The inhabitants of Łódź only learnt the whole truth about what had happened behind the walls of the Radogoszcz prison on January 19, after the city had been seized by the Red Army. The atmosphere of euphoria over regained (as it seemed at the time) freedom was gradually dampened by information from Radogoszcz: about the burnt prison, about piles of bodies found in the ruins, and about the ruthlessness of the guards who had shot everyone trying to escape death in flames. Initially, the scale of the murder committed by Germans and its macabre course were treated with disbelief. However, the disbelief soon turned into despair at the senselessness of the crime and anger against its originators and perpetrators.
A shocking record of the despair felt by Łódź inhabitants, not only those who lost their relatives in the Radogoszcz massacre but everyone who witnessed the scale of the crime, is the material of the Polish Film Chronicle. It shows scenes that unfolded during the funeral of the victims of the Radogoszcz massacre, which took place on February 18, 1945, in St. Roch’s Cemetery. Thanks to the audio recordings available in this part of the exhibition, you are going to hear accounts of this event and of the Holy Mass celebrated a few days earlier in the ruins of the former prison.
The most extensive material we would like to present to you is a selection of press articles from 1945-1948 concerning the course of the investigation and the trials over Radogoszcz crimes. The press continuously provided citizens of Łódź with information not only about the massacre from January 1945, but also about the shocking incidents occurring in the prison during the five years of German occupation. Most articles are based on the evidence gathered in relation to the case, however, some repeat gossip spread by indirect witnesses of the events in question.
Due to the strong emotions and the general shock the Radogoszcz massacre gave the inhabitants of Łódź, the collective memory of Radogoszcz soon became an element of the local identity. Despite the years that have passed since the war, traces of this memory can still be found in architectural elements, regularly organised anniversary ceremonies, and works of art inspired by the wartime events.
They are presented on the infographic you will find in this part of the exhibition.