Black Sunday 13 August 1944 - the explosion of "tank-bomb"

          Going deeper into the history of battles during 1944 Warsaw Uprising, it would be impossible to ignore the case of the explosion of a German vehicle in the Old Town. The event was probably the biggest tragedy of the uprising and took place in Kilinskiego Street on August 13. It concerns, of course, the explosion of so called "tank-bomb". In the further part of this text I will try to explain that it was not a tank and that, most likely, it was not a trap.

We've captured a tank!

          On August 13, 1944, in the Old Town the atmosphere was unusually quiet. Maybe because it was Sunday that the Germans were not showing high activity. The average air temperature reached 20°C, it was a rather clear and sunny day. The barricade which we take interest in was manned with the soldiers of "Harcerska" company, "Gustaw" battalion. On the right side of Podwale Street, in Reduta, the commander was Officer Cadet "Ogrodzinski" Lech Pecho. On the left side, the command was in hands of Officer Cadet "Krakowski" Tadeusz Illakowicz (the commander of the 3rd platoon of "Harcerska" company).
          Behind these positions, a little at the rear, in the ruins of an orthodox church there was an outpost manned with several insurgents from the "Aniela" company (also "Gustaw" battalion), commanded by "Czarek" Cezary Kiliman. It had been quiet since the morning and nothing indicated that the Germans would attack. In Nowy Zjazd Street neither infantry nor tank units could be seen. That is why on the barricades there were only sentries, while the rest of the soldiers from the barricade crew stayed nearby, in some passing quarters.
          Around 11 a.m., Polish observational positions informed that two tanks were approaching from Nowy Zjazd Street in the direction of the Castle Square. It is likely that in that time few men noticed that one of the vehicles was much smaller than the other and had no weapons: neither a cannon nor machine guns. Now we now that it was a Borgward B IV demolition charge carrier, whose exterior was more similar to that of tankette than that of the tank. The other, much bigger vehicle, was probably a StuG 40 Ausf. G SdKfz 142/1 assault gun. According to some relations, the smaller vehicle was being escorted to the positions by not one, but two bigger StuG 40 assault guns.
          Both vehicles were driving alone, without infantry support. When they got into the Castle Square, a German heavy machine gun started to shoot from a clock tower in the direction of the barricade in Podwale Street. The armored gun fired a shot in the direction of insurgent position of "Czarek", letting the smaller vehicle go. The tankette turned to the barricade near Podwale Street, coming right to the barrier and stopped after a few minutes of incapable maneuvers.
          It was not until then that bottles with gasoline were thrown at the German vehicle (before that the incomplete and completely surprised barricade crew had not took any action). At the same time the German armored gun, which had remained behind, retreated. When dull flames appeared on the armor of tankette, only one man jumped out of the inside and, running by the walls of ruined apartment houses, managed to escape in the direction of Krakowskie Przedmiescie Street. Not even one shot was fired after the German tank driver.
          The attention of the insurgents was then already completely absorbed by the vehicle stuck by the barricade. Someone called to extinguish fire, which was weak anyway. The soldiers of "Gustaw" extinguished fire with sand within a minute. In that moment it slowly started to get to them that they had captured a "tank", which was a very rare event in the rebelled Warsaw. No one had suspected a trap, all took place "in a normal way", and the "tank" had been abandoned in connection - as they explained to themselves - with an engine failure or the fact that some kind of scrap-iron might have got caught into the caterpillar, making further drive impossible.
          Two insurgents from the position crew (Officer Cadet "Ogrodzinski", Officer Cadet "Mietus" Ludwik Wyporek) jumped out from the protection of barricade and, despite the German fire from the clock tower of Royal Castle, got near tankette. Officer Cadet "Mietus" got into the vehicle. After some time he jumped out with a loot - two stick grenades. Two soldiers returned to the rest of the unit. The first, very superficial examination of the "tank" brought only the conclusion that the vehicle does have any weaponry and serves as an ammunition carrier.
