Medical services during the Warsaw Uprising

Downtown South

          During the Uprising, soldiers of the Home Army controlled a significant area of Downtown South. The eastern district border ran along Ujazdowskie Avenue to Trzech Krzyży Square including the area close to the square towards the following streets Wiejska, Frascati, Książęca, buildings at Bracka Street between Żurawia Street and Nowogrodzka Street. Chałubińskiego Street was the western borderline of the district. In the north, the area bordered with Downtown North through Jerozolimskie Avenue, which were controlled by Germans. The southern defensive lines ran in the area of Zbawiciela Square and the Polytechnic University. Big problem for insurgents were the fortified buildings occupied by German units, which buildings insurgents failed to capture: the BGK in Jerozolimskie Avenue, Telecommunications Office at Poznańska Street corner of Nowogrodzka Street and the Sejm building. The area held by insurgents was occupied by big-city buildings, which was an advantage in terms of defence. Downtown South, just like Downtown North, was not conquered by Germans until the capitulation.

          Already at the beginning of the insurgency, there were no stationary hospitals in the Downtown North area.
          The Ujazdowski Hospital, accessible from the eastern border, was cut off by Germans Later on displaced and relocated to Mokotów.
          The Hospital of Dzieciątka Jezus at Nowogrodzka Street and the Gynaecology and Obstetrics Clinic at Starynkiewicz Square remained in the neutral area, however, surrounded quite tightly by German positions In the first half of August, the hospital staff provided assistance to civilians and the wounded insurgents and Germans from nearby posts. On 13th of August, the hospital area got occupied by Ukrainian soldiers from the nationalist units fighting for Germans who committed numerous robberies and rapes. In this situation, insurgents stopped delivering their wounded to the hospital, while the hospital still provided help to the wounded Germans and Ukrainians. On 26th of August, the sick and the Polish staff of the hospital and clinic were ordered to leave the premises. This ordered concerned a group of about 1600 people. The evacuation lasted several days. Groups of evacuees were moved to Brwinów, Tworki and Milanówek.
          Field hospital at the RGO Boarding House at 1st of August Street, organised by girl-scout instructors, in result of the fights was on the German side. Residents of the local buildings was used by Germans as "human shields" and walked in front of German tanks.

