Uprising Witness Accounts

Memories of an Old Town boy aged 11

Krzysztof Jaworski
born on March 23, 1933 in Warsaw
the son of Stanislaw and Wanda Jaworski, (mother's maiden name Mieroslawski)

         I was born in the year 1933 in Warsaw where I spent my childhood. My father Stanislaw was a lawyer and in the year 1939 he worked as am investigating judge in the Warsaw Court of Justice. My mother Wanda was an oculist. In 1939 I was to start my education in primary school. On September 1 everything changed drastically. My father, as a lieutenant, was mobilised and joined the Corpus of Borderland Defense near Vilnus. He was taken captive by the Soviets never to come back again. We received only one letter from him - the one from Kozielsk. Together with thousands of Polish officers he was murdered by the NKWD assassins in Katyn. My mother, alone with three children, survived the time the occupation and the Rising.
         I started to go to the first grade of school in the Barokowa str. It lasted for only few weeks because the Germans organized their hospital in this building, I went to the second grade for a very short time to the school in the Miodowa str. number 25. To the third class, yet, I went to the private school in the Theatre Square until the time of its closing. In the school years 1942/43 and 1943/44 our education was being continued during clandestine teaching.
         Our group led by Polish teachers consisted of six pupils. Together with me the following people participated: Jerzy Jamiolkowski, Andrzej Jarczyk, Janusz Rohozinski, Wanda Olejnik and a girl whose surname I don't remember. Till the moment of the Rising's outbreak in 1944 I lived with my family in the Dluga str. number 9, apartment 11. The flat was in the Old Town district.

         Last holidays
         We spent our last holidays, the ones before the Warsaw Uprising's outbreak in the year 1944, in Otwock town, in a rented flat. There were many of us, not only three people of the Bujnowski family and three of us but also Andrzej Mieroslawski and Tadzio-Dziadzio appeared.
         My elder brother, born in 1929 Stanislaw "Siasio" was fighting in the Rising in Powisle district, later on in Srodmiescie district and in Czerniakow district . We do not know where and how he died. My sister Malgosia, born in 1937 survived.
         The people named Bujnowski were children of my father's sister Maria "Dziutka". Bohdan, born in 1927, was fighting in Powisle district together with "Sias", survived and after the war went to Brazil. His brother Stanislaw "Tajo", born in 1931, also survived, but his sister Jadwiga , born in 1935 died on September 3, 1944.
         Stanislaw and Stefania Mieroslawski, thrown by the Germans from Inowroclaw town in 1939, used to live in the Miodowa street number 11. Andrzej Mieroslawski a.k.a. "Sowa" ("Owl"), born in 1926, my mother's youngest brother, was killed during an assault against the Orionist House, in the first minutes of the Rising. Together with grandparents, their daughter Maria Anna ("Zuza") lived there, as well as her husband Witold (Dzidek) Zo這tenki, whom she married during Easter 1944. Tadeusz Zielenski "Tadzio-Dziadzio", born in 1922, Stefania Mieros豉wski's half-brother, was fighting in the Narutowicza Square in the Ochota district and then he left Warsaw with his unit.
         The building stood in a big forest plot. Next to us there was a confiscated school in which a German company was stationed, training virulently. The schedule of our lessons was broad Not only could we imitate the Germans throwing grenades, but above all we could go on the Vistula River by an estuary of the Swider small river, where our canoe stood in a barn. One could stay there for hours and this atmosphere was just heavenly. While going to the Vistula river and on our way back one could satisfy their eyes looking at the great retreat of undefeated Wehrmacht and its annexes. These were horse carts going for lots of kilometers, with the Russians, Kalmucks (Asiatics coming from the Soviet Union and serving in the German army - translator's remark) and God knows what other nations as well. On the carts, as if hay, apart from domestic things, there were machine guns, cartridges and war out fit of every kind. Probably one could buy all that quite cheaply.
         Another activity, quite stupid, I must admit, but giving much Joy, was our "War with a puffer train" waging in the fields between Otwock and Karczew towns. What we did was pouring sand on several meters of a track Just before a curie, and putting a big juniper In the middle. It might have seemed that someone have stolen a part of the track. We were curious if a driver would stop the train. Supposedly, it was not an original idea and the driver must have known that before. He accelerated and forced this "non-existing" part of the track.
         That is why, we improved our obstacle and the next time we raised a pyramid made of field stones. This obstacle did stop a train. A driver made a stop and, cursing awfully, crashed our pyramid. Our next idea was blasting a machine by putting parts of cartridges on rails. Shots were pretty good but under "a big train" it was much better.
         In the second decade of July the Germans started to prepare a battle airport on this field. For the time being a reconnoitering plane "Fieseler Storch" could land there, and once even a real "Ju-52". Some evening "Savoia-Marchetti" started to circuit above it but it didn't land. Suddenly the Germans cleaned everything and disappeared. The same happened with cars and carts.

