Source: German Crimes in Poland. Vol.I. Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland. Warsaw, 1946.
Crimes Committed During the Warsaw Rising
[Note on Source Material. The text contains numerous inaccuracies of spelling and of grammatical usage, which have been left as in the original. Page numbers precede text.]
Evacuation of the inhabitants
Record No. 1:
(Editorsí note : Evacuatsion from Elektoralna Street, August 7, 1944, through the Wola suburb. Fragment concerning Wola.)
Walking through Elektoralna Street was difficult, as it was strewn with debris, and pieces of burning wood. From Chlodna Street onwards we were awe-struck by the incredible destruction. To the right every house had been burnt; to, the left they were burning like gigantic torches. It sometimes seemed as though it was one great wall of fire. Our personal experiences, driven as we were like cattle, haunted by fear, facing endless danger from the continuous shooting among the ruins, and the huge fires - took on terrible unearthly dimensions. The Germans did not for a moment give a thought to the marching columns of defenceless people. They did not stop the fight. Sometimes, when it was too difficult to proceed, we stopped
"The procession, marching slowly from St. Charles Borromeoís Church to Zelazna Street, suffered terrible maltreatment and even torture. I dragged myself through these streets helping to carry bundles and bags. For a time I carried a little girl, Basia, two years old, in my arms. The child had lost both father and mother. The attitude of the women was deeply touching. Grave and obstinate, only paying attention to their children and bundles, they marched on like soldiers, taking care not to expose the little ones to danger. During the whole time, that is, until we reached Zelazna Street, where the women were separated from us, I heard not a single complaint, no bitter weeping, no begging for help. The women were bent under the weight of their bundles and travelling bags, and some also carried babies or small children in their arms. There were moments when the heat from the burning houses made our progress quite impossible. The wind blew up clouds of biting smoke which hid everything. Suddenly when we were at a very difficult point and in immediate danger of fire and shots, an air raid began. Panic and chaos spread among the raging Germans, and there was an awful tumult, everyone being in fear of immediate death.
"We left behind us in the streets all the sick, aged and crippled. I repeatedly saw trembling old women, decrepit old men and sick people, quite stony in their indifference and exhaustion, who, being literally pushed out of our ranks, remained sitting on the heaps of stone and rubble. No one heeded them. The sight of these people, amid all the unspeakable horrors,
"I also saw in several places in Zelazna Street corpses of murdered people, lying in the streets. They could not have been victims of bombing or of stray shots, for they lay in groups.
"In Zelazna Street the women and the children were separated from the men. The women took nearly all the baggage with them. It was a most painful sight, firstly because of the terrible exhaustion of the women who, notwithstanding, undertook to carry the baggage, and secondly because of their uncertainty about the fate of their dearest ones, fathers, husbands, brothers, or sons.
"The Germans pushed us (the men) to the right side of Chlodna Street and led us through Woska Street under the walls of burnt houses, treating us all as if we were murderers, bandits and incendiaries. They ordered us first of all to keep our hands up. Every moment, Germans with guns at the ready jumped at us, ,with insults, blows and shouts, without any reason whatsoever. The most dreadful thing was that we expected to be shot at any moment. Machine guns were aimed at us every few minutes to make us hurry or when we were ordered to reform the procession. When we saw before us the barrels of guns, revolvers or machine-guns, we hesitated, turned our backs on the soldiers, and huddled closer to the walls as if death could thus be avoided. We were close to it. There were so many moments of immediate danger during our march that I do not even remember passing many parts of Wolska Street to St. Stanislaus Church.
"From Zelazna Street onwards the Germans began to rob us completely, as a rule when we had stopped, or were near barricades. They took everything from us. Not to speak of my watch, I lost all the small objects I had in my pockets, including my scissors, electric torch and even a box of matches. I saw the Germans taking purses and money from the group nearest to me, and as for documents and papers, they ostentatiously threw them away in the street. Persons who spe-
cially displeased the Germans were ordered to hold up their hands very high; they were forced to throw away even the smallest baggage. The Germans snatched off sur hatís or caps.
"I tried several times to get in touch with the furious Germans in order to know what fate was awaiting us. I also tried a few times to save my things, but I do not remember any other answer but "Waaa?" "Looos" and so on. Inarticulate, animal roars.
