The IPN’s Memorial Chamber was opened at 8 Strzelecka Street, where in the years 1944–1945 the headquarters of the NKVD were located. Polish activists of the independence underground were imprisoned and brutally tortured there.
During the ceremony, a letter from the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda was read out by the Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the President Wojciech Kolarski. "Celebrating the 10th National Remembrance Day of the Cursed Soldiers, established upon the initiative of the late President Prof. Lech Kaczyński, at a special time of the national celebration of the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence, on the 100th anniversary of the victory over the Bolsheviks in the war of 1920, as a tribute to the heroes of the anti-communist underground, with the highest appreciation and gratitude to all, thanks to whom the participants of the "second underground" are part of our everyday lives as symbols of living tradition and heritage so important to us Poles, I would like to thank to the organizer and guardian of the ‘8 Strzelecka’ Memorial Chamber in Warsaw's Praga, namely, the Institute of National Remembrance for commemorating those who devoted their lives to the service of their homeland and nation. I am convinced that memory and historical truth are the foundations of our nation's identity and contribute to building the spirit and strength of a free, independent and sovereign Poland - honour and glory to the heroes, and the eternal memory to those who died for Independent Poland,” is the message that President Duda addressed to the organizers of the commemoration of the Polish pro-independence underground.
The opening of the Memorial Chamber at 8 Strzelecka Street was attended by representatives of the government, the Polish Sejm, the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression, the Polish Army, as well as institutions and organizations dealing with history and the commemoration of events regarding Poland’s history. The relatives of the victims of communist crimes and one of the prisoners of the arrest at 8 Strzelecka Street - Krystyna Miszczak-Opałło - were also present.
The press conference at 8 Strzelecka Street was attended by the President of the Institute of National Remembrance Dr Jarosław Szarek and the head of the Branch Historical Research Office of the IPN in Warsaw Dr Tomasz Łabuszewski, the originator of the memorial chamber and the author of the substantive part of the permanent exhibition at "8 Strzelecka Street".
During the event the "Red map of Warsaw" exhibition authored by the Warsaw branch of the IPN was inaugurated. It is devoted to communist repressions in Poland, with a particular focus on Warsaw.
The official opening of the "8 Strzelecka Street" Memorial Chamber took place on 28 February 2020, at 10.30 p.m.
The memorial chamber will be open to visitors on 1 March 2020 (from 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.), from 2 March 2020 (Monday to Friday) from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
The tenement house at the corner of Strzelecka Street and Środkowa Street was built in the years 1936-1937. It was owned by Zygmunt Jórski. It had a very solid construction with reinforced concrete ceilings and extensive basements, especially those overlooking Strzelecka Street. Originally, three floors and three entrance gates to the courtyard were built. At the outbreak of World War II the building was still under construction. During German occupation, it was inhabited by squatters, who used individual flats until Red Army troops entered Warsaw.
The tenement house in Strzelecka Street was affected neither during the Warsaw Uprising, nor during the fighting for the Praga district in September 1944.
At the turn of 1944 and 1945, it ceased to be an ordinary residential building, being taken over by the Soviet special services. In the winter of 1945, it was used as one of the quarters by General Ivan Serov - Deputy People's Commissar of the NKVD, and from January 1945 the representative of the NKVD with the 1st Belorussian Front.
Formally, from 20 February 1945, the building became the seat of the Provincial Office of Public Security in Warsaw. The flats on the first, second and third floor overlooking Strzelecka Street were converted into interrogation rooms. Twenty-five basements previously used as pantries were converted into a detention centre. Two closets under the stairs (without ventilation, lights or windows) were changed to solitary confinement cells. Due to very large number of detainees, the flats on the ground floor were also used as prison cells.
In the years 1945–1948 many thousands of those arrested – mainly from the circles of the Polish independence underground – were imprisoned there. An unknown number lost their lives as a result of torture by NKVD and Public Security officers. The previously quiet yard resounded with the cries of the tortured.
In October 1948, at the request of the Ministry of Public Security, the Warsaw Metropolitan Council deprived Z. Jórski of the ownership of the tenement house at 8 Strzelecka Street. It became an ordinary residential building again, but this time for the officers of the communist security apparatus.