          In the beginning of the situation none of the officers was on the first line, which is proved by the relations of the participants of the events. Only after a longer time came the notified Second Lieutenant "Kostka" Wojciech Pszczolkowski, the commander of Harcerska company. Second Lieutenant "Kostka" ordered another examination of the "tank", appointing Corporal "Zaskroniec" Kazimierz Kosc of "Aniela" company. After having got out of the vehicle the insurgent added to the already possessed knowledge only the information that there was something resembling a radio station in the vehicle. While being in the inside, Corporal "Zaskroniec" tried also to start up the engine of the "tank", but without any success.
          It is necessary to note that during the examination the Germans were firing from the Royal Castle, disturbing the Poles. It is corroborated by many eyewitnesses. It was reasonable - the enemy wanted to destroy the barricade, so they were anxious to leave the Borgward where it was. They were repelling the Poles with machine gun fire and did not let them get close to the vehicle stuck before the barricade.
          Soon, the commander of "Aniela" company Captain "Wlodek" Wlodzimierz Stetkiewicz appeared at the barricade. Both company commanders held a short conference and "through official channels" Captain "Wlodek" informed his superior Captain "Gustaw" Ludwik Gawrych (the commander of battalion "Gustaw") of "the capturing of a tank at the barricade". Captain "Gustaw", who was at that time holding a conference in his quarters with officers, received this message around 12 o'clock. Unfortunately, this first report did not survive, we do not know its details. Captain Ludwik Gawrych wrote in his later memoirs that the case with "a tank" had seemed to him "very suspicious", in this connection he had been against bringing in the capture within the lines of Polish fortifications. It was decided that they would wait until the evening and only then the battalion's pyrotechnist "Wiktor" (Witold Piasecki) would perform another examination of the vehicle exactly in order to find explosives and a possible trap.
          At that moment, because of security reasons, the command of battalion "Gustaw" decided not to do anything and leave the vehicle in the same place and state in which it had been left by the German driver. It was supposed that if the vehicle was something like a radio controlled Goliath, the Germans would make it explode until the evening. However, if nothing happened until them, it would be assumed that the vehicle was not dangerous. Captain "Gustaw" himself informed his superior Major "Rog" Stanislaw Blaszczak in writing of the capturing of a tank.
          At that time, by order of Captain "Gustaw" some precautionary measures were taken at that barricade - the crew was withdrawn several dozen meters back. However during a few hours nothing suspicious happened with the vehicle, the Germans were not showing activity and the insurgents found that such precaution was excessive and even unnecessary.
          After receiving the report Major "Rog" thought that the insurgents of his group had really achieved success capturing a tank. At 2 p.m. he sent the report to the commander of Group "Polnoc" Colonel "Wachnowski" Karol Ziemski: "At 13:45 a light tank was burned with bottles by the Podwale barricade. At 2 Tigers in the area of Royal Castle PIAT was fired."
          At 15:30 Major "Rog" sent another, more detailed report to Colonel "Wachnowski": "In the afternoon hours a small reconnaissance tank in the area of Podwale barricade was stopped by me. The driver got away. Counting with the possibility of sending a tank to escort the small one I set a PIAT. In the evening I will partially disassemble the barricade and bring the tank in. The tank is operational".
          From the above report of the group commander we see that Major "Rog" saw already a serious success of his subordinates, who had captured a small tank, which was in addition operational. He accepted or was the author himself of the action of bringing the vehicle behind the barricade inside the Old Town, but only in the evening.