         We're coming back to Warsaw
         Jedrek was the first one to disappear from Otwock town, and Tadzio went together with him. Bohdan and Siasio headed for Warsaw soon afterwards. It was certain that something was going to happen. As a surprise, on July 28 my mother and auntie Dziutka came to us and ordered to pack quickly. We were leaving so fast that most of our things (including a big collection of my lead soldiers) were left in Otwock town. It turned out to be very positive for Mr. And Mrs. Bujnowski, who - after coming back to Warsaw in the year 1945 - regained their bedding.
         Meanwhile, in the hot afternoon, we pushed ourselves to the train. It could hardly pull a very long store of carriages, full in Otwock town, and more and more overcrowded at oncoming stations. From Wawer town onwards not only stairs but also roofs were occupied, and the locomotive could hardy pull such a load. Simultaneously, a huge unit of the German infantry, quite well equipped, was going along the Grochowska street. The soldiers were pulling cannons, mostly with horse traction. It was visible that the Germans were preparing themselves to a longer defense, if not to a counter-attack. It was after 8 p.m. when the train crawled to the station Warsaw-Most (bridge), welcomed by the same crowds of people like those who had been transported there. It was after a curfew and we had to go along the Kierbiedzia bridge. There were no Germans. Not controlled, we safely reached our house in the Dluga street.
         As I read in a small book entitled "Warsaw trains", which I bought 30 years after the war, we had came back to Warsaw by means of the last train. It came back to Michalin small town and then the driver detached the locomotive and rushed to an engine house in Karczew but on the famous field between Otwock and Karczew towns the Soviets stopped him.

         An adventure by the Citadel
         The next day we went for a walk with Taj, and we reached the Gate of Doom at the Citadel. We had some sandwiches with us. We sat comfortably, admiring a view the Vistula River and all four tracks of the bridges (some time ago the Germans put tracks on a road bridge, too), and suddenly a real air battle occurred above us. It was difficult to count how many planes took part in it - three, four or five, and of what type they were. They were "diving" over the bridge. At one moment, over an earthwork from the direction of the ZOO, Me-109 appeared and bounced up, too. They shoot a bit, something fell to the water by the bridge, making a fountain and this whole band disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. This was incredibly fascinating and confirmed that the Soviets were very nearby. Unfortunately, after the Uprising outbreak they must have been given a clear suppression to appear over Warsaw. Till September 2, apart from enduring several "Stukas" and once flying on a high pitch some of "Focke-Wulfs", I did not see any other planes.
         I arranged my second walk to the Poniatowski bridge, where I could observe with great interest German sappers who were loading explosives to some pillars. They were acting calmly and professionally.
         After coming back home we saw that we had a guest. Korczak-Strus, a husband of my mum's cousin, Basia Mieroslawski. He came by bike from Otwock small town and told us that there were the Soviets in Otwock town, and near Blota village. He encountered the Germans, then the Soviets again, and the Germans again. He did what he had planned to do, got on a bike as if a devil chased him and drove away. This case is a proof of the fact that there was a total mess in the front and that the Soviet access to Warsaw could have been very easy at the time.
         Siasio together with Bohdan went for an assembly of their unit in Powisle district. As I got to know later on, they had been sitting in a place at the corner of Tamkai and Cicha streets. When Siasio was running down the stairs, I ran to a balcony. He ran cross the court, stepped on three stairs from the direction of the Dluga street - and this was the last time I saw him. We did not find any trace, where and how he had perished. At that moment nothing like that came to my mind, though.

