Uprising Witness Accounts
A Miraculous Salvation
Relation from the Wolski Hospital Massacre on Płocka Street
Eugeniusz Trepczyński Eugeniusz Trepczyński
The building of the former Wolski Hospital at 26 Płocka Street currently houses the Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, which is the inheritor of the Wolski Hospital traditions.
The place of the tragedy described in this relation is located at a site of mass murder on a section of Górczewska Street between a railway viaduct and the estacade of Prymas Tysiąclecia Avenue, on both sides of the street. A monument commemorating the mass executions during the Uprising is situated nearby. The place is located close to a monument commemorating mass murder during the Uprising and is one of several murder sites in this area, lasting from the 5th to the 12th of August 1944. The site is marked with number 11 in the Wola neighborhood on the Warsaw Uprising Map of Remembrance.
born 01.12.1924 in Warsaw
the son of Piotr Trepczyński and Maria Trepczyńska (maiden name Zdort)
I was born on the 1st of December 1924 in Warsaw. I lived with my parents, Piotr and Maria (maiden name Zdort) on 76 Niska Street in the home of my grandparents. I spent the entire war in Warsaw. In September 1939 I took part in the defense of Warsaw in a division devoted to the destruction of incendiary bombs. During the occupation, I worked with the underground in the Home Army. The ghetto founded by the Germans included the area of my residence and we were resettled to an apartment at 9 Burakowska Street, where I lived until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.
In late July 1944 I became ill (stomach pains) and was taken to the tuberculosis division of Wolski Hospital on Płocka Street, in which there was a separate room for internal diseases. Two years earlier I had also been a patient in this same division (I think in the same room) for a lung inflammation. Both times I was under the care of Dr. Janina Misiewicz.
The outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising on August 1 1944 found me in the hospital. The first two days passed joyously, because we were certain that we would win and that Warsaw would be liberated. On the third day the situation started to radically change. The injured started to be brought to the hospital, and I, since I felt fairly good, was assigned to their care. News came to us of what was going on in the city next to us. The Germans were shooting civilians - the residents of Wola, as well as burning homes. We realized that something terrible was going on.
The culminating event was the invasion of soldiers into the hospital on the 5th of August (I don't remember the exact time), speaking Russian under the leadership of German officers. At first we hid in our rooms. After some time soldiers entered the rooms and, shouting, herded us to the hall below. Rumors circulated that those who were unable to independently leave the rooms were shot in their beds. If I remember correctly, there were four beds in the room where I lay. A young boy lay diagonally to my bed, who I didn't see either among those collected in the hall, nor later; perhaps he was killed in our room.
I and many people were dressed in underclothes and hospital robes. We hoped that we would be treated as ill civilians. After a large group of people was collected, we were taken out to Górczewska Street. A macabre vision met our eyes: burning houses, corpses lying on the street, some scattered personal belongings. We understood what was going on. Full of terror, desperate and in prayer, we were herded along Górczewska Street under the escort of barbaric soldiers to the railway viaduct. We were herded to a recess in the embankment of the viaduct on the right side of the street, and machine guns were set up across from us on the other side of the street. It is difficult to describe what was going on in our group: panic, screams, spasms, desire to escape and the words of prayers. At a certain point, perhaps as a result of some order, while German officers were driving on motorcycles down Górczewska Street, all action was abandoned. We were herded along the railway tracks under the viaduct to a shed located on the left side of the street. A large group of people was already in the shed, including lots of women and children. We sat down on the ground, full of terror and uncertainty as to what would happen to us. After some time, appeals started to be made to people with the information that skilled persons were needed, for example 20 electricians. Those willing volunteered, went out, and after some time shots were heard. Even in spite of that I didn't expect what happened later. When there was a lack of "volunteers" people started to be picked out from those who remained in the hall, and those were mainly people from the hospital and women with children. Finally my turn came.
We were herded out in a group of about 20 people and directed towards Górczewska Street. A man on crutches went out with me. When we got to Górczewska Street, we saw that the previous groups had been shot - they had been herded in groups of several people to a slightly elevated spot. At that moment I realized that my life was ending and I started reciting the prayer "Under Your protection" to the Holy Mother. I also thought about my own mother, that she would be waiting for me in vain. The man on crutches accompanying me, also taken from Wolski Hospital, threw down his crutches, took me under his arm and said: "Embrace me (Daj pyska), it's the end, we won't see each other again" and started walking on his own legs. While we were being led alongside burning houses, I became witness to a macabre event. I saw two men in white medical coats explaining something to an officer in German uniform and at a certain point this officer took out a pistol, shot two times and these men fell, and he calmly walked away.
