Medical services during the Warsaw Uprising


          The District V Mokotów covered the wide southern part of Warsaw. In this area there were many different units of the German gendarmerie, the SS and Wehrmacht. Insurgent forces were unable to seize heavily fortified buildings in the police district (Szucha Avenue) and at Rakowiecka Street. The district was divided into two parts, the German and the Polish. Insurgent forces were cut off from the rest of the city, having very limited contact with other units. Attempts to establish operational communication with Downtown ended up unsuccessful. Some the Mokotów units, similarly to what happened in Ochota and Żoliborz, withdrew through Mokotów Dolny to the Kabacki forest.
          On 29th of August, Germans launched an attack on Sadyba, where insurgents had positions in the General Dąbrowski Fort which was the remains of fortifications from before World War I. After a heavy artillery bombardment and air raids on 1st of September, Sadyba was captured by Germans.
          There were two areas in Mokotów which were held by insurgents. Mokotów Górny, was a quadrangle between the following streets: Odyńca, Goszczyńskiego, Puławska and Niepodległości Avenue up to Woronicza Street. And Mokotów Dolny, was an area between the following streets: Konduktorska, Huculska and Pytlasińskiego.
          German attack on Mokotów began on 24th of September and continued non-stop for the following days. The area occupied by insurgents drastically shrunk. On 26th of September, the commander of Mokotów, Lieutenant Colonel Józef Rokicki pseudonym "Karol," ordered an evacuation of military and civil authorities through sewers to Downtown. On 27th of September, around noon, the remnants of the Mokotów defenders capitulated. Civilians were concentrated before deportation to Pruszków in the area of the Horse Racing.

          There were several stationary hospitals in Mokotów.
          The Ujazdowski Hospital located at the Ujazdowski Castle, which was located in the German district, because of its location was not considered to be used in case of the uprising. In several hospital pavilions there was also located the Hospital of St. Duch which was relocated there in 1941 from the completely destroyed hospital building at Elektoralna Street. During the occupation, Jews and individuals wanted by Gestapo found shelter at the Ujazdowski Hospital. Right under the noses of Germans. There were organised medical trainings and research works were carried out. In the years 1940-1944, the commander of the hospital was Colonel Dr Leon Strehl - Chief Medical Officer of the Home Army. At the moment of the uprising outbreak, Lieutenant Colonel Professor Teofil Kucharski became the hospital commander, as Colonel Strahl was sent to the Maltese Hospital in the capitol Downtown.

The Ujazdowski Hospital

          In the first days of the uprising, the hospital functioned normally, Germans behaved decently. On 5th of August, Germans raided the hospital, set fire to adjoining buildings and ordered an immediate evacuation of the hospital. On 6th of August in the morning, a long column moved out under the flags of the Red Cross. There were 340 people from the Hospital of St. Duch and 1491 people from the Ujazdowski Hospital. The column consisted of the wounded and sick, doctors, pharmacists, the hospital chaplain, nurses, hospital staff members with families, invalids from the 1939 campaign. On Germans' order, the column was joined by 350 women who were held as hostages in the Sejm building. The severely wounded were carried on stretchers. There were 5 wagons moving behind the column and carrying with medical instruments, medicines, food, dressings and the hospital funds in fire-proof boxes containing half a million złotych.
          Germans did not set a specific destination for the column, just gave an order to go down Myśliwiecka Street. The column moved through Górnośląska Street, Myśliwiecka Street, Łazienkowska Street and Chełmska Street. When the column was on the move, Germans stopped the wagons, shot one man of the crew and partially robbed the contents of the wagons. The hospital lost its food supplies and most of the medicines, however part of the medical stock was given to the sick as the precaution. Fortunately, the hospital funds stayed untouched.
          The march was very exhausting. It was only at Czerniakowska Street, the local residents helped the marching and replaced the hospital staff carrying stretchers. On that day the evacuated hospital found shelter at the Divine Providence Department at 19 Chełmska Street. After 3 days, the Hospital of St. Duch was evacuated to Powsin. The hospital commander opened the insurgent hospital in the monastery premises and at the adjoining building of the Rago Society for the Protection of Boys, which building, in the Resistance plans prepared yet during the occupation, was listed a suitable place for a hospital in case of an uprising. The hospital was supplied with beds, clothes and pallets with the help of the nuns and the local residents. Medicines were collected from the nearby pharmacies and dressing came from the "Alba" factory. In no time, the hospital at Chełmska Street became the only medical place in the area. The Ujazdowski Hospital also treated German prisoners of war, who were collected twice by German army patrols. A German doctor who was collecting the wounded expressed his surprise that Polish doctors are able to carry out complicated abdominal surgeries. "We send patients with such wounds by plane to Poznań" he said.

