The Witnesses' Uprising Reports
My stolen childhood - a story of a teenage Home Army soldier
Henryk Stanisław Łagodzki,
born on July 15th, 1927 in Warsaw
Home Army soldier
wartime names: 'Hrabia', 'Orzeł'
Chrobry II Grouping , Battalion 1, Company 2, Platoon 1
Stalag IV b, prisoner of war no. 305785
Until the outbreak of the World War II, I lived with my parents in Warsaw, at 55/12 Śliska Street. I was 12 years old then. I went to a primary school no. 25 at 51 Złota Street and I was a member of the scout team at the Lelewel secondary school. In early September, when the bombings began, my mother, my sister, my brother Kazimierz and I went to Michałowice near Warsaw where my grandparents lived. They had only moved to a new house there.
My father was a member of the so called 'home committee' and he stayed in Warsaw. The men who lived in our home building decided to protect their homes against the fire bombs. There were sitting on the roof and removing the bombs from there. Thanks to this heroic action, our home was saved.
Soon after the outbreak of the war, my mother started to prepare dried bread, which came in useful after we came back to Warsaw. The winter of 1939 was cold and frosty. The temperatures reached far below 300C and the buildings had no heating. We had no coal stores. I and other boys used to search bombarded houses for burning wood. Later, our life was more stabilized, still, the young boys felt responsible for their families. We stood in long queues to buy bread and other food. Our schools were closed, most of them were occupied by Germans and changed into barracks.
The year 1940 began. We heard rumours that Germans were building a ghetto for Jews. A lot of rich Jews tried to rescue themselves and leave Poland but very few of them succeeded. In July of 1940, the first street arrests began. People were transported to the concentration camp in Oświęcim (Auschwitz). We saw patrols of German military forces all over Twarda and Wielka Streets. They were standing in groups of three and holding automatic guns in their hands. All men who were at least 16 were arrested. The Germans took their documents and led them to the middle of the streets. Men were even taken out of nearby shops and flats. Nobody knew at that time there was something like the Auschwitz concentration camp. I could watch the scene fairly safely, they were not interested in a 13 year old boy.
I felt something wrong was going on and decided to warn my brother, who had recently returned from German captivity. He had been captured when he was taking part in the military defense of Warsaw in 1939. I found my brother. He was with his elder friends, Ryszard Matuszewski and Tomasz. They were much surprised by what they heard from me, there had never been street arrests so far. Consequently, they did not pay much attention to what I had told them and left. They went to see their friend who lived at 44 Śliska Street. The moment they left the building, they met a German patrol. They were told to join the people who had been arrested in the streets and who were now walking down the street. I was in despair, I did try to warn them! The column was moved to the underground square at Marszałkowska Street and Jerozolimskie Avenue. There were more and more people joining the crowd in the square. Germans were collecting documents and jewelry. After a few hours, the men were driven to 29 Listopada Street where I said goodbye to my brother. Richard Matuszewski's father, who was a Polish police officer, managed to rescue his son from there. His friends, including my brother, stayed there. A few months later, we got the information that my brother was taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp. I saw him again in 1941. He looked like a ruin of a man. He was only 17 and he went through so much. rzyszedł ojciec Ryszarda Matuszewskiego. Był płk Policji Polskiej i udało mu się uwolnić syna. Jego koledzy, w tym mój brat, pozostali. Po kilku miesiącach przyszła wiadomość, że mój brat znajduje się w obozie koncentracyjnym w Oświęcimiu. Zobaczyłem go ponownie dopiero w 1941 r. Był wtedy ruiną człowieka. Miał dopiero 17 lat a tyle już przeżył.
At the turn of 1941, the small Ghetto started to be constructed. We had to leave our house as the area from Śliska Street up to Złota Street was to be included there. We gave an advertisement to swap flats and soon it turned out there were some Jews interested in that. I was only 13 and suddenly I had to grow up. I had to think and act like an adult. My parents were at work and I was the only one at home. Jews were coming to our flat to see it. If they were interested I asked them for the details of their flat - what the district was, how big it was and what furniture they had in there. I took my notes very conscientiously. When my parents returned from work, I gave them a detailed report of the day and conversations with the visitors. If an offer seemed interesting to them, I scheduled a date for a visit there. A lot of Jews wanted to leave their homes only for the time of war and come back when the war was over. They wanted to take some personal things and leave the rest of their belongings in the flat. But this was not exactly what we wanted. My sister was soon getting married and we needed an additional room. Finally, we decided to move to a three- room flat situated on the 4th floor, at 14/7 Łucka Street. The flat had two entries: one by the front gate, the other across the courtyard and through the kitchen staircase. The flat was thoroughly redecorated and soon we had a wedding party for our sister. azgi. W naszym przypadku takie rozwiązanie nie wchodziło w rachubę. Moja siostra wychodziła za mąż i potrzebny był dodatkowy pokój. Zdecydowaliśmy się na zamianę na 3-pokojowe mieszkanie z kuchnią na ul. Łuckiej 14 m.7 na IV piętrze. Było to mieszkanie o dwóch wejściach: z bram
The young couple got a large, sun-lit room with a balcony. The room was adjacent to mine, with a door between them. My brother -in -law joined the Union for Armed Struggle (Związek Walki Zbrojnej, ZWZ) and later the Home Army. My father, following the approval of the whole family, agreed to offer our flat to Underground organization activities. Soon, there were secret meetings and trainings held in there. My parents knew that if we were denounced we would all be sent to the Pawiak prison and condemned to death or sent to a concentration camp. At the beginning, once the meetings started, I kept my guard in the street or on the stairway.
Finally, following my requests, I was also admitted to the Union. Now I could take part in the meetings but since I was still too young I could not take the soldier's oath. I did take it only a year and a half later as one of the youngest soldiers. I was given the name 'Hrabia'. We had our field training, Second Lieutenant 'Krok' was my direct supervisor. Regionally, we belonged to the Żoliborz unit where the chief commander of special forces lived and operated (Krasińskiego Street).
I was a courier of the underground press and at the same time I attended a course for officer infantry and I was promoted to the sergeant position together with my brother, who was given the name 'Salamandra'. The field trainings were held in Wesoła, Rembertów and nearby forest like Bemowo. In the meantime, I encouraged my two friends to join us. They were Ryszard Kowalewski 'Ryś', born in 1925, and Kazimierz Szeromski 'Reszka', born in 1926. I was the youngest as I was born in 1927. My brother was born in 1924, my brother-in-law in 1919, so he was 23 years old in 1942. Since my friends joined the army later than me, they did not have the officer training course.
