Montelupich Prison

Coordinates: 50°4′27″N 19°56′23″E / 50.07417°N 19.93972°E / 50.07417; 19.93972
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Montelupich prison
Bundesarchiv Bild 121-0316, Krakau, Gefängnis Montelupich, Häftling.jpg
Prisoners of the Montelupich Prison in 1939 after the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany
LocationKraków, Poland
Coordinates50°4′27″N 19°56′23″E / 50.07417°N 19.93972°E / 50.07417; 19.93972
StatusCorrectional facility, museum
Managed bySłużba Więzienna (pl)

The Montelupich prison, so called from the street in which it is located, the ulica Montelupich ("street of the Montelupi family"),[note 1] is a historic prison in Kraków from early 20th century, which was used by the Gestapo in World War II. It is universally recognized as "one of the most terrible Nazi prisons in [occupied] Poland".[1] The Gestapo took over the facility from the German Sicherheitspolizei at the end of March 1941. One of the Nazi officials responsible for overseeing the Montelupich Prison was Ludwig Hahn.[2]

World War II prisoners at Montelupich were made up predominantly of the ethnically Polish political prisoners and victims of the Gestapo street raids, but also German members of the SS and Security Service (SD) who had been sentenced to jail terms, British and Soviet spies and parachutists, soldiers who had deserted the Waffen-SS, and regular convicts. The number of political prisoners who passed through or ended their lives in the Montelupich in the years 1940–1944 is estimated at 50,000.[3] Kurkiewiczowa (see Bibliography) states that "medieval tortures" constituted the fundamental and principal interrogation method of the Germans.

Although the inscription on the plaque by the (side) door of the prison in the 1939 photograph pictured at right actually reads, "Sicherheits-Polizei-Gefängnis Montelupich", the name "Montelupich Prison" is strictly informal, based on common popular convention, even if it has now passed in that form into history. The Montelupich facility was the detention centre of the first instance used by the Nazis to imprison the Polish professors from the Jagiellonian University arrested in 1939 in the so-called Sonderaktion Krakau, an operation designed to eliminate Polish intelligentsia. Over 1,700 Polish prisoners were eventually massacred at Fort 49 of the Kraków Fortress and its adjacent forest, and deportations of Polish prisoners to concentration camps, incl. Ravensbrück and Auschwitz, were also carried out.[4] The prison also contained a cell for kidnapped Polish children under the age of 10, with an average capacity of about 70 children, who were then sent to concentration camps and executed.[5] In January 1944, 232 prisoners from Montelupich were executed by a Nazi firing squad at Pełkinie.[6] In late January or early February 1944, Wilhelm Koppe issued an order for the execution of 100 Montelupich prisoners as a reprisal for the unsuccessful attempt on the life of Hans Frank.[7] In the locality called Wola Filipowska near Kraków there is a monument commemorating the execution by the Nazis of 42 hostages, all Montelupich prisoners who died on the spot before a firing squad on 23 November 1943.

After World War II, Montelupich became a Soviet prison where NKVD and Urząd Bezpieczeństwa tortured and murdered Polish soldiers of the Home Army. At present, the building serves as a temporary arrest and detention facility for men and women, with 158 jail cells and a prison hospital with additional 22 cells.[8]

History of the property[edit]

Current view of the prison

The building housing the prison was not originally constructed for its purpose, but instead, was a historical property that was redecorated in the Italianate Renaissance style in 1556 by the Italian Montelupi family who introduced the first postal service in Poland for the court of Sigismund III Vasa.[9] Their Kraków manor house, known in Polish as the Kamienica Montelupich (Palazzo Montelupi in Italian), at Number 7 of the street to which it gave the name, was the starting point of the first international postal coach in Poland which departed from here for Venice in 1558.[10] The Jalu Kurek Park (see Park Jalu Kurka) in Krakow was formerly the palace garden of the palazzo Montelupi.

