The insurgent relations of witnesses
The war memories of Eugeniusz Tyrajski - a soldier from "Baszta" -(= a tower)
On the 30th of July 1944 our patrol was transporting guns of K-2 company from the magazine on Bielany to Sluzew to the temporary magazine just till the moment of the Uprising break-up. "Baszta" was relatively well-armed in comparison with other insurgent units. There was not a single soldier of "Baszta" that would go into the Uprising empty-handed. Everyone had 2-3 R-42 (sidolowka) hand grenades at least. In the majority of other units there was far too worse.
From the magazine at Wawrzyszew there were maybe 12 or 14 of us that set off. Six of us got located on the last tramway platform, as I've mentioned above the then-trams had open passages. Every boy was carrying something heavy. "Racuch" (= a drop scone) was travelling with a sub-machine gun in an elegant paper bag, out of which unfortunately the butt was protruding a little bit. "Kordian" had a cello case inside of which four kb rifles had been fitted. Me, "Sek", we were travelling with a tarpaulin bag of the gas mask full of English defensive grenades. "Czarny" and "Disney" were carrying huge parcels inside of each there were 50 R-42 hand grenades. Apart from that each of us had a gun attached to the belt.
At first the most crowded platform (in the crowd there could be found 20-50 people) started suddenly getting empty. People realized the character of the "luggage" transported by us. From Bielany one could travel probably by "15." The tram passed Theatre the Great, got onto Krakowskie Przedmiescie, then turned into Krolewska Street and Marszalkowska Street. At the corners of Marszalkowska and Zlota there the change to the "17" going to Races took place.
About 50 m before the tram a friend was riding on a bike, that in any case was to warn us of the danger. On Krakowskie Przedmiescie we can see that the friend is signalling trouble. We are peeking outside and can see that three Germans are getting onto the roadway wanting to stop the tram. The tram driver, who had earlier realized what we were transporting, reacted very astutely. He didn't stop for Germans' signal, he even speeded up. The tram travelled very fast past the confused Germans who yelled something. We got happily to Zlota. A change to another tram and soon the guns got safely to the villa at Wisniowiecki Street Pulawska Street corner. Today the name of the street is Niedzwiedzia, as after the war Prince Wisniowiecki ( the street patron) didn't please somebody. Two days later the Uprising broke up.
On the 1st of August 1944 at 15:00 I got an order to report on the spot at the corner of Pulawska and Woronicza Street (we hadn't been barracked earlier). Father knew what I was doing. He accompanied me a bit. We lived at Fabryczna Street then. At Gornoslaska Street there was the military police. We went along Rozbrat Street and up Mysliwiecka Street near Batory gymnasium. Here I said goodbye to father. I didn't see him anymore. He died after the Uprising in the labour camp.
From Ujazdowskie Avenues to the Union Square I got on metal joints on the back of the tram (= "na cycku"- on the teat) by German "zero." There I changed to another tram. On the tram stop at Woronicza Street there was standing "Kutrzeba" and directed everybody to the station of Grojecka narrow-gauge railway to the villa where two days earlier we had laid down our arms. In the villa the commanding officer of the company Lieutenant "Pawlowicz" handed out arms. I got a beautiful kb1938 rifle of Radom production, but … with one piece of ammunition missing. The commanding officer said I'd obtain it from the enemy.
Three of us were standing in front of the villa: me, my friend Adas Szpaderski "Kordian," and Kazio Teslawsky "Racuch" that two days earlier had come back from the partisan fighting. Kazio usually bursting with wit was a kind of dejected. I asked him what was going on. He said: You know what? Here it's better to get a hit on the noggin than to be injured. Damned if I know after all, whether there is any help. I said to him he shouldn't be silly. And as it turned out later he was the first one killed in our company. An incidental bullet hit him at the very beginning of the fight, straight into the eye, dead on the spot. Half an hour later, he had been predicting his death.
Having been armed, our company with euphoria went on a slightly circular road, through the fields of Zagosciniec village in the direction of Races where German units were stationing. We were to attack them. On the road to Races they realized that I wasn't the only person who hadn't received any ammunition to kb. Because ammunition had been earlier transported from Bielany, the commanding officer of our platoon "Jim" ordered "Kutrzeba" to get back for it to the villa at Wisniowiecky Street. Together with "Kutrzeba" his fifteen-year old nephew, Andrzej Kobendza "Jedrek", went as he had joined our team when the Uprising had started. He didn't come back to us. After the war, it turned out they both died on the 1st of August at Races.
At Races, through the gate in the wall from Zagosciniec village side the first company that entered was K-1 then we did, K-2. K-3 was to attack from Wyczolki village side. Having passed the stables, where surprised Germans left many guns and ammunition we got to the canteen building, protruding most in the direction of the stand at the main race track. On the area of Races there was stationed a mounted unit of SS. There were 800 of them in total. In our units there were about four hundred and several dozen people altogether, and much weaker armed. Besides Germans were regular soldiers while our boys were just of an occupation training.
