Poland’s history in the 20th century could be a swell script of a movie. A country that had lost its independence in the 18th century regained it in 1918 only to fall prey to Nazi Germany twenty years later. After World War II Poland was under Communist rule that ended in 1989 with the fall of the Iron Curtain. In this paper we deal with dignity takings as defined by Professor Bernadette Atuahene that took place mostly in the early phase of the Communist era.

Creation of the Communist “brave new world” required total transformation of the society, sometimes referred to as “re-forging of souls” (perekovka dush). People who were reluctant to become enthusiastic adherents of the new social and political system or simply belonged to social groups stigmatized as so-called “class enemies” became second class citizens, doomed to extinction.

In this paper we show three distinct examples of dignity takings: young men from “class enemy” families turned into slave-soldiers, priests-in-training harassed and brainwashed during compulsory military service and farmers deprived of their land and forced to join collective farms. In order to present the process of dignity takings we use a top-down approach, starting with ideological justification of takings in the Communist doctrine, and then showing how this policy was implemented. Although we focus on the takings phase, some consideration will be given to resistance against dehumanization and denigration caused by dignity takings.

Finally, we show that the dignity takings method can be a useful tool for analysis of law and policy of totalitarian systems.