"The attitude of our men was wonderful. A uniform, massive group, like one body, flowing like a stream of lava through the street, in stony silence, stubborn, obstinate, without any begging, any cries, or any manifestation of fear or anxiety.
"Our group of several hundred men was pushed on to a spot situated between St. Stanislausí Church and an unplastered house. It was, as we afterwards found, a police station. Here the last robbery took place. We were forced to drop everything we had in our hands. Before my eyes they tore a coat from the shoulders of an old man; and the two soldiers busy at this task casually remarked "So and so, he wonít need this any more". A heap of suit-cases, bundles, and things of all sorts lay near the place into which they pushed us.
"They drove us through the entrance door and up tothe first floor. It was probably an unfinished Polish school-building.
"I found myself with about 100 men in an empty room about 5 metres (16 feet) square. It was somewhere about 3 p. m. My companions in misfortune proudly displayed the small objects they had succeeded in keeping. Somebody drew a watch from his boot, another had succeeded in hiding his penknife. An old man pulled out a piece of bread from his breast pocket. We divided this into tiny pieces, and these again into crumbs and shared them among us. When I got a bit, I shared it with my nearest companions and felt strangely touched. It was a sort of collective Communion, and the association and feeling were so strong that we all felt it the same.
"We suffered very much from lack of water. Someone found a fire-bucket in the passage, but it was empty; the water had probably been already drunk.
"We were forbidden to leave the room. Every few minutes new groupswere brought in. We saw that in the adjoining rooms, in the passage and on the staircase, still more people were packed.
"We were still very strongly under the impression of the experiences we had undergone and full of fear as to our fate. When they drove us to this empty room we were sure that our end had come; that they would barricade the house and throw hand-grenades into it,or shoot us all and then set fire to the building.
"Our depression increased as every few minutes a drunken gendarme came to us and made such speeches as: "You are all Communists; you will be all shot to-morrow". After having threatened and insulted us, cursed us, and called us names, such as "revolutionaries" or "insurgents", he would leave the room. This man terrified us absolutely. He would then stagger down the stairs, but we had had hardly time to breathe when up he climbed again and began the same sort of talk.
"One of the gendarmes at last allowed us to bring in some water. Evening came. Houses were burning in our neighbourhood. The heat of the fire and the smoke reached our room, making it hardly possible to breathe. The sound of explosions and shots coming from the town and the monstrous red glow of the flames completed the horror of our situation. We spent the night lying down one on top of another. Some slept.
"In the morning of August 8 they drove us out of the house again like cattle, with our hands up. We learned after some time that they were taking us to the Western Station and were going to send us from there to the Reich to work."
Living barricades of Poles.
Record No. 117:
"On August 7, at 9 p. m., they hunted us out of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry building, No. 2, Elektoralna Street. There were several hundreds of us, driven here from various burning houses. They drove us through the cellars of the Ministry. In the passage, a German dragged me aside and tried to violate me, but after a moment he chose a new victim from another group. Wanting to get rid of me, he took out his revolver and aimed it at my forehead. At this moment someone else passed, and he ran after that person, shooting. I took advantage of this and ran up to the Ministry of Finance, and then through the burning streets to No. 5, Solna Street, where they kept us the whole night until 11 the next morning. They then robbed us of all our watches and valuables, and drove us on through Mirowski Square and Elektoralna Street towards the suburb of Wola. In the Square I saw huge bomb-craters, and also burning corpses. The streets all round were on fire. At the intersection of Chloldna and Wolska Streets, and Towarowa Street, and Kercelli Place we stopped. From Kercelli Place the Insurgents were firing towards Towarowa Street. The Germans who were going into the fighting stopped us and made of us a living barricade, under threats of being shot, they ordering us to lie down across the street from one side to the other. With our backs turned to the Insurgents, we knelt or crouched and the Germans placed themselves on the ground behind us, or knelt on one knee, firing over our heads towards Kercelli Place. There were 23 of us including (two children), mostly young women. It is difficult to describe what we felt during the two hours the fighting lasted. We were all prepared to die and said the Rosary aloud. Bullets whistled over our heads, or past our ears. The noise of the German guns nearly deafened us. As
if by some miracle, the bullets only hit the Germans. When the first German fell we were paralysed with fear. My mother told me: "If I am shot remember not to shed one tear; do not complain, preserve the dignity of a Polish woman Show no weakness in their presence". Only the children wept bitterly and were greatly afraid.