Germans quickly cooled down after the surprise and took up actions intended for driving us away from the conquered area. Stanislaw Lopusinski "Walus" that had lately come back from the partisan fighting, put on the first floor on the table by the window a sub-machine gun gained on the road. He started shooting with it at German positions. Germans were shooting at us from the stand and in front of the stand. One among others, from the bushes some 150m before us, there was shooting a machine gun. "Walus"'s ammunition belt started jamming. He called me to help him: "Leave that rifle and hold the belt so that it wouldn't jam." The belt went unevenly through the lock chamber. I jumped with help. Fire started going evenly, the rifle was even thrown back when a long series burst open. But it was useful nevertheless, as the German machine gun calmed down. "Walus" died the next day.
Before I came for a moment "Walus"'s belt-operator I had been managing the fire of a rifle from a neighbouring window. When I leant out the head for a moment I felt warmth on the hair. I turned around and saw a hole in the wall at my level. If for a split second I had lifted up the head I would have got a bullet in the very forehead. Once again it turned out I was very lucky, Divine Providence was watching over me.
In that moment "Kordian" rushed into us and said about "Racuch"s death. The situation was becoming more and more difficult. Before our building an armoured vehicle appeared and started shooting at us with a small cannon. We tried with "Walus" throw grenades at it, but the distance was too big. The fire of LMC gun and kb rifle could do no damage to it. Suddenly from boys from the outside of the stable we got an order: "Withdraw. Germans are surrounding us."
The tragedy started. Our incomplete battalion, about 400 people, quite well-armed taking into account the insurgent conditions, they couldn't (having heavy equipment) deal with an eight-hundred, crew made of SS-men experienced in the fighting. Our temporary success was maintaining for some hours almost all Races (apart from the stand).
We started withdrawing. Germans shot into the open area between the canteen and the stables. Then we received a shooting from another direction too. It seemed we were surrounded by Germans. We managed somehow with jumps, individually, to get out of the stable and from the buildings protruding southwards. We decided that the only retreat would be the training track situated westward from the stable and buildings.
The whole area of the racetrack was under the constant fire of German machine guns. Anyone who couldn't bear the tension and moved with a jump was doomed to be shot. I saw another friends fall. I didn't make any move. I crawled about 300-400 m along the straight line, hiding sometimes behind friends' bodies. A tough training of Corporal "Zawisza" saved my life. And one could have thought we had been cursing him during the training.
Having crawled into the north-west direction through one part of the racetrack I found myself behind the recess of the wall, that was a natural protection. About 15-20 of us got there. The majority was injured. Using a bunch of R-42 hand grenades we wanted to make a breach in the wall, but we didn't succeed. By the very wall trees were growing. We climbed one of them with a friend, from the tree on the wall. Sitting astride on the wall we received another injured man handed by two other friends. Only four of us weren't hurt anyway. We lowered our injured friends behind the wall in the most delicate way. Unfortunately there was nobody that could receive them. I think it was the biggest achievement of mine during the Uprising. Not shooting, during which the enemy was shot or not, but saving lives of a few injured friends. Among our whole four of us there was also my friend "Walus". The next day he died at Czerniakow, some hundred metres far from his home where he lived.
One the racetrack there stayed lots of the killed and of the injured. Among them a sixteen-year-old "Drzazga II" (= a splint) died. He was very talented, before the Uprising I helped him in learning, I lent books to him. After five days I met his mother at Czerniakow. I'd seen her first I'd have run away secretly. She literally took hold of my sleeve. "Where is Jurek?" I got speechless. I didn't have the courage to tell her the truth. Across my brain an instant thought ran. Let her make her accustomed to this he doesn't exist. I was explaining the battalion had been defeated, that some boys from K-1 and K-3 company went to the forest and maybe her son had come with them. She didn't believe me. That meeting with the fallen friend's mother was for me as traumatic as carrying the injured brothers in arms across the wall of Races.
All injured insurgents that stayed on the area of Races were finished off by Germans. Next day Germans collected the citizens of Zagosciniec village, ordered them to dig nearby the fence an enormous hole and get from the field all the bodies: of the fallen and of the murdered. In that grave there were bodies of friends from K-1,K-2 and K-3 and also from the B-1 company, that were attacking the fort on the 2nd of August at Smyczkova Street. In 1945 there were exhumed about 1500 bodies from the mass grave. 68 of them were identified. In the grave there were also citizens of Zagosciniec village and Sluzewiec that Germans collected together and then they shot them as well. The grave has already been apparently filled in by the Ukrainians.
We withdrew from the battlefield, it started raining, it became dark. We gathered on a little meadow near Zagosciniec village. The commanding officer collected the remains of the units. During the fighting we took some prisoners. As we didn't have a contact, nobody knew what would come next and the commanding officer made a decision of SS-men execution. The password was given: "Who'll be the volunteer for executing those Germans?" Although so many friends died there, and almost everyone had somebody from the family murdered in the occupation nobody came forward as a volunteer. Indeed it was a hated enemy, but none of us was able to shoot at a defenceless person. During the attack we freed from a German kitchen two Russian prisoners. When they learnt what the problem was without any hesitation they carried out the execution of Germans.
