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Old 08-06-2014, 01:29 PM   #1
Al-muell
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Captain Michał Szerszeń, State Security/Ministry Of Foreign Affairs

A somewhat intriguing group to asomewhat mysterious person - possibly an intelligence/counterintelligence officer.

So first, we have the 10 years of the PRP medal and it's document, giving the rank of lieutenant. Nothing strange here.

Than we have a 1961 ZBoWiD member's ID, with fees paid until 1968. Unfortunately, this type of ID does not give the member's combat activity. Still nothing out of an ordinary - could be for war-time combat activity, term in Nazi camps or for post-war "strengthening of the people's rule"...
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:34 PM   #2
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Re: Cpt. Michał Szerszeń, state security/Ministery of foreign affairs

Than it gets more interesting:

1964 "20 years in service to the nation" Badge - one of the first ever awarded - since the service had to start at earliest on 22 July 1944, Szerszeń must have been with the state security (UB or MO or the ministry level) from the very first hours to get this award on 22 July 1964. The doc gives his rank as captain.

Another item is the Partisan cross - undocumented so there's a chance it's not his, but on the other hand partisans were much wanted as state security employees.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:38 PM   #3
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Re: Captain Michał Szerszeń, State Security/Ministry Of Foreign Affairs

And finally - the most intriguing of all the documents - 1968-dated pass of the Communications department of the Ministery of Foreign Afairs. Hard to say what exactly he did for aliving, but this combination of documents screams "Intelligence".

So far, no information on the man found.
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Old 05-06-2022, 07:24 AM   #4
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Re: Captain Michał Szerszeń, State Security/Ministry Of Foreign Affairs

Good things come to those who wait...
After almost 8 years I have managed to aquire additional documents for the same person. While some questions are still unanswered, a few mysteries have been solved.
First of all - I got a document to match his partisan cross. And it is a nice "decorative" document used from 1948 till early 50s. that I have been wanting to get in quite some time.
He got the partisan cross in 1951 and it was awarded by the HR department of the Ministry of Public Security.

Additionally, he got also the medals "For Warsaw" and "For Oder, Niesse, Baltic Sea" (although the document for the latter is missing), as well as a Grunwald Badge. The documents for the medal and a badge have been issued by the Central Directorate of the Union of the Participants of the Armed Struggle for Independance and Democracy (ZUWZoNiD, ZBoWiD's predecessor).

And there is also a ZUWZONID membership ID - giving his pseudonym as "Misza" (Russian diminutive from Mikhail)
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Old 05-06-2022, 07:31 AM   #5
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Re: Captain Michał Szerszeń, State Security/Ministry Of Foreign Affairs

It also confirms his work with MBP, giving his workplace as Voivodeship Office of Public Security in Warsaw. His occupation is given as "gicer" and after looking for the word in numerous dictionaries, I still have no idea what that means.
Further page gives his rank as senior sergeant and the organisation he served in as AL (Armia Ludowa, Peoples' Army, a pro-soviet partisan movement).
No awards listed, even though the document was issued in 1949.
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Old 05-06-2022, 08:08 AM   #6
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Re: Captain Michał Szerszeń, State Security/Ministry Of Foreign Affairs

But the most interesting is the last document - Issued by the commander of the 5th Battalion of the HQ Security, mjr. Bolesław Cień-Kowalski on 15th of November 1945:

"This is to certify, that [crossed out: "private", "sr. sgt" added in hand writing] Szerszeń Michał - "Miszka" [another version of the same diminutive], born on 15.I.1921 in Kuibyshev, Russia, during the german occupation, took active participation in the fight against the German invader. He was a member of the Peoples' Army from II-44 till VII-44. Took active participation in a few battles, distinguished himself heroically.

I certify the above as the former commander of the partisan group".

Interestingly, in this forum (https://www.dws.org.pl/viewtopic.php?t=2772) I have found an excerpt from (unfortunately not named) one of the books by Edward Gronczewski (another partisan commander from the Lublin region, I wrote a short info on him in the post about Feliks Stola):

"Szyrszow Michał („Miszka”). Former Soviet soldier who ran away from the german capture. At the begginning a member of BCh [Peasant Battallions, the second largest faction of Polish Partisan movement, in Lublin Area they mostly joined with the AL in 1944] in powiat of Puławy. In 1944 he joined the AL squad of "Cień" ["Shadow"]. In the fights of 2VII1944 in the village of Stefanówka he was heaviliy wounded. Exemplary and brave partisan. Awarded the Order of the Revival of Poland 5th class."

The surname doesn't match exactly, but the squad, the name, the pseudonym match. "Cień" had around 100 partisans under his command, so it is unlikely that another one would have the same pseudonym. Also, the fact that he was a Soviet soldier does match with Szerszeń's birthplace. I have been unable to find a match for either Szyrszow (in any possible varriant) or Szerszeń (as well) on pamyat-naroda - few people with similar names, but neither seems to be the one.

More can be said about the squad he served in and it's commander.
Bolesław Cień-Kowalski, born Bolesław Kaźmirak was a successful partisan within the ranks of AL. At some point in 1944 he received his own squad, by some accounts, it was created to take a revange on NSZ (nationalist faction of the partisan movement) after the "Massacre of Borówno" (where the NSZ murdered an AL partisan squad and a few civilians helping them) and other, minor attacs on AL done by NSZ.
He was effective and very succesful in fighting the Germans and also had a few fights against NSZ, including a pacification of a village supporting the NSZ.
In April 1944, in the village of Owczarnia, "Cień" with his squad has murdered 40 members of the AK and some villagers supporting them. This has caused an outrage even within AL and some other AL squad commanders have requested "Cień" to be expelled or even executed, however, as his squad was highly valued for their success against the Germans, no consequences were faced by them.
He later also served in KBW and MBP. Numerous reports indicate that he was at same point engaged in banditry, at one point even killing two other MBP officers who tried to arrest him. He later joined the Polish Army, becoming the commander of the 5th Security Battalion.
This has led to his official name change in 1945. The minister of Defence, marshal Michał Rola-Żymierski, aware of Każmirak's reputation, did not want him to become a Polish Army officer. After some negotiation he was persuaded to accept Kaźmirak, however, he agreed only under the condition that the digraced partisan changes his name.
Subsequently he has changed his surname to "Kowalski", using the surname "Cień-Kowalski", which was allowed, as it was customary in Poland to use the pseudonyms aquired in the struggle for independence as a part of the surname. in 1964 he officially changed his surname to "Cień-Kowalski".
In 1951 he was arrested by the MBP. Released in 1954, he joined the Army again in 1957. He died in 1968.
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Old 05-06-2022, 08:29 AM   #7
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Re: Captain Michał Szerszeń, State Security/Ministry Of Foreign Affairs

As a summary, I will have to get through Gronczewski's books to maybe find some information on this guy.

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Old 05-07-2022, 12:34 AM   #8
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Re: Captain Michał Szerszeń, State Security/Ministry Of Foreign Affairs

Great find - good luck on finding more!
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