As young boys, we missed entertainment. There was no radio so we went to a cinema from time to time, which was forbidden by the Union. There were only German or Austrian films shown. Older boys from the Underground organization went to the cinema almost every day to dispel tear gas there. They dropped glass ampoules filled with gas on the floor and then left unnoticed. When the ampoules were smashed by someone passing by, the gas began to spread out and there was no way to stay there any longer. askoczyliśmy Niemców, którzy nie zdążyli jeszcze obstawić wszystkich drzwi. We trzech raptownie otworzyliśmy drzwi i wybiegliśmy na ulicę. Kątem oka dostrzegliśmy jak na sali zapaliło się światło. Zaskoczyliśmy Niemców, zupełnie się pogubili w tłumie ludzi. Zaczęli strzelać w powietrze aby opanować sytuację. Gdy wybiegliśmy na Złotą zobaczyliśmy budy ustawione przed kinem, nie były jednak jeszcze obstawione przez żandarmów. Szybko, jeden za drugim, mijamy budy, przebiegamy na drugą stronę ulicy i biegiem dopadamy skrzyżowania z ulicą Żelazną. Dopomógł nam dodatkowo tramwaj linii "0", który w tym momencie przejeżdżał i nas zasłonił. Z daleka słyszeliśmy krzyki: "halt, halt" i strzały. Na rogu Żelaznej zwolniliśmy kroku i zatrzymaliśmy się po drugiej strony ulicy przy aptece. Z narożnika Żelaznej i Twardej pilnie obserwowaliśmy co się dziej przy kinie. Słychać było nadal krzyki i strzały. Z późniejszych relacji dowiedzieliśmy się, że ludzie w wielkim popłochu wpadali na siebie, skakali z balkonu na parter aby się w ten sposób ratować. Większość kinomanów została zapędzona d
I remember two incidents that took place in 1942: one in the 'Uciecha' cinema at 72 Złota Street and the other in the 'Studio' cinema in Nowy Świat Street. In the summer of 1942, I, Rysiek Kowalski and Kazik Szeromski went to 'Uciecha' to see an interesting film. There was a break after the newsreel and a moment later the film was produced. Suddenly, we noticed some commotion at the entrance door. Instinctively, we stood up from our seats to see what was going on. We were very cautious, we were afraid of street arrests, which were organized in unusual places. In the dim light, we saw the Germans barricading the exit doors. Not considering the situation any longer, we slid between the rows to the exit doors which were not guarded yet. People in the cinema were angry we were disturbing them and they had no idea they would be arrested soon. It was the last moment to escape. We knew the building very well, all the entrance and exit doors, and we also knew how to open the doors once the performance began. We opened the doors at the same moment and rushed outside. Out of the corner of my eye I saw that the lights in the cinema room went on. The Germans were surprised, they got lost in the crowd. They started shooting in the air trying to regain control. When we reached Złota Street, we saw the prison vans in front of the cinema building, they were not guarded by soldiers yet. We dashed past the lorries. We crossed the street and reached the crossroads at Żelazna Street. The tram 'O' helped us too as we were covered by it when it was going by. We could hear the Germans shouting in the distance ' Halt! Halt!' and then shooting. At the corner of Żelazna Street, we slowed down and stopped on the other side of the street at a chemist's. We watched what was going on at the cinema. We could still hear shouting and shooting. We were later told that people were bumping into each other in great panic and they were jumping down from the balcony seats to save themselves. Most of the people were driven into the vans, which later took them to Gestapo headquarters in Szucha Avenue or the Pawiak prison. Only a few of them managed to escape.
This, however, did not teach me a lesson. I had some things to do near Chmielna Street. I attended secret courses at the Lelewel secondary school. The lessons were held in various places, at our friends' or teachers' homes. They risked their lives. Some of the courses were held in schools in Śniadeckich and Smolna Streets and at the corner of Leszno and Żelazna Street where a secondary school was situated before the war. I finished the courses and left the building at dusk. Passing by the 'Studio' cinema in Chmielna Street, I was tempted to go there and see a film. I bought a ticket and went into the cinema room, which was getting crowded. There were not many people inside as the film was to finish at 8 p.m., which was the beginning of the curfew. I thought I would get to my house in Łucka Street by then. The room was not completely full when the performance began. First, there was a newsreel and after a short break the film started. In the meantime, I saw Rysiek Matuszewski, my brother's friend and his fiancée sitting there as well. He lived at 52 Śliska Street where the Polish Police station was situated. Rysiek's father was a police officer. We saw each other and now I was glad I would not be coming home alone. After ten minutes, we noticed some commotion at the doors. We saw two people coming in and then two armed Germans followed. They did not take a seat but stayed at the doors. Twenty minutes later the lights went on. The Germans asked for documents. First, they approached two boys sitting in front of me and later they came up to me. Our school documents did not help. We were led to a van waiting in Nowy Świat Street. The traffic was very heavy and the street was quite narrow. Trams were passing by. There was only one armed German standing by the van and there were some more in the nearby passageway. It was a beginning of the street arrests. Three of us were the first to be put onto the van. Two other boys, who were from Czerniaków District, said 'We must run away!'. One of them took out a knife and cut through the van cover on the street side and slid through it. The other one did the same and a moment later I also jumped out. A tram was going by and we got onto it immediately. We could not be caught by Germans now. They could not have seen us escaping as it happened so fast. We got off the tram in Jerozolimskie Avenue, half way to the next stop. We mixed into the crowd next to Café Club which admitted only Germans. And this is how I was rescued by two boys from Powiśle District. I did not even know their names. I never met them again. I did not have a chance to thank them from saving me from the concentration camp.