"The Germans were bewildered by the fact that only they were falling. They ordered the men to drag the bodies aside. We thought they would take their revenge on us. Stupefied and astonished they looked towards the Insurgent posts, and then at our quiet, resigned attitude; and the children clinging to their mothers.
"At last, they let us go."
Record No. 247:
"On August 7, 1944, by order of the SS people from the entire town district were compelled to leave their houses, which were at once set on fire. We went in crowds of several thousands, driven and pushed by SS-men. When anyone fell, struck by a rifle-butt, those who wanted to help were struck likewise. We went through Bednarska Street Ďand Krakowskie Przedmiescie, towards Trebacka Street. On Marshal Square the men were separated from the women; people wept and despaired. In the Saxon Garden shots were heard from the Market Place. The insurgents were firing. The SS-men began to make living barricades of us. They ordered us to lie down, beat and pushed us. Soon a rampart of living bodies was formed. People wept and cursed, but the SS-men began to fire from behind it.
"The firing stopped. We went forward again under an escort of SS-men. The Ukrainians robbed us of our watches and valuables, and tore our paper money into pieces. On the Zelazna Brama Place we saw near the Market Hall a pile of
suit-cases and trunks. ,Whoever had a good suit-case had to
give it up, and it was added to the heap. We saw motor-trucks coming to take away our belongings.
"We continued our march. A car stopped and some SS-officers got out. They looked attentively at the passers-by, took from our ranks three pretty young girls, the two sisters R. and an unknown girl, and drove off. The girls cried and tried to escape from their caresses. An old woman fell. An SS-officer shot her through the back of the head. Again curses were heard; the spirit of revolt and thirst for revenge surged in the hearts of thousands of people.
"In the church at Wola they stole our remaining belongings. All young girls were detained, even those of not more than 12 or 13. We older women were taken on with the children in the direction of the Western Station and then by train to Pruszkow, where they shut us up in a huge, dark, damp factory hall ankle-deep in mud. Moaning was heard in the darkness; a woman gave birth to a child without any help, and without a drop of water. A woman-doctor was among us, but what could she do without instruments, water, or light. She had only matches. The child was born dead.
"At the other end of the hall an old woman lay dying. Several people recited prayers for the dying, while others sat listlessly, absolutely broken, and others again thought of how to escape.
"At daybreak they let us out of the hall. We went on. There were several thousands of us, men, women and children. The SS-men fired over our heads. They took us to the station. We started hungry and thirsty, on our journey to an unknown destination. At wayside stations Polish people gave us coffee, bread and tomatoes."
Record No. 71:
"When I was wounded and in hospital, about the middle of August (I do not remember the exact date), a group of 20 or 30 men and women were driven in. They were dreadfully burnt.
They had been evacuated from the shelters under some houses in Wolska Street. When they had been in the streets, Vlassovís men threw inflammable liquid over them and drove them among the burning houses. Their clothes at once caught fire, especially the womenís light dresses, and several of them could go no further. The others struggled on terribly burnt. As they could not walk any further, they were taken to, the hospital. Their sufferings were awful; the eyes of some were burnt out, faces were burnt, others had open wounds on the whole body. Only one-third of these victims survived; the others died after inhuman suffering."
Record No. 506:
"I was taken from Dlugosz Street (as a civilian) at 6 a. m. on August 6, 1944, and led to Sokolowska Street to the so-called Arbeitskommando head-quarters. Next day I volunteered for work with 50 other thinking that in this way I should be better off. We were sent to a house opposite St. Adalbertís Church in Wolska Street, where about six hundred bodies of men, women and children were lying in heaps. Near by were a few dozen more, which we added to the heap. Then we went to No. 60, Wolska Street, where, on both sides of the courtyard lay the bodies of more than 100 men, as far was we could judge, victims of a mass execution. In the garden of this same house we found in a thicket the bodies of more than a dozen women, children, and babies, shot through the back of the bead. We carried out from the house at the corner ,of Plocka and Wolska Street (a large yellow house) several dozens of bodies of men, women and children, partly burnt, who had been shot through the back of the head. From a house in
Plocka Street, between Wolska and Gorczewska Streets, we carried out about 100 bodies. In one of the houses we found the half-burnt body of a man holding two children in the arms. When we returned to No. 60, Wolska Street, we made a wooden platform on which we laid the dead; and then we cleared the ground of all traces of the German crimes, such as documents, clothes, or linen, which we placed on the pile of dead, sprinkled with petrol, and set alight. While we were thus burning the bodies, a drunken SD officer arrived in a car. He picked out three men of about 20 or 30 from a group of refugees passing by. He shot them through the back of the head in the course of a "friendly" conversation. After having murdered the first man he ordered us to throw him on the burning pyre before the eyes of the remaining two.
