Zygmunt Szendzielarz, codename Lupaszka, was reburied in Warsaw’s Powazki military cemetery last Sunday in the presence of government ministers and Polish President Adrzej Duda.
Szendzielarz is believed to have led the unit of Armia Krajowa, Polish resistance group, which murdered between 20 and 27 Lithuanian civilians, including children, in the town of Dubingiai on June 23, 1944.
Polish post-war partisan resistance units, known in Poland as “cursed soldiers”, regularly attacked ethnic minority communities and murdered over 5,000 civilians, historians say.
Another resistance fighter Romuald Rajs (codename ‘Bury’), who operated under Szendzielarz’s command, was found by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) to have been responsible for the pacification of several ethnically Belarusian villages on Polish territory in 1946.
Poland’s current right-wing government have been making sustained efforts to rehabilitate the “cursed soldiers” as patriots and heroes.
President Duda said in March that a plaque for the “cursed soldiers” should be added to Warsaw’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument to killed defenders of Poland.
The leader of Poland’s ruling party Law and Justice, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has also announced plans to build a museum in Warsaw commemorating the post-war resistance fighters.
Szendzielarz was arrested by communist authorities in 1948 and died in prison in 1951, aged 41. Lupaszka was buried in an anonymous mass grave, but his remains were rediscovered in 2013.
The decision to give a state funeral to Szendzielarz, who was also posthumously awarded the rank of colonel, was criticized by Poland’s daily Gazeta Wyborcza and opposition parties, lrytas.lt reports.