SR Translations of Documents

Purging Libraries: Six Documents

The items below detail the three nationwide purges of libraries in Soviet-occupied Poland in 1949, 1950, and 1952. All documents and checklists were obtained from the Archiwum Akt Nowych in Warsaw. We reproduce the memoranda in full and provide the first pages of the three checklists. (Ed.)


DATE: [handwritten] 1949
FROM: J. Albrecht, Director of the Department of Propaganda, Education and Culture [of the Central Committee of PUWP(1)]
J. Kowalczyk, Director of the Department of Education [of the Central Committee of PUWP]
TO: First Secretaries of the District Committees of PUWP(2)

The school and general libraries [in Poland] are still polluted with books whose content is politically harmful or hostile. The Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Culture have undertaken the task of purging the library collections. This work is to be performed in July, August and September of this year [1949].

The party cells are to conduct this action and make sure it is efficiently performed.

In order to accomplish this, party troikas(3) are to be appointed in counties and cities. Each troika should consist of the following: 1. member of the county or city PUWP committee appointed by the committee’s first secretary 2. chairman of the county or city council or his deputy (if he is a party member) 3. school superintendent or his deputy (if he is a party member).

The troikas are charged with supervising the action and appointing the working committees (consisting of two or three persons) to perform the actual purging of libraries.

These working committees should consist of politically correct people. Their task will be to use the checklist (provided by the school superintendent) of books to be removed, and on that basis to single out books that must be removed from individual libraries. Upon receiving the checklist, library directors should immediately (according to the instructions of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Education) send the purged books to the school superintendent, who will send them to the district school board.

When the work is finished, the checklist provided by the superintendent should be returned immediately. It is forbidden to make copies of it.

The party troika must assign the dates of purging of each and every local library, so as to purge all county libraries between 15 July and 15 August. All school libraries will be purged between 15 August and 15 September.

If the working committee sees on the library list a book that is not on the checklist but according to the opinion of the committee should be removed, they should make a list of such books giving author, title and date of publication. This list should be sent by the troika to the district party committee department responsible for propaganda, education and culture. He in turn will send it to the Department of Education of the Central Committee. Enclosed is the form according to which this information should be dispatched. The information will be used in making subsequent lists of books that should be purged.

The action of library purging must be treated confidentially. University and college libraries are not to be purged this way.

First secretaries of the district party committees are responsible for the timely and efficient performance of this task.

1. Instruction of the Council of Ministers
2. Instruction of the Ministry of Culture
3. Form to be used in reports on additional books that should be purged
4. Checklist of books to be purged (for the district party committee)


DATE: 1 October 1951
ISSUED BY: Central Library Office, Ministry of Culture

A. List of books that should be removed immediately4 (first priority):

1. A.Ch., The Bolshevik Constitution
2. A.Z., Freemasonry: The Comintern Trojan Horse in Poland (Documents)
3. Adamowicz, B., The Triumph of the Yellow Ones
4. Adamowicz, B., The Merry Marshal
5. Adamowiczes, B. & J., Across the Atlantic
6. Adamski, St., The Catholic Action for Youth
7. Adamski, St., My View on the Nationality Question in Silesia under German Rule
8. Adamski, St., The Confessional School According to the Teachings of the Church and the Synod of Bishops
9. Adamski, W., How to Form Youth Organizations
10. Adamski, W., Civic Education
11. Adel, J., For the First Time: A Novel
12. Akst., What Kind of Army Do We Want
13. The Leader and the Nation
14. Information about Poland
15. Albrecht, K., Der verratene Sozialismus
16. Album of Photographs of the Polish Legion
17. Album of Photographs of Polish Leaders Issued on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of Regaining Independence
18. The Boy Scout Almanac
19. Alter, W., Man and Society
20. Alter, W., The Fighting Socialism
21. Aldanov, M.A., all works
22. Andreyev, L., Red Laughter
23. Andreyev, L., Life of Father Basil
711. Kossak-Szczucka, Z., all works
1145. Pilsudski, Jozef, all works
1174. Polish Democratic Thought. New York 1945
1472. Thugutt, S., Cooperatives: An Outline of their Goals
1473. Thugutt, S., Lectures on Cooperatives
1483.Truchim, S., Tenth Anniversary of Polish Independence: 11 November 1918-11 November 1928
1485. The First Battalion of the Polish Legion
1486. Trylski, Z., A Short Guide to Camping
1495. Tworkowska, J., Keep Marching
1496. Tworkowska, J., Girl Scouts
Ultima Thule -- look for Great Encyclopedia Ultima Thule
1501. Umiastowski, R., J. Pilsudski, the Organizer of the Polish Army
1502. Umiastowski, R., People of the Sea
1503. Unszlicht, J., Let There Be Pogroms of the Polish People