          Let's get back to the barricade in Podwale Street where until 4 p.m. nothing interesting had been happening. At that hour a few insurgents reported themselves to Lieutenant "Janek" Leon Kec and 2nd Lieutenant "Kostka" saying that they had the order of the superior (most probably from Major "Rog") to examine "the tank", start it up and bring it within the insurgents' positions. As the witnesses recall (i.a. 2nd Lieutenant "Kostka"), the soldiers did not have a written order. Nevertheless, the officers from "Gustaw" did not have reservations and the experts assigned to the tankette started another examination of the vehicle. Who were those insurgents? Nowadays there are two versions: soldiers of Harcerska company, "Gustaw" battalion, are sure that they were the insurgents of "Mlot" Motorized Division. On the other hand Captain "Ognisty" Lucjan Fajer (the deputy of the commander of "Gozdawa" Group) states that they were, among others, the following: rifleman "Czambo" (alternatively "Cymbo" or "Czymbo" - Zygmunt Salwa), rifleman Henryk Paczkowski and rifleman Szczawinski from "Orleta" motorized company, "Gozdawa" Group.
          Another examination of the vehicle went well. The insurgent of the motorized unit did not find anything suspicious inside, they managed to start up the engine and even perform some maneuvers. During that examination, the Germans were not shooting. As a consequence of turning the tank on, the commander of Harcerska company gave the consent to partially disassemble the barricade in order for the vehicle to get within the Polish positions. Within half an hour, Second Lieutenant "Kostka's" soldiers disassembled a part of the barricade, so that the vehicle could already safely enter.
          The captured tankette went down Podwale Street. At that moment already several people were sitting on its armor, while insurgents and civilians were gathering, celebrating the prize. The way of the captured vehicle led through Podwale Street to Kapitulna Street, and then down Piekarska, Zapiecek Streets right up to the Major "Rog's" quarters in the Old Town. The Group commander together with officers of his staff went out to congratulate the insurgents the captured "tank".
          At that time one of the insurgents took a white-red flag on a flagpole from the quarters of Major "Rog's" and from that moment on he went before the tour route of the tankette. That tour was a big festival of that part of the Old Town, a manifestation of joy of the prize and a victorious defilade. The further tour route was Nowomiejska and Freta Streets until the building at 29 Podwale Street, where around 5:45 p.m. the captured tankette was stopped by the barricade that needed to be disassembled. The crowd around the vehicle was getting denser and amounted to 300 people, among whom there were insurgents i.a. of "Wigry" scouts battalion (which stationed nearby at 7 Dluga Street) and civilians. The joy that came from the armored prize was enormous. In the instant people started to make a passage in the barricade.
          Janusz Walkuski, back then a 10-year-old boy residing at 29 Podwale Street, recalls: "What we saw bewildered us! On a concrete platform stood a tank with white-red flag! (...) We were pushing our way through the dense circle of people with difficulty in order to see it at close range, touch it, stroke its cold armor... - Our tank! (...) We were mainly interested in getting on it! Antek, who was older and bigger than me, managed to climb up - unfortunately I did not! The engine whirred, belched out clouds of fumes - the tank was to move in a short while and I could not in any possible way grab it! Finally, my leg found some support and I grabbed the edge of the armor with my hand, the other was seized by Mr Jozef who lived in a nearby basement, and so I was riding! I was riding on a tank! However, my joy did not last long. At the turn from Podwale Street into Kilinskiego Street, my leg slipped, I hanged by my hands and - despite my desperate struggle to remain on the tank - I fell off!"
          After turning into Kilinskiego Street, the carrier's route was once again blocked by another, this time small, about one-meter tall barricade made of flag-stones and earth.

