An earlier version of this article was originally published in Fate Magazine www.fatemag.com, and is reprinted here with their consent.
The abduction of 71-year old Jan Wolski in the small farming community of Emilcin in eastern Poland on May 10, 1978, was the first UFO abduction ever reported in Poland and it was followed by a flap in which similar small humanoids wearing black uniforms like divers’ suits were reported.
Skeptics would perhaps dismiss the Wolski affair as a fantasy because the main witness was an old farmer of humble origins and the second merely a six-year old boy. They could also point to odd details like the green skin of the humanoids’ face and hands and the almost primitive description of the UFO, compared by Wolski to a “bus” with a platform that seemed made out of wood.
Yet the Wolski case is much more than a fantasy. On the contrary, it provides a useful benchmark to study an abduction report with very little, if any, social contamination from the outside world; that is, with none of the trendy media exposure that characterizes contemporary American abduction research. Polish ufology was just emerging as an independent entity when the Emilcin encounter occurred in 1978, yet it seemed ready for the challenge. Poland was the first country in the then communist world to develop a civilian ufological movement with organizations, conferences and bulletins which was both legal and independent of the state. In Wolski’s case, a team of psychologists, sociologists and doctors from the University of Lodz thoroughly tested the witness, checked his background and cross-examined carefully his account. The scientists became convinced that Wolski was indeed telling the truth and that something unexplained had occurred in Emilcin.
I first heard of Wolski in the early 1980s when Colman von Keviczky of ICUFON showed me a six-page typed letter in poor English with enclosed photos and illustrations, devoted mostly to this case, by Warsaw ufologist Michael Groszkoewicz. I kept track of a few brief articles from American and international journals which described the incident but did not provide a first-hand account of the investigation. Even a comic book on Wolski was published in Poland in 1982, which you can see at the end of this article. I finally acquired two comprehensive reports which remedied this situation. The first was a selection of various scientific reports, letters and transcripts of interviews by one of the principal investigators, sociologist Zbigniew Blania Bolnar, included in Prof. Felix Zigel’s UFO Landings in the USSR and Other Countries, Vol. 5 in a series, recently translated from Russian by Dimitri Ossipov and released by Dr. Richard Haines’ Joint USA-CIS Aerial Anomaly Federation.
The second source is a comprehensive report on the Wolski case based not only on Bolnar’s investigation, but on research by several other Polish UFO clubs and individuals. It was prepared by the Wroclaw Club for UFO Popularization and Exploration (WCPE-UFO) and published in English in the UK’s Flying Saucer Review (Vol. 36, No. 1, March 1991). Although there are several minor discrepancies, the account’s basic structure is both sound and consistent. Wolski’s own common sense personality with its folkloric traits provides a fascinating (and true!) story. Let’s see the detail
An unusual ride
Emilcin is a small agricultural hamlet of some 70 farms in the province of Lublin in eastern Poland, not far from the borders with Belarus and the Ukraine. According to the WCPE-UFO report, at the time of the incident Emilcin had “no school, no club, not even a newsagent, and only one single shop!” Born on May 29, 1907, Wolski never left his native Poland with the exception of a visit to the Ukraine prior to World War II. Moreover, Wolski had no TV set, not even a radio, and only read newspapers when his sons brought them home. As a young man, Wolski had read the Bible and history books but, as noted by Dr. Bolnar, Wolski had essentially no free time because “he is the head of the family and, despite his age, most of the chores related to farming depend on him.
“I solemnly swear by God, that my account about the encounter with extraterrestrials on 10 May, 1978, is absolutely true. God is my witness that I am telling the truth.” That was the oath signed by Wolski, a devout Roman Catholic, in the presence of two witnesses; it convinced the almost 100 year-old local priest that Wolski was really telling the truth. Bolnar reports that “it was discovered later” that “the witness did not know what the word ‘extraterrestrial’ meant.” Likewise, he did not give any religious significance to his experience, being merely puzzled by the fact that the beings–just foreigners, perhaps oriental due to their slanted eyes–had green skin. “There is no doubt that the witness is deeply convinced that all what he has experienced was an objective reality,” wrote Bolnar.