Next we were led to a square; on the left were piles of corpses, and on the right was some free space to which we were directed. At a certain distance - in a half-circle - stood "soldiers," the same as those who herded us out of the hospital, with machine guns ready to fire. I went together with the man who threw away his crutches and at a certain moment I heard shots and felt my fellow wanderer fall, and, pulled by him, I also fell. I felt the bullet pass through him and I also felt the bullet pass through my arm. I fell on my face, supporting my head with my hand. I lay with my face to the ground and heard more shots, screams and groans of those lying next to me. I lay and didn't know if I was alive - after all, we don't know what it's like after death. I heard only the steps of the "soldiers" and the shots killing the victims. And again I head something, which stayed for a long time in my memory, the voice of a pleading woman: "Kill my child first and me later." At a certain point the woman's voice faded away, and only the child's whimpering was left, which also faded away after a while.
I lay like this and I lost count of time. The shots faded away, and I still didn't know if I was alive. I didn't feel any pain, only a roaring in my ears.
At a certain point I heard a voice: "Are you injured?" I raised my head, it was dark, the beginning of night. I lay not far from a burning house and in the light of the fire I saw a hellish sight in front of me: piles of burning human bodies, ignited mainly by things falling from burning houses, and at the same time an ungodly stench. The man who "woke" me started to crawl, and I after him. I noticed the corpse of a woman, who lay on the ground, holding an open purse in her hand. Most likely the executioners robbed their victims after the killings. I crawled among the corpses to some kind of small fence between burning houses (they were one or maybe two-floor houses) and some kind of shed. A ladder was leaning against this fence, thanks to which I got to the other side of the square, on which lay a heap of bundles. I tore off my hospital robe and put on some kind of suit jacket. I started to inspect myself and I felt a slight pain in my left arm. It wasn't an open wound, but some kind of odd burn. As later became evident, the bullet intended for me only went through my shirtsleeve at the level of my heart. I still have this shirt with the embroidered words "7 Wolski Hospital." I keep it as the most precious keepsake of my escape from death.
I started to wander around, putting distance between myself and the place of execution. Together with me were also two men, one of them a priest, as well as one older woman. During our journey we went past a church, probably the Church At the Circle (na Kole). At that point the priest left us and remained there. Wandering further, I came to houses where people still lived. They asked what was going on in Wola, because they had already heard terrible things. I spent the night in one of their houses. In the morning the same "soldiers" as in the Wolski Hospital again threw out the residents of the houses, who took me along with them and together with them after various stops at German posts I was able to reach the village then named Gać (now Radiowo - an apartment development situated in Bielany.)
I reached this place entirely by accident and unknowingly, and, as it later turned out, very fortunately. I met my friend's sister there, who stubbornly insisted that I not go any further. So I said goodbye to my guardians and I stayed with her family. I stayed - to my great surprise - in the home of a woman who delivered milk and dairy products to my home before the war. Before the war we sometimes spent free days and Sundays at her home. Her husband was the head administrator of this village (soltys). Later he was shot for helping uprisers from the Kampinoski Forest. Naturally, everyone was interested in what was happening in Warsaw and after my stories they were shocked at what was going on. The next day the host, seeing my bad psychological state, proposed going to the fields with him to collect wheat. On our return from the fields, I encountered indescribable happiness. After being thrown out of Warsaw on August 6th, my mother decided to go with her daughter to precisely our host, knowing that she would be taken in. I, on the other hand, directed by some unknown force, found myself entirely by accident exactly in this place and at the house of this woman. How not to believe in Holy Providence?
The experiences of myself and of these many thousand people, who were bestially murdered in this place, cannot truly be described or told. These experiences remain in the depths of a man and leave their scars on him for the rest of his life. Upon every attempt to return to them it seems, that it was a nightmarish dream, in my case, however, a dream with a happy awakening. This nightmare left its traces. In August 1944, before I had reached the age of 20, a streak of gray hair appeared, and I later was ill with lung disease for several years.
Wanting to forget everything, I tried to avoid Górczewska Street after the war. Only after a certain longer period of time, I started to go to the place of execution every August 5th. I met two people there, who like myself were miraculously saved. I now visit this place with my daughters and grandchildren, to light a candle and say a prayer for all who were murdered.
Now when I'm on Górczewska Street, I have the impression that the memory of the civilian population - participants in the Warsaw Uprising -- is disappearing, and the places soaked with their blood are disappearing, an example of which is the place of the bestial death of 10,000 and according to other sources 20,000 residents of Wola, among them employees and patients of the Wolski Hospital on Płocka Street, including myself (on the plaque there is information about the murder in this place of 12,000 Poles.) Next to a cross and small monument commemorating this place a car salon with a large parking lot was constructed.
I am therefore linked to the Wolski Hospital with bonds that cannot be broken. I continually feel sentimental about the Wolski Hospital. I stayed in it twice in my youth under the very good care of Dr. Janina Misiewicz. From this hospital I was taken to my death, which was to be my destiny.
P.S. I gave the shirt in which I was shot to the Warsaw Uprising Museum as an exhibition item on November 20, 2006.
born 01.12.1924 in Warsaw
the son of Piotr Trepczyński and Maria Trepczyńska (maiden name Zdort)
translation: Claire and Sebastian Bartos
Copyright © 2008 SPPW1944. All rights reserved.