• Cemetery and Museum Palmiry
The forest of Palmiry near Warsaw is one of the most important sites of national remembrance in Poland. During the German occupation almost 2,000 members of the educated Polish elites were murdered here.
Image: Palmiry, 1940, The victims are blindfolded before their execution, public domain
Palmiry, 1940, The victims are blindfolded before their execution, public domain

Image: Palmiry, 2014, Cemetery, Paweł Daniluk
Palmiry, 2014, Cemetery, Paweł Daniluk
The German Wehrmacht captured the Polish capital Warsaw on September 28, 1939. Poland was militarily defeated and divided between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. To choke off any Polish resistance both occupying forces soon began to persecute members of the Polish elites and to murder them in large numbers.
One of the best known sites of these murders became a piece of woodlands near the village of Palmiry, about 20 kilometres north west of Warsaw. Prior there had been an ammunition dump of the Polish Army which was blown up during the hostilities. German security forces (Gestapo, SS, SD, Sicherheitspolizei) used the resulting clearance for executions from December 1939 to July 1941 in at least 20 cases. Most of the victims were members of the Polish elites: Politicians, intellectuals, artists and clergy, most of whom were held captive in the Gestapo's main prison, the infamous Pawiak prison. The victims were brought to Palmiry by lorry, shot at pits dug out shortly beforehand and buried. The largest mass shootings were conducted by German security forces in the course of the so called AB-Aktion (»Außerordentliche Befriedungsaktion«, English: Extraordinary Operation of Pacification). On June 20 and 21 alone 358 prisoners from the Pawiak prison were shot in Palmiry, among them 82 women.
The murder operations in Palmiry stopped in July 1941 – Palmiry could no longer be kept secret as a place of mass shootings. Polish underground organisations had even managed to secretly photograph executions.
Image: Palmiry, 1940, The victims are blindfolded before their execution, public domain
Palmiry, 1940, The victims are blindfolded before their execution, public domain

Image: Palmiry, 2014, Cemetery, Paweł Daniluk
Palmiry, 2014, Cemetery, Paweł Daniluk
On the cemetery of Palmiry 2,252 Poles are buried, murdered during the German occupation on various acts of terrorism. About 1,800 were shot at Palmiry itself. The other victims were shot at other places, their mortal remains were brought to the cemetery after the war.
Among the murdered victims of Palmiry were numerous prominent Poles, e.g. politicians, journalists, military, university professors, clergy and athletes. There were many Jews among the victims. The exact number of victims is not known, it is even possible that there are more mass graves in the forest that have not been discovered yet.
Image: Palmiry, 1940, Photograph of an execution taken by the Polish underground, public domain
Palmiry, 1940, Photograph of an execution taken by the Polish underground, public domain

Image: Palmiry, 2014, Christian and Jewish headstones side by side, Paweł Daniluk
Palmiry, 2014, Christian and Jewish headstones side by side, Paweł Daniluk
The mass shootings in the forest of Palmiry did not remain unnoticed by the Polish residents. Transports of prisoners and sounds of shotings from the forest were recorded. Already during the war Palmiry thus became a unique symbol for the crimes of the German occupiers in Poland.
The Polish Red Cross opened the mass graves in 1945/46. In many cases it was possible to identify the victims since they were usually allowed to keep personal belongings prior to being shot. After the exhumation the place was converted into a cemetery, a memorial opened in 1948. In 1973 the »Museum of Struggle and Martyrdom« (Polish: Museum Walki i Męczeństwa) was opened. In March 211 a new museum, the »Museum Palmiry – Place of Memory« (Polish: Muzeum – Mejsce Pamieci Palmiry« was opened to replace the old one which was no longer deemed up-to-date. It is run by the Historical Museum of Warsaw.
Image: Palmiry, 2014, Entrance to the cemetery, Paweł Daniluk
Palmiry, 2014, Entrance to the cemetery, Paweł Daniluk

Image: Palmiry, 2014, Museum buildings, Paweł Daniluk
Palmiry, 2014, Museum buildings, Paweł Daniluk
Image: Palmiry, 2011, Impressions from the cemetery, Robert Danieluk
Palmiry, 2011, Impressions from the cemetery, Robert Danieluk
Image: Palmiry, 2011, Impressions from the cemetery, Robert Danieluk
Palmiry, 2011, Impressions from the cemetery, Robert Danieluk
Image: Palmiry, 2011, Impressions from the cemetery, Robert Danieluk
Palmiry, 2011, Impressions from the cemetery, Robert Danieluk
Image: Palmiry, 2011, Impressions from the cemetery, Robert Danieluk
Palmiry, 2011, Impressions from the cemetery, Robert Danieluk
Name
Cmentarz i muzeum w Palmyrach
Address
Droga Palmirska
05-152 Czosnów Palmiry
Phone
+48 (0)22 720 8114
Web
http://www.palmiry.mhw.pl
E-Mail
palmiry@muzeumwarszawy.pl
Open
May to October Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., November to April Tuesday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Last admission 30 minutes before closing
Possibilities
Polish and English tours by arrangement