The place of capture and the travel route of captured Borgward IV (fig. Piotr Wawrzkiewicz)

          At that moment the vehicle was literally stuck with people. Scouts and soldiers were standing on the very armor with a crowd of insurgents and civilians surrounding it. Someone was waving enthusiastically the white-red flag, while some marching, joyful music played from vinyl record could be heard from the windows of the nearby Ministry of Justice. Simultaneously, the insurgents of "Gustaw" and "Wigry", who were quartered in the nearby buildings, were looking through windows, standing on balconies, looking at the happy manifestation. Also in this place, from the side of the Castle Square, funeral procession appeared following a coffin. The procession stopped at the junction of Kilinskiego Street and Podwale Street, unintentionally increasing the gathering, because the way was blocked by the crowd around the tankette.

Disaster at 18:05

          When the barricade had been partially disassembled and its height decreased, the driver decided to try to surmount the obstacle. When the vehicle was on the top of the lowered barricade a large trapezoidal case fell off from its front and slid in front of it. The people accompanying the vehicle thought that the case was an integral part of the tankette and tried to lift it and install it back in the front of the vehicle.
          It seems that it was the most essential moment of the whole event and the tragedy it followed. Most probably the driver recklessly pulled the lever that released the case with explosive material while getting through the barricade, maneuvering the tankette, changing the gears or even trying to muster up full power out of its engine. In the released case a time fuse, which was set on such time period that would in theory let the Borgward move back, turned on. It may be assumed that it was several minutes. The case with explosive material weighted 500 kg, so it posed serious difficulties for the people who were trying to lift it and place it on the armor. The seconds were passing... It was 6 o'clock or a few minutes past it, it is very probable that the clocks were showing 18:05.
          Officer Cadet "Orion" Ryszard Maciejewski of "Wigry" assault company was looking at the tankette drive from the balcony of the building at 1 Kilinskiego Street. Seeing a large crowd near the vehicle, he turned around and said to "Bartek" Janusz Lapinski: "Imagine what would happen if, here and now, a shell exploded!"
          After his words there was a horrible explosion - a flash of bright fire together with monstrous acoustic shock and an enormous blast of incredible force.

Burnt and destroyed case of the German Borgward B IV, which exploded on August 13, 1944 (Leonard Sempolinski, August, 1944)

          In one moment the scenery of the street changed. The soldiers and civilians closest to "the tank" disappeared. There were no young boys sitting on the armor, there was no insurgent waving the white-red standard, no mothers with children, no other civilians who gathered around the vehicle. Kilinskiego Street and Podwale Street filled up with shapeless mass of bodies, trunks without heads and limbs, human remains, ripped, jagged and hacked.
          The power of explosion was so big that the fragments of human bodies and splashes of blood covered the frontal of apartment houses to the height of the third floor, within the range of several dozen meters from the center of explosion. Apart from that, higher floors of the ministry building and some of the houses on the other side of the street were destroyed. To make the situation even worse the bottles with fuel stored in the gateway at 3 Kilinskiego Street were on fire. Burnt case of the tankette had been thrown away by the explosion at a distance of several dozen meters, while human remains were found even several hundred meters away from the place of explosion.
          The gruesome, horrific event shocked those who had survived to such extent that they were not able to aid the wounded. Dead silence reigned for some time - shock and paralysis stopped the actions of the living. Not until over a dozen of seconds, or even a minute, had passed that the moans of the wounded were heard. The nightmarish sight can be best described by the relations and memories of those who survived.
          Scoutmaster "Andrzej" Witold Sawicki (tutor of Harcerska company) recalled: "(...) from the image of monstrous massacre in Kilinskiego Street from Dluga Street up to Podwale Street, my memory stored only a few pictures. A torn off, bare leg, some human remains that could be a lung or a liver. I see as if through a fog a trunk without a head, arms and legs, changed into bloody scrap. I was walking down this horrific street. Suddenly something grieved my heart with premonition. By the wall of a house, there were black berets lying on the pavement. One, two, five - I was counting them. They were the berets of the boys of messenger platoon. Their owners disappeared. Literally. Without a trace. I was picking those wretched remains of our kids. I felt nothing. The pressure of the events was beyond the capability of feeling by a normal person."
          Second Lieutenant "Kostka" Wojciech Pszczolkowski: "The whole street in a dust, here and there beginnings of fire could be noticed, human remains were lying on the whole length of Kilinskiego Street from Podwale Street up to Dluga Street, or they were stuck to the walls of houses. (...) The power of explosion was so significant that it threw out people out of balconies on the cobblestone pavement and this should explain such high casualties. In order to prevent an epidemic, in the first stage of rescue operation houses and the whole street were cleaned of human remains with wooden snow shovels, which were normally used during snow-storm."
          "Janka" ("Porzedzka") Janina Jasiak - Gruszczynska recalls: "The air was completely grey - there was so much dust in it - and there was a horrible odor of burnt blood, bodies burnt with TNT. When one went there in the spring of the next year, the awful odor could still be smelled. (...) There were brains and lumps of meat stuck on the walls. Then boys came with shovels and dug the holes. (...) The meat was shoveled to baskets and thrown in there."

