Medical services in the Warsaw Uprising


          Praga was the only right-side circuit of the Warsaw District of the Home Army. It was a big circuit from a territorial point view stretching from Pelcowizna in the north up to Goclaw in the south. Numerous German forces being the base for the eastern front were located in the area of insurgents activities.
          Insurgents' task was to organize the defence of Praga and, with the co-operation of the insurgents from Zoliborz and the Downtown, they were to take over the bridges over the Vistula River. Those tasks were beyond the capabilities of the Home Army soldiers. The attacking troops suffered great losses, the Uprising in Praga became about a fifteen-hour armed demonstration. On the 3rd August the head of the circuit, Lt Col Antoni Zurowski "Andrzej Bober", ordered unarmed insurgents to go home and those ones who were armed to get across the river to the left side or hide the weapon and go underground.

          The Uprising medical service in Praga was based on permanent hospitals: Hospital of the Transfiguration during the war located in temporary accommodation of the Jewish Dormitory in Brukowa street on the corner of Sierakowskiego street, and Railway Hospital in Brzeska street. A field hospital was organized in the outbuilding of Veterinary Institute at 77 Grochowska street. Both insurgents and German soldiers were operated on there.
          On the 2nd of August with the Germans' consent the Hospital of the Transfiguration was evacuated to a school building at 1 Kowalska street. Previously this building was assumed to be a field or substitute hospital. "Fleckfieber" (typhys fever) isolation ward was created in the building and insurgents were hidden there until 14th September, i.e. until the day when the Red Army took over Praga.
          An isolation ward was also created in the school building at 15 Siennicka street. A part of personnel from hospitals at Brukowa and Kowalska went to work there. Both injured and healthy insurgents were also hidden there. In September the commanding officer of the 6th Praga Circuit Lt Col Antoni Wladyslaw Zurowski "Andrzej Bober" also hid himself in the hospital at 77 Grochowska street.
          On the 10th September the SS troop, the so-called Vernichtungskommando, entered the Railway Hospital at 10 Brzeska street in order to blow up the hospital buildings. Almost the whole personnel and all patients who were able to walk were put against the wall. And right at that moment a Wermacht officer appeared, the chief doctor of Praga garrison, and held off the SS men. The German carried out an inspection of the hospital in the company of doctors and its head. In one of hospital wards a seriously wounded Volksdeutsch attracted his attention. The Volksdeutsch declared that the doctors of the hospital rescued his leg from amputation. This fact might have prevented the hospital from evacuation and destruction and rescued the personnel from death. The head of the SS troop gave up on his original intention. Guards were placed by the gate and patients could return to the wards. Soldiers of the 1st Infantry division of the Polish Army entered the hospital on the 14th September. The next day hospital started working under the management of the Polish military authorities.
          A field hospital started working at 23 Obroncow street in Saska Kepa; however, in fear for the Germans who could reach that place and due to lack of possibilities to evacuate the injured to the Railway Hospital, the field hospital was moved to a house at 101 Saska street after a few days. After liberating Praga by Polish and Soviet troops, that hospital, which had previously been moved to cellars, was the closest to the front operation unit and provided help to soldiers of the Polish Army, Red Army, and even German war prisoners. After the Uprising failure, the hospital was moved outside Warsaw to Anin.
          Unlike other quarters of Warsaw, after the fights had ceased, the Germans did not act with mindless cruelty. They might have avoided provoking another military resistance which was highly undesirable in the direct back of the front. Instead, beginning on the 10th August , they started a systematic action of displacing residents of Warsaw.

Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz

translation: Dorota Rapacz

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