In July of 1943, I and Rysiek Kowalski used to go to a beach on the Vistula bank in Wał Miedzeszyński. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Our friend gave us our photos of Ryszard and myself jumping from the trampoline. We met two girls in the beach and we all decided to meet later at 5 p.m. at the corner of Chłodna and Żelazna Street. Ryszard and I decided to go to that meeting straight from the beach. When we were approaching the meeting point, we saw the girls who were waiting for us on the other side of Chłodna Street. We waved our hands at them. We waited till the trams and cars passed away and we stepped into the street. Suddenly, we heard someone shouting 'Halt, halt!'. Two SS men stopped us. They smiled at us and started to say something in German. We wanted to let ourselves out but they were holding our arms firmly. We crossed Żelazna Street and entered Nord Wache building. We turned around and we saw the girls. They were very surprised, they followed us to the entrance door. How could this have happened? There were no street arrests and I crossed this street so often when I was going to church or to visit my brother- in -law who had a shop and a weaver's workshop at 7 Chlodna Street. w poprzek od strony jezdni i już go nie było. Drugi skoczył za nim a potem ja nie namyślając się długo znalazłem się po drugiej stronie budy. Akurat nadjeżdżał tramwaj i jeden po drugim wskoczyliśmy na jego stopnie. Tu Niemcy nie mogli już nas złapać. Na pewno nie zauważyli naszej ucieczki, stało się to bardzo szybko. Przejechaliśmy niecałe pół przystanku i z hamującego przed Alejami Jerozolimskimi tramwaju zeskoczyliśmy i wmieszaliśmy się w tłum idący Alejami, tuż przy kawiarni Cafe Club przeznaczonej wyłącznie dla Niemców. Tak w cudowny sposób zostałem uratowany przez dwóch chłopaków z Powiśla. Nie znałem nawet
The officers were quite polite. They told us to follow them to the first floor where the office was located. We had our documents checked and our clothes searched thoroughly. The atmosphere was not so bad. The Germans were very kind, but as we were to learn later it was all a false game. We had a lot of photos of the beach with us. We were the only faces on the pictures. The Germans were interested in the photos, they told us they were impressed with the shots. They took down our personal data. They were surprised they did not find any underground press with us. Then they gave the documents back to us and told us we were free. But it was still this vicious game. We did not expect anything and we were about to the to leave when we heard 'Halt!'. It was the voice of a fat Gestapo. We went through the personal search again. They took away our documents, belts, shoe strings and we were put into a very small cell. It was made out of a hall and measured one meter by two meters. We stayed there all night. We were hungry and could not sleep. They would not let us go to the toilet. In the morning, a boy joined us in the cell. He was arrested for selling rolls. At around 10 a.m., we were released. They returned everything to us. I even got a book which I had borrowed from the library. We thought we were free. Unfortunately, it was still a part of the same game which was to break our spirit. mi do samego wejścia. Przecież nie było żadnej łapanki a tą ulic
Suddenly, some policemen in navy blue uniforms came to us. They put handcuffs on our hands and took us out. We went to a tram stop. Accompanied by the policemen, we got on the tram and stood in the only- for- German part. We felt as we were some criminals. Some people were looking at us pitifully. Germans moved aside and said "polnische Bandit". We got off at Zbawiciel Square and then walked along Liberation Avenue to Gestapo headquarters in Szucha Avenue. The policemen told us to keep silent. We asked them to inform our parents about what had happened but they refused. The way they behaved was disgusting. I was only 15 and Ryszard was 17. We were devastated. We were being taken to the Gestapo torture point. We knew what was ahead of us. A new phase of my life started: first Gestapo headquarters in Szucha Avenue, then the Pawiak prison and KL Warschau concentration camp.
Once we were moved to the Gestapo offices in Szucha Avenue, we were handed to the 'brown shirts' from SD. Having gone through some formalities and another personal search, we were taken downstairs to the underground cells of the building. We were stopped in front of massive bars which were soon opened and we were pushed inside. We were told to stand with our faces to the wall and our hands up. We were searched through again but it did not last long. They were not beating nor shouting at us. They opened the door to the cell no.1 which was called a 'tram'. It was different from other trams as it had no windows, only one door and was placed underground. The tram had a long way to go and even though it had no windows nor seats it could take you to hell. All the people in there were sitting on chairs which stood in two rows next to the wall. No one was trying to look around, everybody was very tense. We were kicked into the cell. The prisoners looked as though they were sleeping. But it was an illusion as all of them were watching. We did not realize how serious it all was. We were feeling quite calm, I was even holding a book by some chance, they might not have noticed it. The cell was overcrowded and there was no place to sit on. Richard and I sat down on the concrete floor, with our backs against the bars. I opened my book and started to read aloud. The prisoners tried to warn me and asked me to keep quiet but I would not listen. Suddenly, we felt a series of crashing blows from behind the bars. They beat us all over the body, my head was breaking with pain. We could not understand what had happened, it was so fast and unexpected. Then they opened the bars and pushed us into the hall. We were all in blood. My nose was bleeding, I had a swelling on my head and my eyebrow arch was broken. I felt dizzy. They put a radio set on the table and played it at full blast. We were told to jump along the hall in a crouched position. The SS men were shouting and whipping us. We were jumping energetically and this even made them give us stronger whips. We had never gone through this before. We fell down half conscious. Soon, a bucket of cold water brought us up and the jumping and whipping went on. Finally, the torturers got tired and we were kicked back into the cell.
Now we understood the place was serious. We were coming round slowly, we were wiping our faces from blood. The radio music was playing on quietly, the SS men were walking in soft slippers and watching. We were trying not to move now, our whole body was aching. We were very hungry, we had not even had a drop of water since the previous day. In the evening, we only got a cup of bitter watered coffee and this gave us a bit of strength. No one in the cell was able to help us. They were watching us all the time and each of us was afraid he could be the next to go. There was a sigh of relief when the Gestapo guards changed. After a while, an elderly lady got up, her eyes fixed on the bars all the time. She wiped our faces and dressed our wounds. Slowly, more and more prisoners were coming close to us. They tried to cheer us up. We spent the night on the floor, half asleep, waiting impatiently for the morning to come.my sobie sprawy z powagi sytuacji i miejsca , w którym się znajdujemy. Czujemy się swobodnie, ja jakimś cudem trzymam nadal w ręku książkę. Może nie zauważyli i nie zabrali. Cela jest pełna, nie ma gdzie usiąść. Siadamy z Ryszardem na betonowej podłodze opierając się plecami o kratę. Czujem