Searching of ruins and rescuing of the buried in the building at 3 Kilinskiego Street destroyed as a result of the explosion of the German charge carrier (Wieslaw Chrzanowski, 13.08.1944)

          When the organized rescue operation started, the first ones to receive aid were the wounded. In the beginning they were carried to the only just arranged hospital of "Gustaw" battalion which was situated in the apartment house at 1/3 Kilinskiego Street (transferred here on August 12) and managed by Dr. "Morwa" Tadeusz Pogorski. However, after a short while the hospital reached its limits and the wounded started to be sent to the hospital at 7 Dluga Street and the one in Podwale Street. Dr. "Morwa", who immediately had started operating on the wounded brought to the hospital, recalled that in their bodies he had been coming across not only the fragments of the German "tank", but also buttons, buckles, metal coins, and even hair and bones of other victims of the explosion.
          In the further stage of the rescue operation the fire in the gateway at 3 Kilinskiego Street was extinguished, and at about 8 p.m. even the barricade on which the explosion took place was repaired. In the beginning Kilinskiego Street was blocked by the guards of "Wigry" battalion - in order to prevent the bigger mess be made, desperate civilians searching for their relatives were not let in.
          In connection with the explosion of Borgward, District Government Delegation issued the regulation, ordering anti-aircraft defense and the dwellers of nearby houses to meticulously search all squares, ruins, yards, roofs, etc. within the area of the explosion in order to remove found remains of ripped bodies, so that the decay of bodies and thus the possibility of the outbreak of an epidemic be avoided. The explosion of the German vehicle and the losses in soldiers of various groups demonstrated the Home Army Command in the Old Town the insubordination of the insurgents, who had been in a completely different place than their mother units.
          The abovementioned problem was taken into account in the order of Colonel "Wachnowski", in which the directive stating that "after killing or taking prisoner the crew of any captured tank, such tank should be meticulously examined by an armor specialist before activating it" was accompanied by the command to group commanders that unarmed insurgents and the ones not participating directly in fight and the ones remaining idly in assembly points should be delegated in an organized manner to perform various tasks at the rear.

Destroyed apartment houses in Podwale Street (no. 32, 34 and 36), shot from the side of Kilinskiego Street after the explosion of the German charge carrier on 13 August 1944
On the left side - the insurgents of "Anna" company, "Gustaw" battalion, in their way to defense positions in Slepa Street. (Wieslaw Chrzanowski, August 1944)

          During the Uprising it was very difficult to estimate the losses incurred as a result of the explosion of the German Borgward; it is a difficult task also today. In published studies the estimated numbers of the killed and dead of wounds oscillates between 50 and 500. Robert Bielecki, in the book about "Gustaw" battalion, calculates that the death toll exceeded 300 people, and it is possible that it amounted to more than 350 people. He gives more detailed data: names and aliases of 105 Uprising soldiers (67 fallen and 12 dead of wounds insurgents of "Gustaw" battalion" - as a result of which "Gertruda" company was dissolved, 25 soldiers of "Gozdawa" Group, 15 insurgents of "Wigry" battalion and one of "Squadron 1806"). Juliusz Kulesza agrees with the calculations of R. Bielecki and assumes that the losses amounted to almost 300 people.
          Piotr Stachiewicz, in the monograph entitled "Starowka 1944", gives the following data concerning the insurgent losses: about 100 soldiers of "Rog" Group, 16 soldiers of "Kuba" Group, 32 soldiers of "Pawel" Group, 36 soldiers of other units. Jan Tarczynski writes in the book concerning insurgent vehicles that over 200 people died and at least the other 200 were wounded.
          In the first volume of Wielka Ilustrowana Encyklopedia Powstania Warszawskiego [Large Illustrated Encyclopedia of Warsawa Uprising] under entry "czolg-pulapka" [tank-bomb], general losses were calculated by the authors to amount at least to 200 of the killed and as much again of the wounded.
          It is impossible to establish the number of victims among the civil population, in that time no record was kept, and the sensational capture of the "tank" surely attracted crowds of the curious. To sum up, without making a bigger error, I would calculate that the losses of insurgents and civilians, killed and dead of wounds, amounted to about 300-350 people, with the number of the wounded coming to 400-500 people.