Wolski left his farm around 5 a.m. in a wagon drawn by a four-year-old mare. Sometime after 7 a.m. he was going along a country road when he saw two persons walking in the same direction he was. He first thought they were hunters. The beings slowed down and began walking in rounds as if waiting for the wagon. “It was at this point that Wolski was struck by the greenish tinge of their faces,” states the WCPE-UFO report. “The way in which they walked was like the way that divers walk on the seabed: they were performing ‘supple jumps’.” The beings walked alongside the wagon for a brief time and then jumped on each side of the farmer. Wolski described later the beings as human but with slanted eyes and prominent cheek bones. They wore a tight-fitting one-piece coverall with a hood and extending into some kind of flipper on the feet. “People say that such outfits are worn by divers, but I never saw a diver so I cannot say,” Wolski told Dr. Bolnar. When the investigator asked him what he thought of the beings, Wolski responded: “Nothing, what is there to think? I see some freaks. So what?”
The farmer did not feel threatened by the beings at any moment. “They did not address me, they talked among themselves, but who could understand such a language?” Wolski told Bolnar, imitating something like ‘ta-ta-ta-ta’ without interruption. The wagon continued with all three for a short while until reaching a clearing where a strange contraption hovered close to the ground. It could be described as a rectangular vehicle with a slightly curved roof. In Wolski’s terms, not a UFO or a spaceship but “a bus hovering in the air” some 3 or 4 meters “above ground, lower than the top of birches. It was located near a dense wall of trees in a secluded corner of the clearing, indicating that it was well concealed from outside observers,” said Wolski.
The dimensions of the object vary somewhat according to different Polish sources. The WCPE-UFO report estimated that it was approximately 5 meters in length, 3 m in width and 2.5 m in height; other estimates with a length of up to 10 m have been given. One interesting feature of the so-called ‘bus’ were the barrel-shaped contraptions on each corner with pairs of rotating screws moving at fast speed and emitting a buzzing sound. The humanoids directed the old farmer by gestures to step on a simple hanging platform. High-tech devices are definitely out of order in this account. In Wolski’s own words, “he signaled me to come with them. I climbed down and we approached this bus and from it, from above, came down a little platform on cords. One of them invited me to step on it. I did and he is next to me, while the second turned towards the horse, which at that time started to graze.”
A strange examination
Despite having a sequential narrative essentially similar to other abductions, I find the Wolski case fascinating because the farmer never refers to his experience in ufological or space-related terms. He tells us that after a quick lift in the platform, he entered a dark and empty rectangular room with walls the color of Bakelite and no furniture other than a few small benches. Two other similar entities with green faces were inside and Wolski is signaled to undress. Because the weather was still cold, he had a jacket, a sweater and a shirt. “He signals me to undress altogether,” Wolski told Bolnar, adding that “I took off everything and just stand there. And the other one held in his hands something like two plates… he stood in front of me and put these plates together so that they clicked. Then, that one who came with me turned me on a side, raised my arms and the other clicked again.”
That basically is Wolski’s account of the examination. He noticed things, however, uncommon in other abduction stories. For instance, he described the beings eating “something like an icicle” which broke in pieces like pastry. “The one who came up with me also took a piece and offered me to eat it,” but Wolski declined. Also of interest was a number of birds, around ten black crows on the floor which seemed to be alive but paralyzed. According to the WCPE-UFO report, Wolski observed that the entity who had not participated in his examination was walking in the chamber and “from time to time, putting a small black rod into two holes in one of the walls… the entity kept turning this rod in each hole, rather as one turns a key in a lock.”
Wolski was told–again by gestures since at no time did he experience telepathic communication with the beings–to get dressed after the examination and “they motioned me that I can go. I went to the door, but I felt uncomfortable just to leave. I had my hat on, so at the door I took it off and said ‘Good bye’ (here he makes a deep bow–Bolnar). They also bowed and smiled.” Wolski stepped once again “on that little platform and zoom! Down I was. They stood at the door and looked at me, I climbed on the carriage, whipped the horse, but it was afraid of the bus.” The horse turned away from the machine and began galloping home, a journey that took about ten minutes. Only his wife was there when Wolski arrived around 8 a.m. His sons returned a little later and, informed of what had transpired, rushed to the clearing where they found several traces that appeared to have been made by strange footwear. As it had rained recently and there was plenty of mud in the dirt road and clearing, Wolski’s two sons and four other neighbors “verified the presence of these footprints.” One investigator described them as “trapezoidal, almost rectangular, in shape” and “very slightly longer than a human foot of a normal current size.” Unfortunately, no casts or photographs of the prints were made. By the time the first investigators arrived to Emilcin two weeks later, the prints were gone and only drawings based on eyewitness testimony could be made.