"On Aug. 8, 1944, they led us to the yard of the "Ursus" works in Wolska Street. The whole courtyard, about50 metres (55 yards) square was strewn with dead bodies so thickly that it was impossible to pass without treading on them. Half of them were of women with children, often with infants. All the bodies bore traces of robbery. Their position showed that they had each been murdered separately and in an especially bestial way. The number of bodies burnt there amounted, as far as I could estimate, to more than six hundred. Their clothes and suit-cases showed them to be refugees. When we were transporting bodies from neighbouring houses I found a great number of corpses in a flooded cellar in a house at the corner of Skierniewicka Street. We could not get out more than a few dozen of them, as the water was too high. I suppose they had been thrown in here after having been murdered in the courtyard, where we still found more than a dozen bodies. Then they took us to the "Franaszek" works in Wolska Street, where we burnt in the same way as before about the same number of bodies as in the "Ursus" works, mostly of women and children. On one of the following days they took us to work in Sowinski Park, where again the bodies were
mostly those of women and children; I found even pregnant women. The position of these bodies lying in a row seemed to be proof of a mass execution. We then burnt more than a thousand on two pyres. They made us search the bodies and give fall valuables to the SD-men. As to paper money, we were ordered to burn it, together with all other evidence of the crime. We worked there one whole day. Next day they took us to No. 24, Wolska Street (the ,,Wenecja" playground), where we brought bodies from the sector ,of Wolska Street between Mlynarska and Karolkowa and burnt over two hundred. On the same day we burnt about 200 corpses at No. 4, Wolska Street. In a house at the corner of Wronia and Chlodna streets we burnt about fifty bodies which were there lying half-burnt. I then saw a non-commissioned SD-officer murder an old woman off about 80 who was passing along Chlodna Street, and whose body we added to the burning pyre. In the Machlejd factory building we threw bodies brought from neighbouring houses into the burning cellars. All next day we worked on the burning of bodies in the grounds of St. Lazarusís Hospital in Wolska Street. We found the bodies of the murdered patients and of the staff in the hospital wards in beds, on the staircases, in the passages and in the cellars. From what I saw there, I suppose that all the patients and the whole of the staff were murdered. In most cases their bodies had been burnt in the cellars. After having partly burnt the bodies in St. Lazarusís Hospital, we also burnt many in houses the addresses of which I do not remember. After returning to the hospital grounds, we found there the bodies of forty newly murdered men. On one of the next days we burnt about one hundred corpses in the sector of Mlynarska Street between Wolska and Gorczewska Street; about one hundred also in the courtyard of the Michler works and about the same number in Ptasia Street. Towards evening we removed all traces of crime from the grounds of St. Lazarusís Hospital. Then I fell ill and ceased working on the burning of bodies.
"From the reports of my companions in other working parties I conclude that this work of wiping out all traces of mass murder lasted until the middle of September, 1944. The work was organised as follows. A gang for the burning of bodies contained one hundred men, divided into two lots of fifty, strictly segregated from the remainder of theArbeitskommando. The work was done under the supervision of fifteen SD-men under the command of an SD-officer. Part of the men prepared and arranged the pyre, and the others brought the bodies from the neighbouring houses. I was informed at this time that an order to stop the executions had been given on the morning of Aug. 6, 1944. During this period (I cannot give the exact date) I saw the bodies of about 20 priests. At various times I saw individual old men and priests being murdered. For instance, in Zelazna Street an SD-man shot down two sick old women.
"After the pyres on the "Wenecja" play-ground had burnt out, the ashes were thrown into the air-raid-protection trenches there. Our party of 50 men worked from Aug. 6 to 15 at the intersection of Chlodna and Wolska Streets. The second party worked in the sector of Gorczewska Street with cross-roads where there is an intersection, but I have no precise information about their work.
"I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the dates I have given above, and the number of burnt bodies is only approximate, but it must certainly have been not less but rather more than I have said."
