360c.1121 Fedoryszyn, Justyn/47

The American Ambassador in Poland (Willys) to the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs (Zaleski)20

No. 135

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s Note No. P. II. 42.046/30 of December 10, 1930, in reply to the urgent Note of the Embassy, dated October 17, 1930,21 which requested that a thorough investigation be made as promptly as possible of a complaint formulated by Mr. Justyn Fedoryszyn, an American citizen, that he had been brutally beaten by uniformed soldiers of the Polish army at the Village of Sarniki on October 9.

I now am instructed by my Government to inform you that it has noted with astonishment the failure of the Polish Government to establish the fact that Mr. Fedoryszyn was the victim of an outrage at the hands of a detachment of Polish soldiers under the command of a responsible officer and to identify the persons who were responsible for the assault that was made upon him. Although the essential facts in this case were brought to the attention of the Polish Government as promptly as was possible, considering the physical condition of Mr. Fedoryszyn following the flogging that was administered to him and although these facts as presented in the Embassy’s Note of October 17th clearly were sufficiently detailed to have enabled the Polish Government to establish the identity of the perpetrators of the outrage, Your Government has found it possible only to advance certain theories as to the manner in which Mr. Fedoryszyn may have received his injuries which are totally excluded by the results of the medical examination of Mr. Fedoryszyn which were communicated to Your Government in the Embassy’s Note of October 17th. Information which has been obtained by the Government of the United States corroborates Mr. Fedoryszyn’s statement that he was flogged by Polish soldiers under the command of their officers. My Government is of the opinion that the Polish Government should meet with no difficulty in obtaining similar corroboration.

With reference to the intimation in your communication of December 10th that Mr. Fedoryszyn’s nationality was not known to the local authorities my Government has instructed me to point out that Mr. Fedoryszyn has submitted to the Department of State his American passport which bears an entry under date of June 4th, 1930, the [Page 958] date of Mr. Fedoryszyn’s arrival at the Village of Sarniki, signed and sealed by the Naczelnik of Sarniki, certifying that Mr. Fedoryszyn had that day reported his arrival to that official. Mr. Fedoryszyn has further submitted to the Department of State a certificate signed and sealed by the Starost at Bóbrka under date of August 4th, 1930, certifying that on that date Mr. Fedoryszyn had fulfilled the obligation of registration. In the certificate Mr. Fedoryszyn is described as an American citizen.

With reference to the specific allegations contained in your Note, Mr. Fedoryszyn denies that he negotiated for the purchase of a plot of ground in Poland and states that he had no intention of purchasing any property whatsoever in Poland. He further states he had no relations with any secret sabotage organizations in Poland, that he knew no member of any such organizations and that at no time did he engage in any political activity. Even had he been so engaged the flogging given him would not have been warranted or excused.

With regard to the reference in your Note to the circumstances that Mr. Fedoryszyn did not present a complaint to the Polish authorities, I believe that Your Excellency will agree that Mr. Fedoryszyn’s attitude in this regard is not surprising, in view of the fact that the outrage perpetrated upon him was inflicted by agents of the Polish Government and that as is pointed out in Your Excellency’s Note of December 10th the local authorities as well as a military detachment participated in the arrest of Mr. Fedoryszyn which immediately preceded the flogging that was administered to him. Mr. Fedoryszyn was unable to present himself at the Embassy at an earlier date for the reason that, as a result of the flogging, for four days he could scarcely move in his bed at his home in Sarniki.

Without entering at this time into a discussion of the propriety of the arrest of Mr. Fedoryszyn, I may state that in Mr. Fedoryszyn’s circumstantial account of the events which took place upon the occasion of his arrest there is nothing that would indicate that his attitude toward the arresting soldiers was insulting. Your Excellency will, I am certain, agree that even had Mr. Fedoryszyn exhibited an insulting attitude toward the soldiers at the time of his arrest, that fact would not have offered the slightest ground for the flogging which was later administered to him.

To the best of Mr. Fedoryszyn’s knowledge no fight occurred among the persons who were arrested with him, or between the soldiers and the arrested persons, either on the day of the arrests, or subsequently. I may here invite your attention to the circumstance that, as was pointed out in the Embassy’s Note of October 17th, the two qualified physicians of the United States Public Health Service who examined [Page 959] Mr. Fedoryszyn at Warsaw found that he had been systematically beaten with a blunt instrument. He bore no marks of spontaneous violence such as might have resulted from blows received in the course of a fight.

Mr. Fedoryszyn states that he was arrested on October 9th, 1930 at about 4:30 o’clock in the afternoon by two fully armed Polish soldiers. He was placed in a wagon which was under armed guard and which contained one other prisoner when he entered it. Subsequent to his arrest the wagon made three stops in Sarniki and three additional prisoners were taken. The wagon then proceeded to a barn situated in the village where nine other prisoners were held. All the prisoners were placed behind a partition in the barn and were called out singly by the officer in command of the detachment of soldiers and were flogged in another part of the building.

According to Mr. Fedoryszyn’s statement the commanding officer was addressed by the enlisted men as “Lieutenant.” When Mr. Fedoryszyn’s name was called by this officer Mr. Fedoryszyn presented to him his American passport and his certificate of naturalization as an American citizen. The officer examined the documents, and without returning them to Mr. Fedoryszyn remarked that “we will beat you in the American fashion.” Mr. Fedoryszyn then was stripped and flogged. He estimates that more than two hundred strokes were administered to him. His papers were not returned to him until two hours later. He, and the other prisoners were released at about two o’clock in the afternoon of the next day, after they had been held overnight without food in a cellar or pit near the barn. Mr. Fedoryszyn has no knowledge of a Captain Poznanski. He saw no officer of the rank of Captain.

Competent physicians who have examined Mr. Fedoryszyn have certified that he suffered painful injuries. In addition to subcutaneous hemorrhages which cover an extensive area of the posterior surface of the buttocks and thighs he was certified to be suffering as long after the flogging as December 1st, 1930, from a bronchitis which on October 15th, 1930 was acute. This condition he states resulted from exposure in the cellar or pit in which he was compelled to remain overnight subsequent to the flogging.

On the basis of the facts as they appear in this case, a wanton and unprovoked outrage was committed by uniformed soldiers of the Polish army on the person of an American citizen, resulting in serious injuries and illness to him. My Government is confident that the Government of Poland will not condone in any way this unjustified and premeditated assault committed under the command and supervision of a responsible military officer, upon the national of a friendly [Page 960] country, but that, on the contrary, it will promptly disavow this act, punish those responsible, and pay to Mr. Fedoryszyn a suitable indemnity for the injuries inflicted upon him.

I am instructed to request that adequate compensation be paid to Mr. Fedoryszyn and that the persons responsible for the assault upon him be punished with the degree of severity that befits their offense.

I avail myself [etc.]

John N. Willys
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador as an enclosure to his despatch No. 490, January 13; received January 29.
  2. Neither printed.