Historical story

A baby in an outhouse. Infanticide in pre-war Poland [18+]

A male infant, several days old, was recovered from the sewer pit, still alive and completely healthy - reported the daily "Prąd" in its issue of November 26, 1931. The incident took place in Łódź at 50 Limanowskiego Street.

The maid was afraid that due to pregnancy and childbirth (which were supposedly the result of "innocent flirting") she would lose her job. So she did what several hundred women did every year. She made an attempt to murder her own child before anyone knew of his existence.

Crime without penalty

It was Władysława H. who was caught red-handed and brought to justice. She was arrested for 3 months and her child was transferred to a nursery. Most similar cases, however, ended in the death of the child, and the perpetrators (and the perpetrators!) Often avoided any punishment.

The infamous infanticide of Krysiakow in the photo of "Secret Detective".

Of course, the pre-war press only wrote about those murderers who were brought to justice. These were not, however, front-page issues. Incidents of infanticide were considered a rather unpleasant part of everyday life. As such, they deserved only a few lines in collective chronicles.

Infanticide in the drawing of "Illustrated News".

More attention was paid to cases involving particular cruelty. In October 1935, a certain Zofia Stefaniak abandoned her twelve-day-old daughter in the middle of the forest near Kórnik. And not just anywhere, but in a huge anthill. The dead and badly bitten child was found after a long time by local peasants. The mother was arrested, but not until March of the following year. Until then, she was successfully hiding. Once she was handcuffed, she began to explain that she did not realize what she was doing.

With particular cruelty

Also in March 1936, a brutal infanticide took place in the village of Orpiszewo near Krotoszyn. A recently widowed woman choked twins born the day before. As with dozens of such cases, it was due to poverty. One of the infanticide's neighbors made a macabre discovery - two tiny bodies lay at the bottom of the drainage canal.

Three months later, in the village of Przysucha in Kielce, on the way to an attack of frenzy a certain Zofia Stolarska stabbed her five-month-old baby with a kitchen knife, and then, with the same knife, she cut the throat of her two older children . She also tried, but unsuccessfully, to commit suicide.

Excerpt from the article about Władysław H. published by the Łódź-based "Prąd".

In June 1936, Dziennik Poranny also reported on an inhuman mother who drowned a child to get rid of the hassle and cost of living once and for all. The Poznań maid, Stefania Cyrkówna, gave birth to an illegitimate child, which she gave up for raising to a certain Florentyna Cichoń. She paid her 15 zlotys every month, until she lost her job. Then she picked up the baby and drowned it in the Swarzędz Lake. The court sentenced her to two years in prison, suspended for five years. So the child killer did not end up behind bars at all.

Father's love

Of course, not only women were guilty of similar crimes. In many cases, the murders were carried out by fathers. In Upper Silesia he became a bloodcurdling deed nineteen-year-old Wilhelm Tkaczyk from Katowice. As reported by the "Secret Detective" in April 1931, the man strangled his illegitimate child, then dismembered the body and buried it near the airport. The authorities of the reports of the unhappy mother, who had been looking for her child in vain, had traced his footsteps.

Edwin Schmalz from Rycz in Żnin district showed even greater brutality. From the day his illegitimate son was born - the fruit of his relationship with his servant, Helena Siekierska - he strove with all his strength to remove him from the world, apparently wanting to avoid paying alimony later. The mother, sensing the worst intentions of her lover, guarded the child like an eye in her head. When my father offered to sell them to a restaurant owner for PLN 1,000, the woman indignantly refused.

