Nazi’s reprisals on civilians
Executions in Karolin and Kazanów on 18th March 1942
Hitler’s plans for total enslavement and destruction of Polish nation were partly blighted by conspiracy, however each action carried out by guerrillas inflicted reprisals on civilians. Aimd the appearance of militants’ groups in the woods, Nazi occupiers spread preventive terror, which hits in dwellers of rural areas. Villagers were often accused of supporting “bandits'', they were murdered and their households were burned down. In this way occupiers wanted to force Poles to cooperate in fight with guerrillas. For any damages caused by “bandits'' to Nazis, dwellers of villages many times had to pay with their lives. Rejection of cooperating with Hitler’s army was treated like an act of sympathy with underground, what was tantamount with being involved, and that’s mean - guilty. Nazi’s actions against armed conspiracy were also an exuse for gaining forced workers and quotas.
Occupiers were aware of guerrilla groups’ existence nearby Radom, which grew their strength. Greater amount of actions conducted by the resistance caused, that Wehrmacht troops stationed in General Government were more often involved in police actions. Nazis cared about keeping calm in the Radom district especially, because of the pre-war arms industry located there and used for Reich’s needs, also because of important railway mains which went through that land .
The reprisals gained strength in 1942. Since that time Nazis have chosen one way to manifest violence – fighting with guerrillas-”bandits”. The impact was directed especially at civilians from rural areas. In addition to current singular executions, mass murders of dozen people appeared. Frequently, Nazis started to practise collective responsibility, appeasement, mass arrests connected with inhumane tortures, imprisonment and settlement in concentration camps . Occupier in order to “restore safety” used group responsibility rule, which resulted in retaliation on locals. Due to the principle “death of German must be avenged hundredfold” , shocking murders in Karolin and Kazanów had been committed.
Local volksdeutschs, whose attitude to Poles became more inimical, put their hands to that. They started to settle old scores, which often had their beginning at village fests and common neighbourhood conflicts .
Shooting 57-year-old Stanisław Chołuj from Karolin was a revenge of winning land cases in court. Adam Rębiś from Sydół lost his life, because once he dug a hole on a well-trodden path on the edge of his field. Unluckily, in the evening a colonist drove by there by his bike, fell into the hole and… remembered that .
Among German colonists in Karolin, brothers Józef and Jakub Gramm and Stefan Jäger, showed great malevolence towards Poles and took part in village pacification with Wehrmacht soldiers, Gestapo and military police from Radom . In this cruel way they settled old scores with their neighbours .
Revenging the death of Józef Jäger, colonist from Karolin and Wehrmacht soldier, was an excuse for appeasement. He was killed by unknown offenders in February 1942, while he was visiting his friend in nearby Ranachów.
Hitlerian occupation authorities had been preparing action against Polish underground very carefully. First of all, they put villagers’ attention down by delaying the strike for three weeks; they used this time to gain information from colonists and local narks .
Germans make threats, but weeks last rather calmly – one week, two weeks, three weeks…Or maybe they forgot about this case? Meanwhile, on 17th March military crew come – 16 trucks, stop for the night at Sztokfisz in Sycyna – there they drink hard and… complete the list of convicted! At dawn they drive away in three directions .
In the morning, 18th March 1942, Nazis made mass arrests. A troop divided in two groups: one of them surrounded Karolin with adjoining villages (Sydół, Wacławów, Kroczów and Pcinolas) and other one – Kazanów, Wielgie, Miechów, Ostrówek, Zakrzówek and Ostrownica. First group of hitlerian soldiers gathered people in school in Karolin, second one – in Jakub Gramm’s buildings in Kazanów.
It has been dark yet, when on the snowy roads, leads to all villages in communes Kazanów and Ciepielów, appeared trucks full of SS soldiers, as it later came out. Armed SS-man got out of the trucks, most of them were sons of local colonists, and under cover of the night they’ve started surrounding sleepy villages. The action started at the same time in several adjacent villages. Banging on the doors and windows awaked dogs and tore people off the sheets. They couldn’t know what was going on. Some murmurs, later voices, calling, caltering of boots, clink of broken panes and bang of doors pried with butts, which shook the house – all of that hardly reached semi-consciousness .
One of the trucks stopped at a house in Wacławów. Dawn – entrance doors rumble fiercely under kicks and hits of Gestapo soldiers. After a while they spread all over the apartment, looking for their victims. On the list there were only Jerzy Grabowski , Bogna’s husband. They’re pulling him off the bed. From another room they’re taking awaken Wojtek Czapliński […] and Jan Gaudin  […]. Janek’s mother sent him from Warsaw to the village – she wanted to save him from roundups. Both of them weren’t on the list – they just were in the house. All of them, shackled, were put in the dining room. […] When the dawn was breaking, the prisoners were thrown into the waiting trucks and drove away. The truck turned to Karolin. […] Janek cried. When a military policeman asked him how old he is, he reprised “sixteen”. He was detached from the rest of the prisoners and ordered to go home. Janek started to run across the fields, and there, under the young birch tree, one precise shot of another MP took his life. Janek died, bleeding profusely, and on the next day this blood was kissed from the snow by his desperate mother, who was called by the phone .