The investigators were able to find an additional witness, Adas Popiolek, a 6-year old boy who was playing with his 4-year-old sister in a farm located 800 m west of the encounter site. The children’s mother, who was inside the house preparing a meal, remembers hearing “a tremendous noise of thunder” on the morning of May 10th. “Shortly after that,” reports the WCPE-UFO, “her son Adas came in to tell her that he had seen an aircraft resembling a bus, flying very low over the barn. This aircraft had only one window, and through it Adas had seen the pilot… After passing close by the yard of the farm, the aircraft climbed vertically into the air and vanished. It was at that moment that the sound of ‘thunder’ was heard–heard by two other people in addition to the boy Adas and his mother.”
A thorough investigation
Those are essentially the basic facts of the Wolski narrative, although both the Bolnar and WCPE-UFO reports are far richer in details than space in this column allows. The depth of the investigation undertaken by sociologist Dr. Blania Bolnar and Dr. Ryszard Kitlinsky, a psychologist from the University of Lodz, is truly admirable. Some of the tests administered to Wolski included a theme apperception test, an IQ test in the Wechsler’s scale for adults, a psychogalvanometric measurement of psychic tension (polygraph), as well as opthalmological and clinical tests. A full physical check-up was also included, revealing that Wolski was in excellent health despite his age and that he had “an exceptional good quality of the sight, rarely encountered in that corresponding age group.”
Bolnar’s report in Prof. Zigel’s book is over 30 typed single space pages. The “Psychological and sociological evaluation of Jan Wolski” includes sections on “Motifs from a viewpoint of a lie hypothesis” (none according to the report), his Emotions, Memory, Mental development, Susceptibility to suggestion, Fantasy ability, Inclination to lie, the Witness as a member of a social group, the Witness and the mass-media, Leisure, Interests, Vices, Religion, and finally an “Evaluation of the witness from the point of view of results of his experience.” The scientists found that Wolski was a remarkably credible witness. For instance, wrote Bolnar, “results of the thematic perception test fully indicates that the witness has no ability whatsoever to invent stories of any kind. His mental creativity is not apparent. He is unable to tell a fictitious tale, even a simple one.” Likewise, extensive questioning and background checks revealed that “the witness is an honest, truthful, decent person, and this was confirmed in cross-examinations.” He was highly regarded within his community and was not known to drink alcohol, smoke or exhibit any other social vice.
Above all, it is Wolski’s own practical, down-to-earth personality that is most convincing. The witness showed a general “low inclination to fear” and “has not recognized the situation in which he found himself as threatening.” As to the behavior of the beings, “the subject has emphasized at several occasions that they were polite and treated him with courtesy and consideration.” Drs. Kitlinsky and Bolnar finally examined and rated several hypothesis including a hoax, a hallucination or dream, a religious apparition, a suggestion or coercion by a third party, the landing of a helicopter or experimental craft, etc. All these hypotheses were rated extremely low by the scientists (usually within 1 or 2%). The exception was what they called the “Summary hypothesis: the event with the witness was an objective reality. At the crucial moment, he noticed and stated his experience in accordance with reality, has described a behavior of beings, the arrangement and behavior of the craft, development of events, etc.” This hypothesis was rated 90% by Kitlinsky and 98% by Bolnar. Their final “Concluding hypothesis” was that “this case indicates the existence of a phenomenon unknown to science.”
More recently, the Polish ufologist Piotr Cielebias posted the transcript of an interview with Wolski, who passed away in 1990. The interview was conducted by Henryk Pomorski in July 1978, only two months after the incident. In 2005, the Warsaw-based UFO organization Nautilus Foundation erected a monument commemorating the Wolski case, which shows a metal cube balanced on top of a rock, thus becoming the first alien abduction anywhere in the world to have its own memorial.