Major Adam Teofil Solski – the chronicler of Katyn
Adam Teofil Solski was born on 4 January 1895 in the village of Milatycze near Lviv. He was the son of Marian and Maria (née Wantałowicz). He had five siblings, including brother Kazimierz, a captain of the artillery in the Polish Army. He studied at the cadet school in Bełchatów and at the Higher School for Officers. During World War I, he joined the Eastern Legion and was then forcibly conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army, which he deserted. In 1915 he was wounded at Monte Sabotino. In 1916 he joined the Polish Legions. After the so-called Oath Crisis, he was a member of the Polish Auxiliary Corps. After the end of the war, he settled in Lviv.
During the battles for Lviv, he fought as a cadet in the 5th Infantry Regiment of the Polish Legions. From mid-1919 he was assigned to General Haller’s army. During the Polish-Bolshevik war, he took part in the Kyiv expedition. During the interwar period he served in the 9th Infantry Division - first in Łuków, and then in Brest. On 1 May 1923 he was promoted to the rank of captain of the Polish Army. Nine years later, he was promoted to the rank of major of the infantry in the Polish Army. In 1938 he was transferred to the 57th Infantry Regiment to Poznań, where he lived until the outbreak of World War II. For his military service, he was awarded, among others, the Cross of Valour, the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari and the Silver Cross of Merit.
After the outbreak of World War II and the Soviet aggression against Poland, he was taken prisoner in Tarnogród on 28 September 1939. Two days later, he arrived in Volochysk, the reception point for POWs, organised by the NKVD. On 5 October he was sent to the NKVD POW camp in Putyvl, and on 3 November 1939 he was transported to the Kozelsk camp, where he met his brother, Kazimierz. In Kozelsk Adam Solski became the commander of one of the blocks. His family comprising of his wife Anna née Trojanowska (called ‘Danka’ in his diaries) and his daughter Ewa, escaped from Poznań to Lviv after 1 September 1939. After the entry of the Soviet army, they managed to get to Warsaw.
Major Solski left behind one of the most detailed diaries, which he kept from the moment of entering into Soviet captivity until almost the last minutes before his execution in the Katyn Forest. The diary was found by his body on 24 April 1943 during the German exhumations and was often quoted on Radio Free Europe after the war.
On 7 April 1940 Major Solski was sent to be at the disposal of the NKVD Regional Office in Smolensk. His name is listed on consignment note No. 015/2 dated 5 April 1940 under No. N 413-41-2159. On that day, he made the following note in his diary: “After the search, at 4:55 p.m. (our Polish time: 2:55 p.m.) we left the walls and barbed wire of the Kozelsk camp. We were put in prison cars. The kind of cars I have never seen in my life. [They say] that 50% of passenger rail cars in the USSR are prison cars.” It is known that major Solski left the camp with three generals: Minkiewicz, Smorawiński and Bohaterewicz, and was murdered on 9 April 1940. The last entry, dated 9 April, reads: “Five o’clock in the morning. At dawn, the day had a strange start. Leaving in a prison truck in compartments [terrible!]. [We were] brought to some forest; something like a summer resort. A detailed search was done here. My watch, showing 6:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.), was taken away. I was asked about my wedding ring which (...). They took away my roubles, main belt, penknife.” A few minutes later major Adam Solski was murdered with a shot in the back of his head from a close distance. His brother, Kazimierz was murdered in Katyn about a week later, most probably on 17 April 1940.
On 5 October 2007, major Adam Solski was posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel of the Polish Army.