Warsaw, 15 January 1946. Judge Halina Wereńko, delegated to the Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes, interviewed the person named below as a witness. Having advised the witness of the criminal liability for making false declarations and of the significance of the oath, the judge took an oath therefrom under Article 109 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Lucyna Podlaska, née Wleke|
|Date of birth||7 January 1891 in Warsaw|
|Parents’ names||Adolf and Aleksandra, née Grabowska|
|Occupation||office worker in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs|
|Education||secondary school leaving exam, commercial courses, foreign language courses, shorthand writing courses|
|Place of residence||Legionowo, Sielankowa Street 7|
In 1940 I lived with my husband Wincenty (born in 1902 in Legionowo) at Sielankowa Street 7, in the commune of Jabłonna. On 22 February 1940, unknown assailants killed a gendarme, the mayor of Legionowo, a Volksdeutscher by the surname of Marilke – I don’t remember his name. Mayor Marilke, as I heard, was kindly towards Poles, but was killed – as people said – in consequence of a provocation or possibly due to a family feud. People also said that half an hour before his death, after he had been shot, Marilke stated as follows: ‚do not blame the Poles, for I was murdered by Germans’.
But who he was supposed to have said this to, I don’t know.
Mayor Marilke’s wife was also killed during the assassination. Even though we lived in the commune of Jabłonna, following the attack, we were afraid of reprisals, however my husband did not want to flee the house, and during the night from 23 to 24 February two friends even stayed the night at our home: Zembrzuski, and Mazurek, a railwayman, I don’t remember their first names, who were afraid of staying at their own apartments near the market square in Legionowo.
At 4.00 I heard a loud knock on the door, and after I opened it a blue policeman from Legionowo, one Sadowski, a Volksdeutscher by the surname Korcz, and two gendarmes in uniforms entered our house.
Before the War, Volksdeutscher Korcz had passed for a Pole: a good patriot, he did community service, and I myself saw him collecting donations for community projects. He married a Polish woman, and their children went to the school of an army family in the barracks. Korcz very frequently picked his children up from school. He was a merchant by profession. He and his wife had a clothing shop in Legionowo. After September 1939, Korcz sent his children to a German school and registered on the list of Volksdeutscher. I don’t remember who told me this, but it was commonly known that when Korcz’s wife learned that her husband was or is a German informer, she poisoned herself.
The second German informer in Legionowo was the Volksdeutscher Fryderyk Dregier, who before the War had been a street ice cream vendor. When the War started, he became a real figure.
I don’t know what his position was, but I can confirm that he came to arrest people and helped find Poles who were being searched for by the Gestapo. He was present at the arrest of Szwedowski in Zegrze. In all probability, Szwedowski was executed by firing squad together with my husband. He was also present during the arrest of Edward Nowak from Legionowo, Mikołaj Bożym with his son Józef, Colonel Dr Mermon. The wife of detainee Nowak (residing in Legionowo, Sienkiewicza Street, where she has her own house), the wife or daughter of Mikołaj Bożym, Wanda Rotkiewicz (residing in Legionowo at Kopernik Street, where she has her own house) could all testify regarding this matter.
I heard that before the uprising Korcz was in the Poznań province, while Dregier left for Germany.
Returning to night from 23 to 24 February 1940, I continue my testimony as follows: the gendarme, policeman and Volksdeutscher Korcz inquired after my husband and ordered him to go with them. We were not told what this was all about and what were the reasons for his arrest. They accused my husband of having been a member of the POW (Polish Military Organisation) before the War, in 1920, and of having taken part in pro-independence fighting, however, at the time of his arrest he was not a member of any underground organisation.
Neither of the men who stayed the night at our home were arrested.
After I requested it, I was allowed to accompany mu husband. When we walked out of the gateway, I saw two trucks with canvas canopies and isinglass windows parked out front. The vehicles were full. Women and men were sitting on the benches, while the benches immediately opposite the Poles were occupied by gendarmes with rifles. The truck that I boarded with my husband could have contained some 20 to 30 detained Poles. Amongst those riding I was the only one who had not been arrested; my sole purpose was to save my husband. I did not recognise anyone among the detainees, for it was dark.