Current status[edit]

The prison was the site of the last administration of the death penalty in Poland, performed by hanging on 21 April 1988.[11]

Despite being officially recognized as both a historical monument and a place of martyrdom, the facility continues to be operated to this day as a combination of remand prison and ordinary correctional facility by the Polish Prison Administration (the Służba Więzienna), a unit of the Polish Justice Ministry. Its current official name is Areszt Śledczy w Krakowie. The infamous history of this facility continues to the present day, as evident in the 2008 death of the Romanian detainee, Claudiu Crulic (1975–2008; see Claudiu Crulic), an incident condemned by human rights groups (such as the Human Rights House Foundation of Oslo, Norway) which occasioned the resignation of the Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister, Adrian Cioroianu.[12]

Vincent A. Lapomarda writes in his book on the Nazi terror that

On inquiring about Montelupich, on Montelupi Street, when I was in Krakow on 18 August 1986, I was able to view it from outside and learned that even today, while still operating, it has not lost the evil reputation that it had during the Nazi occupation.[13]

Notable inmates[edit]

W. L. Frydrych, painter
prisoner in 1944
Wilhelm Gaczek, minister,
prisoner in 1941
Z. Jachimecki, composer
prisoner in 1939
Unidentified nun
prisoner in 1939
(German Federal Archives)
Stanisław Klimecki
president of Krakow
prisoner in 1939 and 1942
(three times)
Stanisław Estreicher
(seated on the right)
prisoner in 1939
Ignacy Fik, poet & critic
executed in 1942
Witold Kieżun, economist
prisoner in 1945
Edward Kleszczyński, senator
prisoner in 1942
Józef Padewski, bishop
prisoner in 1942
Władysław Gurgacz
executed in 1949

Nazi war criminals executed at Montelupich after the War[edit]

The First Auschwitz Trial
Kraków, November–December 1947

On 24 January 1948, twenty-one Nazi German war criminals, including two women, were hanged at the Montelupich Prison as a result of the death sentences handed down in the First Auschwitz Trial. Their names are listed below along with the names of the Nazi war criminals executed at Montelupich at other dates.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ulica Montelupich or "street of the Montelupis" itself is named after the Montelupi manor house (kamienica) located at Montelupich street Number 7, the so called Kamienica Montelupich built in the 16th century, and in the 19th century adapted as part of the Austrian military tribunal.
  1. ^ Adam Bajcar, Poland: A Guidebook for Tourists, tr. S. Tarnowski, Warsaw, Interpress Publishers, 1972. So also: Studia Historyczne, vol. 30, 1987, p. 106: "Więzienie Montelupich w Krakowie należało do najcięższych w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie" (The Montelupich Prison in Krakow was among the most severe prisons in the General Government).
  2. ^ Piątkowska 1977 (see Bibliography), p. 29.
  3. ^ Józef Batko, Gestapowcy, Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1985. ISBN 8303007203. Cited in Cezary Leżeński's review of the book in Nowe Książki, 1986, p. 127.
  4. ^ Wardzyńska, Maria (2009). Był rok 1939. Operacja niemieckiej policji bezpieczeństwa w Polsce. Intelligenzaktion (in Polish). Warszawa: IPN. pp. 261, 268–269.
  5. ^ Kostkiewicz, Janina (2020). "Niemiecka polityka eksterminacji i germanizacji polskich dzieci w czasie II wojny światowej". In Kostkiewicz, Janina (ed.). Zbrodnia bez kary... Eksterminacja i cierpienie polskich dzieci pod okupacją niemiecką (1939–1945) (in Polish). Kraków: Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Biblioteka Jagiellońska. p. 55.
  6. ^ Przewodnik po upamiętnionych miejscach walk i męczeństwa: lata wojny 1939–1945, ed. Rada Ochrony Pomników Walki i Męczeństwa, 2nd ed., Warsaw, Sport i Turystyka, 1966, p. 299.
  7. ^ Przewodnik po upamiętnionych miejscach walk i męczeństwa: lata wojny 1939–1945, ed. Rada Ochrony Pomników Walki i Męczeństwa, 2nd ed., Warsaw, Sport i Turystyka, 1966, p. 186.
  8. ^ Kierownictwo (2010). "Areszt Śledczy Kraków". Służba Więzienna. Okręgowy Inspektorat Służby Więziennej Kraków. Montelupich 7, 31–155 Kraków. Archived from the original on 4 September 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  9. ^ Letizia Gianni, Polonia: Varsavia, Lublino, Cracovia, Breslavia, Toruń, Danzica, i Monti Tatra e la Masuria, Milan, Touring Club Italiano, 2005, p. 101. ISBN 8836529232.
  10. ^ Jan Adamczewski, Kraków od A do Z, Krakow, Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1980, p. 85.
  11. ^ "Gwałciciel i zabójca zawisł: ostatnia egzekucja w Polsce", Gazeta Wyborcza, 20 April 2011. (see online).
  12. ^ Human Rights House Foundation, "Starvation Death of a Romanian at a Detention Center." Archived 2018-01-21 at the Wayback Machine Oslo, Norway.
  13. ^ Vincent A. Lapomarda, The Jesuits and the Third Reich, Lewiston (New York), Edwin Mellen Press, 1989, p. 136, n. 15. ISBN 0889468281.
  14. ^ Aleksandra Klich, "Papież i zakonnica", Gazeta Wyborcza, 26 April 2011 (see online).
  15. ^ "Lista harcerek i harcerzy straconych w więzieniach Urzędu Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego oraz przy próbie aresztowania w latach 1944–1956", [1]Archived 2018-03-20 at the Wayback Machine II Konspiracja Harcerska, 19441956.
  16. ^ Małopolska w II Wojnie Światowej (see online).
  17. ^ Biography of Stanisław Lubomirski online.
  18. ^ Encyklopedia Solidarności ("Solidarity Encyclopedia"), s.v. "Zbigniew Szkarłat" (see online).