What it was actually?

          In many diaries the vehicle that exploded in Kilinskiego Street is called a "tankette" or Mark-1, i.e. light (up to 5 t.) turretless armored vehicle. Now we know that it was a German Borgward B IV heavy charge carrier (Schewerer Ladungstrager Borgward) - caterpillar, turretless armored vehicle used to transport explosive material. Borgward IV, adopted for service in the German Army in 1943 as SdKfz 301 (special vehicle 301), had been designed and was manufactured in Borgward company in Brema. In the beginning version A was manufactured, later it was modified to version B.
          In the Warsaw Uprising Germans were using the last version C. That type of vehicles was a part of equipment of 302nd Armor Battalion (Panzer Abteilung 302 Flk), assigned to Warsaw on August 9 or 10. On August 1, 1944, the battalion had 24 StuG 40 Ausf. G assault guns, 10 SdKfz 251 armored personnel carriers and Borgward B IV Ausf. C. charge carriers. The commander of the battalion was Major Reinel, the companies (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) were commanded by: Lieutenant Dettman, 2nd Lieutenant Weichard, and Lieutenant Faßbeck, respectively.
          In the beginning of August the battalion strength was increased by 6 assault guns and two PzBfWg IV (with 75 mm tank gun) command vehicles. Already in the territory of Poland the unit was joined by 4th company commanded by Lieutenant Bachmann. In Warsaw 302nd Battalion was reinforced in operational sense by Sturmpanzer Kompanie zum besonderer Vervendung 218, which had at its disposal Sturmpanzer IV SdKfz 166 Brummbär vehicles.
          To exemplify we can say that according to the strength of August 15, 1944, 3rd company of 302nd Battalion had the following: the command of the company - two StuG 40 Ausf. G assault guns; commander of platoon: one StuG 40 assault gun and one SdKfz 251 armored personnel carrier; 1st platoon: three StuG 40 assault guns and twelve Borgward B IV charge carriers. 2nd platoon was arranged in the same way as 1st platoon. Apart from that, the company had twelve Borgward B IV vehicles as a reserve.
          Most probably, the first use of heavy charge carriers in Warsaw took place on August 11, 1944, in the area of Chlodna and Krochmalna Street. Borgward B IV could carry 500 kg of explosive material placed in the case installed in the front armor. It came to an obstacle while being steered by a driver or controlled remotely by an operator using radio waves. After releasing hooks, a charge slid off the vehicle. In this moment a fuse with before fixed time turned itself on. The carrier moved back to a safe distance, while the explosion of the mine destroyed the target.
          Germans were using this type of vehicles many times during the Uprising, e.g. on August 26 it was used to make a breach in the metal fence surrounding PWPW (Polish Security Printing Works) building. Specifications of the vehicle (version C): weight of vehicle without a charge - 4,58 metric tons; weight of explosive material - 0,5 metric tons; speed - 40 km/h; operational range (on road)- about 212 km; operational range (off-road) - around 125 km; armor - up to 20 mm; size: length - 4,1 m, width - 1,83 m, height - 1,25 m.

Borgward B IV heavy charge carrier (Schewerer Ladungstrager Borgward) in the German Tank Museum in Munster - Deutsches Panzermuseum (author: Huhu, 29.08.2008 r.)