          In these circumstances, a network of field hospitals was quickly organised. In September, field hospital were placed as close as possible to the front line to protect the wounded and the staff from bombs and artillery fire.
          The insurgency hospital of the "Zaremba-Piorun" Group was organized in a private clinic "Sanatorium of St. Józef" at 80 Hoża Street, the clinic was owned by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis. The building was occupied by insurgents who barricaded the windows, cut the shooting holes, made excavations under Hoża Street and Emilia Plater Street, and made barricades and a bunker. Numerous of the wounded were treated by the hospital. The wounded at the hospital were cared for during constant heavy fights. Most of the medical staff were nuns. Germans considered the building to be a stronghold and at all costs tried to capture it, Germans bombed the building, shot at it and launched grenades. The wounded were relocated to the basement. On 14th of September, a fire broke out which was hardly extinguished by insurgents and the hospital personnel. The wounded were evacuated to safer places. Most of the wounded were evacuated to the new location of the hospital at the building of the former Russian Embassy at 13 Poznańska Street. This hospital, initially located on the first floor, was later on moved to the cellars. And the hospital functioned there until the surrender. Sisters from "Sanatorium" were moved to various field hospitals in the district.
          Field hospital at 13 Hoża Street located in the primary school building near Trzech Krzyży Square was a facility for about 60 beds, initially functioned as an isolation hospital. The Sisters of St. Francis were employed there as well. The conditions there were very tough, the lightly wounded, after treatment, were sent to other better equipped hospitals.
          Field hospital at 55 Mokotowska Street in the building owned by the Sisters of St. Francis functioned from 1st of August. Hospital rooms on the first and second floor accommodated 50 beds. An operating room was situated on the first floor. The number of the wounded constantly increased. So, the wounded were gradually moved to the ground floor, and finally to basements of buildings 55 and 56 Mokotowska Street. For some time, the current for operating room and dressing room located in the basement was "produced" by bicycle dynamos operated by young girls, who later on were replaced by German prisoners of war. After some time, there was invented an alternator with a motorbike engine.
          As a result of heavy artillery fire, the building was severely damaged on 20th of September, the outbuilding storeys were completely ruined. Hospital duties became more and more difficult, there was no light, food or water. The hospital was overcrowded. By 2nd of October 2, the hospital treated 749 of the wounded.
          Field hospital at 61 Wilcza Street organised on 1st of August in the office premises of the Engineer Władysława Boye Company. Initially, the hospital had 30 beds, the number of which shortly increased to 80 beds. After the fall of the Old Town, the hospital admitted a large group of the wounded evacuated from the Old Town through sewers. The hospital admitted over 400 of the wounded and treated 1270 outpatients. The fact that German lines were situated near the hospital and run along Noakowskiego Street and Emilia Plater Street caused that the hospital survived without major damages until the capitulation, and was accepting many of the wounded from the central part of Downtown. After the capitulation, there were over 100 of the wounded in the hospital.
          Hospital at 31 Żurawia Street originally functioned as tuberculosis hospital. The hospital had a device for production of pulmonary emphysema. In September, the number of beds systematically increased. After the arrival of the wounded from the Old Town, there was created a separate surgical ward with a provisional operating room. At that time, the hospital had 120 beds and occupied all the building floors and the opposite buildings at 24 Żurawia Street and 26 Żurawia Street. By the end of the Uprising, it became the hospital headquarters where resided the head of medical services of the district, doc. Feliks Przesmycki.
          Field hospital No. 1 for severely wounded at 27 Wspólna Street functioned in a former German office on the first floor. There were arranged 5 rooms with 27 beds. On 20th of August, a large-caliber shell hit the opposite building at 30 Wspólna Street. In this situation, there was made a decision to relocate the wounded to the large and bright basement rooms where was located the vegetable stockroom of the Pakulski Brothers' company, and a garage on the ground floor. Surgeries were still carried out on the first floor but dressings and minor treatments were carried out in a small room under the stairs leading to the basement. On 7th of September, a similar caliber shell hit directly the hospital yard. At the first, the hospital had 30 beds, at the end of the uprising it was about 150 beds.
          The "Zaremba-Piorun" Group Hospital and the Main Dressing Station at 11 Poznańska Street functioned until the capitulation.
          Hospital at 4a Żurawia Street functioned from the very beginning of the Uprising. It was organised in a private flat on the ground and first floor, it had about 20 hospital beds. On 16th of September, the house at 4a Żurawia Street was hit by a shell. Part of the wounded was relocated to Mokotowska Street and 7 Nowogrodzka Street.
          The Maltese Hospital at 17 Śniadeckich Street was located in the German field hospital captured by insurgents, previously the building was the premises of the Stanisław Staszic Junior High School. The Maltese Hospital was dislocated on 14th of August from 42 Senatorska Street, and after a few moves, finally relocated to Śniadeckich Street. Due to the location, this place was not bombed. Later on, the wounded of the "Zośka" battalion evacuated from the Old Town were admitted to this hospital. The hospital had on average of 200 beds. The hospital functioned until the capitulation.
          Hospital of the "Golski" battalion, in the building of the Faculty of Architecture of the Warsaw University of Technology at Piękna Street corner of Lwowska Street, was a typical front line hospital. It had 70 beds. The hospital was well-equipped, among others, in a blood transfusion apparatus that which had been borrowing by the nearby "Sano" hospital. Among the maintenance team members were also German prisoners of war. After the capitulation, the hospital was evacuated to the outskirts of Warsaw.
          The Sano Hospital at 13 Lwowska Street was located in a private Gynaecology Clinic. The first wounded were admitted already in the afternoon of 1st of August. Among medical staff members, there were many excellent surgeons, and the hospital dealt with the most serious cases. The hospital went through harsh times during the German attack on the Polytechnic on 3rd of August. Some of the wounded were then evacuated. Throughout September, the hospital functioned without electricity, surgeries took place at night in the room lit up by carbide lamps. Initially, the hospital had 35 beds, and by the end of the uprising, there were 85 beds there, all moved to large and spacious basements of the clinic.
          The medical center of the Social Insurance Company at 34 Polna Street was planned to become a field hospital in case of uprising. Shortly after the uprising outbreak, due to the threat of capturing this area by Germans, the staff along with the wounded evacuated deeper into the district.

