1983: Waldemar Krakos, Dekalog inspiration

Add comment October 10th, 2019 Headsman

Polish murderer Waldemar Krakos was hanged on this date in 1983 in Warsaw’s Mokotow Prison.

With a partner, Wiktor Maliszewski, he’d bludgeoned and strangled a female taxi driver to death on New Year’s Eve 1982/83, yielding a few thousand zlotys to drink away before their arrest on New Year’s Day.

Both initially caught a term of years when judge (and the future President of the post-Communist Supreme Court) Lech Paprzycki found that Krakos’s traumatic childhood rendered him mentally unfit to hang; but amid public clamor the sentence against Krakos was upgraded in June by the Supreme Court. (Although his was not a political crime, Krakos’s treatment was facilitated by Poland’s early 80s martial law.)

Prior to his execution the killer met cinema director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Five years later, Kieslowski’s acclaimed Dekalog drama series explores, in Dekalog: Five, a capital punishment case very much like Krakos’s own.

That film’s portrayal of violent lumpen “Jacek Lazar” brutally murdering a taxi driver and suffering a brutal hanging in retribution has been credited with helping bring about the abolition of the death penalty in Poland. Krakos, as a result, is among the very last to suffer that punishment in Polish history.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arts and Literature,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Diminished Capacity,Execution,Hanged,History,Murder,Poland

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1988: Stanislaw Czabanski, the last in Poland

Add comment April 21st, 2011 Headsman

On this date in 1988, in its last full year of Communist rule, Poland carried out its last hanging.

Stanislaw Czabanski, who killed a woman in Tarnow, was hanged in Krakow’s Montelupich Prison.

According to this 1996 survey of worldwide death penalty trends by British death penalty abolitionist Peter Hodgkinson,

In Poland, courts of regular jurisdiction rendered altogether 318 final death sentences between 1956 and 1988 (the last full year of communist rule), that is, on average, 10 death sentences per year … Seven death penalty sentences were passed on average each year in the 1960s; this number almost doubled in the 1970s. The decade of the 1980s was marked by the emergence of Solidarity, the first independent civic body ever in existence in a communist country, by the imposition of Martial Law in December of 1981, and by the repressive political climate in the subsequent years. However, one notices a pronounced decrease in the number of death sentences compared to the previous decade. Altogether sixty such sentences were passed between 1980 and 1988, an average of 7.7 per year … Jaruzelski‘s military regime used more carrots than sticks when dealing with the political opposition.

The contemporary artistic reflection of elites’ growing concern over capital punishment was the 1989 Krzysztof Kieslowski flick critiquing the death penalty in his Dekalog series.

Though Poland continued to hand out death sentences until the mid-Nineties, a moratorium on actual executions took hold.

One can, of course, never say what shall be for all time; while death penalty abolition was a condition for Poland’s European Union membership, the conservative-nationalist Kaczynski brothers have openly mooted reintroducing capital punishment.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,History,Milestones,Murder,Poland

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1987: Jacek Lazar condemned

4 comments November 27th, 2007 Headsman

On this date in 1987, according to the sentence read to him in the climactic scene of The Decalogue no. 5,* Jacek Lazar was condemned to hang for the senseless murder of a taxi driver. (“Lazar” was fictional, but he had a real-life inspiration.)

The movie, plainly reflecting the director’s opposition to the death penalty, is the most overtly political of Krzysztof Kieslowski‘s ten-film cycle exploring the themes of the Ten Commandments. But it is far from tendentious.

The supposed date of the actual execution, depicted here, is not identified.

If one credits the dates, this hanging would be among the last performed in Poland. After April 1988, death sentences were no longer carried out, and Poland formally abolished the death penalty in the late 90’s — thanks in no small part to this film.

* Or Dekalog, per its Polish rendering. This particular installation of the series is also referred to as “A Short Film About Killing”.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arts and Literature,Common Criminals,Fictional,Hanged,Mature Content,Murder,Poland,Theft,Uncertain Dates

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