Building at Chełmska 19 to which the Ujazdowski Hospital was evacuated

          On 30th of August, despite the fact that the hospital was visibly marked with the Red Cross signs, Germans carried out a massive air raid on the hospital building. At the time of the bombardment, the hospital was overcrowded, there were over 800 patients and many civilians. 130 of the wounded and 170 of civilians and the hospital staff were killed under the rubble and in the fire. After this event, some of the staff was moved to the earlier opened hospital branch in Sadyba at 5/7 Morszyńska Street. Most of the staff members along with the wounded and the hospital chaplain got to Mokotów Górny, where a field hospital was established at 91 Puławska Street and this field hospital functioned until the capitulation of Mokotów. Some of the wounded were located at the building at 42 Dolna Street. One third of the hospital remained at Chełmska Street. Unfortunately, Germans carried out subsequent air raids on the hospital building on 11th, 14th and 15th of September, which in total took 200 more lives.
          After the uprising capitulation, all three locations of the Ujazdowski Hospital merged in Milanówek, where the hospital functioned for almost two months. In November 1944, the hospital along with its patients was evacuated to Cracow. In mid-January 1945, the Ujazdowski Hospital ceased and its patients and staff members were taken over by Cracow's municipal hospitals.
          The Hospital of St. Elizabeth at 1 Goszczyńskiego Street was a civil German hospital during the occupation. There was about 100 beds in the hospital. Germans evacuated the hospital before the uprising outbreak, on 28th of July. In the first hours of the uprising, the hospital was captured by units of the "Baszta" regiment. The whole medical service was taken over by the medical services of "Baszta". The hospital became the headquarters of the District Command. Lieutenant Colonel Professor Edward Loth pseudonym "Gozdawa" was the Commander of the District. Facing a large number of incoming wounded, there were organised a few field branches of the hospital at the following streets: Pielicka, Lenartowicza and Puławska, for about 200 beds in total.
          From 13th of August, the hospital was systematically fired at by the German heavy artillery. The wounded were moved to the lower floors and a new branch of the hospital was opened at Malczewski Street. Heavy air raids and artillery bombardment took place on 20th of August. On 29th of August, despite the fact that the hospital was marked with the Red Cross flags, the hospital was air raided and shot at by tanks. German pilots fired the machine guns at the hospital personnel and insurgents taking the wounded out of the bombed building. Several dozens of people died that day. The rescued wounded were mainly located in the building of the Sisters of St. Francis at 7 Misyjna Street. The hospital operated until the end of fights in Mokotów. In the basements of the ruined hospital building, there was organised a dressing station. On 25th of September, Germans captured the ruins of the Hospital of St. Elisabeth along with the adjoining rooms crowded with the wounded.
          Field hospital at Powsińska in Sadyba was established in the first days of the Uprising and was located in a building selected for this purpose yet before uprising. On 18th of August, the hospital admitted a large wave of the wounded from the bombed Ujazdowski Hospital. Despite the fact that the hospital was visibly marked, this field hospital shared the fate of other insurgent hospitals. The hospital was hit several times and as a result, the hospital building burned to the ground. Afterwards, the hospital was moved to a nearby villa and later on destroyed again. Finally, the wounded were relocated to a building at 5/7 Morszyńska Street where a branch of the Ujazdowski Hospital was opened.
          Field hospital at Jedwabnicza Street, according to the plan, was opened at the moment of the uprising outbreak. The first wounded were admitted here right after 5 p.m. The hospital had a well-equipped operating room. Unfortunately, the area was soon captured by Germans and the hospital had to cease its existence. After the location at Jedwabnicza Street had to be left, the wounded and ill were evacuated to a wooden school barrack at 7 Powsińska Street.
          Field hospital at the School of the Sisters of St. Francis at 21 Rakowiecka Street, survived until 10th of September, though it was located in the area controlled by Germans.
          Lack of sufficient number of hospital beds meant that there was a need to create new, provisional hospitals. Two supporting hospitals were established: field hospital at 2 Lenartowicza Street, was a place with 50 beds, where nuns from Belgijska Street were employed and field hospital at 140 Puławska Street, located in the premises of the Artificial Honey factory, with 120 beds. At the both hospitals, there were employed several medics and doctors of Jewish descent who were hiding in the district during the German occupation. The hospitals functioned throughout the time of fights in Mokotów, the hospital at Puławska Street was operated until 27th of September.