It seemed that this was the last attempt by Schmalz to get rid of the child. Meanwhile, the boy became seriously ill. Siekierska could not count on Schmalz's help, so she borrowed money from her friends and went to the doctor: Unfortunately, the help was late. The doctor diagnosed severe enlargement of the liver due to intoxication of the body. The boy died. It turned out that little Erwin was not sick at all, but was deliberately poisoned. Schmalz accused Siekierska of the crime, but she successfully defended herself against the police. Investigators believed her version of events and arrested the degenerate father. The latter proved his guilt himself, by tossing a bottle of poison to Siekierska's bed after the fact. In the second instance, he was sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Stanisław Galewski from Krotoszyn also killed because of money. Although he was not threatened with alimony, because he had married children, he explained to law enforcement officials that he earned little and lived in a cramped cottage. Therefore, on May 9, 1936, he took his two daughters, four-year-old Łucja and seven-year-old Kazimiera, for a walk by the pond.

There he paused for a moment (...) and after finding out that there was no one around, he pushed both daughters into the pond at the same time. As the pond at this point was very deep, the girls drowned immediately.

Maria Zajdlowa. One of the loudest murderers of the Second Polish Republic. You can read about her gruesome crime in the book "Fallen ladies of the Second Republic".

As if nothing had happened, Galewski returned home, ate dinner with his wife and behaved completely calm for the rest of the day. It was only when his wife began to worry about the absence of his daughters that he himself suggested that she call the police. It was not the right decision on his part. A month later, the court sentenced him to 15 years in prison - an unusually high penalty for infanticide.

Living with a poisoner

It was certainly not about money, but Paweł Grzeszolski from Sosnowiec. He was the director of a metal factory, he earned quite a lot. His actions really shocked society - for example, Dziennik Poranny wrote about him fourteen times in two months. And what did Grzeszolski do? For several years he systematically poured poison into the food of his children. Finally, at the age of sixteen, after a long illness, the twins (Jerzy and Lucyna) died. The maid employed by Grzecholski, Cabajówna, also died.

The infamous infanticide of Krysiakow in the photo of "Secret Detective".

The court called over 150 witnesses to the hearing. Journalists came from Warsaw, Vilnius, Łódź and Poznań. In a word from all over Poland. The prosecution relied on multiple autopsies and expert opinions. The accused himself did not admit his guilt until the end, so it was a circumstantial trial. Ultimately, the poisoner was sentenced to life imprisonment and deprivation of all public rights.

Immediately after the verdict was passed, Dziennik Poranny reported that Grzecholski behaved completely calmly during transport to prison. A few weeks later, journalists also reported that the accused had started learning foreign languages ​​behind bars. For a short while, the former factory director caused a similar sensation as recently "Mother Magda". And then it evaporated from public circulation.

Murder for 17 zlotys

Although parents were the most frequently accused (and guilty) in similar cases, there were also cases of kidnapping and murdering children by complete strangers. On July 23, 1935, a certain Janina Szymczakówna kidnapped a pram with a seven-week-old girl in Warsaw. She strangled the child and threw the body into the fortress moat near Ulrych's garden only to ... sell the stroller for PLN 17. The police had to arrest her twice, because the first time the killer slipped out of the station and escaped from Warsaw. When she was finally put in custody, began to explain that she did not want to kill the child at all. She hoped to get a ransom for them, and she wanted to use it to treat her syphilis.

The candy constrictor

The case of 45-year-old Anna Krysiakowa, heard by the summary court in Łódź, caused even greater excitement. The "Secret Detective" reported that on April 23, 1932: with the help of candy, [she] lured 4-year-old Kazia Szkudlarek into the forest in the village of Mikołajów, where she strangled the child and hanged it. In the course of the investigation it turned out that it was not a completely accidental crime. The victim turned out to be an illegitimate child of Krysiakowa's husband. Theme? Revenge, of course.

Infanticide in a Warsaw hotel. An excerpt from an article from "Dziennik Morning".

The court sentenced Krysiakowa to life imprisonment. He resigned from the death penalty only because of her unsuccessful marital relationship and weaker the constitution of the accused as a woman. Thus, the lack of gender equality saved the criminal from the noose.


The article is based on source materials and literature collected during the work on the book "Upadłe damy II Rzeczpospolitej".