In 2019, 80 years have passed since the criminal action against the Polish intelligentsia, later named “Sonderaktion Krakau”. On 6th November 1939, among 183 arrested professors and other academic staff there were nearly all professors and associate professors of the Mining Academy, of which three professors were tortured and murdered in the Nazi concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, including two rectors: professor Antoni Hoborski and professor Władysław Takliński.
The German invasion of Poland in September 1939 stopped the activity of the Mining Academy. On 6th September, Krakow was seized by the German army. The university was plundered of its property, and the Germans started preparing the university’s main building to become the seat of the General Government. Despite insecure political situation, the Poles decided to organise some teaching activity. As early as on 9th September, at the invitation of the rector of the Jagiellonian University, there was a meeting of about 20 people connected with teaching and education. As a result of the discussions, it was decided to establish the Temporary Commission on Education as a collective body. Moreover, knowing the favourable attitude of some high-rank German officers and the German president of the city, on 19th October 1939, the Senate of the Jagiellonian University decided to open the university in the academic year 1939/1940. Initially, it was also planned to start the educational activity of the Mining Academy. However, due to the occupation of the main building by the German authorities, it was eventually announced that in the academic year 1939/1940 the university would remain closed.
Meanwhile, on the demand of SS Sturmbannführer Dr Bruno Müller, a government councillor, a general meeting of the professors of the Jagiellonian University was called on 6th November 1939 in order to inform them about the opinion of the German authorities on the matters of science and education. On that day at 12 o’clock, many professors and lecturers gathered in room 66 of the Collegium Novum. The building was surrounded by the Gestapo, and the gathered people were arrested. Among the arrested individuals there were also professors of the Mining Academy, who at the same time participated in their own meeting taking place in the boardroom of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Jagiellonian University. 183 people were imprisoned – they were professors, associate professors and academic assistants of the Jagiellonian University and the Mining Academy, as well as a number of individuals not connected with the university.
The following professors were arrested during the so-called “Sonderaktion Krakau”:
The arrested academics were held in prison in Montelupich St, then transported to barracks in Mazowiecka St, later moved to prison in Wrocław, and finally transported to the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen. After several days of terrible ordeal, professor Iwan Feszczenko-Czopiwski and associate professor Mikołaj Czyżewski, who were both of Ukrainian nationality, were released. Due to an advanced age, associate professor Edward Windakiewicz was also released (he was 81 at that time).
The following died in the concentration camp:
Elderly professors were released on 9th February 1940. The ones still kept in the camp were Andrzej Bolewski, Stanisław Gołąb, and Julian Kamecki. They were transported to the concentration camp in Dachau, and released only in the last quarter of 1940. Releasing the professors was possible thanks to a united protest action carried out by the scientific environments all over the world.
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