”Show trials”

“Show trials” were political processes used in totalitarian states, aimed at discrediting the opposition by conducting a public trial based on trumped-up charges. They were also meant to intimidate society. During the pre-trial investigation, the defendants were subjected to widespread torture, as a result of which they often confessed to the acts they hadn't done.
Two large show trials took place in Krakow. The biggest and the loudest one was so-called the Cracow trial against Franciszek Niepokólczycki, Stanisław Mierzwa, and their associates; sixteen people were put in the dock altogether. The course of the trial had been determined in detail beforehand. There were severe sentences: eight people were sentenced to death and the remaining eight were sentenced to long prison terms; one person was acquitted.

Elaborated by Grzegorz Jeżowski (Historical Museum of the City of Kraków), © all rights reserved

See court rostrum from St. Michael's prison in Kraków in the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums.