Representatives of Polish political, business and cultural elites from Gdańsk Pomerania were murdered in Piaśnica Wielka. Also people transported by rail from the Third Reich died there, including mentally disabled individuals, opponents to the Nazi ideology, as well as Poles and Czechs who had lived in Germany before the war.
The executions were carried out as a part of operations codenamed Intelligenzaktion and Tannenberg. The purpose of the said operations was to exterminate the Polish leading class. The Germans included in the said class, amongst others, clergymen, senior officials, teachers, doctors, merchants, businessmen, landowners and individuals with secondary or university education. Members of political parties and associations promoting the Polish identity were also categorized as members of the leading class. Amongst them, there were organizations such as, for example Polski Związek Zachodni (the Polish Western Association), Towarzystwo byłych Powstańców i Wojaków (the Association of Former Insurgents and Soldiers), Towarzystwo Gimnastyczne „Sokół” (the ‘Falcon’ Gymnastic Society ) or Kurkowe Bractwo Strzeleckie (the Markmen’s Society).
A large group of people murdered in Piaśnica were individuals transported from the territories of Third Reich. Patients of psychiatric institutions from Lębork, Stralsund, Treptov and Ueckermünde were secretly killed there. Also individuals interned for their views contradicting the national socialism ideology, as well as Poles and Czechs who had lived in the Third Reich before the War and resisted Germanization were killed in the forests near Piaśnica Wielka. For the purpose of covering up the crimes, whole families were killed together, including infants and children.