At 6 a.m. there was another change of SS guards. They started their duty by reading out names form a list. Those who were read out had to stand next to the wall with their hands up. It was the end of the list when we heard our names: Ryszard Kowalski, Henryk Łagodzki. We went into the hall, our hands raised up. We were terribly hungry, dirty and exhausted. We had nothing to eat for two days. They were counting us. We were being kicked, beaten and pushed. The Germans were shouting all the time. They read the list again, told us to stand by the wall and it all went on again. Finally, they formed us into groups and took us out. We walked up the stairs to the first floor and then along the hall. Richard and I were separated from the rest and we were led into a big room. There was a civilian sitting behind a desk in the room. He was holding some documents, he was smiling innocently. Further on the left, there was an SS man who was writing something. He did not pay any attention to us at all. The civilian asked us how we had got there and why we were so dirty. He spoke pure Polish. We told him we had been arrested in the street and then severely beaten and that we were very hungry. He was very surprised to hear that and expressed his regret. He said it must have been a misunderstanding and that this would never happen again. We were so young and, for sure, there was nothing wrong we could have done. Hearing this, we began to believe that nightmare was about to end and that we would be free again. pod oknem siedzi oficer SS i cos pilnie pisze nie zwracając na nas uwagi. Cywil zwraca się do nas czystą polszczyzną. Pyta jak tu się dostaliśmy, dlaczego jesteśmy tacy brudni. Na naszą odpowiedź, że zostaliśmy zatrzymani na ulicy a następnie pobici i że jesteśmy głodni, jest bardzo zdziwiony i ubolewa. To jakieś nieporozumienie i nic podobnego z pewnością się nie powtórzy. Jesteśmy tacy młodzi i na pewno z niczym podejrzanym nie mamy nic wspólnego. Po tych słowach zaczynamy wierzyć, że ten koszmar się skończy i będziemy znów wolni. Był to niestety tylko wstęp do dalszej rozmowy. Na pierwszy ogień idzie Ryszard. Cywil pyta o imię, nazwisko, gdzie pracuje (Ryszard jest o dwa lata starszy ode mnie). Kolega mówi, że pracuje w fabryce obuwia na terenie getta. Cywil kontynuuje przesłuchanie. Pyta do jakiej organizacji należy, żąda podania adresów kolegów i dowódców. Mówi, że wszystko wiedzą , chcą tylko sprawdzić, czy mówi prawdę. Ryszard wszystkiego się wypiera. Dostaje pierwszy policzek, potem drugi. Znów pytanie i cała ser
Yet, this was only an introduction. Ryszard was the first one to be interrogated. The civilian asked for his name and occupation (Ryszard was two years older). My friend told him he was working in a shoe factory in the Ghetto. The civilian went on. He asked him what organization Ryszard belonged to and asked for the addresses of his comrades and commanders. He told Ryszard they knew everything and they only wanted to check whether he was telling the truth. Ryszard denied everything. He was slapped. Then he was slapped again. There was a question and then a series of blows followed. Richard curled down from pain, blood was running from his nose. The SS men rose up slowly and came up to him. He watched him for a while and then gave him a sharp blow. Ryszard fell down. He was writhing with pain on the floor, all in blood.
I was watching all this. I was trembling with fear as I knew what would happen soon. They gave Ryszard a splash of water. He came round and he was rising up slowly. He was looking at me. Now, it was my turn. I was told to come closer. The SS man was happy with himself, he had had a good warm up with the blow. He started to ask questions and the civilian was interpreting. Now, they were focused on me and Ryszard was watching. I gave them my name, date and place of birth and my parents' names. I told them I was a pupil of a professional school and that I did not work. The civilian was taking notes. Then they changed questions. They warned me not to lie, otherwise I would end up like my friend. They asked where I had been arrested, what organization I belonged to and how I got the bulletin that had been found with me. I denied everything. I told them we had been arrested in the street by two SS officers and nothing had been found with us. I was hit in my jaw for that. I fell down , I spat with blood. I saw the two torturers above me while I was lying on the floor. They were saying something, shouting and kicking me.
I woke up a moment later and seemed to have a long and deep sleep. But this was not a dream. I was still on the floor, I was soaked, my face was swollen, my lips felt unusual. I felt pain all over my body and I was all in blood. I raised my head and I could not believe my eyes. I saw worried faces of other prisoners, just like myself, all eyes focused on me. The torturers disappeared somewhere. I saw Ryszard next to me. We smiled at each other. We had passed the exam, we had not revealed anything (both of us were members of the Home Army). We were alive - one could stand all this! The strength we found in ourselves let us feel hardly anything during the torture.
After a while, we were allowed to go to the toilet and have a wash. We had no beards yet so we did not need any shaving. When we came back to the cell, we got our first meal - a bowl of watered soup. We got no bread - probably we were not on the list yet. A lady from the second row gave us a piece of her bread. It was an act of utmost solidarity and good heartedness.
Slowly, I was regaining my strength but my face was still swollen and my body aching. I could not sit on the concrete floor, there were no free seats, the cells were overcrowded. Each day we were interrogated, each day we were asked the same questions and each day we were beaten. My body and face were swollen, I was all in pain, I was dirty and hungry. Ryszard went through the same. We were not allowed to talk to each other and to move around. We had to sit in the same place. It was easy to break down in such circumstances. After four days, we found four seats in the cell. Unfortunately, they were placed at the very end, next to the bars where one could unexpectedly get a blow on his head. This was our fourteenth day there. We were devastated, we could hardly stand all this. Hunger, being beaten for no reason, sleeping in a 'small armchair' (this was how we called the uncomfortable chair). We wore the same clothes for so many nights. Even Germans did not foresee that as the cell where we were kept was meant only for stay up to 48 hours. We spent there two weeks with no washing.
Prisoners came there day and night. All the time we could hear Gestapo shouting and innocent men and women moaning with pain. Prisoners were regularly taken to the Pawiak prison. The interrogations were held at different times, even at night. We, the tram prisoners, could not stand all this. We feared we would be interrogated and beaten again. Uncertainty and mere sitting on a chair might drive a man crazy. We wished we would be transported somewhere else.
Suddenly, all prisoners in our cell were asked to stand by the wall and put their hands up. The Germans were counting us and something was wrong with the number all the time. We were called out by our name to form groups. We were given our documents back. Our group consisted of 20 people, there were some women among us. We were to be transported to the Pawiak prison (to become more humble as they told us) and we would come back here. Our group was moved to a van which stood in the courtyard. There were two SD 'brown shirt' officers standing at the door. They were reading out the names of the people who were to get on the van. Four SS men were sitting in there, their weapons ready to fire. Richard and I were placed next to them. From behind their backs, we could see what was going on in the street. A car with a machine gun on a stand was following us. We drove out of Szucha Avenue and turned into Koszykowa Street. Next, we went into Lindleya and Żelazna Streets. We hoped to see a familiar face there as both Ryszard and I lived nearby - his flat was at 84 Panska Street and mine at 14 Łucka Street. I was only able to catch a glimpse of the balcony on the 4th floor as I could not move. We drove into the lifeless streets of the Ghetto. There was a strong smell of burning. We reached the Pawiak prison finally. We waited for a while for the gate to open. The guards got off first. They were hitting the prisoners with their rifle - butts and shouting 'Schnell, schnell!'. We were not able to avoid the blow. We could hear dogs growling behind us. There were dog cages on the left. It took some time to drive us all inside the prison. Women were put apart from us and we were led up the stairs to the office. Having gone through personal search, we had our documents copied and then given back. Next, we were driven into a bathroom, which was situated on the other side of the building. We took off our clothes and put them into a cauldron. The bathroom was big and consisted of two parts. There was only hot or cold water in the showers. We got a bit of clay soap to wash ourselves. We were trying to wash ourselves thoroughly but it was not easy. The SS men played with the water by changing the stream from hot to cold all the time. They shouted at us to hurry up. These were prison assistants, notorious for their cruelty. After a moment, they rushed us outside, we had no time finish the shower. We were wet and trembling with cold. We got the clothes which were hot and covered by lice. I had never had them before. I got dressed quickly. They told us to stand in a line and we were driven to cells.