         The first days of the Uprising
         On August 1, about 1 p.m. there was some local shooting somewhere in the Dluga street. For us there was such a consequence that some man and some woman were brought to my mum. The man had his lung overshot - fortunately through, so he was bandaged and he came to look for some hospital, accompanied by some friend. Meanwhile, the woman, up to then sitting silently on a table In our hall, started to stagger. It turned out that she had a bullet in a hip and was bleeding awfully. A surgeon's help was needed, so after the bleeding stopped, someone carried a rickshaw. And so these few hours till 5 p.m. passed by. At this time a great motion started in the court. Someone started to call to build a barricade in Podwale str. Of course I rushed there but there was nothing to do for me - people were bringing some couches and mattresses and someone gave a hand-cart. The barricade looked poorly but someone ordered to pull flagstones and build a wall out of them. I came back home and went to Mr. And Mrs. Bujnowski who lived on the fourth floor as there was a good look-out for the Krasi雟kich Square. I heard several shots. Some German car drove very quickly from Zoliborz district. People started to crown out in the Dluga street.
         Having come back, I felt a solemn mood in our court. People found some famous artist and begged him to chant some patriotic song, which he did, singing "Jeszcze Polska..." (the Polish national anthem - translator's remark) with a weeping voice.
         Meanwhile, conscious tenants were filling baths and all the possible containers with water, which turned out to be a very prophetic activity- in the evening there was no water in taps. Light failed, as well. A telephone, by means of which we were trying to reach Mr. And Mrs. Zielezinski in Powisle district - was also silent.
         On August 2 we arranged In our kitchen` the production of bottlers with petrol for fighting with tanks, using their whole supply in a store-room and a cellar. There was enough petrol from garages of the apartment number 11. Apart from that, my mum arranged a place of laundry and rolling bandages. In the afternoon I ran to the corner of the Miodowa street - the barricade was great there and people were reversing the second tram and a welder was cutting rails that were being bent at a right ankle The people were briskly picking out flagstones and making walls out of them. Shortly speaking, the job was in progress, as scheduled.
         Mum, nervously waiting for Siasio, asked Wikcia, our domestic, to try to go to Powisle district; Wikcia went loyally but came back quickly - it was impossible to go along the Krakowskie Przedmiescie street.
         I was trying to be useful for the insurgents and on the third day I approached a man wearing an red and white arm-band who stayed in our house. He gave me a little card and I was to take it to the Podwale street number 21, which certainly I did, eagerly. But later nobody wanted to employ such a little fellow. Of course Dzidek Zo這tenko was accepted to the unit that was fighting in PWPW. He took several photographs by means of an auntie's "Leica". He was very warlike and was acting very bravely, and would come to the Dluga street only to eat something. Witold Zo這tenki a.k.a. "Dzidek", my mum's brother-in-law, a former prisoner of Oswi璚im camp (Auschwitz), was fighting together with his friend Alfons Mielewczyk in PWPW (the State Stock-Factory - translator's remark).
         During the first days of the Uprising, Tajo called to mind that our elder brothers gained some munition some time ago and hid it in a large layer of sand in the attic of the apartment number 11. We went to this attic and after short digging Tajek found a cardboard box. Victorious, he took it downstairs and gave it to the insurgents who were very grateful to him. This was our last entering the attic.
         Another incident was connected with probably last days of our neighbouring volksdeutsch (a Pole who declared their German ancestry - translator's remark), who was said not to be dangerous, and lived one floor over us, till the Uprising. As it turned out, he was not so good-natured. He disappeared from the house, but not in a full sense of the word. About August 10 his silly domestic was seen going to the attic with a basket full of food and drink. What is interesting, the insurgents had been looking for a roof- shooter for a few days, who was shot at last. The connection of this food supply with the roof-shooter was evident. Our gendarmerie arrested both his mother and his domestic but they did not suffer anything more serious. As a matter of fact they both disappeared from the tenement-house.

         Subsequent days are running into one another a bit and I can't prove a proper chronology. Nevertheless, the first two weeks in our part of the city were successful. There was no bombardment. In the Ministry of Justice In the Dluga street number 7 a hospital was situated and it was acting better and better. My mum and my grandfather were working there. Water had to be carried from the lower parts of the city, but it was available. There was also no hunger - several tones of biscuits were transported by trucks from the German warehouses in Stawki street and everybody could take the amount they wanted to. We stocked up on the biscuits and they became very necessary later on - especially for escapers from the Old Town outskirts. Our courts became a part of the "thoroughfare", thanks to which the cars could pass a barricade that was just being built across the Dluga street, at the level of Kilinskiego street crossroad. The cars were entering a gate in the Dluga street number 11, they dealt with a level difference between our courts and entered another gate to find themselves in the Kilinskiego street.
         This barricade was being built in a very professional way. Its body consisted of flagstones; concrete road basis was blasted and hammered and a deep anti-tank ditch was built from the direction of the Krasinskich Square, and the body was covered with dug earth. Damaged cars, taken from the garages of the apartment number 11, news-stand and a quite high tree - completed everything. Unfortunately, this beautiful barricade was not used because the Germans came from another side.
         While the earth was being raised, I was standing at the barricade's peak and I saw that - two fighters flew several hundred meters above us. The people were starring up and were happy that they were certainly Russian ones. Me, though, having been instructed with "Kriegsflugzeuge" immediately recognized "Fokas" - FW-190. But observing general joy, I did not correct them.
         During one night, while we were sleeping in our house - still - and in a living room some Home Army little unit was sleeping, a Canadian plane brought down during some drop fell on the Miodowa street. A great fire burst out. Somebody rushed to the court and shouted that men were needed to save whatever was possible to be saved. I started to wake the people but nobody reacted - they must have been deadly tired.
         On the day when Paris surrendered, which was announced by huge titles in newspapers, there was an assembly of a big unit In our court - almost one hundred boys, wearing helmets and insurgent jackets, armed with "Bergmanns" and "Blyskawicas" (types of machine guns - translator's remark). It was a cruel and a very helpful sight. However, some foreboding overwhelmed me, so I decided to play patience, so-called "crazy mother-in-law" with a question about whether the Uprising would be successful or not. According to that it would not, but I repeated the action and with "one trickery" - the result was positive. The Rising would be successful. Despite this, some kind of doubt remained.

