Danuta Sieikówna “Inka”, an eighteen-year-old liaison officer and a nurse in the Vilnius Brigade of the Home Army, was murdered 75 years ago, on August 28, 1946 in Gdańsk, by the communist secret police. Recalling the memory of her fight and the circumstances of her death made “Inka” one of the symbols of the anti-communist underground struggle.
Danuta Sieikówna was born on September 3, 1928 in Guszczewin near Narewka, on the edge of the Białowieża Primeval Forest. She grew up in a family with patriotic traditions. Father Wacław Siedzik, as a student of the Polytechnic University in Petersburg, was sent to Siberia in 1913 for participating in the Polish independence organization.
In February 1940, Siedzik, like many other foresters, was deported deep into the Soviet Union by the NKVD. He worked as a slave laborer in a gold mine near Novosibirsk. After signing the agreement on July 30, 1941, Sikorski-Majski joined the army formed by General Władysław Anders, but he died in 1943 and was buried in the Polish cemetery in Tehran.
Danuta with her mother and sister were thrown out of the forester’s lodge. They settled in Narewka. Mother Eugenia, already under German occupation, became involved in the activities of the Home Army. In November 1942, she was arrested by the Gestapo, and in September 1943, after a heavy investigation, the Germans murdered her in a forest near Białystok.
Arrested for collaborating with the anti-communist underground
After the death of her mother, in December 1943, 15-year-old Danuta, together with her sister Wiesława, swore the Home Army oath and underwent sanitary training as “Inka”. After the Red Army entered Podlasie in 1944, she started working as a clerk in the Hajnówka forest district. In June 1945, together with other employees of the forest inspectorate, she was arrested by the NKVD-UB group for collaborating with the anti-communist underground. She was freed from the convoy by a patrol of the Home Army in Vilnius, Stanisław Wołonciej “Konus”, the subordinate commander of the 5th Vilnius Brigade of the Home Army, Maj. Zygmunt Szendzielarz “Łupaszka”.
In the Konus unit, and then in the squadrons of Lieutenant Jan Mazur “Piast” and Lieutenant Marian Pluciński “Mścisław”, Inka was a nurse. For a short time its superior was Lieutenant Leon Beynar “Nowina”, deputy major. Łupaszki, i.e. the later famous historian Paweł Jasienica. On September 7, 1945, Łupaszka gave the order to disband his group.
At the turn of 1945 and 1946, with documents in the name of Danuta Obuchowicz, Sieikówna started working in the Miłomłyn forest division in the Ostróda district. To authenticate her new identity, she claimed that she had been deported to East Prussia, from where she returned after being captured by the Red Army.
In the branch of Zdzisław Badocha “Żelazny”
In the spring of 1946, she made contact with Sec. Zdzisław Badocha “Żelazny”, commander of one of Łupaszka’s squadrons. Until July 1946, she served in his squadron as a liaison officer and a nurse, participating in actions against the NKVD and the UB. At that time, the concept of the anti-communist underground in Pomerania was developing, according to which support for the troops was to be provided by soldiers from Kresy living in this region, and communication with emigration circles was possible through the ports. The underground soldiers were also to be favored by the mood of the local population, who were treated by the Soviets and Communists as collaborators of the Germans. In October 1946, Major Szendzielarz arrived in Pomerania. He commanded a detachment of 40 to 60 soldiers.
Inka never used a weapon, although she had a German pistol. In May and June, she took part in several attacks on militia stations and the secret police. At the end of June, Żelazny’s squadron attacked the train from Gdynia to Katowice and shot five Soviet officers. It was the last action in which Inka took part. On June 28, Żelazny was killed in a clash with a group of militiamen, but the other squadron soldiers did not know about his death.
Allegations for Inka
In July 1946, Inka was sent to Gdańsk, Malbork and Olsztyn. The goal of her mission was to obtain medical supplies for the squadron and to try to determine the fate of Badocha. In Gdańsk, Sierpikówna stayed in the apartment of the Mikołajewski sisters who came from Vilnius. The house was watched by security officers because its address was revealed by the liaison officer, Łupaszki, arrested in April 1946.
On July 20, 1946, Sierpikówna was arrested in Gdańsk by UB functionaries and imprisoned in Gdańsk. Initially, the officers did not know that Inka was the detained person – Ina Zaleska was mentioned in the first documents from the investigation – her name from false documents.
The indictment against Inka was drawn up by an officer of the Provincial Public Security Office in Gdańsk, Andrzej Stawicki. It included allegations of participation in an armed union aimed at overthrowing the people’s power by force and murdering policemen and soldiers of the Internal Security Corps. Inca was accused of, inter alia, incitement to shoot two UB functionaries during the operation of the Żelazny squadron in Tulice near Sztum. Despite the torture, she did not plead guilty to the charges against her.
Sentenced to death
Before the Military District Court in Gdańsk, Inka was denied access to the indictment. All witnesses gave incriminating statements against Inka, although the defense attorney tried to argue that Inka had been forced to participate in the fight led by the squad. The process took about two hours. On August 3, 1946, Sierpikówna was sentenced to double the death penalty for belonging to an organization which “was to remove by force the established organs of the nation’s supreme power and violently change the democratic system of the Polish state.” It added that Inka “committed numerous attacks on officers of the UB and MO, SOK and soldiers of the Red Army, members of a political organization.”
In the secret message sent to the sisters from the Sierpikowski prison, she wrote: “Tell my grandma that I acted as it should be”. According to the researchers, this sentence should be explained not only by the course of the investigation, but also by the refusal to sign the request for pardon. Such a request was sent to the president of the National National Council, Bolesław Bierut, from her defender. Bierut did not use the right of grace.
Danuta Sieikówna died on August 28, 1946 at 6.15 from a headshot fired by the firing squad commander – previously none of his soldiers had hit Inka, although they were shooting from a distance of three steps. A moment before Inka’s death, Feliks Selmanowicz “Zagończyk”, shot with her, shouted: “Long live Poland!”. Inka managed to add: “Long live Łupaszko!”.
She is buried at the Garrison Cemetery in Gdańsk
In 1991, the Gdańsk Provincial Court declared the judgment of 1946 invalid. It was recognized that Inka acted for the independence of the Polish state. In 2014, the IPN team during work at the Garrison Cemetery in Gdańsk, under the supervision of prof. Krzysztof Szwagrzyk, found and exhumed the remains of a young woman with a shot through the skull. March 1, 2015, on the National Day of Remembrance of the Cursed Soldiers, The Institute of National Remembrance announced that genetic tests confirmed that these are the remains of Danuta Sieików.
It was also confirmed that the remains of the man buried nearby belonged to Feliks Selmanowicz. On August 28, 2016, at the Garrison Cemetery in Gdańsk took place solemn funeral of Sierpików and Selmanowicz. – Zagończyk was posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and Inka to the rank of second lieutenant.
The prosecutor in Inka’s trial was prosecutor Wacław Krzyżanowski, who demanded the death penalty for the then 17-year-old girl. Krzyżanowski in the Third Republic of Poland was accused by the Institute of National Remembrance of participation in communist crimes, but was acquitted twice by the court. He died in 2014 and was buried with military honors at the Koszalin cemetery, and scandal caused by this event led to the resignation of the commander and commander of the local garrison.
Main photo source: IPN