Crimes at Marymont
Record No. 189:
At the time of the Rising I was in my own house, No. 29, Maria Kazimiera Street, Marymont. On Sep. 14, 1944, the bombing of Marymont greatly increased, and at about
2 oíclock the adjoining houses began to burn. The Insurgents retreated from our part of the city, and only the civilian population was left.
I, with my husband and my parents-in-law and other inhabitants of our house, about 30 of us altogether, were in the shelter in the garden. From there I saw German soldiers and soldiers from the army of General Vlassov knocking at a house at the back of ours - No. 2/4 Dembinski Street. When the door opened, the inhabitants began to file out slowly (men, women and children); a German soldier, standing a few steps from the front door, shot them through the back of the head. In this way about a hundred people were killed. The rest were driven into the field. Shortly after we heard shots coming from the direction in which they had been taken. (Among them was one priest). From the owner of this house I learnt afterwards that in this group the men had been separated from the women and all shot. Later I saw Vlassovís men rush into a school building at No. 21, Maria Kazimiera Street, and order all those who were there (many people) to go out into the yard. Meanwhile our house began to burn; we came out of our shelter and went into the adjoining school, from the windows of which we saw further incidents. The Germans ordered people who were in the school yard to go out into Maria Kazimiera Street, where they were joined by others from No. 21. Some refused to go and began to turn back; then the soldiers fired at them from all sides, killing them all. Among those who had been previously driven from the school was a woman with a child in a perambulator. She was killed with the others in Maria Kazimiera Street. A few moments afterwards I saw a soldier come over to the perambulator and shoot the child.
We stayed in this school till the next day. On Sep. 15, 1944, a tank drove up to it and opened fire, destroying the upper floors. We, with the exception of my husband, who went I do not know where, then returned to the shelter at No, 21. For
three consecutive nights I tried to find my husband. While looking for him I saw the corpses of the people who had been killed in front of No. 2/4, Dembinski Street. About a hundred lay in disorder: men, women and children. Among them I recognised my brother-in-law, his son, and many acquaintances, former occupants of Number 2/4, Dembinski Street.
Record No. 17/11:
On Aug. 1, 1944, I went to Zoliborz to buy some food, but owing to the outbreak of the Rising could not return to Praga where I lived. For several weeks I stayed with casual acquaintances. On Aug. 2, I went to Marymont, where I stayed at No. 29, Maria Kazimiera Street, which at that moment was in the hands of the Insurgents. On September 14 the Germans began to put down the Rising in that section in the following way: About 20 tanks came from the direction of Bielany and opened fire on various houses. The Insurgents retreated from the territory of Zoliborz without fighting.
Thus the tanks came without difficulty to No. 29, Maria Kazimiera Street. Several SS-men rushed into the courtyard throwing hand grenades into the cellars and in this way forced the frightened civilians to come out.
Then we all were told to leave. I was in the uniform of a railway worker. One of the Germans pulled off my cap and beat me for no reason. We were ordered to cross the street to a house which had previously been burnt. There were 32 of us in all, including men, women, small children and even an infant 6 months old. Here we were taken intoa burnt-out flat, and ordered to kneel down with our hands up facing our persecutors. A machine gun was placed before us.
The execution began at 2 p. m. Several series of shots were fired into our group. I got a superficial wound in my skull. I fell; the corpses of two young men immediately fell on me. While lying I still got shots in my left arm, hand, fingers and
feet. When the execution was over SS-men came back three times, killing the wounded and throwing two grenades each time. Owing to this I got (pieces of shrapnel in my fingers.
So I lay for four hours, till 6 p. m. Then a WH soldier came in, probably to loot the place of execution, and seeing that I moved, helped me to free myself from the corpses, comforting me and telling me not to be frightened any more. He also pulled out two women who had been saved by a miracle, though their hands were shattered, and two children who had been saved because their parents had protected them with their own bodies. The soldier who had helped us put us under the care of a wounded soldier, also from the WH, who conducted us to an evacuation point at Zoliborz (in CIWF). Here I parted from my companions in misfortune.
Executions in the Market Halls
Record No. 23/II.