         A tank's explosion
         The next incident was a trap-tank's explosion in the Kilinskiego street. We were sitting in a cellar at Mr. And Mrs. Bujnowski (number 11) and "Anne of Green gables" was being read aloud by the light of a carbide lamp. We did not hear the explosion: the carbide lamps and candles faded, and some huge power compressed my head , then released it and we all were deaf for several moments. Later on we heard only crack of rubble and brickbats falling down. Neither me, nor Tajo fortunately left the cellar and the intellectual activity with the book saved our lives. If we were in the court we would certainly do the same thing as our doorkeeper's Feliksowa son did. He ran to see the gained tank and only remnants hard to identify were left out of him. Our neighbour living in the apartment number 9 was, on the other hand, incredibly lucky. At the moment of this explosion he was standing half a meter away the tank- the explosion tore his clothes into stripes and threw him out - but apart from temporary being deaf and smashed - nothing serious happened.
         Till the late evening a crowd of lightly wounded and cut people stayed in our "waiting room".

         The houses are flying in pieces
         Then it was worse and worse, and our house started to fly in pieces. Firstly, a bomb hit our "kitchen" staircase next to the gate in the direction of the Kilinskiego street. The stairs were wooden, so the bomb was falling almost until the cellar and there it exploded. There were many killed people and lots of the wounded. They were being fetched, also by German captives. A photograph put in an album entitled "Warsaw during the Uprising days" -had been taken in our house - but there was not much to be fetched. In such circumstances we lost the shortest way to our cellar and from now we could enter it only from a shop from the direction of the Kilinskiego street. Two artillery missiles hit our apartment, both from the West, from the Wola district. Later on a "wardrobe" smashed our roof. At last they dealt with the apartment number 11. It must have been a missile of a big caliber, this time from the direction of the Gdanski Station. It fell through a tailor's shop-window, penetrated ceiling and exploded in the cellar, killing about fifteen people, including the whole Weinz family, of which only father survived - as he left the place to have a smoke. This cellar was situated exactly like the cellar of the Bujnowski family, at the other side of the gate. Now one could enter it by means of debris from the front side. This explosion exposed one of the plaster walls of a cellar hall. On which Bohdan once painted by means of a candle a face of a horrific bandit called "Kosc Atanazy". The dead bodies taken out of the cellar were lying in the court hidden with some cardboards. At the other side of the Dluga street the "House of Pharmacists" was blazing. It must have been hit by a striking "wardrobe", as it was blazing from the top to the bottom.
         In the end they started to shoot at the fourth and the third floor, this time from the side of the Castle Square. This firing was well remembered by me because on this day we decided to sit in a gate house, in the ground-floor, at the place of Feliksowa. The walls were thick there and we concluded that if the house started to crash it would be easier to get away; easier than from the cellar. From this place I could observe through the window four "Stukas" approaching every half an hour. They were flying slowly and even quite low, not even trying to "dive." So I was an aim to go to our cellar, which required to cross the courts of the Dluga street numbers 11 and 9 A cannon was pitting the third floor quite regularly, and after each explosion the court became covered with rubble. I was waiting in the gate for a proper moment when nothing was falling, and I rushed and then the second cannon must have hit - the explosion made me deaf, and a 5-centimeter-long piece fell with a noise next to my feet. I uplifted it instinctively - and threw rapidly- it was hot. But then I hid it and took with me when leaving Warsaw. I lost it not earlier than during my fourth or fifth removal.

