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Poland Wants to Try British Jew for Alleged Role in Killing War Hero

December 1, 1998
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A 79-year-old Jewish woman living in England is facing possible extradition to Poland for her alleged role in prosecuting and executing a leading Polish war hero more than 40 years ago.

Polish Justice Minister Hanna Suchowka has reportedly asked the British authorities to extradite Helena Brus to face charges of falsifying evidence and wrongful arrest in her role as a chief prosecutor in Poland’s Stalinist show trials during the 1950s.

The Polish authorities claim that Helena Wolinska, as she was then known, ordered the arrest of Gen. Emil Fieldorf, a former leader of the anti-Communist Polish resistance movement, in 1951 because he had refused to collaborate with the new Communist regime in Poland.

The Polish authorities now allege that Fieldorf was falsely accused of having killed Soviet soldiers and Communists.

He was executed one year after his 1952 trial, but he was posthumously cleared of all charges when the Communist regime collapsed in Poland in 1989.

Brus, who has lived in Britain for the past 26 years, is now a British citizen and married to Wlodzimierz Brus, a retired Oxford University professor. They have one son.

She has denied the charges, which carry a 10-year jail term.

Speaking from her Oxford home, she described the allegations as a “shameful pack of absurd lies.”

“I welcome the news about the extradition request because I will at last be able to give the real answer — to reveal in front of unbiased people the absurdity of the allegations against me,” she said.

“It makes me furious. I don’t give a damn about the Polish authorities, but I am upset about the attitude of those in England,” she said.

Brus has refused to discuss her role in the Stalinist trials, but said she had served in the Polish Resistance during World War II.

“I came from the Warsaw Ghetto,” she said, “and was in the underground movement, which is how I survived.”

Brus, who has lived in England for 26 years, is reluctant to return to Poland because she does not believe she will get a fair trial there. She said she wants to answer the charges in Britain.

Janusz Palus, a spokesman for the Polish military prosecutor, said Brus had contravened Communist-era law by holding the general for more than six months without charge.

“She used her role as a military prosecutor to persecute opponents of the Communist regime on the basis of their political view or their religious faiths,” he said.

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