The Witnesses' Uprising Reports
My war reflections
My father was exhiled to Siberia in 1914, to the town of Kemerovo, small mining settlement. My mother went with him, and so I was born there as a third child, two that where born before me died, due to the hard living conditions.
In 1921 my parents with me and my younger sister went back to Warsaw.
After eight years of studying I graduated from high school (Public Secondary School under name of Stefan Batory in Warsaw) in May 1938 I had my school leaving exam.
After graduating from high school, and passing entrance exam to Warsaw Polytechnic, I volunteered for the army to the Officer Cadet School Of Anti-aircraft Artillery Reserves in Trauguttow near Brest. Along with me there were some of my friends from secondary school.
In march of 1939, when situation started to prognosticate war, soldiers from Cadet School where sent to all factories that belonged to Central Industrial Region (pol. Centralny Okreg Przemyslowy), in order to train their civilian crews in operating 40 mm Bofors guns used for anti-aircraft defense of factories..Along with seven other cadets I was sent to Radom, where we trained crews for three guns, purchased by Arms Factory Radom (Fabryka Karabinow w Radomiu).
We returned to Trauguttow in second half of May, and after final exams we where nominated for officer cadets of reserve in June. Afterwards we where allocated to military bases. I was sent to 1st Regiment of Anti-aircraft Defence in Warsaw (1 Pulk Artylerii Przeciwlotniczej w Warszawie) in rank of master corporal officer cadet of reserve. After short regiment training, we where supposed to be released from duty on 1st September 1939.
However on 27th of August 1939, due to the very tensed international situation, martial law was proclaimed. And so along with three other officer cadets I was allocated to 103rd platoon of Group for Defending Bridges on Vistula (Grupa Obrony Mostow na Wisle).On that day we took two Bofors 40mm guns from mobilization warehouse, that was placed in Warsaw Citadel (Cytadela Warszawska). Afterwards we took our positions on barbican in Traugutt Park, between Citadel and Polish Security Printing Works (PWPW).Commander of Group for Defending Bridges on Vistula was cpt.Z. Jezierski, and commander of platoon second lieutenant Piasecki.Guns were operated by officer cadets of regular service (they had two more years in Officers Cadet School),me and another officer cadet of reserve were responsible for counting bearings of planes, and passing that information to the collegues responsible for aiming, moreover our task was to fire guns. In fact we were the ones that were fighting enemy planes.
During 27 days of fighting, I have shoot circa 3000 times, as an effect 12 aeroplanes were hit. Shooting down Dornier bomber which has lost his wing over Vistula and fell down on Ave. Aleja na Skarpie was one of the most spectacular hits, that were also seen by Warsaw inhabitants as well as Henshel which has fell on street Krzywe Kolo 14 on the Old Town. Most of the other planes that were hit tried to land or where supposedly crashed in the north direction from my position, outside city limits. It is hard to tell however, if they were crashed or not. I have fought real battle with Henschel, first the plane crew tried dive bombing on our position, in order to destroy Bofors gun. When that failed, they tried to kill us with plane's mashineguns. Needles to say that every attack on Warsaw (especially on bridges) was preceded by dive bombing on anti-aircraft artillery positions.However our defence was effective as our position was never bombed, and the bridges that were under our protection never harmed by bombs.
During the last days of September I was chosen by cpt. Z. Jezierski to be honored with Krzyz Walecznych (Cross of the Brave),but request was rejected.
After Warsaw capitulation I was sent along with rest of gun crew to the temporal prisoner camp in Lowicz, after that prisoners where sent to the proper camps in Germany. After few days in Lowicz, along with large group of officer cadets, and some young officers we organised escape. Since railroads to Warsaw still were not intact, I went with my friend Zbigniew Swiderski to his parent's house near Czestochowa. In the end of October I was back to my home in Warsaw.
In the begining of 1940, I was informed that all officer cadets, that participated in defence of Warsaw in September of '39 were promoted to the rank of sub-lieutenant.
On January 2, 1940, I was accepted and pledged with help of my cousin lieutenant Edward Paszkowski a.k.a. Wiktor into ranks of Secret Military Organization (Tajna Organizacja Wojskowa T.O.W.). After short training in diversion and conspiratorial work organization, I become commander of a small group, consisted in the beginning of three people, which has then expanded to seventeen men. My squad was part of bigger unit called Podogreg Warszawa Srodmiescie TOW (Sub-District Warsaw Downtown TOW ) of which lieutenant Paszkowski a.k.a. Wiktor was commander. Sub-District Downtown, against its name included whole Warsaw on the left bank of Vistula river.
My sabotage squad was specialized in destroying trains. Especially destroying locomotives, blowing up German military supply convoys, burning German military warehouses, military hardware as well as blowing up military trains with usage of thermite explosives .Example for use of that particular explosive may be blowing up in November 1943 with big load of thermite, holiday train from Warsaw to Gdansk (ger. Danzig), as well as on 24, December 1943 similar train going from Brest to Poznań.