         We are walking down the cellars' labyrinth
         At that time our life concentrated in the cellars which were becoming more and more crowded - halls were filled with places to sleep and one had to move very carefully not to tread on somebody. More and more people were fleeing to our houses from the area of the Old Town district. We could feel relative comfort. On two tones of coal we put planks from an extensible table, with all the mattresses on them. In each corner there were different personal belongings brought from the upstairs. At the same time men would knocking out New entrances, making communication easier and allowing evacuation if some entrance was buried. In the last decade of August one was able to go through the cellars from the Kilinskiego street number 1 to the Dluga street number 13. Besides, a hole from the court of the apartment number 11 to a burnt ten ant-house number 13 was made. When the evacuation through sewers started, long queues of insurgents as well as those who felt danger were using this entrance. Adam (whose pseudonym was Stanis豉w Wojcik - our tenant), who, being looked for since the year 1940, did not want to be caught by the Gestapo, decided to go that way, too. A young girl, a liaison officer, and a nurse, living in our cellar, went, as well. Adam had an idea that he would come back and bring us with him if he was certain that the route through the sewers was possible to try, but of course the idea was impossible, particularly due to Malgosia who was 6 years old. Besides, my mum did not want to leave my grandparents.

         The last days
         On August 25 a priest went to our cellar and celebrated a holy mass. He also performed the act of collective loosing our sins "in articulo mortis" ("while facing the death" - translator's remark). The hall was totally crowded and I could not hear the priest well. Due to the fact that I stood next to a well I could see a bit of a clean blue sky over my head. Apart from the fresh air, the sound of explodes was easily heard. These missiles were not dangerous. We knew from our own experience that such audible explosion is not cruel. What was dangerous was a hollow groan when a bomb would hit nearby. At this point one would not hear any explosion, just one's ear-drums would be squeezed by this blow.
         Not leaving our houses I did not realize the scale of destruction around us. One day I looked out of the little window in the cellar and I saw, to my wonder, that instead of houses in Podwale str. there was some shapeless pile of rubble. However, only after the moment of our exile by the Germans the true sight could not be anyhow understandable by me.
         Fortunately, in the evening, after a day of hard work, the Germans would go to sleep and the artillery fire would stop. People could leave the cellars and cook something. - In our court a lot of fireplaces appeared, made of bricks, and there was a lot of wood. In order to make lives of numerous tenants easier, I built four elegant fireplaces, on one of which I even put a card with the "instruction", saying that it was good to use and how to do it the best. Probably this card was used to get fire to burn.

         Three near tragedies
         At that time we experienced three tragedies: Firstly Zosia Sroczynski, our friend and a liaison officer in the Uprising, perished, pulled by the explosion of "wardrobe". Her brother, who luckily fell behind some wall, was safe and sound. He survived the Uprising.
         The second tragedy was the death of Dzidek Zo這tenki. Together with his friend Alfons Milewczyk, he went to the Miodowa street number 5, in order to bring some products from the grandparents' cellar. There was a raid at the time and the bomb explosion buried them in this cellar. Alfons "was lucky" - he died immediately, Dzidek was buried and could not move, but was alive. His wife Zuza, Maria Anna Zo這tenki, my mum's sister, informed about this tragedy, together with a group of people who gathered ad hoc, started a rescue action and after several hours they reached the poor man and the aunt could hold his hand. Unfortunately, a new raid started. Brave Dzidek asked to leave him, otherwise everybody would die. And this happened - everything started to crush . The rescuers retreated, taking the aunt with them, and Dzidek stayed under the rubble.
         The third tragedy was a sudden illness of Wisia Bujnowski, and it was volvulus, as it turned out later on. There was no possibility to operate and the poor girl suffered enormously. The tragedy happened on September 3.
         On September 2, in the morning, there was silence, strange for this time of a day. Together with Taj I looked out of the gate in the direction of the Dluga street. There was an abandoned gun, on a pavement. From several windows white flags were overhanging. This time a corner of the Krasinskich Square and the Dluga street was blasting. We were ready but for what? For evacuation? Escape? We all had our rucksacks sewed and inside them there was some food, cutlery and some clothes, as well as some tokens of remembrance. My mum packed photographs torn out of albums. My aunt Zuza, as I got to know later, put a typescript of her not defended MA thesis as well as "Leica" with a plate including photographs taken before and during the Uprising. My grandfather hung on his shoulder a leather etui with a device for blood transfusion. Some of "Stukas" flew over us, but it went forward. The Uprising in the Old Town district was finished. We were waiting for the Germans and subsequent, uncertain, fate.
         Only much time after the end of the war I realized in what a battle place we had stayed. During two weeks over one thousand tones of bullets fell on this small area which was the Old Town! A thousand of tones was a weight of bombs used in one raid, and it was more effective. Our houses, as it turned out, stood almost in the very centre of the surrounded district, and together with churches, overlooked it. That is why they were being hit from the all directions - from the Vistula river, from the cannons situated in the zoo, from the Gdanski Station, among the others from an armoured train, from the Castle Square and from the Wola district at last. And each shot was being aimed calmly, not hastily. Not to mention some of "Stukas" throwing bombs precisely, as scheduled. There were only four of them and only once several such machines appeared, which I observed from the gate-house. This raid became a tragedy - but for the Germans. Pilots who did not know the city very well threw the bombs at their soldiers. I did not see another such large raid. That is why the bombs caused the most loss. Tenant-houses could absorb endlessly big amount of artillery missiles without destroying effects for the people hidden in the cellars.
         From my point of view the time of the Uprising was time of boredom in a dark cellar, and reading books aloud was the most fascinating thing. Explosions, fire around us, the wounded and the killed people - all this was normal and I took it for granted. How much I agreed with this "normality" I realized only later: first in Gorzkowice town, where overwhelming silence struck me and the second time of such a feeling was in Piotrkow town due to a sight of a beautiful hearse pulled by two horses and a sad group of several tens of people following a cross and a priest - such a big ceremony for one individual, a normal dead man!