Transport of a wounded to field hospital

          Field hospital at the warehouse of pencils and crayons of the Majewski Company at 71 Marszałkowska Street. The bedding for the wounded were made out of the sawdust and paper, and mattresses and underwear were donate by the local residents. After the evacuation of the Old Town, the hospital admitted part of the wounded evacuated-through-sewers.
          The PCK hospital was organized at 13 Mokotowska Street and Jaworzyńska Street. Originally, the hospital occupied only the Parish House of the Church of Zbawiciel, and later on took over the several nearby buildings. After capitulation, the hospital became the evacuation center for the PCK (Polish Red Cross) hospitals. The wounded who got to this hospital were qualified as civilians.
          The Military hospital at 24 Piusa Street at the School of Platerówna was organised on 17th of September by Dr Podgórski ps. doctor of the "Gustaw" battalion, who evacuated to Downtown from the Old Town. The doctor had to organise the hospital from scratch, equip the hospital with a large set of surgical instruments, necessary furniture, supply of dressings and food. The hospital expanded with 4 rooms and a qualified surgical team. The hospital functioned effectively until the capitulation.
          X-ray facility at 17 Poznańska Street operated in a private apartment of Dr Lieutenant Colonel Witold Zawadowski, the head of the X-ray studio of the Ujazdowski Hospital. The facility served all the surrounding hospitals. Even some surgical procedures requiring X-ray inspection were performed there. This point was open 24 hours a day. When the municipal power plant no longer could deliver the electricity, the property was using electricity from a temporary power plant installed the "Zaremba-Piorun" Group at the Dairy at 51 Hoża Street. The power station also supplied the nearby hospitals. The second power plant of this type was built at 9 Krucza Street. Piotr Lisiecki worked for the medical services in Downtown, maintaining the X-ray machine and other medical equipment.
          Medical Center "Maternity" at 76 Hoża Street, run by the Sisters of St. Francis, completely devoted to needs of the wounded.
          Hospital in basements at 81 Marszałkowska Street, where the Sisters of St. Francis worked.
          Field hospital at 50 Wspólna Street, in the bookbindery of Wanda Michalska. The hospital had 30 beds. The hospital was included to the medical services of the "Zaremba" - "Piorun" battalion.
          Field hospital at 77 Marszałkowska Street.
          Field hospital at 51/53 Mokotowska Street operating from 4th of August.
          Small hospital at 51 Koszykowa Street, located in a private flat.
          Small hospital in Róż Avenue, located in the basement room formerly occupied by the mangle.

          There were also numerous field hospitals operating Downtown South:
          - Dressing station at 15 Bagatela Street, located in a building which was captured by Germans on 1st of August and one of the nurses working at the station was shot dead by Germans;
          - Dressing station located at the "Narcyz" restaurant, ran under auspices of the Field Hospital #1 at 27 Wspólna Street;
          - Dressing station at 79 Marszałkowska Street;
          - Dressing station at 72 Marszałkowska Street;
          - The PCK (Polish Red Cross) dressing station at 48 Marszałkowska Street;
          - Dressing station at 76 Nowogrodzka Street;
          - Dressing station at 31 Żurawia Street;
          - Dressing station at 13 Hoża Street;
          - Dressing station at Krucza Street;
          - Dressing station at 27 Wilcza Street;
          - Dressing station at 5 Szopena Street;
          - Dressing station at 13 Mokotowska Street;
          - Dressing station at 41 Mokotowska Street;
          - Dressing station at 45 Mokotowska Street;
          - Dressing station at 46 Mokotowska Street;
          - Dressing station at 49 Mokotowska Street;
          - Dressing station at Róż Avenue;
          - Dressing station at 11 Krucza Street, located in the Forkasiewicz coffee shop;
          - Dressing station at 12 Krucza Street;
          - Dressing station at 13 Krucza Street;
          - Dressing station at 40 Krucza Street, located in the volksdeutch Czarniecki flat;
          - Dressing station at 37 Ujazdowskie Avenue;
          - The People's Army (AL) dressing station, located at first in the Alina Kuglerowa flat at 15 Marszałkowska Street, and later on relocated to 15 Hoża Street and then to 8 Wilcza Street;
          - The WSK mobile medical patrols.

Dressing station

          After the uprising capitulation, the wounded and sick were gradually moved to the Hospital of Dzieciątka Jezus and to another location at Jaworzyńska Street, and later on they were systematically evacuated from Warsaw.

Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz

translated by: Janusz Kocerba

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