April in Poland is a month of special remembrance of the victims of the Katyn Massacre. It was in April 1940 that the Soviets began executing Polish prisoners and captives. In total, they murdered almost 22,000 Polish citizens held in prisons and special camps of the NKVD. This crime also affected the Niwiński family, whose memorabilia we present as April Exhibit of the Month.
Until September 1939, Antoni Niwiński served, among others, in Białystok, as an officer of the State Police. After the outbreak of the war, he was sent to the special camp in Ostashkov, and then in the spring of 1940 he was murdered in Kalinin (today’s Tver). His body was thrown into one of the mass graves in the forest near Mednoye.
At the same time, in April 1940, the Soviets carried out the second mass deportation of Polish citizens. The victims of it were, among others, the family members of the victims of the Katyn Massacre — among them Antoni’s closest relatives. His wife Janina, children: Anna, Henryk and Ryszard and mother-in-law Marianna Malinowska were deported to Soviet Kazakhstan. Not everyone managed to return to Poland. In 1944, Anna died in the “inhuman land”, and two years later, one day before the planned departure to the country — Marianna. In 1944, Henryk joined the so-called Berling’s Army, with which he walked the combat trail. After three years of service, he was demobilized and returned to Białystok. Janina and Ryszard returned to Poland in 1946.
The April exhibit can be seen to the end of the month.