Richard and I were lucky to be placed in the same cell. It was situated underground and it was overcrowded. There were 40 people in there, we spent the night lying as close to each other as lovers do. We were scratching our bodies more and more. In the morning, the door was opened and a few prisoners were taken out. We sat down on the floor. The door was opened again and we were allowed to go to the toilet. The guards shouted at us and pushed us. Later, we got some coffee served in bowls and a slice of bread. Then, we changed the cells. We were led into another one from where prisoners were being taken out. It was a small cell, for one or two prisoners. It had one wooden bed which proved to be a comfortable seat but not for long. There was some commotion in the hall. Doors of other cells opened and we heard furious shouts in German and Ukrainian. Suddenly, some men were pushed into our cell. They were almost naked and they were a bit older than us. Their clothes were soon thrown into the cell. It turned out the boys had gone through personal search, they had been undressed and all their valuables had been taken away from them and not given back to the office. The cell was awfully crowded. It was tiny and there were nine people in there. The newcomers could not even get dressed because of that but soon they somehow 'settled down'. Richard and I were slightly better off as we could lie on the wooden bed.
One of the newcomers was Edward Knot, my neighbour from 14 Łucka Street, who also lived on the 6th floor. His parents were owners of the dry cleaner's in our building. We knew each other by sight but we had never spoken. Edward and his friends had been arrested by Gestapo at 83 Złota Street when they were about to leave the workplace. They met a German patrol and were asked for documents. They were taken to the Pawiak prison after that. Just like us, they did not know why they had been arrested. Richard and I had already had some 'prisoner' experience. We told them our story: how we had been arrested and then interrogated at Gestapo headquarters in Szucha Avenue and kept in the tram cell. Neither we nor they knew what would happen to us. After four or six weeks, we met again in the branch of Majdanek concentration camp in Gęsia Street.
After three days spent in the tiny cell, Richard and I were moved to division no. 6 on the second floor, next to a former chapel. It was a big chapel, there were more than 40 people inside. People were changing there all the time. I was the youngest. Ryszard was two years older than me but he also looked very young. There were a lot of older educated people. The cell was big, there were four mattresses by each wall, we could sit on them during the day. Every day, prisoners from this and other cells were taken to Gestapo headquarters in Szucha Avenue for interrogations. They came back terribly beaten, all in blood and half conscious.
A few days later, we were also taken there. The Germans thought they would finally break us but we became more resistant with time. It was easier for young prisoners to stand all this than for the older ones. They often broke down, they were much worried about their relatives. Many of them knew they would not be saved and would be shot. Each time an SS man came in, people got paralysed. They had their families and children. We had only our parents whom we loved and we did not fear death so much. Our young organism could stand a lot, it grew stronger. We were optimistic, we believed we would survive. But the atmosphere was unbearable. ają prawie nagich więźniów, to chłopcy trochę starsi od nas. Wrzucają za nimi ubrania. Okazuje się, że strażnicy przeprowadzili osobist
A few young men were asked out. They told them to take all their personal things and to stand in the hall. The cell door was closed. After a moment, we heard another click in the lock. Three more people were asked out. The door was closed again. Nobody was moving. We tried to get calm but it took us a long time. We were afraid the door would open again. I and Richard survived. We felt the impact of this experience through our whole life. Next days, when we heard footsteps in the hall, we were petrified it would be our turn to be shot. ju nr 1, jak nas przesłuchiwano. Tak jak i oni nie wiemy co będzie dalej. Po m
Time went on very slowly. Few people were in the mood to tell their stories. After a week, I got a food parcel from my parents. Richard and I had managed to pass on secretly a letter to them so they knew we were there. Prisoners in the Pawiak prison were allowed to receive parcels, which gave them some comfort as they were in touch with their relatives. My parents heard that cigarettes could be exchanged for almost everything and they started to send them to me. They did not think I could start smoking myself. I did. We did not realize this would turn into an awful habit. The atmosphere was terrible. People were changing all the time. Some did not come back from interrogations. There was nothing we could do so we smoked. It was a bit different in the morning and evening when we were allowed to go to the toilet. We could then pass on secretly our prison letters to someone. Germans still tolerated this. h kochaliśmy i nie baliśmy się tak śmierci. Nasz młody organizm znosił wszystko, hartował się. Byliśmy pełni optymizmu, wierzyliśmy, że jednak przeżyjemy. Starsi często załamywali się, strach o bliskich niszczył ich psychikę. Wielu wiedziało, że nic ich nie uratuje, że będą rozstrzelani. Każde wejście esesmana i wyczytywanie nazwisk wywoływało strach. W celi panowała wtedy atmosfera nie do opisania. Wywołano po nazwiskach kilku młodych mężczyzn. Kazali zabrać ze sobą wszystkie rzeczy i ustawić się na korytarzu. Zamknięto drzwi celi. Po chwili zgrzyt klucza w zamku i ponownie wyczytują nazwiska. Za drugim razem zabrano jeszcze trzech. Drzwi się zamknęły. W celi nikt się nie poruszył. Wszyscy zastygli na swych miejscach. Bardzo powoli ludzie uspokoili się. Czekali czy znów nie otworzą się drzwi. Tym razem my dwaj przeżyliśmy tę brankę z celi. Pozostawiło to w psychice ślad na całe życie. W następne dni gdy tylko usłyszeliśmy odgłosy na korytarzu pojawiał się lęk, że
The prisoners were moving around the cell and others could not have a rest. The cell was cleaned all the time. The cell supervisor reminded us to do so. There were several controls during the day. The guards put their fingers on the objects and checked whether there was any dust. And the dust was indeed in the air, cleaning did not help at all so all prisoners from our cell were punished for that. Everything had to be clean, mattresses had to be lined up with no creases. Cleanliness may have different meanings, particularly in a cell loaded with people.
Days were passing by. Our hopes for freedom were fading away. Richard and I were very nervous. We spent a few days in the cell, we were not taken for interrogation and our case was not closed, which they had promised at Gestapo headquarters in Szucha Avenue. We were afraid we would be taken to Majdanek or Auschwitz. People were transported there every second day. Men waiting for the transport were placed in underground cells. Other prisoners joined us.
