

What did the KGB have to do with the murder of Father Popieluszko?

Last updated:2022-07-25

Whether in the stalking, harassment, or maybe kidnapping Fr. Popiełuszko On October 19, 1984, could the Russians be involved? Are the real principals of Cpt. Grzegorz Piotrowski and companies could be in the Kremlin? Several threads just cry out for clarification ...

Today we know that the three murderers of the chaplain of "Solidarity" had discreet comrades on the day of their kidnapping. Who was spying on them? According to the findings of the former prosecutor of the Institute of National Remembrance, Andrzej Witkowski, these were officers of military counterintelligence. They were even supposed to watch the murderers throw the body of Fr. Jerzy to the Vistula from the dam near Włocławek.

Surprising contacts of the killer

There is, however, another possibility. It is known that Capt. Piotrowski, one of Father Popiełuszko's killers, had contacts with KGB officers. These could be normal business relations, periodic meetings routinely organized by the Ministry of the Interior and individual departments.

The KGB headquarters in Lubyanka. Is this where the strings were pulled in the Popieluszko case? (RIA Novosti archive, image # 142949 / Vladimir Fedorenko / CC-BY-SA 3.0).

On the other hand, it is worth noting that for the first time Piotrowski went on a several-day delegation to Czechoslovakia to meet his Soviet comrades already in 1980, when he was only 29 years old. Random or inexperienced people did not go to such meetings. Was his dizzying career aided from Moscow? It is not known. However, this thread is associated with yet another violent death.

Mysterious accident

On November 30, 1984, the full investigation into the murder of Fr. Jerzy, in a road accident in Białobrzegi two high officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were killed :head of department in the Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Lt. Col. Stanisław Trafalski and his subordinate Major Wiesław Piątek, as well as their driver. The officers' car was run over by a truck, clearly the fault of the driver of a larger vehicle.

The officers were returning from the southern regions of the country, where - as it unexpectedly turned out - they investigated the previous actions of Piotrowski and his companions. Why exactly in the south? And why was the head of the department personally involved in this research?

Popiełuszko was kidnapping crowds ... and the authorities were afraid that he would use the influence against them. A mural from Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of Father Jerzy (photo:Krugerr, license of GFDL).

There is a hypothesis that experienced officers could have investigated the issue of Piotrowski's informal contacts with a KGB officer, which were to be established during the captain's holiday stay in Bulgaria. The notes the officers were carrying with them mysteriously disappeared.

The KGB and the Polish Church

The Soviet pressure to crack down on the Polish Church and its rebellious servants is also undeniable. On September 12, 1984, in Moscow's Izvestia, an article was published in which the question was:"is it possible that Popiełuszko and other clergy like him could engage in disruptive political activity against the will of the higher church hierarchy? ”.

Popiełuszko was ruthlessly accused of collaborating with "fierce counter-revolutionaries" and "hating socialism" . The mention of a specific name by a Soviet daily was an exceptional move.

Immediately afterwards, at the seat of the Ministry of the Interior at ul. Rakowiecka, there was a series of meetings during which important officials of the 4th Department of the Ministry of the Interior (fighting religious unions) wondered how to silence Fr. George.

What does the judgment say?

What is significant, during the so-called the Toruń trial, at which the priest's murderers were tried, their immediate superior, Adam Pietruszka, in his first testimonies spoke of the participation of the "Soviet" in the kidnapping of Fr. George. His words, however, were enigmatic and he quickly withdrew from them.

The court decided not to develop this thread - obviously not for substantive reasons, but for political reasons. We cannot rule out that Petrushka was "advised" not to mention this topic anymore.

The auxiliary prosecutor Jan Olszewski tried to refer to the Russian thread. In the Third Republic of Poland he became Prime Minister (photo from the President of the Republic of Poland, license GFDL 1.2).

As a result, during the trial, the Soviet thread was implicitly suggested once more. "Who benefited when Poland was weak?" - asked significantly Jan Olszewski, who was the auxiliary prosecutor. And he replied that any child with an idea of ​​their history knows this.

Years later, the prosecutor mentioned that in the investigation files he found information about Piotrowski's trips to Moscow and the fact that the captain had a foreign currency account in rubles.

Olszewski made an even bolder assumption. In his opinion, killing Fr. Jerzy could have been the result of a game at a very high level - not in Warsaw or even on the Warsaw-Moscow line, but in the Kremlin itself.

Card of the Chairman of the KGB of the USSR, Yuri Andropov. His death in 1984 started a carousel of changes in power. Is that why Popiełuszko died? (source:public domain).

The transitional secretary general of the Central Committee of the CPSU was then ailing Konstantin Chernenko, so there was a brutal fight for the future power. One of the contenders could be supported from Warsaw, so for his opponent (s), hitting the Polish leadership (or the Ministry of the Interior) was an attempt to weaken the rival.

Was it really so? Without access to the still secret Russian archives, this question must remain unambiguously answered.


The article was based on the literature and materials collected by the author during the work on the book "To kill. Political murders in the People's Republic of Poland ” (Horizon 2016 sign).