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“Przekrój” Magazine brings to the English reader some of the best journalism from across Central and Eastern Europe, in such fields as culture, society, ecology and literature. Stand aside from the haste and fierceness of everyday news and join us now!

Answer the questions and find out about your relationship with Themis.
2020-09-25 09:00:00

Are You a Criminal?
A Punishing Test

Daniel Mróz – drawing from the archives (no. 621/1957)
Are You a Criminal?
Are You a Criminal?

Dear Reader, very shortly you will assume the role of both defendant and judge. Answer the questions below with YES or NO. Each time your answer is YES, use a separate sheet of paper to note down the punishment you would impose on yourself were you a judge. The questions concern different wrongdoings that might seem harmless at first, but wouldn’t be regarded as such if the case went to court… In fact, these are all crimes and offences punishable by law.

Read in 5 minutes

Before passing a sentence, you might want to look at the list of penalties that were part of the criminal justice system in Poland in the 1950s when this quiz was created. Attention! These are MAXIMUM punishments: the harshest prison and detention sentences and the heaviest fines that were administered back then for such crimes. If you decide that there were mitigating circumstances, you might lower your punishment accordingly. Don’t be too lenient though! Add up your punishments and find out what you owe to Themis.

1. Have you ever snatched a photo from somebody else’s album and appropriated it without their permission?
2. Have you ever smoked cigarettes in the forest despite the ‘no smoking’ sign?
3. Have you ever kept a purse or umbrella that you found?
4. Have you ever used dirty language in public?
5. Have you ever splashed a passer-by with water while watering flowers?
6. As a boss, have you ever made your subordinates do something that your loved ones, for instance your wife, husband, fiancée or mother, would disapprove of?
7. Have you ever skipped annual vaccinations or obligatory X-rays?
8. Have you ever made it impossible for you neighbours to fall asleep since you were playing loud music on the radio or a record player late at night?
9. Have you ever opened a letter or a telegram that was not addressed to you without the addressee’s knowledge?
10. Have you ever made a prank call to the fire or ambulances services?
11. Have you ever invited for drinks a civil servant responsible for processing your own application in order to resolve the matter more quickly?
12. Have you ever borrowed a tie or a brooch from your friends without notifying them?
13. Have you ever maliciously nagged anybody either on the phone or in another way?
14. Have you ever altered your date of birth on your identity card?
15. Have you ever insulted or cursed at a civil servant on duty?
16. Have you ever lied about the job you do while registering your permanent residence, even if you only meant to impress others?
17. Have you ever bought something you knew was stolen?
18. Have you ever attempted to enter a performance or dancing venue without a ticket?
19. Have you ever picked flowers or fruit without the permission of the owner of the garden and when he or she was absent?
20. Have you ever invited somebody to your place, treated them to alcohol and taken advantage of their drunken state?
21. Have you ever made offensive comments about someone’s sexual conduct either in their presence or absence?
22. Have you ever deliberately damaged a phone in the booth?
23. While on a train, have you ever damaged someone’s thighs or coat with your sloppily wrapped package, overloaded shopping bag, or shabby briefcase?
24. Have you ever eavesdropped on someone else’s private call and shared what you heard with others?
25. Have you ever evaded buying a train ticket?
26. If infected with a sexually transmitted disease, have you ever knowingly put others at risk?
27. Have you ever borrowed books from someone’s personal library without permission?
28. Have you ever taken office stationery home with the intention to keep it?
29. Have you ever hit somebody for no reason, causing damage to their health?
30. Have you ever left a café, restaurant or bar without paying the bill (purposefully)?

Reveal the answer


Below you can find the catalogue of penalties administered in the 1950s for the crimes mentioned in the questionnaire. Follow the list while passing sentences for the crimes you committed. Again, these are maximum punishments. If there were mitigating circumstances, the sentence can be lowered. If your punishments amount to 15 years of detention, this is not bad. However, if you were sentenced to over 15 years of detention and over five years in prison, be careful, because one thing leads to another…

1. Up to two years in detention (Article 272 Penal Code);
2. Up to two months in detention (Article 39 § 2 Petty Offences Code);
3. Up to six months in detention (Article 262 § 3 Penal Code);
4. Up to two weeks in detention (Article 31 Petty Offences Code);
5. Fine of up to 75 złotys (Article 38 § 1 Petty Offences Code);
6. Up to five years in prison (Article 205 Penal Code);
7. Up to two weeks in detention (Article 51 Petty Offences Code);
8. Up to one week in detention (Article 30 Petty Offences Code);
9. Up to two years in detention (Article 253 § 1 Penal Code);
10. Up to one month in detention (Article 20 Petty Offences Code);
11. Up to three years in prison and a fine (Article 135 Penal Code);
12. Up to two weeks in detention (Article 57 Petty Offences Code);
13. Up to two weeks in detention (Article 52 Petty Offences Code);
14. Up to three years in prison (Article 191 Penal Code);
15. Up to two years in prison (Article 132 § 1 Penal Code);
16. Up to three months in detention (Article 23 § lb Petty Offences Code);
17. Up to two years in detention (Article 161 Penal Code);
18. Up to one year in detention (Article 265 Penal Code);
19. Up to three months in detention (Article 52 Petty Offences Code);
20. Up to 10 years in prison (Article 204 Penal Code);
21. Up to one year in detention (Article 256 § 1Penal Code);
22. Up to five years in prison (Article 223 Penal Code);
23. Up to two years in detention (Article 263 § 1 and 2 Penal Code);
24. Up to two years in detention (Article 253 § Penal Code);
25. Up to one year in detention (Article 265 Penal Code);
26. Up to three years in prison (Article 245 Penal Code);
27. Up to two weeks in detention (Article 57 Petty Offences Code);
28. Up to one year in detention (The 1953 Decree on Strengthening Protection of Social Property);
29. Up to one year in detention (Article 239 § 1 Penal Code);
30. Up to one year in detention (Article 265 Penal Code).




Translated from the Polish by Joanna Mąkowska

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