Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Andrzej Kunowski: The Little Doctor

Mama's Boy

Andrezej Kunowski at 17
Andrezej Kunowski at 17

Kunowski was born Andrzej Klembert in Warsaw in 1956, just after the signing of the Warsaw Pact enshrouded Poland behind the Iron Curtain.

He was the only child of parents of questionable character; they stole anything they could get their hands on. As a result, Kunowski had a troubled boyhood, according to Dan Newling of London's Daily Mail newspaper.

Logo: London Daily Mail
Logo: London Daily Mail

At age 2, he was sent off to an orphanage because his mother, father and maternal grandmother were all in prison. To boot, his grandfather was locked up in a state psychiatric hospital for unspecified sexual offenses.

When Elzbieta Klembert was released, she reclaimed her son, divorced her husband, and married a cement mason, Stephan Kunowski.

The family settled in Mlawa, a gritty city of 30,000 in the Polish lowlands 80 miles north of Warsaw that was known for producing shoes, milk and meat.

Mlawa had a troubling history.

Map of Poland with Mlawa and Warsaw indicators
Map of Poland with Mlawa and Warsaw indicators

During World War II, as many as 7,000 Jews from Mlawa were exterminated. When a handful of Jewish survivors limped home in 1946, they were aghast to find that Mlawa's Poles had excavated graves in the Jewish cemetery and removed gold teeth, jewelry and other valuables from the corpses, which were then left to rot in piles.

The hatred of Jews was so intense there that a memorial to Holocaust victims in Mlawa was destroyed by Poles again and again after the war. And ethnic hostility persists. In 1991, Mlawa's men launched a pogrom against Gypsies in the city.

Growing up in Mlawa in the 1960s, young Andrezej was viewed as a mama's boy. And when other children teased him, Kunowski reacted with a ferocity that seemed out of proportion to the insult.

He was a small child with mighty fists. During fights, Andrezej would throttle his foes with a bear-claw grip until they cried uncle.

He also developed a habit of ogling pretty girls with a frightening glint in his eye, as though in a trance. Elzbieta expressed concerned that her son seemed unable to recall these episodes of fighting or inappropriate staring.

Andrezej also began to steal as his teen years arrived. Perhaps it was genetic. In any case, at age 13 he was packed away to a facility for delinquent juveniles, where his various problems were allowed to fester.

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