During the Rising, on leaving the house where I lived, No 30 Ogrodowa Street, I found myself in a shelter of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, No 2 Elektoralna Street. This was on August 7, 1944. In the shelter there were several hundred people, mostly women and children. In the afternoon of this day, after the Insurgents had retreated from Elektoralna Street, a German outpost was set in front of the gateway of the Ministry. About 9 oíclock in the evening 2 gendarmes entered the shelter and ordered all the men to go out. The soldier who stood on guard assured us that we were only going to work. We were led out three by three (we were about 150 men) to Mirowski Square, among the buildings of the two Market Halls. Here we were ordered to remove the corpses, scores of which were lying on the ground, and after that, rubble from the gutters and the
After a few minutes I heard a series of shots and I fell. Lying on the ground I heard the moans and groans of people lying close to me and also more shots. When the firing ceased I heard the gendarmes counting those who lay on the ground; they only counted up to thirteen. Then they began to look for two more who were missing. They found a father and son hiding in the adjoining lavatory. They brought them out, and I heard the voice of the boy shouting "Long live Poland", and then shots and moans. Some time later I heard the voices of approaching Poles; cautiously I lifted my head and saw the gendarmes standing beside the hole filled with fire and Poles carrying the corpses and
throwing them into it. Their work brought them nearer to me. I then crept into the lavatory and concealed myself behind a partition which formed the roof of the lavatory. Sitting there I heard firing near by and the shouts of Germans from the direction of the hole. At a certain moment another Pole who had escaped from below through the lavatory found himself beside me. He was doctor Jerzy Łakota,;who worked in the Child Jesus Hospital.
We sat up there for many hours. The whole time we heard the crackling of the burning corpses in the hole and of the fire itself. Besides, we heard series of shots coming from the other side (nearer to Zimna Street). Dr. Łakota told me that after a volley he had fallen along with the others. The gendarmes came over to see if he was still alive, and beat him brutally; but he pretended to be dead. I might add that when I fell after the volley, I saw a gendarme examining those lying on the ground; those who were still alive he shot with his revolver. I had succeeded in escaping before this. At about 2 oíclock in the night we descended and went out into the street through the already empty Hall, in which the fire was still burning, and succeeded in getting to Krochmalna Street.
Record No. 33/II:
On August 7, 1944, I was in the cellar of a house in Elektoralna Street in Warsaw. This day, at dusk, some German soldiers arrived on the premises and ordered all men to get out of the cellar, and to dismantle the barricades within two hours. I obeyed and went out of the cellar with about fifty other men. The soldiers took us under escort to Zelazna Brama Square, and then to the place near Mirowska Street which is opposite the small square between the two Market Halls. On the pavement of Mirowska Street there lay about 20 dead.
We were ordered to carry these corpses from the pavement
of Mirowska Street to the little square between the Halls. With other men I carried the corpses and noticed while doing so that all of then were of more or less middle-aged men. After carrying these corpses we were ordered to remove the barricade which was across the tram line from Zelazna Brama Square to Zelazna Street. Having removed part of this barricade and thus enabled tanks to pass, we were brought in the direction of Zelazna Street, where we were halted, and ordered to put up our hands. We were asked several times if there were no Volks-orReichsdeutsche among us . Next we were searched; everything of value, such as rings, watches and cigarettes, was taken from us. After being searched we were left standing on the same spot for about an hour and a half. Not far from us were groups of soldiers, in all about 200 men; our prayers for release were answered by the soldiers with laughter and derision. They spoke German, Russian land Ukrainian. One of them told us repeatedly that we should be killed at any moment. Then (we were standing in rows of three) the first three rows were driven into the Market Hall which is nearer to Zelazna Street. Shortly afterwards I heard a series of shots. Then followed the next three rows. I was in the second, or perhaps in the centre of the third. At the moment when we were directly in front of the entrance, one of the soldiers who was escorting us fired, and instantly my neighbour on the left fell to the ground before me, blocking my way; I stumbled and fell, but got up immediately and rejoined my companions. I did not notice what happened to the body over which I had stumbled. After rising, when I reached my companions, who were then entering the hall by the second inside gate, I saw a door leading to the right and immediately ran through it. I saw a hall, entered it, and noticed stairs leading upwards. It was already dark, but the darkness was lighted up by the reflection of the fires all round me. I thought my escape had been
observed, as I heard a shout behind me, but no shots were fired. I ran to a gallery where some of the wooden structure was burning and there I stayed. During that time I heard separate shots from the interior of the hall. After some time, I looked down from the gallery into the Hall and saw a big round hole, about 6-7 metres (22 feet) across, in the floor of the Hall. In this hole a big fire was burning; its flames rose several metres above the level of the floor. I also noticed that the soldiers were leading a man to the edge of the hole. I saw this man making the sign of the Cross, and then I heard a shot, and saw him fall into the fire. I might add that this shot was fired in such a way that the soldier put his gun to the manís neck and fired. Later I saw many such scenes. I noticed that when the shot was fired the man did not fall at once, but only after a few seconds. Having watched several murders of this kind I could not look any more, but heard many more shots and moans, which grew weaker and weaker, or even human howls. I supposed that they came from those who had fallen into the fire and were still alive. From the number of shots I took the impression that all those who had been brought with me from the cellar of No. 2, Elektoralna Street were shot. I stayed up in the gallery for some time longer (at least an hour), till the moment the shooting and voices stopped. Then, unnoticed, I ran through the Small Ghetto in the direction of Grzybowska Street, and afterwards came to Zlota Street, where I stayed for a month.