In both cases fuses used were time-delayed ones. As a result the detonations where initiaited outside the Generalne Gubernatorstwo (which was placed on part of territory that belonged to Poland before the WWII). More complicated operations were commanded by me.In spring of 1943 TOW was merged with Kedyw (polish acronym for Kierownictwo Dywersji [Directorate of Sabotage and Diversion]), which has not changed our objectives. But from this moment we were unit of Kedyw, and therefore our name was changed to Kedyw Kolegium C. Nevertheless Edward Paszkowski "Wiktor" was still our commander.
Kolegium C included not only military unit but also research one, commanded by lieutenant doctor Jan Zabinski a.k.a. Franciszek, production unit commanded by lieutenant Kazimierz Tarwid a.k.a. Antoni, espionage unit, small unit that trained soldiers in diversion, it was commanded by Jerzy Truszynski a.k.a. Onufry, communication unit commanded by Teresa Wistinger a.k.a. Teresa, sabotage unit under Janusz Mitkiewicz a.k.a. Prota commandment, and sub unit of diversion which I commanded.
In 1940, I started studies in Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Budowy Maszyn i Elektrotechniki im. Wawelberga i Rotwarda w Warszawie (Higher State School of Machines Construction and Electrical Engineering under name of Wawelberg and Rotward in Warsaw), which status and name was changed by Germans during WWII for 2nd Grade School. I graduated in 1943, and I decided not continue any further studies, because I was too much engaged in Kedyw activities.
From 1943 till 1944 I was a firefighter in Hotel Bristol, this post was giving me perfect papers, night pass included.
When Warsaw Uprising has begun Kedyw Kolegium C, became company, commanded by lieutenant Paszkowski. It was a reserve for Obwod Srodmiescie (District Downtown) commanded by lieutenant Edward Pfeiffer a.k.a. Radwan.
Becouse our company began fighting operations on battalion "Kiliński" area, on a day o 3rd September lieutenant "Radwan", decided to allocate company Kedyw C into ranks of battalion as his 8th company. I was a commander of company's 3rd platoon. My first priority was to take over the north side of Jerozolimskie Avenues, on section from Marszalkowska street to Bracka street, to build and hold a barricade there, and as a result to prevent Germans from using this very important communication and supply route. All of this was achieved. During the Uprising my platoon became bigger, and reached 70 people, that were quite well armed. Therefore our duties became more important. As a result my platoon also fought outside its area, and took part in operations that included: supporting attack on PAST (Polska Akcyjna Spolka Telefoniczna, eng. Polish Telephone Joint-stock Company) on Zielna street, fighting way through Saski Ogrod (Saski Garden)for withdrawing soldiers fighting in Old Town, in this particular operation I was a commander of special assault unit, that was engaging into fight from ruins of Warsaw Stock Exchange, Królewska street (number 16), and from Graniczna street. Our object was to take over area on Plac Zelazna Brama (Iron Gate Square), and to defend ruins of Gorski Secondary School, also to hold positions in Cristal Restaurant (Ave. Jerozolimskie 10 - st. Bracka 16) which were attacked from st. Nowy Swiat by Dierlewanger troops.
During the Uprising my platoon has taken following damages: 13 soldiers dead, 31 wounded (four of them 2 times), and 14 were in hospitals until the end of Uprising. I was wounded one time in my right hand, but I did not quit to command my platoon.
Changes in organization that occured in the middle of September, included new commander which now was second lieutenant Henryk Jakubowski a.k.a. Wojtek due to lieutenant Paszkowski stay in hospital, then company was again under colonel Radwan, due to the destroying battalion "Kilinski", which however did not changed duties or objectives of my platoon. We were on our positions on ave. Jerozolimskie until the end of Warsaw Uprising.
Due to the further reorganization that included normal army nomenclature for Uprising troops, our company was renamed to 4th Company of 1st Battalion of 36th Infantry Regiment of Academic Legion, our duty after capitulation was to be "cover company". Because all of my wounded soldiers were taken to the hospitals, or have left Warsaw with civilians, and women that were nurses or messengers were drafted to the medical service, my platoon now consisted of 19 men, half of them were my soldiers from conspiration. This company was named "Cover Company C".
Our main objectives as a "cover company": to protect hospitals, protection of Main Sanitary Storage on Bracka street 23, to protect lieutenant-colonel Edward Pfeiffer, and patrol duty. While patrolling streets our object was to find and help elders or disabled people, that were still in the city. That kind of a patrol usually consisted of Home Army soldiers and Wehrmacht soldiers, usually from four to six men. The fact of patrolling the city and protection of polish hospitals was essential to Poles that were still in Warsaw. It was giving them feeling of security, in those days that feeling was very important. Moreover patrols were able to help those who were in need. This way dozens if not hundreds, of people that were hiding in cellars, ruins and burned flats, had their lives saved, by sending to hospitals or by evacuation from city.
