Medical services in the Warsaw Uprising


          4th District Ochota covered the city from the south-west. The District bordered on the areas of Mokotow, Downtown and Wola. Taking control of Ochota by Insurgents was highly adverse for the Germans. It would have cut off an access to communication lines running from the south-west and south to the city centre and the bridges on the Vistula river. It would have significantly hindered communication with the front troops which were located on the right bank of the Vistula river.
          There were a few strongly garrisoned and fortified German military installations within Ochota District such as barracks of German police in the Dormitory in Narutowicza Square, SS barracks in the building of National Forests Head Office at 56 Wawelska Street, SS barracks at 8 Tarczynska Street, and others.
          Insurgent troops of col. 'Grzymala' were poorly armed. At the time of concentration the total record number of soldiers and officers in line platoons amounted to 1800. Only 50 to 60% of them turned up at appointed places. Attacks on selected targets which began on the 1st August at 5 p.m. collapsed after the attacking troops had been decimated. Insurgents did not manage to capture any key object in spite of their bravery and valour. In such situation the commander decided to gather scattered troops in the square between Asnyka, Niemcewicza, Grojecka and Filtrowa streets and he organized defence. After the meeting of the staff, it was decided to lead out survived forces to the forests of Chojnow and Sekocin in order to provide them with more arms and commence actions from outside.
          At night of 1st and 2nd August a column of 500 people started to march under cover from outside the buildings at 7/9 Niemcewicza Street.
          A group of 50 well-armed soldiers were marching at the front of the column; the rest of them were completely defenceless. Three troops who had not got any information about concentration and a lead-out remained in Ochota.
          The column reached the area of Reguly where civilians, the injured and some of the women were ordered to disperse over the area. The rest of them headed for the estate of Pecice where an uneven fight took place. As a result the troop lost 91 people - 60 of them were executed by a firing squad or killed. A group of 300 people survived the rout and reached the forests of Chojnow from where, upon being provided with more arms, they set off to Warsaw through Wilanow at night of 18th and 19th August.
          The insurgents who stayed in Ochota created two posts of resistance: Kaliska Redoubt - in the quarter of Kaliska, Joteyki, Białobrzeska and Kopinska streets as well as Wawelska Redoubt - a complex of buildings among Wawelska, Pluga, Mianowskiego and Uniwersytecka streets.
          Kaliska Redoubt defended themselves until 9th of August repulsing attacks of enemy's superior strengths including RONA troops (Russian renegades under the command of Brigadeführer SS Bronisław Kaminski) who were infamous of exceptional cruelty. During fights insurgents destroyed a German tank. After the possibilities had worn thin, at the night of 9th of August insurgents took advantages of gaps between RONA troops and left Ochota heading for the forests of Chojnow and Sekocin.
          Wawelska Redoubt defended themselves with equal efficiency. Here insurgents also succeeded in destroying a German tank. After Kaliska Redoubt collapsed, the Germans aimed all their forces to the last resistance post in Ochota. On the 11th August they finally stormed insurgents' defences. In the meantime over 80 soldiers came out through sewages and most of them got across to the Downtown to the area where 'Golski' battalion operated.
          A big first-aid post operated in the area of Kaliska Redoubt in the grounds of Nasierowskiego pharmaceutical manufacturing company, at 9 Kaliska street with places for the injured at 5 Barska street, 45 Grojecka street and Spiska street. It was equipped with a few beds with permanent nursing care. On the 2nd August a field hospital started to work after taking over the building of Tobacco Monopoly at 1 Kaliska street. The hospital in Monopoly was in the centre of fights and was often harassed by bombing. At the night of 7th and 8th of August the hospital was moved to private flats at 6 and 8 Joteyki street. In total approximately 50 injured people were located there. On the 8th August while the redoubt wad under fire, one of shells exploded by the building at 9 Kaliska street. Damages were so huge that in the evening the injured were moved from Nasierowskiego manufacturing company to a two-storeyed villa of Sokołowscy brothers at 5 Joteyki street and to other properties in the same street at the following numbers: 2,4,6,7.
          After Kaliska Redoubt collapsed, the Germans set fire to the building at 5 Joteyki street where seriously injured people stayed. Several dozen people got killed in flames. Lightly injured patients and orderlies from Kaliska Redoubt landed in Pruszkow with civilians.