The night came and we could not sleep. We listened to newcomers telling their stories. We enjoyed listening to elder comrades, this gave us some strength. They told us about their fighting in 1939, first days of German occupation, Underground fighting, how they had been caught by Gestapo and who had denounced them. A lot of outstanding Poles passed by our cell (no. 210). They lost their lives in Auchwitz, Palmiry, Majdanek or were shot next to the Pawiak prison. There were also 'old' prisoners who had been there since 1940.
It was the fifth week of our stay there. We were waiting, full of fear. We saw our comrades coming back from interrogations. We looked like them not so long ago, but recently nothing happened. wyjrzeć przy Łuckiej i Pańskiej, gdzie mieszkaliśmy. Za nami jechał jak zwykle odkryty mercedes z usta
At the end of August, we again got parcels from our parents. We opened them and shared their contents with others who had not received anything yet. My parents sent me cigarettes again. They were handmade and had a mouthpiece.
Suddenly, we heard some footsteps and noise in the hall and our cell was opened. They called our names: Ryszard Kowalski, Edward Knot, Henryk Łagodzki and more - 15 people altogether. We were told to get on a van which was waiting in front of the building. There were already some women inside. We were able to sit down at the very end of the van, next to SS men. We could get some fresh air and have a look at the streets. We hoped to catch a glimpse of Łucka and Pańska Streets again. As usual, a Mercedes with a machine gun followed us. We passed the streets quickly and the SS men did not even let us move our heads.
We were heading for Szucha Avenue. We knew we would be interrogated again. We were nervous. The van stopped in front of a side entrance and we went into the building. Some prisoners were driven to cells, the three of us were taken to the 2nd floor. We came into a nicely furnished room. There was a big desk in the middle. A Gestapo was sitting there and looking at us from behind his glasses. We were accompanied by three armed SS men, each of them standing close to us. An interpreter told us our case was closed. We would be sent to a concentration camp where we would be taken the same day.
Next, we were taken down to the tram cellar, just like a few weeks before. We found ourselves in the same cell again but now we found some seats and we knew how to behave there. We got dinner together with other prisoners and we tried to guess how much time we would spend there. It did not take long. At 4 a.m., we were told to go out into the hall and line up, our faces to the wall. Having checked our identities several times, they took us to a van waiting outside. We returned to the Pawiak prison, some were taken to the cells. A few of us were asked to the office individually. They checked our identities and gave the documents to an SS man. We were told to stand up by the wall outside the office. We did not know what to think: would they shoot us or send us to a concentration camp? We were kept there in uncertainty for two hours. Finally, the decision was taken. Richard and I were separated from the group and led to the gate of the prison.
We left the prison guarded by SS men. We saw burnt houses and rubble all around. Streets were empty, we could see only lorries passing by, they were packed with people. We watched the prison walls from outside. We walked past the guard tower and prison guards' building now being changed into workshops. We had been working there a few days before. Going along Lubeckiego and Gęsia Streets, we finally reached the concentration camp gate. The SS men handed us over to the camp guards.
We were terrified by what we saw there. They took our clothes and shaved our heads. I was given prisoner clothes with a triangle on the chest and a round cap no. 7896. We also got wooden slippers. We felt awful wearing that, everything was much too big. We could see some prisoners wearing striped clothes. As it turned out later, these were Jews and so called 'capos', German criminals, who were very cruel for prisoners. Poles and Gypsies were given the same clothes. This was probably how they differentiated Poles and Gypsies from Jews, at least at the time I was there. We were led to a cell no. 4, situated on the ground floor. The place was different from the Pawiak prison. The cell where we were placed was very big. There were wooden beds by the walls, mattresses and blankets. We chose our beds. We were left alone only for a short time as soon a capo came in and told us to join the camp assembly. It was quite late, the time ran fast on that day. We saw prisoners coming back from work. They were exhausted and we could see fear in their eyes. Some of them were searched. The Germans took away things that the prisoners had managed to find during the day. They were terribly beaten for that. następuje liczenie. Pobitych i pogryzionych podtrzymują zmęczeni więźniowie. Liczenie trwa bez końca, reszta słania się na nogach i czeka na chwilę rozejścia się do cel. Teraz rannych koledzy niosą na pierwsze piętro do izby chorych, reszta przepychając się biegnie co sił do cel, by tam rzucić się na nary i odpocząć po
This was our first lesson there. We thought we would experience the same in a moment. After the personal search was finished, something strange started. The prisoners were told to stand up in lines, SS men with dogs and capos stood next to them. The prisoner column was ordered to go round the square. First, they walked, then they were told to run. Some prisoners were not able to keep the stride and they were severely bitten by dogs which were let out. Capos were very eager at beating. The column dispersed. The dogs attacked the prisoners. Blood was running which even made the Germans and dogs more angry. It seemed there would be no end to it. The oppressors were proud of themselves, the prisoners were in despair. Finally, the 'game' was finished. Some prisoners were lying on the ground, dogs with their jaws in blood were bending over them. But this was not the end. Capos approached the lying men and started to beat them with sticks. They were told to stand up in a line. The capos began counting. Those battered and bitten were supported by others. The counting went on and on, the people were almost falling down, they waited to be allowed to return to their cells. Finally, the injured were taken to the sick room, other prisoners dashed to their beds to have a rest. They had a hard day.
We only watched the scene but now we knew what was ahead of us. After all this, we also went to our beds. I met Edward Knot among the prisoners. He told us what he had gone through and gave us some hints how to behave in the camp. Now we were smarter, we knew how to get used to those conditions and get along with other prisoners. Still, there were many surprises ahead of us, it was only the beginning of our humiliation.
The building where we were placed was a former prison for political prisoners. The rest of the prison stood behind the wall which separated it from the concentration camp. The prison area stretched as far as Muranowski Square where the second entrance was situated. Only our building was made of bricks. Poles and Gypsies were placed there. The rest of the camp consisted of wooden barracks built on the area of former Ghetto.
After supper, which included a slice of bread and black coffee, the insect hunting began. It was nothing new to us as we had already seen this at the Pawiak prison. Here, it was somehow celebrated. All the prisoners, as if ordered to do so, took off their clothes and cleaned them of lice and fleas. When they got tired, they fell asleep. We watched others doing this, we knew we would have to do this ourselves. We tried to fall asleep and then millions of fleas jumped onto us. We could not sleep or even lie. We got up and scratched our bodies. We took off our shirts and threw off the insects but it did not help much.
There was a table and two narrow benches in the cells. Those benches were very unstable but we decided to lie on them. We almost fell asleep but soon we fell down on the floor. It happened again and again until we learnt how to lie there, which was only in the morning. We did not have much sleep then. But at least we were not bitten by fleas which lived in the mattresses.