Eyewitness accounts[edit]

  • Stefan Krukowski, Nad pięknym modrym Dunajem: Mauthausen, 1940–1945, Warsaw, Książka i Wiedza, 1966. (One of the most informative books about the nature of Montelupich Prison.)
  • Wanda Kurkiewiczowa, Za murami Monte: wspomnienia z więzienia kobiecego Montelupich-Helclów, 1941–1942, Krakow, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1968. (Eyewitness account of the conditions of imprisonment of female prisoners in Montelupich and their treatment at the hands of the Nazis.)
  • Judith Strick Dribben, A Girl Called Judith Strick, foreword by Golda Meir, New York, Cowles Book Company, 1970. (First published as And Some Shall Live, Jerusalem, Keter Books, 1969. "Montelupich Prison was a big red brick corner building, surrounded by a high wall with barbed wire and broken glass on top.": p. 67 of the U.S. ed. See Notable inmates.)
  • Antonina Piątkowska, Wspomnienia oświęcimskie, Krakow, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1977, pages 29ff. (Another books of recollections by an inmate.)
  • Frank Stiffel, The Tale of the Ring: A Kaddish: A Personal Memoir of the Holocaust, Wainscott (New York), Pushcart, 1984. ISBN 0916366219. (See Notable inmates.)
  • Kazimierz Tymiński, To Calm My Dreams: Surviving Auschwitz, tr. Maria Tyminska-Marx, Chatswood (New South Wales), New Holland Publishers, 2011. ISBN 1742571085, ISBN 9781742571089. (Chapter "From Montelupich to Auschwitz". Originally published as Uspokoić sen, Katowice, Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1985. ISBN 8303012142. Filmed in 1988 as Kornblumenblau by Leszek Wosiewicz. See Notable inmates.)
  • Gusta Davidson Draenger, Justyna’s Narrative, ed. E. Pfefferkorn & D. H. Hirsch, tr. R. Hirsch & D. H. Hirsch, Amherst (Massachusetts), University of Massachusetts Press, 1996. ISBN 155849037X, ISBN 1558490388. (First published as: Gusta Dawidsohn-Draengerowa, Pamiętnik Justyny, ed. Joseph Wulf (1912–1974), Krakow, Centralna Żydowska Komisja Historyczna przy CK Żydów Polskich, 1946. Arguably the most extraordinary book about Montelupich ever written. See Notable inmates.)
  • Barbara Pikuła-Peszkowska, Gdzie jest twój grób, Ojcze?, Bytom, Oficyna Wydawnicza 4K, 1997. ISBN 8385214313, ISBN 9788385214311.
  • Stanisław Dąbrowa-Kostka, Rysunki więzienne 1946–1949 Stanisława Dąbrowy-Kostki: katalog wystawy: grudzień 2003, ed. P. M. Boroń, et al., Muzeum Armii Krajowej im. Gen. Emila Fieldorfa Nila w Krakowie, 2003. ISBN 8391514013. (Catalogue of an exhibition of "Drawings from Prison" by a former inmate. See Notable inmates.)

Historical studies[edit]