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Attempted assassination of Nolken


On 26 March 1905, in Warsaw, occupied by Russia, members of the Combat Organisation of the Polish Socialist Party (OB PPS) carried out an armed action to eliminate the Head of Police, Colonel Baron Karl Nolken, the capital’s hated executioner, responsible for numerous repressions against revolutionaries fighting against the Tsar. 

The PPS fighters were divided into two groups. The task of the first, commanded by Stefan Okrzeja “Witold”, was to throw a bomb at the 7th Police Station in Praga (Wileńska Street), which was to cause Nolken to arrive on the scene to be attacked by the second group, led by Bronisław Żukowski and Aleksander Prystor. Unfortunately, the action was not successful. Nolken, who arrived on the spot, was in a carriage and bounced a bomb thrown in his direction with his hand. Seriously injured, Nolken drove away from the place of the incident. On the other hand, Okrzeja, who was deafened by the bomb explosion and threw his load from too near a distance, was arrested and beaten into unconsciousness despite his struggle with the police officers. 

During the trial held before the Military District Court in Warsaw, Stefan Okrzeja was charged with belonging to a secret society with the aim of overthrowing the political system of the Russian state by attempting to detach the Kingdom of Poland from the Empire, committing acts of a terrorist nature, and killing an intervening policeman. 

Even though his defence was undertaken by the well-known barrister Stanisław Patek, who demanded a fair and thorough trial taking into account the ideological motives of the accused, Okrzeja was sentenced as early as 23 June 1905 to death by hanging and loss of public rights. The sentence on the 19-year-old militant was carried out on 21 July on the slopes of the Warsaw Citadel. His corpse was buried in an unknown location. 

After his death, Stefan Okrzeja became a symbol of the uncompromising struggle for independence and social and living rights for workers. In 1930, President of the Republic of Poland Ignacy Mościcki posthumously decorated him with the Order of Rebirth of Poland Third Class and the Cross of Independence with Swords.

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