The Witnesses' Uprising Reports
Uprising memoirs of Danuta Mancewicz.
Danuta Mancewicz, born 24th November 1922 in Bydgoszcz,
Hospital "Under Crooked Lantern" 13.08-31.08.1944
On Podwale Street 25 in the Old Town, there is one of the best known Warsaw restaurants - "Kompania Piwna". The owners promote it as "unique", since "with its climate, its interior and cuisine, it recalls places characteristic for Bavaria or the Czech Republic rather than those associated with Warsaw".
During the Warsaw Uprising, there was Hospital "Under Crooked Lantern", which history I would like to present now, basing on my own and my colleagues shreds of memories, especially those of dr Jerzy Kaczynski, with whom I consulted while writing this report.
On 11th August, Unit of "Stasinek" (he got serious facial wounds on 4th August in Wola, suffered vision loss and was eliminated from combat), alongside with the youngest and bravest Janusz Plachtowski - appeared together with the Group of "Radoslaw" in the Old Town. Unit "Stasinek", that is "Kolegium A" of "Kedyw" (Directorate for Diversion), had been already decimated in Wola, especially after the second capturing of railway warehouses at Stawki Street, where two great commanders "Olszyna" and "Janek" fell. The following day we were assigned to Battalion "Zoska".
We came to the Old Town, at that time a peaceful district, with houses having windows. I even managed to have a bath in a bath house near today's Barbakan, more surprised with the fact that there was warm water, than intact windows. People were kind and smiling, surely, they did not realize where we came from and what experiences we lived through.
On 13th September, on Kilinskiego Street, a small road between Podwale and Dluga Street, a famous unmanned tank exploded. There are different versions of how young Insurgents managed to capture it. It is true that the tank, with people clinging to it as bees in a beehive, was followed by other excited amateurs of gaining weapons, from the Castle Square into Kilinskiego Street. People gathered around sharing their happiness, together with many children as well. Blast casualties are estimated around 500.
Soon after quartering in the area of Sapiezynska - Mlawska Streets, medic principal of "Kedyw", dr "Skiba" (Cyprian Sadowski), appointed the doctor of the Unit "Kolegium A" Jerzy Kaczynski a.k.a. "Bohdan" to organize a new hospital "Under Crooked Lantern" (at that time it was the name of a restaurant located in a basement at Podwale Street) around the corner of Kilinskiego Street. All soldiers of "Stasinek" (since 12th August included to Battalion "Zoska" as a platoon of "Snica" - Boleslaw Gorecki), were engaged in equipping the hospital, created mainly for the victims of the tank explosion. They collected mattresses and pallets, as well as bedding and other useful things donated readily by neighbouring tenants.
Victims were in hundreds, whereas space in the hospital was barely for 50-60 of them - in two restaurant rooms of the basement.
Doctors: Jagodowski (medical supplies) and Wlodzimierz Nakwaski a.k.a. "Wodolaz" (adaptation of the place) were assigned to help doctor "Bohdan" (Jerzy Kaczynski).
There are no words to describe what happened in Kilinskiego Street after the deceitful act of murder devised by Germans. Hell?- it's a medieval idyllic notion. Horror? - it's watching movies at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. Apocalypse? - it's reading the Bible. One cannot forget the sight of a beautiful body of an 18 year old girl lying on a restaurant counter which served as an operating table. The fact that her body was pierced with numerous shrapnels is nothing compared to a weird, complicated open fracture of a shin. After quick examining, dr "Bohdan" made diagnosis - somebody else's bone had stuck in the shin in the moment of the explosion.
The piano, two weeks before used for entertaining people, now, for the last time, was played by a famous pianist, professor Sergiusz Nadgryzowski, who accompanied a gifted singer Antonina Kawecka (wonderfully performing in "Halka" in Opera Poznan after the war). She sang for the wounded in return for food, because the fate brought her to the Old Town with noting to live on.
The first 48 hours in the hospital were exhausting for the whole sanitary team. As I mentioned before, there were two doctors accompanying dr Jerzy Kaczynski "Bohdan", but there were also five professional nurses: Anna Kaczynska (doctor's wife), Krystyna Sosabowska (Stasinek's wife), three others whose names I can't remember, and medical orderly Zosia Czechowska from our Unit. Zosia stayed in the hospital till the end, that is till leaving the Old Town through the sewers.
I worked as a medical orderly in the hospital "Under Crooked Lantern" for two first days, after which I was directed to the north part of the Old Town defence line, which was defended, among others, by my unit. As a medical orderly, I often helped the wounded getting to the hospital. After many years, what I remember the most, are rooms filled with injured people, lying mostly on mattresses and pallets (beds were scarce). The only light we could get was candles.
The hospital was functioning till the fall of the Old Town. Late evening on 30th August 1944, dr "Bohdan" was ordered to join the unit that was already on its way to cross Saxon Garden (Ogrod Saski). However, despite colonel "Radoslaw's" order, it was not possible to get there, because of terrible crowds.
Some of the wounded were led out through the sewers. There was injured and blind "Stasinek" among them.
Once Germans came in, the Crooked Lantern shared the fate of most uprising hospitals. After the war, in the basements there were found remains of burned bodies of patients. Among them, there were bodies of our soldiers from Kedyw, like Andrzej Englert. Some of them did survive, though. "Remec" saved his life thanks to a bizarre trick. Seeing a German officer coming to him with a gun in his hand, he gave the officer a blessing, as if giving him absolution for the sin that he was going to commit. The German officer was so stunned with what the 'priest' did, that he let "Remec" and a group of others to evacuate to Wolski Hospital.
Warsaw, September 2007
prepared by Wojciech Wlodarczyk
translated by Magdalena Magiera
Danuta Mancewicz, born 24th November 1922 in Bydgoszcz,
liaison officer and medical orderly in the group of Directorate of Diversion (Kedyw), "Kolegium A"
the Unit of Home Army "Radoslaw"
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