I later learned (this was common knowledge, however I don’t remember who told me) that on this night the Germans had organised a round-up, taking some 600 people in the following areas from their homes: Zegrze, Michałów, Legionowo, Jabłonna, Piekiełko, Żerań. The detainees were taken as hostages for the slaying of mayor Marilke in Żerań.
I can name the following persons from amongst the hostages taken: Grzymski, an office worker at the electric power station (residing in Jabłonna); lieutenant Starczewski, who was a veteran of the First World Wad and an invalid – he had lost both legs and moved around in a wheelchair, however he was taken without it; an accountant from the electric power station of Count Potocki, who was arrested even though she had to leave her 9-month old baby behind, I don’t know her surname; Górczyński from Legionowo; Colonel Dr Merman from Legionowo; Matuszewski from Legionowo; Mikołaj Bożym with his son Józef; Świączkowski from Legionowo; Szwedowski from Zegrze; Edward Nowak from Legionowo; Bębnowski from Legionowo; Iwanicki from Żerań; Głowacki from Żerań; Gorczyński from Legionowo, over 60 years old; Dąbrowski from Legionowo, the brickyard; Żebrowski with his son from Legionowo.
During the ride my husband told me that Korcz crossed his name off of the list with the surnames of people who were to be – as he surmised – detained on this night. We reached the Mokotów prison, where my husband and the other arrested persons were taken inside, while I was ordered to leave. Still on the same day (24 February 1943) I attempted to secure an intervention on the part of the mayor of Jabłonna, Rinas (a Volksdeutscher) on behalf of my husband, but without success.
On the next day, Monday (25 February), I went to the Gestapo office (aleja Szucha 25) and entered temporarily without a pass; I then passed by an unknown man in civilian attire, who whispered to me twice: ‚Oboźna Street 4 flat 11, sentenced to death’. I was referred to the Ordnungspolizei, where I was told that those arrested in the Legionowo and Jabłonna case had been sentenced to death, and that the sentence had already been carried out. However, the German who notified me recommended that I immediately submit an application for a pardon at the Gestapo office.
There I was told to go to the criminal police at Daniłowiczowska Street, where I asked a Polish policeman who I should turn to, and he replied that the hostages from Legionowo and Jabłonna were being taken for execution at that very moment. And indeed, in front of the entrance to the prison at Daniłowiczowska Street I saw trucks with canopies – uncovered – into which gendarmes were pushing prisoners. The vehicles were under guards and it was impossible to come closer or recognise anyone. I was accompanied by Głowacka, whose acquaintance – a German – was the director of the electric power station where Głowacka’s husband worked; he had been arrested in the same circumstances as my husband. This director was supposed to intervene and secure Głowacki’s freedom – without success. Głowacka learned from him that the hostages from Legionowo and Jabłonna were being taken to be shot at that very minute. I later heard that Głowacka’s husband did, however, return.
At the time, Głowacki and his wife lived in Żerań. I don’t know their current place of residence.
I later learned from Iwanicka, whose husband had been arrested in Żerań port together with my husband, that her husband also returned.
A few days later Ms Fogler, who currently resides in Olsztyn, told me that she had heard from a restaurant owner in Legionowo, the Volksdeutscher Dracheim, that all of the hostages from Legionowo and Jabłonna had been executed by firing squad, and that he himself had been present at the execution.
Dracheim left for Germany before the uprising.
During this time I read in an underground paper – I don’t now remember the title of the publication – that the hostages arrested in retaliation for the murder of the mayor of Legionowo had been murdered and buried in Palmiry.
I continued my efforts at the Gestapo in order to find any trace of my husband. Without success, even though I put myself at great risk. Finally, one of the Gestapo heads (at aleja Szucha 25) advised that I should drop my interest in my husband’s case, for otherwise they would arrest me. I learned from applicants who were waiting in the corridor that one of the Gestapo men who was sitting in the room in which I was told this went by the surname Cebula. I don’t know, however, whether he was a head officer, or merely a second, younger official.
As regards the mysterious whisper – ’Oboźna Street 4, flat 11, sentenced to death’ – I have explained that this was the flat number of Biniecka. I heard that Biniecki had been taken from Piekiełko, but I know nothing more regarding this matter.
To date, neither my husband nor any of the persons arrested with him – with the exception of Głowacki, Iwanicki and one other man, whose surname I don’t know – have returned, and there has been no information about them or from them following their arrest.
The report was read out.