Warsaw, 26 October 1945. Investigating Judge Mikołaj Halfter 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 swore the witness, who then testified as follows:
|Name and surname||M.[...] F.[...] Sz.[…]. née R.[...]|
|Age||[...] years old|
|Names of parents||M.[...] and F.[...]|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, B[…] Street|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
The Warsaw Uprising caught me, my husband, and my child at home. At that time, I lived at Bagatela Street 10 […]. Since the neighboring house number 8 was a single-story garage, we could see the park from the window of our bathroom.
For the first few days of the uprising, that means from 1 to 4 August 1944, I constantly heard single shots and, from time to time, machine gun series from the park. My husband wouldn’t let me look through the bathroom window. However, on 4 August, I climbed up on the bathtub and looked through the window, the same one that I showed to the judge on 18 October of this year, when the site inspection took place in the park grounds and at aleje Szucha 12/14. I saw three rows of naked people in the park grounds, including children. They were lying down on the grass. Their clothes lay on the side, scattered. I didn’t see any blood, so I suppose that the execution was yet to happen. I saw German soldiers in the vicinity (probably Ukrainians because, as I had noticed, there were only Ukrainian soldiers in the area of Bagatela Street). Only the officers in those units were German. The soldiers held “ rozpylacze” [machine guns] directed at those lying down. I lost consciousness. I had a serious heart attack afterwards, because the picture I saw through the bathroom window made such a huge impression on me. I realized that the shots I had previously heard from the park were executions.
From 2 to 6 August, our house and flat were constantly full of Ukrainians because they took over that area. During those days, they led out residents in groups. They came to us with that purpose a few times, but my little son, who was 6 years and 2 months old at the time, always managed to persuade the soldiers not to bother us. Our subtenant, J.[…] F.[…] was there. The soldiers would constantly look into our flat (I have to add that it was forbidden to lock the door), constantly taking different things that caught their fancy. In part we ourselves gave them different valuables to leave us alone. At that time we didn’t communicate much with the other residents.
On 6 August, the Ukrainians ordered us to leave the house, saying that it would be burned down. As I was leaving with my husband, J. F.[…], and our child, I had the impression that nobody was in the house anymore. Only in February 1945, after the Germans’ departure from Warsaw, did I learn from other residents that a number of residents had hidden in various hideouts and survived until the second decade of August. The names of those people – they still live in the house – are Kazimierz Cyganiak and his wife, and Maria Gryglaszewska and Kazimierz Gryglaszewski. After leaving the house, we were sent to aleja Szucha, where my husband was taken to the Gestapo HQ. Passing by, I saw many men in the courtyard. I didn’t see any women there. F.[…] and I were directed to a garden by the casino.
I have to note that our neighbor, the mistress of the Gestapo man Mass, left the house with us. She came with us to the garden by the casino, but after a moment she talked to the Germans and left the garden, taking not only her things, but also part of those which F.[…] and I had dragged on a trolley. I heard from our concierge, Polińska, that the Gestapo man’s mistress was supposedly Polish. We stayed in the garden until evening, and then we sheltered in a shed standing by the casino for the night. It was impossible to escape because there were very lots of Ukrainians and Germans, Volksdeutsche (in yellow shirts) with red armbands with a swastika on their sleeves.
The next day, that is 7 August, around 9:00 a.m., as I was holding my son in my arms, I heard a shot and saw that my son was dead. The shed was made of loose boards, there were large cracks between them, apparently the shot was fired through such a crack. There was no shoot-out at the time. A moment before the shot, I heard footsteps near the shed, the bullet went through the back of my son’s head and came out through his forehead. A moment after the shot, a Ukrainian came into the shed with a pistol in his hand. He was laughing. I was so shocked that I lost my mind – I talked, sang, and cradled the child. Fearing that they would take him to be burned, I carried him under my coat for two days. At a certain moment, a German officer approached me (I didn’t speak German, but F.[…] knew the language well). To his question, F.[…] explained where we had come from and described the circumstances of my son’s death, asking him for help so we could bury the child. He answered that in general it was forbidden to help Poles because all of them were bandits. And although he feared his colleagues, he would try to help. Indeed, the next day, early in the morning, he came to us, dug a shallow grave and helped me bury my son. The next day, in the evening, that is on 10 August, two Ukrainians came and announced (they spoke Polish) that the commander had called […], that is F.[…] (she was […] years old), and took her to the casino. After some 15 minutes, one of the men who had taken F.[…] came back and told me to go as well. He took me to the casino building, where he brought me to a smashed bathroom. He was drunk and spoke Polish, and there he ripped my clothes and underwear off and was going to rape me. I started defending myself and asking him to kill me instead. Finally, I was apparently able to move him by invoking his mother, so he pushed me off and told me to go. I took my (things) clothes and went out into the garden and back to the shed. He took me to the shed, stood next to it for some time, so I still expected him to shoot me. Eventually, however, he went away. F.[…] only came back before morning. She returned in a deplorable state. In her words, very restrained anyway, and from her appearance, I understood that she had been raped by many men. The next day, the same officer as mentioned above (I don’t remember if he was a Gestapo man) came and, seeing that we were in a horrible state of anxiety, started asking F.[…] what had happened. She started asking him to either kill us or help us escape. However, he said that he couldn’t do that. After some time, however, he sent a soldier to us, who ordered us to leave the garden immediately. We went in the direction of Agrykola, the soldier walked us there and returned, and we went further. The [military] post on Agrykola started shooting at us, but we kept walking. They ordered us to go back, but F.[…] told them (they were German) that we had been released and were supposed to go west, and they let us through. We went to Czerniakowska Street, we then stopped at Belwederska Street 4. The Poles were still there, it was still an insurgent zone. The Germans only attacked that district on 18 August. On 20 August, they set the house [we were in] on fire. Then we went to Nabielaka Street, where we hid in a burning house. Afterwards, we went to Chełmska Street and there hid in the church, from where we were taken by the Germans on 15 September to Pruszków, where we managed to join a group of the sick and so avoid being deported to a camp.
I have to note that during my stay in the church on Chełmska Street I saw the Germans throw bombs from cars and shoot from cannons at the hospital set up in an orphanage on Chełmska Street, setting the hospital on fire, although it was distinctly marked with Red Cross symbols. Some of the wounded burned, others were buried under the rubble. In the evening, we tried to save the wounded, but the Germans shot at the street lit up by the fires, so it was impossible to reach the hospital. At night, we managed to get through from the other side and save some of the wounded. We carried them to Sadyba, where they were placed in a house. I heard that the house was subsequently bombed and set on fire.
I wasn’t there myself and didn’t see it.
During my wandering after leaving Pruszków, in late October 1944, I lived in Kielce province, near the municipality of Mużów, and there I heard from the residents of the village that the Germans – both Gestapo men and SS-men – had driven people (men, women and children) into a hut and then set the hut on fire. I heard from my hosts about multiple incidents of 10-year-old girls being raped before their parents’ eyes.
F.[...] got married, she currently lives in K[...], her surname is P.[...].
I have to add that the German officer, whom I told you about before, when he learned my husband’s surname from F.[…], promised to check what was happening with him. The next day – I think it was still before I buried my son – he told F.[…] that I had to come to terms with losing my husband and son. The officer said that they killed everyone without exception, thinking that everybody helped the insurgents and was a bandit.
I still don’t have any news of my husband.
I don’t know the officer’s surname. Reportedly, he was from Vienna.