Soldiers from this patrols, were armed and had to intervene many times, to stop drunk German troops from storming into polish hospitals, were they tried to find alcohol and women - the nurses. Patrols also defended graves of Polish soldiers, prevent from stealing, and destroying cultural and civilian goods. Of course not all interventions were peaceful ones, and therefore blood was also seen. On a day of 7th October, during the guard duty, in Main Sanitary Storage, one of soldiers from my platoon, was heavily wounded as he was shot in leg, from machine gun.
Our duty as a "cover company" was finished on October 9, on that day, after destroying rest of ammunition and guns, that were used in Uprising, we left Warsaw. Under the Statue of Engineer in Independence Avenue, was held one and only parade of Polish Uprising troops, after that, we were assembled on square that belonged to Polish War Ministry, and there we put down our guns. Capitulation deal with Germans however, allowed officers to had their "white arms". I was one of these officers that had such arms, I had officer saber, although that this particular weapon was not allowed to artillery troops (anti-aircraft artillery officers had types of daggers instead of sabers). I was also one of few officers that still had their original uniforms. Afterwards, we marched through Filtrowa street, Narutowicz Square, Western Station, through Wola district, until we reached Ozarow, from there we were sent to war camps.
On October 12, part of officers and soldiers was packed into secured trains, and on October 15 in the evening, we reached Stalag IV B in Mühlberg (German prisoner camp), there we lived in tent until 4th of November. My prisoner of war number (POW) was 298382/IVB. On that day officers were separated and sent to huge international camp in Altengrabow. In that camp, in area enclosed with barbed wire, were buildings that during First World War served as stables, there was putted over 500 officers. Camp was evacuated on February 2nd 1945, due to Western Frontline approaching. We were sent to war camp in Sandbostel near Bremerverde, near Bremen. After that on April 11, due to Eastern Frontline approaching, we were made to go on march to next camp placed in distance of 154 kilometers. We reached Oflag X C near Lübeck on April 21st.
Camp was liberated by English troops on May 2nd 1945. Soon after I went to Meppen, to headquarters of 1st Armoured Division of general Maczek, where I was given assignment to Contact Officer nr 41 captain Piotr Michalski, I served there as Transport and Supply Officer for polish military camps until July 1946.I was promoted for lieutenant. In general Maczek Division, I met some of officers that were my teachers in Officers Cadet School in Trauguttow.
On a day of July 26 1946 I was back in Poland.
It was not until 1979 that I learned from book published in London titled "Batalion AK "Kilinski" w Powstaniu Warszawskim", written by commander of battalion Henryk Leliwa-Roycewicz, that I was supposed to be given Virtutti Militari order (highest Polish medal). I agreed with colonel Leliwa, that my most difficult and important duty in Warsaw Uprising in Downtown region was to take over and hold positions in Jerozolimskie Avenue. Especially the north side from Marszalkowska to Bracka street. Building up barricades in order to defend the vital passage that allowed communication between north and south Downtown areas, and holding those barricades during everyday fights. Also to prevent Germans from using this route that was very important for them.
It is very important to say that since my soldiers captured Avenue Jerozolimskie ( 5th August 1944) until the end of Warsaw Uprising, not even a single German vehicle got through. Despite that Germans attacked us with everything they had. They used on us machine guns and heavy machine guns (from buildings of National Bank, and Polonia Hotel), artillery, tanks and "goliat's" (ger. Leichter Ladungsträger Sd.Kfz.302, 303, Goliath).On the south side of Avenue, barricade was built and hold by soldiers of sub unit "Belt".
In October 1989, battalion commander colonel Henryk Leliwa-Roycewicz, made a motion to Ministry of National Defence (Ministertswo Obrony Narodowej - MON), to once again verify me for Virtutti Militari. And so I was distinguished on 21st of December 1989. Facts written here were one of proofs, for MON to honor me with Virtutti Militari V Class. I am a war weteran. Beside being distinguished with Virtutti Militari, I have other medals: Krzyz Oficerski (Officers Cross), Krzyz Orderu Odrodzenia Polski (Cross of Revival of Poland), Krzyz Armii Krajowej (Cross of Home Army), Warszawski Krzyz Powstanczy (Warsaw Uprising Cross), Krzyz Partyzancki (Partisan Cross), Medal za Udzial w Wojnie Obronnej 1939r. (Medal for Engagement in Defence War of 1939), four times with Medal Wojska (Army Medal), Medal za Warszawe (Medal for Warsaw), among others. Currently I have rank of lieutenant colonel.
P.S. On 3rd May 2006 President of Poland Lech Kaczynski, distinguished lieutenant colonel Anotni Bieniaszewski with Krzyz Komandorski Orderu Odrodzenia Polski (Commodor Cross of Revival of Poland).
compiled by: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz
translation: Kamil Kornatka
born 23.12 1919 in Kemerovo near Tomsk
sub-lieutenant of Armia Krajowa (Home Army) a.k.a. "Antek"
commander of III platoon, 8th company of Kedyw, Kolegium C
POW number 298382/IVB
Copyright © 2010 Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz. All rights reserved.