Crimes at Praga
Record No. 23111:
On Aug. 24, 1944, a gray-green car came to the corner of the Jewish
Cemetery at Praga from the direction of Nowe
After they had been buried the car drove away, but in a short time returned with the same number of people as before: three men and one woman, who met the same fate. After they too had been buried in this grave the car drove away. This was at 1.30 p.m.
On Aug. 25 at the same hour the same car returned bringing four young men, who dug their own grave. Then they were ordered to lie in the hole, and in this position they were shot. This grave is about 400 metres (450 yards) from the first one.
On Aug. 26 - it was a Saturday - about 10 oíclock in the morning they again came and dug a larger number of graves and this time ordered passers-by to help. At 12 oíclock they drove off, returning at three with four men who had to dig graves. Then they went away, taking these men with them. There was no execution that day. On Sunday, Aug. 27, a big dark-red lorry brought 15 people; they were led out in groups of five. In the first group were three men and two women.
When they came to the graves I heard a cry and two men began to run away. One of them was killed on the spot; the other succeeded in running about 50 metres (55 yards) when a revolver-bullet struck him; they were both thrown into the hole. The rest of the people having heard their cries, did not want to get out of the car, but they were driven out by force and shot immediately at the gate. While one party.
Crimes in the centre of the city
Record No. 8/11:
At the moment of the outbreak of the Rising I was at No. 62, Marszalkowska Street. I tried to return home to No. 3, Staroscinska Street, and went from one shelter to another in different houses in the vicinity of the Redeemer Square (Plac Zbawiciela). This part of the city was then in Polish hands. On the evening of Aug. 4 I found myself together with my brother-in-law in the Parish House of the Church of the Redeemer, 37 Marszalkowska Street. On Aug. 5 some Gestapo-men entered the court-yard of this house: before the house (in the street) they set up a machine gun. They ordered all of us to leave. In the Parish House and in the cellars were about 50 people - priests, church staff, inhabitants of adjoining houses, and casual passers by. They were mostly elderly men and women. There were no Insurgents among us. We all went into the court-yard. The Germans drove us to the opposite side of Marszalkowska Street, where they separated the men from the women and ordered us all to lie down on the pavement; men first, but some of the women too. When we reached the spot, about 80 men and a large number of women were already on the ground. Fighting was in progress.
The Insurgents were firing from Mokotowiska Street and August 6 Street. After 10 minutes a WH soldier came to me with a revolver and ordered me in Polish to "come to work"; he
said the same to my brother-in-law and to another young man who was lying near us. He ordered us to follow him in the direction of Litewska Street. Another Ukrainian soldier with his gun at the ready walked behind us. At the corner of Litewska Street they ordered us to cross Marszalkowska Street. Here under the wall of S. Ancís chemistĎs shop I saw about a dozen corpses lying. They were all of men, and had machine- gun- shot wounds. The soldier told us to throw them into the cellar. We began to do so through a window in M,arszalkowska Street facing Oleander Street. When we had finished, we stopped, not knowing what to do next. Then the Ukrainian ordered me to push in a corpse, which had not quite fallen down into the cellar. When I approached the window I heard a shot behind me; I turned and saw our third companion fall on the ground, and the Ukrainian standing with his revolver pointed at my brother-in-law. I then jumped into the cellar, holding the corpse of the murdered man, and fell on a heap of corpses lying under the window.
