Historical story

Rape pills in pre-war Poland [18+]

Poles stubbornly insisted that a sleeping or unconscious woman could not be taken advantage of. And this despite the fact that at the same time German professors warned students to always check if their companions ... were not pouring something into their drinks.

The first Polish penal code, introduced in 1932, recognized as a crime synonymous with rape any act committed against a person "completely or partially unable to recognize the meaning of an act or to direct its proceedings." "The limitation in sanity may be permanent or temporary, due to (...) unconsciousness, intoxication with alcohol or other intoxicants" - stated Wacław Makowski in a popular commentary on the regulations.

The earlier, possessive regulations also defended women who were befuddled or bewildered by their attackers. The Austrian code referred to as "unconsciousness". In German it is about "deprivation of will" and in Russian - about "disorder of spiritual activities".

Necessary adjustments?

The celebrities of the world of sexology maintained that similar regulations were absolutely necessary. One of the German professors even emphasized that "in his lectures on gender issues" he consistently:

(...) memorizes I will give you a hint that never - when in the company of men in a restaurant - they will never come out even for a moment, because there is a danger that the companion will be left behind in private, put a narcotic into the drink given to them .

Still from the film Is Lucyna a Girl. 1934

Even if the term "rape pill" did not exist before the war, the very specificities used to incapacitate women were commonplace. They could be bought in both German and Polish pharmacies or at secret traders. The judges and prosecutors apparently did not see the problem, however.

It doesn't happen in Poland

In the detailed crime statistics from the mid-1920s there is a column "Co-operation with an unconscious, deprived of will or mentally ill". This crime, however, is considered to be a complete phenomenon. In 1924, 25 people were sentenced for them throughout the country. Almost all of them in the judicial districts of Warsaw and Lviv. The rest of the country stubbornly insisted that a sleeping or unconscious woman could not be taken advantage of.

After 1932, the situation - paradoxically - only worsened. A new, seemingly clear and decisive provision was adopted on sexual offenses committed against helpless victims. Leon Wachholz, however, had no doubts that the paragraph in question was a mere shell.

Gaps in the law meant that the perpetrators could feel "completely unpunished". The influential expert had a lot of evidence, both from his own practice and from wider literature. Nevertheless, no one was in a rush to patch the recipes.

"Insidious intoxication". Examples of non-existent crime

Perhaps as in the debate about whether it is possible to rape an adult woman at all the decisive vote was Wiktor Grzywa-Dąbrowski. The most famous Polish forensic pathologist commented on the subject of "insidious intoxication" and the use of drugged or drug-induced women with cool nonchalance.

He didn't believe in any rape pills. Just as he had not believed in the rape itself for years. "A careful examination of all the examples we considered showed that there is usually a deliberate, less often unconscious, misleading of the judicial authorities in order to justify oneself in the eyes of the family and the environment," he stated in 1936.

Replacement of tram tracks in pre-war Warsaw. In the background you can see the "Pod Żubrem" bar. According to specialists at that time, at least those from outside Poland, it was precisely the bars that could be places particularly dangerous for women.

A dozen or so years earlier, in 1923, a citizen of Łódź, Michał Andrzejewski, raped his own 14-year-old daughter, having put her to sleep in advance with "some intoxicating fluid".

In 1934 in Chorzów, servant Jadwiga Jonderka was attacked in the basement by a "masked individual" who began to strangle her and then gagged her mouth with a handkerchief "saturated with some acid". The unconscious woman was not found until a few hours later, with great difficulty waking her from a coma.

The "Seven Pennies" boulevard reported the story, stressing at the end that the claims of the victim "seem quite unlikely". And probably exactly the same would be commented on by Wiktor Grzywa-Dąbrowski. Intoxication? Probably an attempt to "mislead the judicial authorities"!