          In those dramatic moments, on August 13, 1944, just after the explosion, there was a common conviction that Germans intentionally planted the vehicle filled with explosive material. It was believed that Germans had been waiting deliberately with the detonation of the "tank" until insurgents have brought the captured vehicle within the range of their positions and only then they had activated the fuse using a radio. Or they set the time fuse at several hours while leaving the vehicle. It was supposed to be a kind of "Trojan Horse" planted for Poles. It is origin of the expression "czolg-pulapka" [tank-trap/bomb] which has wrongly functioned until now.
          German bestiality against Poles is long-known, and in the time of Warsaw Uprising massacres of Polish civil population and insurgents done by Germans (and collaborational units) acquired the name of a barbaric genocide.
          However, after analyzing the events of that Sunday of August 13, 1944, it is necessary to depart from defining the abandoned vehicle as a German "trap". Germans were interested rather in blowing up the barricade which was blocking a free entry from the Castle Square to Podwale Street, i.e. to the middle of insurgent positions. With this aim the vehicle unknown to insurgents - Borgward charge carrier had been left by the barricade.
          It is possible that as a consequence of some defects, the driver had not released the case with explosive material and had not withdrawn. Also German shooting that made two first examinations of the tankette more difficult corroborates that the enemy was interested in leaving the vehicle by the barricade. Probably also the detonation of the charge by way of radio waves was not successful - it was the first use (or one of the first uses) of this type of weapon against the insurgent Warsaw also for Germans and it is possible that operating it posed some general difficulties.
          A big mistake made by the Poles was the inaccurate and incompetent examination of the German vehicle. All in all, it was an unknown weapon, which Poles encountered for the first time. Similarly, mutually exclusive orders of the command (caution and waiting on the part of Captain "Gustaw", and the desire to activate and bring the vehicle in - most probably on the part of Major "Rog") caused some chaos and disorientation within the ranks.
          It may probably be assumed that joy, emotions, enthusiasm that came with the prize in such conditions took prevailed over common sense. It should explain a little inconsiderate decision of bringing the unknown and poorly examined vehicle deep into the Polish positions and organizing a joyful defilade, where insurgents, including young scouts and girls, as well as civilians with children could get close to the vehicle or even sit on its armor...
          Only the pull of the lever releasing the case with explosive material turned on the time fuse set at several minutes (relations are not consistent, time that passed from the moment of the fall of the case until the explosion is determined differently by witnesses, it was determined as several dozen seconds up to several minutes).
          Having analyzed the abovementioned events - the explosion of the German vehicle in Kilinskiego Street, we have the conclusions that inducing to discard the theory of "tank-bomb". Most probably, it was an unfortunate accident, caused by a few inconsiderate decisions. Unfortunately, this incident cost many losses among Uprising soldiers and civilians...

Szymon Nowak

translation:Paweł Boruciak


          1. Bielecki Robert "Batalion harcerski Wigry", Warszawa 1991;
          2. Bielecki Robert "Długa 7 w Powstaniu Warszawskim", Warszawa 2010;
          3. Bielecki Robert "Gustaw Harnaś dwa powstańcze bataliony", Warszawa 1989;
          4. Borkiewicz Adam "Powstanie Warszawskie. 1944. Zarys działań natury wojskowej", Warszawa 1964;
          5. Fajer Lucjan "Żołnierze Starówki. Dziennik bojowy kpt Ognistego", Warszawa 1957;
          6. Gruszczyńska - Jasiak Janina z d. Gruszczyńska ("Janka", "Porzędzka") "Wybuch czołgu - pułapki i szpital na Długiej 7. Fragmenty wywiadu", opublikowane na stronie internetowej;
          7. Kulesza Juliusz "Powstańcza Starówka", Warszawa 2007;
          8. Ledwoch Janusz "Warszawa 1944", Warszawa 2002;
          9. Piasecki Witold ("Wiktor") "13 sierpnia wybuchł czołg - pułapka", "Życie" 13 sierpnia 1993 r.;
          10. Stachiewicz Piotr "Starówka 1944", Warszawa 1983;
          11. Tarczyński Jan "Pojazdy Armii Krajowej w Powstaniu Warszawskim", Warszawa 1994;
          12. Wałkuski Janusz "Moja wojna 1939-1945", Szczecinek 2005;
          13. Wałkuski Janusz "Zobaczyć śmierć", "Życie" 12 sierpnia 1993 r.;
          14. Wielka Ilustrowana Encyklopedia Powstania Warszawskiego, tom 1, Warszawa 2005;
          15. Zatwarnicki Tomasz "Whatfor", strona internetowa

          Attention! The whole text can be found in the special issue 4(16)/2010 of magazine "Militaria XX w."

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