I then heard many shots fired in the direction of the cellar and German and Ukrainian voices. I thought that they were shooting at me. I hid under the window among the corpses; there were about 30 of them. I lay there for several hours. At twilight I heard steps approaching under the window and the sound as of running water. Some drops fell on my head and I recognised the smell of petrol. After a moment I heard the hissing sound of fire; the heap of corpses among-which I was began to burn. I heard a Ukrainian say "Timov, I have started the fire".
Then I crept from the window to the centre of the cellar. By the light of the burning fire I saw under the window in the direction of Oleander Street a pile of burnt human bones, and ashes. I went into the adjoining smaller cellar. There, under the window which looked on to Marszalkowska Street, I saw about 20 corpses of men only. I then
retreated to a cellar on one side of the court-yard. There, in the darkness, I saw a man, Władysław Tymitiski. He told me that the Germans had taken him from No 19, Marszalkowska Street, and had brought him to Ancís shop from Oleander Street and there ordered him to jump on to the burning staircase. When he did so they had fired at him, but missed. This had happened one or two days before I found myself in the cellar of the chemistís shop. We spent the night in one of the cellars. Next morning, Aug. 6, we met another man, Antoni Dudek, in the court-yard; he told us that a Ukrainian had fired at him in Oleander Street in front of the chemistís shop. Dudek fell unconscious; after a while he felt the Ukrainian dragging him in the direction of the chemistís shop. When he moved the Ukrainian threw him through the window into the burning cellar in Oleander Street. This was on August 2 or 3, 1934. [should be 1944]
We three went together to the sixth floor. All the flats, with the exception of two, were burnt out. From these two we collected food, and then hid ourselves on the sixth floor. There we met a fourth companion, Jan Latwinski. We stayed in this flat till Nov. 13, 1944. All this time we heard sounds of the fighting which was going on, and of various executions. Several times we heard voices of Poles shouting "long live Polandí, then separate gun shots followed. One day we heard steps on the stairs and German voices; after a while we saw fire coming out of a flat which had not yet been burnt. After the Capitulation the house in which we were was twice mined by the Germans . I saw mines being laid on the site of the chemistís shop in Oleander Street; we then hid ourselves under the staircase. The explosion destroyed the ceilings of the lower floors of the house; but the upper floors remained intact. We left this house on Nov. 13, 1944, creeping through the city by night.
Executions in the Opera-House
Record No. 19/II:
On Aug. 9, 1944, at ten oíclock in the morning, about twenty SS-men with revolvers rushed shouting into the courtyard ,of our house in Trebacka Street and ordered all the people in the flats and cellars to go out into the yard. Our street had been completely in German hands since the beginning of the Rising and there had been no military activity in it whatever. The inhabitants had stayed quietly in their flats or cellars. We came down men, women and children. In one of the flats a paralysed old woman of about 70 named Ropelewska was left behind. Several SS-men rushed into her flat after all the inhabitants had left and set fire to her mattress; seeing this her son carried her into the yard. When we were in the yard SS-men rushed into the flats and set them on fire one after the other. Then they took us into the, next yard, at No. 2, Marshall Foch Street. As Mrs. Ropelewska could not walk one of the armed SS-men shot her before our eyes.
At No. 2, Foch Street, the men were separated from the women. Then we went from one house to another (Nos 2, 4, 5, 7, Foch Str.). We were brought through cellars and court-yards into the Opera House; women and children into the cellars and men to the first floor. Among the men were my father, 69, and my husband, a student, 26 years old. What happened to the men I was told later by a schoolboy, Jerzy Szajkowski, who had escaped death. The men were led upstairs to the first floor of the Opera House, theirKennkarten were taken from them, and they were divided into groups: 1) Those who had been working in German institutions, 2) foreigners, 3) the remainder. Later this third group was brought out through the doors of the boxes and killed by shots through the back of the head The corpses
fell on the stage. Thus my father and husband were murdered. The number of people killed then amounted to 500. The women, of whom there were several hundred, were divided into groups: 1) above. 60, 2) women with children, 3) the rest. I succeeded, with 30 other women, in escaping from the last group. We came to the church at Wola, from where we were taken to Pruszkow. I was recently in the ruins of the Opera House. The remains of the burnt corpses are still lying there. They were murdered on August 9. I saw bones, hair, teeth, and the remains of clothing, shoes and documents. I think some women were also shot there, because there were also remains of womenís dresses, and I fear that this was not the only execution there.
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