         The Germans are dashing in
         On September 2, about 10 a.m. two Germans dashed through a gate from the direction of the Kilinskiego street. Having seen quite a big crowd of people in the court they started to yell, "Skariej, uchadi!" (run more quickly! - translator's remark). So it was much worse, these were the Ukrainians. I must add that they were a little bit scared, hiding by the walls. We started to escape. The Kilinskiego street proved to be crowded with people coming out of three gates and other cellars. Several Germans standing by the Podwale str. barricade, next to which there were ends of a damaged trap-tank, started to check the papers, but seeing the crowds, they gave up and only made people move forward. We were going along something which several days ago used to be Podwale str. and now was a shapeless pile of rubble. Somewhere on the left, near the entry to Waski Dunaj str., a dead body of an insurgent was lying.
         A few steps ahead, quite a dangerous, but fortunately finished incident occured. We were moving quite slowly due to the grandparents Mieroslawski, as well as Taj with Dziutka and grandmother Jaworska, who, in addition, were carrying Wisia who was almost asleep. When we stopped, some Ukrainian rushed towards my mum. He had noticed a watch on my mum's arm. - Her shoulder-traps raised her sleeve. "O, tchasy!!" ("Oh, a watch!!" - translator's remark) - He was so happy that he started to take it. My mum replied something in the Ukrainian language. He petrified a little, did not use his gun, but left with the watch. What could we do, we went further on to the Castle Square. The Sigmund Column was lying, brought down. Two cannons were standing in the square and several Germans rushed from St. Anne's Church, on the Mariensztat district slope. They started to make a column out of us. This column set off along the Mariensztat. Some SS-man, an officer, stood aside. I was going accompanied by grandfather Mieroslawski, who was bringing this leather etui with a device for blood transfusion. The German halted my grandfather and asked, "Ist die fotoaparatte?" ("Is this a camera?") "Nein, das ist bludtransfusionaparatte" ("No, this is a device for blood transfusion") - my grandfather replied. "Du bist ein doktor, und mit banditen? - ("You are a doctor and with bandits here?") asked the German. "Ich habe meine wohnung hier" ("I've got my apartment here") my grandfather answered. Due to the fact that during this courteous conversation we stopped, waiting for the grandfather, the whole column stopped, as well. Fortunately, the discussion finished at that point, the German gave it up and we moved forward, with a truerelief. Along the totally burnt Sowia street, we were led uphill again along the similarly burnt Bednarska street and then on the left up to Dziekanka.