This tragic events were remembered by one of the villagers from Karolin:
I was supposed to carry milk per quota, I didn’t want to go with that milk. The winter was so bad, it wasn’t freezing, but there was a lot of snow. You had to go in a rut. I saw they’re leading Chołuj , he walked in sheepskin coats, three armed Germans were leading him. One of his sons ran after him. The kid was barefoot, he had a piece of bread and a slice of lard in the hankie. Father took that, hugged and kissed his son and said: “Kid, I’ll never see you again”. German shouted, the child ran to the house, and the father was taken to the school, where the others were already. The ones, who were supposed to bury them, were already digging the hole. […] Kacyna’s son – Jan  (his father dug grave for him), asked his father: “Dad, for who I die and why?” He was just a kid. Nothing helped, but this father: “Sir, take me, me!”; but if this father said his name was Jan, they would let the boy free and kill the father instead. German asked: “Jan?”. Father said his name is Stanisław. German pushed him away and said “Nein!” His father once told, that when he fell into the grave, he lifted himself up in his hands, he looked at him and said “Oh Jesus!” German came to him, he had a bayonet on his rifle, and with this bayonet he stabbed him in this hole. Władysław Mamnicki  was coming back from a date just so and in that place in the woods, where the cross stands, he was shot, because he didn’t have documents. In the same place two other young people also died. They came from Warsaw, they came to visit their uncle in Wacławów. They didn’t have documents, Germans pulled them off their beds and killed them in the woods . I’m going further with that milk, I pass Józef Gładysz . As I see him – he was so handsome, nicely dressed: jackboots and came back from Warsaw that night. There was terrible fear. I thought this German would turn back and shoot at me. We almost reach and they lead Stasio Sałek . His sister-in-law told him to get out on the road and see where they will take his brother. He got out, stood in the middle of the road; Germans turned back, spotted he was looking and got back for him and killed him. When I came back home I couldn’t speak. My mother didn’t know what to do… 
In the school, where there was also an evangelical house of prayer, the prisoners were interrogated, with cruel tortures. At the same time, few dwellers of Karolin had already been digging the grave at the other side of the road. Prisoners, with tied hands, were led out from school, five men each, and lined up on the edge of the pit. The execution was carried out by a troop of ten and one officer, who finished off the wounded with the gun . Men, who had dug the grave, and the local population, gathered especially for this purpose, were forced to watch the crime. Among them, there were mothers, wives and children, who had to watch the death of their beloved ones.
Germans, after execution, marched off to the road led to Sycyna singing, with the flag, and there – scream, squeal and cry. Execution was carried out on the Gramm’s field. Blood was flowing from the grave for a long time; the grave was moving. There were eighty-few people. There were also some men brought from prisons, but they didn’t have any documents .
At the same time, a second group of Nazis gathered ca. 300 men in the Gramm’s buildings. There, after checking their identities, Germans chose those of them, who were on the list and sent them to Kroczów. 400 meters far from Kazanów, on the fields near the forests, 16 Jews under Nazis’ guard had been digging the pit. At first, Hitlerian soldiers commanded the Jews to lie face down, and killed them with a shot to the back of the head, later they shot Poles, in Kazanów 16 of them died . Like in Karolin, after the execution Nazis arranged a parade of military and police, who took part in that masacre, and later an ample libation.
The next day, we, dolorous mothers and widows, set little cross on the mass grave. Young German, Karolina Gramm, seeing us while praying, mocked: “Polish bitches come here illegally and yell because of eliminated bandits.” 
Karolina Gramm was arrested and on 27.02.1945 interrogated. The investigation was conducted by the Office of Public Safety, Investigative Department in Kozienice and Radom. She was accused of: affiliation to Hitler Jugend and denunciations of Poles, what was related to deportation on forced labor in Germany, imprisonment, tortures and death, dumping wreaths and flowers from places of murders, abusing prayers, and also helping with the list of convicts. During the investigation she testified that Poles in Karolin and Kazanów died by the hand of Józef and Jakub Gramm. She was put in the labor camp in Sikawa nearby Łódź and she escaped; the investigation in this case was suspended .
However, Jakub Gramm was overtaken by justice:
Jakub Gramm had a mill in Kazanów after the Jews, but he was cruel. He hit people, killed them, drowned in the river. Two Polish girls served him; they were guerrilla and denounced. They left him a letter to report himself somewhere, because he would have been killed sooner or later, but he got away from his house in Kazanów. He slept in the cemetery in Kazanów for seven months: summer, winter. Polish girl – Mala – served him; she was a great woman. Jakub came and said: “Mala, go; I’ll take a bath and go to sleep; I don’t have any strength to live, what’s that life for me?” Mala said: “Okay, I’ll go out to the garden” and she left, and he locked the doors up. He came and they came immediately. As many Jews he killed, Poles put to death, as much suffer he got. He had his hand stabbed with a knife… They got him there, to Gramm’s, and the blood oozed even after five days. At his funeral were more than 100 Gestapo soldiers and they read in this German cemetery: “For you brother, 100 piggish Poles will be killed and poisoned!”. My aunt understood, knew and warned – not to be a member of any gang, because death was above us .
