The outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising found me in the flat at Wolska Street 143 in Warsaw. With me were my wife Julianna, née Majewska who was born in 1904, and my daughter Elżbieta who was born in 1942.
On 5 August 1944, at around 10.00 a.m., when I was with my family on the second floor, I heard numerous shots from the street. My wife then took our child and went down to the first floor, to our neighbor’s flat. Our flat’s window looked out onto a garden, beyond which was a passage to Jana Kazimierza Street. There was nobody in the garden then. I set about preparing dinner.
At around 3.00 p.m. I again heard some shots. I ran to the window and saw that my wife and daughter were lying in the passage to Jana Kazimierza Street, as well as the neighbor from the first floor, Mrs. Koprowa, with two children, and Szande, the owner of a monumental masonry shop. Judging by their immobile positions, they were all already dead. I hastened to escape and then saw from the stairwell that German military police were standing in the yard (wearing green uniforms with light-brown piping on the collars and epaulettes), with rozpylacze [submachine guns] in their hands. The fencing and the soda drinks shop opposite of me were in flames. I ran down to the flat on the first floor to escape by window, but a few military police had already entered. Hiding from them, and taking advantage of the fact that they were busy pillaging things, I ran down to the flat on the ground floor and hid behind a curtain. A few groups of military police passed through the flat, tossing things around in their search for things of value and other loot. One of the pillaging parties of soldiers discovered me. They ordered me to put my hands up, led me out into the yard, and handed me over to other soldiers (I didn’t recognize the unit).
One of them led me to the burning soda drinks shop and ordered me to walk into the flames, and upon seeing my resistance, he began pushing me there with the butt of his rifle. At the moment when I pushed his rifle away with my hand, a man in civilian clothes approached us and asked the soldier in German what he wanted from me. I said that I wasn’t a guerrilla, to which this German asked if I had not heard the order to leave the building (“Raus!”) and why I was barefoot. I answered that at the moment when I heard the order I had seen the corpses of my wife and daughter through the window, and that was why I wanted to save my life by hiding. The German in civilian clothes left me at the side, next to our building’s caretaker Stanisław Raczyński (currently residing at Wolska Street 143) and his son-in-law (I can’t remember the surname), who like me, had been pulled out of hiding by the Germans.
After some time, the soldiers directed us to the Orthodox cemetery. They led us around the Orthodox church, and despite our expectations that they would soon shoot us, they led us to Wolska Street, outside no. 129 (the Hankiewicz building). I saw that there was a pile of corpses lying on Wolska Street by the fencing of Sowiński Park. A group of 20, possibly 30 men from the civilian population, were carrying the corpses from the road and sidewalk on Wolska Street to Sowiński Park. The soldiers also ordered us to carry the corpses to two piles in Sowiński Park.
I also carried bodies then from the Hankiewicz building and from Elekcyjna Street, where bodies were lying by the fencing of Sowiński Park, by the municipal building (Elekcyjna Street 1, the corner of Wolska Street), from where we carried over 50 corpses. However, most of them were on Wolska Street, between the corner of Elekcyjna Street and the statue of Mother Mary.
The corpses on Elekcyjna Street were partly burned, and the municipal building was in flames. The German soldiers ordered us to throw the charred corpses into the cellars of the municipal building.
As the evening approached, around 4.00 p.m. or perhaps 5.00 p.m., I saw how German soldiers led a dozen or so men from the Hankiewicz building (Wolska Street 129), who – I believe – had not emerged when called to leave the building in the morning. I saw how the soldiers shot this group dead in Sowiński Park. I also carried those corpses to the piles of bodies.
In the evening, at around 6.00 p.m., our group was led to St Lawrence’s Church, where we spent the night, and we were then led again to Sowiński Park. We carried corpses from the vicinity to Sowinski Park over the next three days. We formed two piles from the bodies – approximately 2 meters high, 12–14 meters long, and about 8 meters wide. We found over a thousand corpses, but I am unable to give an exact count.
On Monday 7 August, when we completed carrying the corpses to Sowiński Park, the German soldiers led us through the Orthodox cemetery to the vestibule of St. Lawrence’s Church. Kucharski and Fryszki carried the corpses with me. We were arranged in a line, ordered to smoke a cigarette, kneel, turn our heads away, and to say our farewells. Kneeling, we waited for the execution to begin. That lasted about half an hour – and this is the period of my amnesia from which I suffer (for example I am unable to give what kind of weapon the soldiers who led us there had). I didn’t hear the order to stand. I just stood automatically, taking others’ example.
Our group was put together with groups of civilians in St. Lawrence’s Church and was then sent away by transport to the transit camp in Pruszków, and from there to Germany. I returned to the country on 24 May 1945 and found three graves in Sowiński Park in which the ashes and fragments of the piles of bodies I arranged, had been buried. I didn’t find the bodies of my wife or child.
I found fragments of corpses in the cellar of our building.
At this the report was brought to an end and was read out.