Poland's History WWII

Darkness of the Black Forest

 (documentary – trailer)

The film “Darkness of the Black Forest” (Pol.: “Mroki Czarnego Lasu”) tells the story of one of the darkest mass murders in the German genocide against Poles during Poland’s WW2 occupation period, revealing the bestiality of Poland’s both totalitarian occupiers that affected the eastern territories of the former Polish Republic.

In August and September 1941, Poland’s German occupying forces committed mass murder of deceptively arrested representatives of the Polish intelligentsia in the city of Stanisławów. Earlier during the war, when the Soviets were occupying those territories, they were the ones who carried out the arrests and deportations of Poles to the East, but also murdered hundreds of Poles, often torturing them inhumanly in the prisons of Lwów (Lviv) and Stanislawów (Ivano-Frankisk). The murders in the Black Forest, which was part of the German Intelligenzaktion plan (AB-Aktion) – the total extermination of all Polish elites – was led by the SS Hauptstumpführer Hans Krüger, who also earlier organized and supervised the murders of Lwów University professors.

The sites of the Stanislawów executions were discovered only in 1988 by Adam Rubaszewski. In 2011, the monument to the victims was unveiled at a restored cemetery. Its unveiling was a result of the efforts by members of the local Friendship Society for Polish Culture, founded by Irena and Vitaliy Czaszczin, in cooperation with the Polish Council for the Protection of the  Memory of Struggle and Martyrdom and the local Ukrainian authorities.

It turned out that the Stanislawów death pits contained the bodies of not just 250 victims, as initially believed, but the remains of over 700 executed people.

The documentary “Darkness of the Black Forest” tells the story of Stanislawów, the “Gród Rewery” or the “Stronghold of Rewery,”  once also known as the Third Stronghold of the Republic of Poland, reconstructs the calendar of criminal acts committed by the Germans in 1941. The film’s narration, accompanied by vivid and often unique and original videos, recreates the times with the Gregor Reconstruction Group’s help, based on the accounts of two eyewitnesses and participants of those events: Prof. Jerzy Hickiewicz, whose father was shot in the Black Forest, and Maria Popiel-Sumary, who lost both her father and brother to the massacre.

In turn, Vitaliy Czaszczin of Ivano-Frankivsk leads the viewers through the 16-year-long search by the local residents and the Friendship Society he and his wife founded identifying the places of the executions.  Thanks to these people, an annual commemorative event at the cemetery has been taking place in the city.

In 2019, a painting in memory of the massacre’s victims was unveiled. It was co-sponsored by the Polish diaspora and the Senate of the Republic of Poland through the Aid to Poles in the East Foundation.


Screenwriter and director – Waclaw Kujbida

Assisting director – Janusz Hanas

History consultant – Prof. Jan Zaryn

Producer – TVNiezaleznaPolania Ltd., in 2018, a recipient of Senate RP award for achievements in media

Produced in Ottawa, Canada, 2019-2020


The film “Darkness of the Black Forest” had its Polish premiere on September 17, 2020, at the NoveKino Sybilla cinema in the city of Pulawy, where some scenes for the film were shot. The film was also presented at the XIIth Film Festival ‘Niepokorni – Niezłomni – Wyklęci’ in the city of Gdynia, on September 24 – 27, 2020.


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