In the morning, we were woken up and told to run to the assembly square. Prisoners were told to stand in lines so that the capos and SS men could count them. But the numbers seemed wrong all the time. They read out our names form a list. When they called out my name, two prisoners stepped out. It turned out there was another Zygmunt Łagodzki in the camp who had already been there for some time. I was a newcomer and I was on an additional list. After all this, we had our breakfast. During this break, I found the other Zygmunt Łagodzki, who was in fact my elder cousin. I had not met him before. He had lived with his family in Ochota District. I was glad to find another friend there. Ryszard, Zygmunt, Edward and I promised to keep together and to help each other.
A large group of Poles went to Avenue Szucha to work there every day. They were removing rubble from the Polish Government building, which had been burnt down in 1939. This job was much wanted by prisoners as it meant going to work in a van. We were removing rubble from the building and loading it onto lorries. We were also working outside, we had to level the ground. We were guarded by SD and SS men.
I will never forget Schweizer, an SD officer, by whom I was terribly beaten. This happened in October when nights and mornings were very cold. I was wearing only a shirt and a prisoner blouse so I felt cold all the time. One day, after we came to work I felt really bad. I decided to warm myself. I managed to leave the workplace unnoticed and went up to the last floor of the building where the sun was shining. I thought no one would notice that. The rooms on the top floor were small and full of rubble. The roof was burnt down. I sat down in a corner and moved my head into the sunshine. I did not enjoy it for long. Suddenly, I saw an SD officer and his enormous Alsatian. The German waved his finger at me and asked me to come closer. I got a sharp slap in my face. After that, he told me to follow him. We went down to the first floor. He stopped in front of a door and told me to wait outside. He came back with two whips. He looked happy with himself. He told me to follow him, his dog was watching me all the time. When we got to the ground floor, he called to another SD officers to join him. He told them I wanted to run away and gave one the whip. He told the prisoners to bring an armchair which stood nearby. They told me to lie down on it and they both started to whip me. The whips gave a swishing sound. My skin was cut open, my body was an aching wound. I tried to escape but I was soon driven back by a dog. This repeated for three times. Finally, the torturers got tired and told me to come back to work. I was not able to walk, I was all in blood. I got the spade and had to shovel the rubble. Other prisoners suffered, too. They were hit with a stick on their heads if any of them rose up.
After a while, they started to question me. One of the Germans understood Polish. He asked me why I wanted to run away. I tried to explain that I only wanted to warm myself up. The German took me aside and gave me a knockout blow in my neck. I fell down. As I learnt later, the blow was supposed to kill me. The German checked my condition with his foot and since I was not moving, he left soon. I lay there motionless, I felt feeble and good.
When other prisoners finished their work, they raised me from the ground and put me on a van. We came back to the camp and my wounds were dressed by a doctor. He directed me to the sick room where I would have certainly died if I had not escaped back to the cell. The concrete floor of the room stood in water. Mattresses were soaked as they lay directly on the floor. If I had stayed there, my whole back would have lain in water. I stayed there only one day and thus survived. I owe this to my friends. They dressed my wounds by themselves and did not let me go back to the sick room again. ak kilku innych Niemców rozumiał dobrze po polsku. Wypytywał mnie dlaczego chciałem uciekać. Tłumaczyłem, że nie chciałem uciekać a jedynie ogrzać się na słońcu. Odwołał mnie na bok, wziął za głowę i kantem dłoni uderzył w kręgi szyjne. Po silnym uderzeniu upadłem na ziemię i nie ruszałem się. Jak się później dowiedziałem miało to być uderzenie śmiertelne. Cios mu jednak nie wyszedł a ja nawet go specjalnie nie poczułem taki byłem zbity i obolały. Leżącego Niemiec trącił nogą a ponieważ się nie ruszałem odszedł. Leżałem bez ruchu, było mi słabo i dobrz
We were also working in the area of the Ghetto, which had been burnt down. We were cleaning the streets and squares from rubble. Barracks were built there later as new camp prisoners arrived all the time. I still remember a group of Greek Jews who once arrived there. It was during our assembly. There were so many of them, they were wearing elegant fur coats and smart suits. They carried their suitcases packed with valuables. They were looking at us with interest and we were looking at them. They were Jewish aristocracy from Greece. The Germans told them they were going somewhere else and they only stopped here to see the fate of the enemies of Germany. They did not suspect anything, they had no idea they would stay there. On that day, when the assembly was over, we were not allowed to walk out from the cells.
We were moved to the first floor and placed in a cell with Gypsies. All the cells were overcrowded. We could only sleep lying very close to each other and if anyone moved, the rest had to do the same. If someone was late or left for a while, he had to lie on the floor. This went on for three weeks. People could not stand these conditions and one day a rebellion broke out. The capos had much better living conditions. It was almost a luxury in comparison to our standards. Our conditions did not change at all. One day, after returning from work, all prisoners took sticks, logs or whatever one could find and dashed to the capos' barracks. We got inside and started to beat them everywhere. It was like a battle. The SS men tried to stop it and shot in the air. It took them some time to separate the two groups. We were told to come back to our cells. We saw doctors and orderlies going into the capos' barracks to dress their wounds. We had a feeling there would be a revenge. We started to prepare for the fight and we made use of tables and chairs for that. We did not know how we grew so strong. Soon, the capo criminals shook off their defeat and came to attack us. They were armed. They broke into our cells and started to beat us everywhere. We were rescued by the camp staff, who reacted quickly. The guards began shooting, some people were hurt. The rebellion was over.mi. Wszystkie cele były skrajnie przepełnione, tłok był jak w tramwaju. Spanie odbywało się w ten sposób, że wszyscy leżeli na jednym boku, a gdy się przekręcali to wszyscy na raz. Gdy ktoś się spóźnił lub wyszedł na chwilę, spał na podłodze. Trwało tak przez trzy tygodnie. Ludzie tego nie wytrzymywali i któregoś dnia wybuchł w więzieniu bun
We felt the consequence of the action. The discipline was stricter, the assemblies took more time and there were more personal searches and punishments. But there was also a positive outcome. They started to think about moving Poles to other concentration camps as this place was to be only for Jews who were coming there in greater numbers.