          In the area defended by the Mokotów insurgents, there were many medical and dressing stations:
          - The "Baszta" regiment dressing station at Łuczyńscy villa at 57 Różana Street; the station was relocated to Krasickiego Street, and then to Misyjna Street where already had operated a small hospital;
          - Convalescents Center at Bałuckiego Street;
          - Dressing station at 3/5 Malczewskiego Street;
          - The Company 01 of the "Olza" battalion dressing station at Karłowicza Street;
          - The K2 "Karpaty" battalion dressing stations at 246 Puławska Street and at the back of the building. The battalion was also using the Center for the Terminally Ill at 113b Puławska Street;
          - The rescue and medical station fo the "Karpaty" battalion located in a building at Wiśniowieckiego Street;
          - Dressing Station at the Narbutta Square; relocated at night of 1st - 2nd of August to Czeczota Street as a result of the German advance;
          - Dressing station at 20 Belwederska Street located at the Center for Epileptics; among others, treated the wounded who survived the German mass execution at Dworkowa Street on 4th of August;
          - Dressing station at 50 Słoneczna Street;
          - Dressing station at 1 Starościńska Street;
          - Dressing station at Dolna Street corner of Konduktorska Street, relocated to the Health Center located at 42 Dolna Street;

          Around 25th of September, there were started preparations for evacuation of the wounded through sewers to Downtown. The evacuation began on 26th of September before dawn, however the evacuation was stopped when the evacuation route was blocked. Mokotów was left by a group from the B3 Company and the medical services command. On 27th of September, a group of about 150 people was evacuated to Downtown. A group of the wounded which had entered the sewers was sent to the nearby insurgent hospitals.

          The rest of the wounded, together with the medical personnel were taken prisoner of war. A dozen or so of the wounded looked after by Ewa Matuszewska "Mewa", the commander of the medical patrols of the O2 company, were shot dead on 26th of September at 117/119 Niepodległości Avenue. Others were rushed towards Służewiec, where Germans designated a gathering point at the Horse Racing, and after selection, some of the lightly wounded were rushed to Pruszków, and the severely wounded were transported to hospitals in the outskirts of Warsaw.
          Executions and murders of the wounded taken prisoner of war also happened in Mokotów, however the scale of German atrocities was smaller comparing to what happened in Wola, the Old Town, Powiśle or Czerniaków. Probably the fact that at the time they captured Mokotów, the capitulation negotiations were already in progress made them behave, in a way, differently. German general von dem Bach was aware that meaningless terror of German soldiers could make insurgents prolong their fight.

Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz

translated by: Janusz Kocerba

Copyright © 2018 Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz. All rights reserved.