Victory Sebestyen

A Modern Martyr

To Kill A Priest: The Murder of Father Popieluszko and the Fall of Communism


IN ALMOST EVERY town in Poland there is a statue of or a shrine to Jerzy Popieluszko, the priest who in 1984 was abducted by Polish secret police and beaten to death before his body was thrown into a reservoir near Warsaw. To Poles, ‘Father Jerzy’ is the pure symbol of the Solidarity movement and the nation’s struggle against Soviet totalitarianism. While Lech Walesa, Poland’s first freelv elected post-Communist leader, sullied his hands with politics Ad has become a deeply compromised figure, Popieluszko is on the fast track towards beatification by the Vatican. His grave is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics throughout Eastern Europe. In Poland there are innumerable books about Popieluszko, and a film about his life and martyrdom was released in 1988. This is the first book about the priest to appear in Britain and it contains new documentary evidence against the four men convicted of Popieluszko’s murder. Its author, Kevin Ruane, was an excellent Moscow correspondent for the BBC in the late 1970s and its Eastern Europe correspondent for much of the 1980s. His dramatic reports about the rise of Solidarity, along with his cool and calm analysis of events, were a must for anyone who wanted to understand what was happening at that time in the Soviet bloc. However, in this book he tries too hard to make his case and fails to place the brutal killing of the priest in a wider context.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • . is next week! The programme is excellent and there are free copies of Literary Review, to boot! ,
    • 'Britain's spy chief in the Congo replied to a fellow peer who asked her whether SIS played any part in its prime m… ,
    • This month Lucy Popescu covers the plight of poet Galal El-Behairy and activist Wael Abbas in Egypt's crack-down on… ,
    • 'I fear that defending an 18th-century agrarian economist against – well, against whom exactly? – is not the best u… ,
    • 'He lacks empathy with all but the wealthy and has no grasp of the struggles faced by the majority of his concitoye… ,
    • Here's Richard Vinen's review of A Certain Idea of France by Julian Jackson: ,
    • RT : James Crabtree's 'Billionaire Raj' - my review for . "...For sheer chutzpah, India’s billionaires provid… ,