         We are leaving the Old Town
         At this point we parted with the Bujnowski family and grandmother Jaworska, because some Polish nurses ran out of Dziekanka having seen a girl on stretchers, and we travelled along the Krakowskie Przedmiescie street. On the Old Town's rubble - it was a shock. The street was clean and there were all window-panes in the Namiestnikowski Palace, in "Bristol", in "Europejski" hotels, and in the House without Edges. At the level of the University one could see a barricade but it was a German one, I suppose. A German bookshop in the Ossolinskich str. with undamaged shop-window, and the Pilsudski Square - untouched as well. A corner house in the Krolewska street number 6 seemed to be entire - What was happening with Andrzej Jarczyk, I thought. Nearby the Brhl Palace we entered the Saski Garden through the Niecala street. At the right side, at the level of the Great Theatre a German barricade stood, with a cannon steered at the City Hall.          Having left the Garden, we were going along the Elektoralna and Chlodna streets. There the houses were burnt and the ruins empty. Only houses at the corner of the Chlodna and Zelazna streets were generally entire. The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining and the sky was cloudless. Some bullet flew over us with a terrible sound, and in such a way we reached the Wolski church. Some selection was made there but they did not take anybody from our part of the column- and we turned into the Bema street. There the houses stood untouched, again, with window-panes, but empty. Soon afterwards we entered the Western Station and found ourselves on a platform. From that place there was a view at the Ochota district houses, something was burning in the distance, but the city looked quite good from that place. And suddenly an empty store of an electric train arrived!
         Incidents on a way
         Everybody got in, and the train, not very crowded, set off in the direction of Zyrardow town. Grandparents Mieroslawski, Zuza, mum, Wikcia, Malgosia and me sat in a compartment and all this seemed to be unreal - as if we were going for some suburban weekend. The train stopped in Wlochy town, as well as in Ursus town and because the Germans were not visible, some men jumped onto the platform and escaped. Meanwhile, my mum was preparing a little card saying that we are alive, willing to threw it from the train in Piastow town, where aunt Nuna live with Aleksy. But the card turned out to be unnecessary - after Piastow the train was going quite slowly, and in front of a gateway of their house both of them were standing!! We started to scream, my aunt noticed us and ran alongside the tracks, and our travel finished a few meters further, in front of the gate of the Repair Institutes of Rolling Stock in which a temporary camp was situated, i.e. "Dulag Pruszkow". People started to get off and those who were the quickest just went off. We, because of grandparents, were moving slowly and at that time several guards ran from the gate and made our transport follow them to the fenced area.

         The selection happened immediately here. In front of the coach a German stood and showed the direction -on the left - to Reich, and on the right - to Generalgouvernmant. Everybody knew that in spite of the fact that nobody had informed us about the aim of this selection. My grandparents approached him firstly, and were directed to the GG. The next was Zuza, holding the hand of Malgosia - she was directed to the GG, too. Wikcia was made go to the Reich, and then I approached the German, together with my mum and he moved his hand on the left!! Mum started to shout something in the German language, that her child was somewhere there, and suddenly she became quiet. She grabbed my hand and we went on the left and after the coach we calmly went on the right, joining a big crowd chosen to go to the GG. Of course, we met again, but without Wikcia.
         We spent only one night in Dulag Pruszkow, we ate a rice soup cooked by means of a provisional stove made of bricks. Someone stole my coat. About the noon a long store of open coal coaches arrived and we were packed to them. The train set off slowly, twitching badly and stopping all the time. And here we could experience the human solidarity. Crowds of people were running to the train and throwing whatever they had - tomatoes, bread, some oils, as well as bottles of water, tea and orangeade. We simply devoured everything, the results of which were tragic. When we were ahead of Skierniewice town many people suffered from total diarrhoea!! It was very problematic, especially for women, fortunately it was almost a dusk so one could crouch at the couch's edge. The last wave of solidarity occurred in Skierniewice, where a new portion of tomatoes was thrown for us from a pedestrian bridge.