B. List of out-of-date books that should be removed:

1. Baginski, W., People's Voting. Warsaw: Wiedza 1946.
2. Baginski, W., Electoral Law for the Seym. Warsaw: Wiedza 1946.
3. Barcikowski, W., From Liberal to Social Democracy. Warsaw: Ksiazka 1947.
4. Barlicki, N., Proletariat. Warsaw: Wiedza 1947.
5. Barski, J., The Big Wave, Parts 1-2. Warsaw: Ksiazka 1946.
6. Bednorz, Z., From Opole to Wroclaw. Warsaw: PZWS 1946.
7. Bielecki, W., Europe: A Profile. Warsaw: Radiowy Instytut Wydawniczy 1946.
8. Bielecki, W., Old and New Democracy. Warsaw: Czytelnik 1946.
9. Bielski, A., The Laws of New Poland: A Guide for Social Activists. All editions.
10. Bienkowski, S., The Social Man. Krakow: Gebethner & Wolff 1946.
11. Bienkowski, W., The Science of Contemporary Poland
12. Bienkowski, W., The Warsaw Uprising. Warsaw: Ksiazka 1945.
13. Blinowski, F., A Selection of Problems Concerning Cooperatives. Warsaw: Spolem 1948.
14. Bolewski, A., Economic Value to the Slavic World of the Regained Territories. Poznan: Polski Zwiazek Zachodni 1947.
15. Borejsza, J., So There Come Elections...Warsaw: PIW 1946.
16. Brodzki, St., Palestine Fighting for Freedom. Warsaw: Ksiazka 1948.
17. Brus., W., Hallucinations and Reality. Warsaw: Ksiazka 1946. Brzechwa - look under Minkiewicz, Brzechwa J.
18. Bystron, J., Sociology: Informative and Bibliographical Introduction. All editions.
19. Chajn, L., Present and Past of People's Poland. Warsaw: Nowa Epoka 1946.
239. Zytomirski, E., America in flagranti. Katowice: Awir. 1947.

C. List of childrens books that should be removed:

Attention: While performing the purge of libraries it is important to pay attention to the addresses of publishers of books on the list (that is to say, to the place, year and publisher), because in some cases titles are to be purged only when they were published by a wrong publisher. For instance, the Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm are to be purged only in editions mentioned on the checklist; other editions are to remain in the libraries.