          Wawelska Redoubt had a first-aid point in the basements at 60 Wawelska street with the entrance from Pluga street. They organized an outpateints' clinic and even an operating theatre there and placed 30 beds in corridors turning, at the same time, the first-aid point into a hospital. Dressing materials and medicines were delivered from the Marcinkowski pharmacy located in Uniwersytecka street and from the Social Medical Clinic in Wawelska street. The hospital worked until the 11th August. Some patients who suffered from light injuries were successfully evacuated through the sewages. 14 orderlies and 3 doctors who took care of 20 seriously injured patients stayed in the hospital. Although a white flag had been put up, the buildings continued to be bombed. At dusk RONA soldiers burst into the building in Wawelska street and murdered the seriously injured and ill - 80 people in total.
          The first person to be shot was priest Jan Salamucha, doctor and a military chaplain of Ochota District, who went out in clerical vestments to meet RONA soldiers. Those who stayed alive were chased to a temporary camp in Zieleniak. A group of eight injured patients and a 15-year-old girl scout Teresa Kodelska who took care of them as an orderly survived in hiding at 16 Wawelska street until the Uprising surrender.
          In Ochota there was one more first-aid post. It was located in a private property at no. 1 Langiewicza street in Staszica housing estate. Additional first-aid posts were also located in the same street at no. 13 and in Jesionowa street. Form the organizational perspective that area was included in the 1st Downtown District and it was an area where 'Golski" and 'Odwet II' battalions operated. In the evening of 1st August the first-aid points were crowded with injured insurgents. The post at no. 5 Langiewicza street was turned into hospital. The injured were lying downstairs, upstairs, on stretchers and on the floor. There was lack of physiological fluids so they were produced by dissolving 4.5 grams of salt in 500 grams of water and upon being boiled, the solution was given to an injured person intravenously through syringes. Then the fluids were given orally in drops. The post at no. 5 Langiewicza street existed until 4th August - the day when patients were moved at no. 4 and 11 and to no. 13 Jesionowa street. On the 11th August, i.e. on the eve of expected relocation, two orderlies in white aprons with Red Cross arm bands went to see a German troop commander with a declaration that they have injured civilians and they both demand protection against frantic RONA soldiers and assistance with transporting the injured to the hospital. Their brave conduct caused the Germans to help with moving seriously injured patients on stretchers to Baby Jesus Teaching Hospital and the hospital in Warsaw School of Nurses. Patients with light injuries were evacuated with civilians from the colony. Wanda Kwiatkowska alias 'Orłowska', a nurse, went out with the last group of civilians on the 23rd August and took with her a soldier of 'Odwet' troop who had a leg injury. This way she managed to save his life.
          In Ochota there was still an only permanent hospital unit - Maria Sklodowska-Curie Radiotherapy Institute in Wawelska street. During the first hours of Uprising a dozen of injured insurgents were taken in and given help there. In the evening of 1st August the Germans barged into the Institute and chased out some of the staff. A part of personnel stayed with the ill and injured. In the Institute there were also civilians and fugitives. Until the 5th August there was relative peace in the hospital.
          On the 5th August the Institute got occupied by a large group of RONA soldiers. Robbery started, a few people were killed. Every person they came across was chased out to Zieleniak. RONA soldiers drank all the supply of hospital spirit and then raped a lot of women - they did not eve spare those women who were seriously injured. The same day in the afternoon All the doctors and some of nurses were chased out. About 90 patients and 8 nurses who managed to hide in a boiler room stayed in the building. Next, soldiers set fire to the building. Ronal soldiers shot about 30 people who tried to escape.
          Those ones who hid themselves in the boiler room survived until 19th August when RONA soldiers discovered their presence there. They were all chased out to the courtyard where three seriously ill women were killed. The rest of the ill and the personnel were turned out to Zieleniak. Three nurses got separated there. All the ill were shot, their bodies were put in a pile and burnt.

          Over 60 000 people went through Zieleniak on their way to Pruszkow. A group of nurses and doctors who were among them tried to help those crowds of expelled people. They organized Red Cross point in a small dirty shed. They collected planks and straw which were later used to make primitive pallets and create a sick ward. Although the Germans expressly forbade to concentrate ill an injured people, doctors and nurses tried to provide any help.
          It is impossible to establish the number of the deceased and killed. The ordeal of Ochota inhabitants and medical service personnel who worked there was not an isolated case during the Warsaw Uprising. Other quarters were about to suffer the same fate. It was a deliberate and intentional system of carrying on a combat which was supposed to break the spirit of Warsaw inhabitants and to lead to the biggest possible biological extermination. Hitler and Himmler issued a special directive on that matter.

Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz

translation: Dorota Rapacz

Copyright © 2013 Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz. All rights reserved.