         We are landing in Gorzkowice village
         After the midnight the train stopped in Piotrkow town. There we were informed that the end of the travel was near, and in fact - two stations further the train stopped, the locomotive whistled and left the station. It turned out that we were in Gorzkowice village.
         The night was dark. Nobody announced that we could go to hell, so people started to leave very cautiously. We went out as well, and, in this darkness we rushed towards some house visible in the dark. My grandfather knocked at one of them, "Who is there?" a sleepy voice asked. "The family" - my grandfather replied. "If you are family, come in" the voice said. A lock squeaked and we entered. The landlord gave us some mattresses to a hallway, together with lots of straw - and all of us fell asleep.
         I woke up about the noon and was given something to eat. Then I went to a garden with Malgosia. It was beautiful and irrationally silent, only bees were beeping, or maybe they were some other creatures. I was sitting on the ground and poking with some stick for about three hours.
         Meanwhile, the adults became active. My grandparents were directed to a neighbouring estate Leonow, my mum got in a crowded train and went with Zuza to Piotrkow town to get to know something interesting, and we, the children, stayed for the time being with our grandparents in Leonow village. Of course we wanted to contact with Nuna and Aleksy in Piastow town as soon as possible, and to be nearer Warsaw. Aleksy and Anna Maria Potocki (maiden name Mieros豉wski) lived in Piastow in the year 1944. But it was not easy - in order to get in a train from Piotrkow town in the direction of Warsaw one had to have a special permit. What was left was to go on foot, but it was more than one hundred kilometers!
         One might say that we were lucky to survive because of numerous fortunes: the Germans, after many unsuccessful attacks, not having met any resistance on September 2, entering the ruins from the direction of the Castle Square very fearfully. After meeting first, quite small group of people in the area of Waski Dunaj str., started to shoot the people but apparently the commanders made them rush forward and then they dashed into the houses in the Kilinskiego street. At least two thousands of people went off these houses (including us), so they only made them move further. The group of people going along the whole city was not escorted at all. The evacuation from the Gdanski Station happened in no time. Nobody had enough time to become interested in us, fortunately. A wave of rapes and murders started about one or two hours later, and all the people who had stayed in our house, were probably killed, alike those in the hospital situated in the Ministry of Justice, or others. Our houses were burnt on September 2. When auntie Dziutka went on September 3 accompanied by guards from the hospital named after Saint Roch, in order to look for the wounded, the houses were almost totally burnt down. Not to mention my mum's presence of mind which saved herself and me. God knows where we would be driven - Wikcia came back to our house in Bydgoszcz town not earlier than in May 1945.
         Unfortunately, poor Wisia did not survive. She died on September 3, after the surgery in the hospital named after Saint Roch. My grandmother, auntie Dziutka and Tajo stayed in Warsaw until September 19, when they were able to leave the city and reach Kielce, coming through Pruszkow town. They knew the address of Mr. And Mrs. Potocki in Piastow town, as firstly a message from the prison and then a postcard reached the place. We wanted to meet somehow. Especially I was missing Taj very much, but the travel from Kielce to Piotrkow through Czestochowa towns was very hard and expensive and we hardy had what we needed to exist.
         Several days later we luckily came back to Piastow town. Auntie Nuna, unfortunately, did not have any news about Siasio, or from Siasio. We got to know from the people being in subsequent transports to the Pruszkow camp, that Powisle district had collapsed. The transports from Warsaw did not come by the electric train anymore - now it was a normal locomotive what pulled coached beyond the gate of the camp. Maybe the fact of eliminating this traction was connected with activities of a huge train cannon that had been installed at a side-track between Piastow and Ursus towns.
         This cannon stood not far away from the house of Mr. and Mrs. Oles so I could observe its devastating job carefully. Before each shot a barrel was lowered and two soldiers would clean it. Then, a small locomotive would rise a munition coach, from which a crane would take bullets weighting a tone as well as sacks with powder and would place them appropriately. The locomotive would pull the coach and after a long talk by means of a battle telephone the barrel would be raised, the staff would stand aside and a deafening shot together with yawl of a receding bullet would occur. This cannon shot every twenty minutes or every half an hour. Of course I didn't know at the time in which direction it would shoot. I supposed that beyond the Vistula river. As I got to know after the war - unfortunately it did shoot into the Srodmiescie district.

         What comes from my observation and what I find particularly essential is the march of a big German unit towards the bridgehead - in the direction of the Lublin town main road. It could not have been unnoticed by the Uprising commander-in-chief. I am sure - I have not found this fundamental fact in any historian description.
         The presence of Soviet planes over Warsaw before the Uprising outbreak also was not stressed.
         A fact that the bridges were mined and prepared to be dynamited is the commonly known fact.
         I have not encountered a report of our quite "gentle" leaving the ruins of our houses. What followed few hours later - is well known, unfortunately.
         In some compositions connected with the Uprising the authors say that Warsaw was being bombarded by means of a huge mine thrower and they show its photograph, on a track undercarriage. I dare to say that probably it is not true. The firing was being made by means of this cannon which I saw. A bullet that hit "Adria" hotel and whose body is now in the Museum of the Armed Forces comes from this cannon undoubtedly.

Krzysztof Jaworski

      Krzysztof Jaworski
born on March 23, 1933 in Warsaw
the son of Stanislaw and Wanda Jaworski, (mother's maiden name Mieroslawski)

translation: Monika Alasa

Copyright © 2009 Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz. All rights reserved.