After Gramm’s murder, Germans promised another revenge. A meeting of all villagers was called, there was also an officer with a translator. He explained that within a radius of several kilometers all men would be killed. However that threat wasn’t executed, because Gramm’s servant pointed perpetrator of murder – son of Jew Wicemacher. Wicemacher was an owner of a mill. He was murdered by Gramm, who took a mill after him and became its administrator. Lie for good motives saved the dwellers of Karolin .
After a year of execution Hitlerian soldiers dug out and burnt bodies, in both places, what makes an exhumation impossible. List of all names and exact number of people buried in the mass grave was never determined. According to the witnesses they were not only the villagers, but also prisoners from Radom.
Monument of murdered from Karolin presents a list of 55 names.
- 1. D. Brewing, »Musimy walczyć«. Codzienność zwalczania partyzantów w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie w 1942 roku, [w:] Przemoc i dzień powszedni w okupowanej Polsce, red. Tomasz Chinciński, Gdańsk 2011, s. 62 – 65.
- B. Hillebrandt, Partyzantka na Kielecczyźnie 1939 - 1945, Warszawa 1970, s. 104 – 105.
- D. Brewing, op.cit., s. 60.
- M. Rutkowska, Pani na Sycynie. Wspomnienia o mojej Matce w stulecie Jej urodzin, Wrocław – Janowiec – Radom 1998, s.112.
- W. Gołąbek, W oddziałach Batalionów Chłopskich na Kielecczyźnie, Warszawa 1958, s. 54.
- M. Kaca, Zemsta karolińskich kolonistów, “Tygodnik Radomski”, nr 1/82.
- H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, Stu za jednego. Karolin 1942 – 1997, Radom 1977, s. 17.
- Ibidem, s. 62
- Ibidem, s. 60.
- M. Rutkowska, op. cit., s.112.
- E. Simbierowicz, Z leśnych mgieł, Warszawa 1968, s. 8 – 9.
- Jerzy Grabowski – zięć Czaplińsksich, zarządca majątku w Wacławowie, organizator sieci terenowej Narodowej Organizacji Wojskowej. Zob. H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, op. cit., s. 24.
- Jan Gaudin, ur. w 1925 roku w Warszawie, Wojciech Czapliński, ur. 6 czerwca 1923 roku w Puławach. Czapliński jako uczeń tajnych kompletów kontynuował naukę w Warszawie, gdzie razem z przyjacielem Gaudinem należał do ZWZ-AK. Dzień przed egzekucją, 17.03.1942, roku młodzi mężczyźni przybyli do siostry Wojtka, zamieszkałej w Wacławowie, gdzie zostali aresztowani i zamordowani. Zob. H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, op. cit., s. 24 - 25.
- M. Rutkowska, op. cit., s. 112 – 113.
- Stanisław Chołuj – ur. w 1885 roku w Karolinie, był rolnikiem należącym do ZWZ, a następnie do BCh ps. „Topola”, „Wujek”. Zob. H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, op. cit., s. 23.
- Jan Kaca – ur. 1923 r. w Karolinie, związany z Narodową Organizacją Wojskową, kierowaną przez Jerzego Grabowskiego – administratora majątku Czaplińskich w Wacławowie, gdzie Jan pracował jako robotnik rolny. Zob. H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, op. cit., s. 23.
- Władysław Mamnicki – ur. w 1920 r. w Kroczowie, członek Narodowej Organizacji Wojskowej, a następnie oddziału BCh „Ośki”. Zob. H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, op. cit., s. 25.
- Mowa tu o wspomnianych: Janie Gaudinie, oraz o Wojciechu Czaplińskim, zob. przypis nr 13.
- Józef Gładysz, ur. 16.10.1918 r. w Karolinie, gminny komendant BCh ps. „Komar”. Zob. H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, op. cit., s. 23.
- Wspomniany Stanisław nie był na liście hitlerowskiej. Był na niej jego brat – Jan Sałek. Zob. H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, op. cit., s. 23.
- Relacja z dn. 17.10.2015, nagranie w posiadaniu autora. E. Sałek, Życie codzienne prowincjonalnego miasteczka pod okupacją niemiecką. Zwoleń 1939 – 1945, Kielce 2016, s. 77; maszynopis pracy magisterskiej.
- J. Fajkowski, J. Religa, Zbrodnie hitlerowskie na wsi polskiej 1939 – 1945, Warszawa 1981 s. 302 – 304.
- E. Sałek, op.cit., s. 77 – 78.
- H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, op. cit., s. 19.
- M. Kaca, ibidem.
- H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, op. cit., s. 64 – 65.
- E. Sałek, op. cit., s. 79.
- H. Kutera, H. Konarska, M. Kaca, op. cit., s. 52.