1. Al-Ar, all works
2. Albin, E., About Warsaw Streets, Houses and Apartment Houses. Warsaw. br. b.w.
3. Acedanski, J., Acedanska, Z., Let Us Play. Krakow: Biblios
4. Arct, J., The Blessed Night. Warsaw: Ksiegarnia Kroniki Rodzinnej 1929.
5. Arct, M., The Merry Fear. Warsaw: M. Arct 1929.
6. Arct, Z., Navy-Blue. Warsaw: M. Arct 1931.
7. As, Under the Yoke of the Caesars: A Historical Novel. Poznan: St. Wojciech's Bookstore 1920.
8. Auderska, H., The Caterpillars of the Great Parade. All editions.
9. Babinski, T., How Little Gregory Acquired a Treasure. Poznan: Wilak 1945.
10. Fairytales for Well-Behaved Children. Warsaw: Record Children's Library 1951.
11. Bandowna, S., Futinka's Adventures. Katowice: Catholic Bookstore.
12. Baranowski, J., Children Are Reading Poetry Poznan: Pomoc 1947.
13. Barbour, R., In Pirates' Claws. Krakow: Wyd. Ks. Popul.
Batorowicz J., Gensowna F., look under Gensowna F., Batorowicz J.
14. Baturewicz, F., Christmas Star. Warsaw: Samorzadowy Instytut Wydawniczy.
15. Baumgarten, A., The Fox Matysek and His Adventures. Katowice: M. Kowalski 1947.
149. Grimm, Fairytales, edited by E. Jezierski. Warsaw: J.Przeworski 1937.
150. Grimm, Fairytales, edited by E. Korotynska. Warsaw: Ksiegarnia Popularna 1951.
151. Grimm, Fairytales. A free translation by M. Raczynska. First and second ed.
152. Grimm, Historical Fairytales. Warsaw: Ksiegarnia Popularna.
153. Grimm, Fairytales, edited by E. Jezierski. Warsaw: J. Przeworski 1932.
154. Grimm, Fairytales, edited by F. Korn. Warsaw: Zlota Biblioteczka.
155. Grimm, Fairytales and Stories. Warsaw: Nowe Wydawnictwo.
156. Grimm, The Ten Most Beautiful Fairytales, edited by E. Korotynska. Warsaw: Ksiegarnia Popularna.
157. Grimm, New Fairytales, tr. M. Rosciszewski. Warsaw: J. Przeworski.
163. Brothers Grimm, The White Snake and Other Fairytales. Warsaw: J. Czarnecki.
563. Zycki- Malachowski, L., The Underground State. Warsaw: M. Arct 1936.


DATE: 22 February 1952
FROM: J. Kowalczyk, Director of the Department of Education, PUWP Central Committee

There are about 80,000 city, county and school libraries in Poland.

In 1949 and 1950, purges were performed on the basis of checklists. In addition, librarians were told to be continuously vigilant about the quality of their collections (unfortunately, most librarians are politically inexperienced and cannot perform this function effectively).

In 1949 the purge was performed in 92% of libraries. 60,000 volumes were removed. On the average, 0.3% of collections were removed. In 1950, 1.8% of all collections were removed. However, many libraries still contain harmful books because:
1. the lists submitted were incomplete
2. some libraries have not been purged
3. not everywhere was the work done thoroughly
4. libraries continue to be littered by books of dubious value coming from various bequests

The present purge is divided into three checklists:
1. books that must be removed immediately
2. out of date books
3. books for children
The enclosed checklists contain 2,474 titles, and they have been compiled thanks to local informants by the Central Library Office and the Central Institute for the Control of Publications and the Press. Some of these titles appeared on the previous checklists as well.

The 1949 purge was performed by the party apparat, the 1950 purge was done by the education departments of the city and county councils, and was supervised by the appropriate party committees. According to the instructions of the Ministry of Culture, the present purge is to be supervised by the praesidia of the district councils acting through the departments of education and culture of these councils. They are to use full time library employees and representatives of social organizations. The decision about the political correctness of said employees and representatives is to be taken by the praesidia of local councils. The action will be supervised by county and district party committees.

The purging of school libraries is to be performed by the school administration with the participation of the librarian. Trade unions are to purge their own libraries, just as they did in 1952. Parish, monastery and convent libraries are temporarily not to be purged. A special set of instructions is being prepared for them, according to the guidelines of the Office for Religious Affairs.

In 1950 on the county level, persons who supervised these actions were paid zl. 450 - 500 on a per diem basis. The Central Library Council contributed zl. 15,000 toward the sum spent on remuneration. This year, no per diem expenses have been budgeted because those performing this action are full time employees of libraries and institutions which are to be purged.

The checklists of books to be purged are to be printed in 2,000 copies. Thus one checklist will be used by 40 libraries.


DATE: 5 July 1952
FROM: Waclaw Morawski, Deputy Director, Council of Ministers, Team II, No. II-1123/tjn/52
CONFIRMED BY: E. Dornfest, Department Head
TO: Heads of district, county and city councils

The Ministry of Culture and the Central Library Board will shortly begin the purging of libraries.

On the district level, this project will be carried out by the praesidia of the district councils using special committees consisting of representatives of the departments of education, culture, religious affairs, DOSZ and the district office for control of the press, publications and theatrical performances. Those districts which do not have offices of that kind (Zielona Gora and Koszalin) will instead draft members from the department of administration.