One day, my friend, Ryszard Kowalski, was released home. I was glad he would be free and at the same time I was sad I would stay there. I had a feeling we would never meet again. As I was to learn later, Richard did not enjoy his freedom for long. In November of 1943, he was arrested in the street and taken to Mathausen concentration camp where he was murdered. Waclaw Kowalski, Ryszard's brother, was also sent there after the Uprising and he was also murdered there. Only two brothers from this family survived: Michał and Tadeusz.zaczęli bić na oślep. Uratowała nas szybka interwencja całej załogi obozu. Strażnicy zaczęli strzelać, kilka osób zostało rannych. Bunt został zażegnany. Ranni w zajściach i pozostali więźniowie ponieśli konsekwencje. Był zaostrzony rygor, przedłużono apele, częstsze były rewizje i kary. Był jednak i pozytywny skutek całego zdarzenia. Zaczęto myśleć o przeniesieniu Polaków do innych obozów koncentracyjnych a tu budowano coraz więcej baraków dla przybywających olbrzymich transportów Żydó
Now I was at the camp with my cousin. One day, on our way back from work, we went through personal search. They found food and some letters with us. We must have been denounced by someone. After the search, we had to do the exercises as a penalty. We were told to run round the assembly square. They told us to lie down and get up when ordered. They set their dogs on us and capos were beating those who could not stand up. My cousin was terribly bitten by a dog. He almost lost his male organs. This was prevented only thanks to the help of his friends. He had an operation at the Pawiak prison, it was performed by famous Polish surgeons. He was released home in a serious condition.
KL Warschau camp
More and more prisoners were arriving at the camp. The prison and barracks for Jews were overcrowded. It was said that some prisoners were being transported to other camps. Carts loaded with dead bodies were going to the Jewish cemetery every day. They said there were temporary crematoria installed in the cemetery.
Most of the Polish prisoners were working outside the Ghetto so it was possible to pass on a parcel or a message. My mother managed to get to Szucha Avenue to hand me a food parcel through the fence.
The conditions in the camp were getting worse. New prisoners were arriving and barracks were not completed. The date of transports to other camps was postponed all the time.
My mother was trying to help me. She stuffed a two kilo loaf of bread with roasted meat, which was a true luxury at that time, and handed it over to me in Szucha Avenue. I managed to hide the package on my way back to the camp. Someone told us there would be a personal search. In view of that, I decided to leave the package on the van and come back later. But in fact there was no personal search and I could not return to the van. When I went there the next day, the package disappeared. I heard that some Jews had been going on this van to work. I tried to imagine those starving people who must have found the bread. I hoped they had enjoyed the meal even though I was hungry myself. My mother must have thought her son was much delighted with the present.
And there was another incident I remember. We were working in the Ghetto area, next to Smocza Street. In the afternoon, German guards brought some soup waste from SS men's dinner. They told us to bring bowls though they knew we had none. They started to pour the soup onto the ground. A prisoner took a damaged bowl which was lying on the ground. The German poured the soup into this dirty bowl. The SS men looked at this and were laughing. They were taking photos.
We got the food waste again when we were working in the school in Stawki Street. But Germans behaved in a different way then. They gave us clean bowls and spoons. We could sit down at the table. But these were not camp torturers but regular German soldiers.
Finally, the date of our transport came. We could see other prisoners wearing civil clothes. We were thinking about escape. We talked about this, waiting for the transport.
I could not sleep at night as the cell was overcrowded. Some people were even sleeping on the concrete floor in the halls. And there was the day when our names were read out. My cousin Zygmunt and I were among the thirty prisoners to be transported to another camp.
It was the second half of November. At this time of the year, mornings were cold and rainy, and I had only one shirt. I had been arrested in July when it was very warm. We were to be taken to Arbeitsamt in Kredytowa Street and later transported to Majdanek camp, next to Lublin. We were officially told we were going to work in Germany. But it was not true.
We were told to put on our personal clothes. Our looks changed, most of prisoners looked quite normal. I was wearing only a shirt, my hair was very short. I decide to walk at the very end of the column. I had agreed with my mother she would bring me a jacket and a cap. My mother and other mothers were to wait for their children in Karmelicka and Leszno Streets. Usually, the prisoners were transported in a car, this time we were told to walk. We would be escorted. We were led along Gęsia and Karmelicka Streets, then to Leszno Street. Next, we passed by Bankowy Square to Krolewska Street and straight to Kredytowa Street where Arbeitsamt was situated. There were not many guards. Thirty prisoners were guarded by eight SS men.
I was freezing but at least the sun was shining. I warmed up in the walk and even more when I saw my mother. I managed to take a cap and a jacket from her. I put them on and I waited for a German guard to move forward. We were close to Elektoralna Street when he did and I managed to turn into Elektoralna Street. I took my mother by her arm and we tried to get mixed with the crowd. A moment later, the German guard realized I was missing but it was to late to look for me. There were more prisoners who escaped at that time. The Germans shot in the air so that the rest of prisoners would not dare to run.
My mother and I heard the shots and we started to walk faster. We went home where I met my father. I had not seen him for long and missed him so much. He was very worried about me. He agreed with my aunt I would stay with her for some time as the Gestapo would definitely search for me. My aunt lived at 6 Daleka Street. I was to stay there until the danger was over.
There was not much time, the curfew was getting closer. The situation was very serious. I had fled from the transport and I was being searched for by the Gestapo. My parents could be arrested any time for that. They had been active members of the Underground organization since 1940. Meetings and training courses were held at our home. I also attended them. My mother, father, brother, brother- in- law and I belonged to that organization. Their fate was in my hands, if I had been arrested I would have been interrogated and their lives could be at risk.
I was staying at my aunt's. I was not alone there as my cousin, whom I had not met before, was also there with me.
My father had been a member of the Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna, PPS) since 1905. During the war, he joined the Union for Armed Struggle (Związek Walki Zbrojnej, ZWZ) which was changed into the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK). A lot of pre-war Polish Socialist Party members joined the Home Army. The Polish Workers' Party (Polska Partia Robotnicza, PPR) attracted communists.
After I had been arrested, my brother left home and stayed in hiding at 20 Browarna Street. My brother- in -law and my father had 'good' documents. My father worked at the post office. While I stayed at my aunt's, Gestapo visited our home several times in three months. Fortunately, only my mother was at home when they came. They did not have any evidence I belonged to the Underground. They stopped visiting our house in July, 1944.
Two months before the outbreak of the Uprising, the Underground meetings were resumed. I came back home shortly before that. On September 1, 1944 I left my home in Łucka Street and joined the Uprising.
Henryk Stanisław Łagodzki
translated by Gabriela Sudacka
Henryk Stanisław Łagodzki,
born on July 15th, 1927 in Warsaw
Home Army soldier
wartime names: 'Hrabia', 'Orzeł'
Chrobry II Grouping , Battalion 1, Company 2, Platoon 1
Stalag IV b, prisoner of war no. 305785
Copyright © 2005 Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz. All rights reserved.