It is desirable for the praesidia of the district committees to invite representatives of the district committees for education and culture to participate.

On the county level, the program will be carried out by the praesidia of the county councils which will form committees consisting of the same kinds of members as those on the district level, except that instead of the offices for control of the press, members of the departments of administration will be utilized.

The purging of libraries and private and parish bookstores will begin as soon as the Ministry of Culture issues an appropriate decree applicable to the entire country. The action is to begin simultaneously throughout the country.,

Since this project is important, the Praesidium of the Council of Ministers, Team II, requests that praesidia of the district councils be particularly diligent in preparing for that action, and that they speedily accomplish the goals outlined in the forthcoming decree of the Ministry of Culture.


DATE: 11 July 1952
FROM: S[tefan] Staszewski, Department of Publications and the Press, PUWP Central Committee
TO: All PUWP District Committees, Departments of Propaganda, Education and Culture

Enclosed are the Instruction of the Council of Ministers, and the Instruction of the Library and Private Bookstore Board of the Ministry of Education, concerning the purging of libraries of bad and politically harmful books.

The departments of propaganda of party committees at all levels should help the praesidia of city councils in organizing and executing this action, and see to it that the work is done in compliance with the enclosed instructions. In particular, attention should be paid to the selection of cadres that are to perform the actual cleansing. This work should be entrusted to the most politically correct people among those working in education, culture, library and other social institutions.

The departments of propaganda should help in the proper planning of this action and should control its course.

The work should be performed over a period of four months. It must be performed systematically, so that most of the work is not relegated to the final month, a mistake that negatively affected the quality and speed of the 1950 purge.

The purging of private bookstores should be performed with particular vigor in the course of three days, to avoid giving an opportunity to hide the forbidden books.

Directors of the propaganda, education and culture departments in the district party committees are responsible for this action. Upon completion, please send us a report on how it was performed.


DATE: 12 July 1952
FROM: S[tefan] Staszewski, Director, Department of Publications and the Press, PUWP Central Committee
TO: First Secretaries of the District Committees of PUWP

The action of library purging is now being conducted throughout the country. Enclosed is the checklist of books which are out of date or which are to be removed because the authors so desire. In order to remove these books from libraries, it is recommended that county and city [PUWP] committees appoint a troika of party members, or several troikas led by comrades from the county or city [PUWP] committees.

On the basis of the lists of books in local libraries provided by the city or county department of education, the troika should do the following:
1. establish the order in which specific libraries will be purged
2. unconditionally remove those books which are mentioned in the enclosed checklist
3. make sure that the removed books are listed in the "lost books" catalog
4. prepare a written report about this action for the county party committee; the report must be signed by all three members of the troika
5. secure the delivery of the condemned books and make sure that they reach the party offices of the county or city level

In order to facilitate the work of these troikas, they should be given certification letters from the district councils entitling them to inspect library inventories and remove the condemned books. Before the purge, the troika should report to the library director, and the purge itself must be performed in the director's presence.

The county/city party committee should make a list of books that have been withdrawn. This list, together with the corresponding books, should be sent to the propaganda department of the district committee which will keep these books at the Central Committee's disposal.

The action should be completed by 30 November. It is highly secret. The secretary for propaganda of the district committee is responsible for the execution of this action.

Independently of all the checklists, books authored or co-authored by Gomulka and Spychalski(5) should be unconditionally removed.


1 Polish United Workers' Party, the Soviet-controlled Polish communist party formed in 1948.

2 The copy of the memorandum we obtained had "Comrade Staszewski" written on it by hand. Stefan Staszewski was one of "THEM" in Teresa Toranska's book under that title. At the time this memorandum was written, he was in charge of propaganda, education and culture in the Katowice district in Silesia. He later became editor-in-chief of the Polish Press Agency, a post he held until 1958.

3 This is the word actually used in the memorandum.

4 We have translated the complete first page and excerpts from other pages. The numbering is that of the original. The titles of books listed have been translated.

5 Wladyslaw Gomulka and Marian Spychalski, Polish communists who fell into disgrace and were imprisoned as a result of the internal communist struggles.

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