From the field of Zagosciniec we moved in Pulawska direction and at the crossroads of Wisniowiecki we built a barricade with different posts and trees. We were supported by a part of civilians though not everyone looked at us favourably. One part of boys was watching over on the barricade, the rest was directed for a rest. We found some shelter in the local small houses, rather poor ones. I remember that ten boys of us were sitting on the floor of a tiny kitchen. Everyone was snoozing.
Suddenly the commanding officer of the platoon rushed into the room. He shone the torch, saw I didn't sleep and asked whether one of the boys didn't have a ET-40 (filipinka) grenade. It was a grenade of an enormous striking power unlike R-42 hand grenade that produced more noise than results. He shone the torch around and then I saw that one of the sleeping, I didn't know him personally, was snoozing holding a grenade in a clenched hand. I looked at it carefully and it made me frozen, the safety pin of the filipinka had been taken out. The commanding officer of the platoon who knew me well without a word showed me with eyes the grenade. Carefully I moved closer to the sleeping soldier and clenched both our hands together with the grenade. The commanding officer shining the torch on the floor, looking for the safety pin. After a while he found it. Carefully he put it into the opening in the filipinka, that we were holding together with a sleeping boy. The commanding officer took out the grenade carefully from the clenched hands. He went out of the kitchen with it forbidding me to follow him. In the garden in front of the little house a solitary tree was growing. The commanding officer put the filipinka behind the tree, while he himself instantly laid down on the ground on my side. We were waiting for while. Nothing happened. The safety pin was put in correctly.
Before my eyes another episodes from those days are moving.
I was called on the barricade. We were watching over together with the commanding officer of our team Leszek Czaykowski "Jastrzebiec II". Me on one street side, he on the other one, both with machine guns. There was a gentle dusk. From Mokotow side there arrived a little German off-road vehicle. They were driving straight into "Jastrzebiec." The road was narrow and so were the shoulders. Surprised Germans noticed the barricade at the last moment. "Jastrzebiec II" inloaded a burst of shots from the sub-machine gun. He mostly aimed at an officer nearby the driver. The former fell shot on the road. The driver violently turned before the very barricade and managed to escape leaving the dead passenger on the road. "Jastrzebiec" became the owner of a beautiful Parabellum pistol that he carried tucked into his belt till the end of the Uprising.
A little bit later I was directed by the commanding officer of the platoon for the search of the area in the direction of the Black Friars monastery on the continuation of Wisniowiecky Street in Vistula direction. It was still grey though it was brightening up a little. The street had ended, field of potatoes started. Suddenly a burst of series from the monastery went into my direction. I measured mu length in the potatoes, I cuddled up to the ground. Fortunately the tops were high, and I got completely hidden behind them. Slowly, with my face pressed against the ground with a sub-machine on the neck, I made a 180-degree turn. Germans were shooting all the time. I didn't make even the smallest move. After some time the fire eased off as the enemy had probably thought they had shot me. I waited for some time and in the moment of silence I jumped forward. In a moment a shooting reverberated again, but I had been safe already.
It wasn't the end of the adventure. Having walked several dozen metres in the direction of Pulawska Street I saw a little palace on the left, a not built-up property and bushes. In the bushes some 15-20 metres from me there was lying motionlessly figure in a German helmet. Instantly I released the safety catch of the sub-machine gun. Seeing no reaction I resisted the impulse of pulling the trigger. It turned out that there was lying one of ours. The boy was so shocked he couldn't even say a word. I said to him: "Man, I could've shot you. You should have taken off the damned helmet at least." I didn't know what made me refrain from firing a shot. Then it was accepted that he who was the first was the best. I led the boy to our barricade. He was shaking like a bowl of jelly.
I was asked many a time whether I was scared. Of course everybody was scared. But me, apart from fear, I always thought about this that could make me struggle out of the situation I found myself actually in. It helped me overcome fear and take up rational steps. To this there were added some impulses that had been acquired during trainings.
At dawn we withdrew from that area. K-1 company and K-2 company went to the forest, our K-2 company went to Czerniakow. Such were the orders. We went down the bluff along Wilanow Avenue. Then we cut across Wilanow Avenue, went down at the level of the Rabbit House, under the bluff. Then there was a little hick town, some country buildings, a dirt road. Suddenly we got fire from the Dominican monastery, almost in a straight line along the road. Involuntary I jumped behind the nearest house and … fell into the cesspit halfway up my legs straight into the shit. "Well, he'll stay alive for sure," friends stated. As one can see those prophetic words have become true. Fortunately there was a little brook nearby. I had had a bath in it dressed in trousers and shoes before we got to Czerniakow. Then, in Czerniakow already, people gave me another trousers and shoes.
We got to Czerniakow along the canal near Idzikowski Street. There was a moat from the Observants' Church to Sobieski Street. Along the moat we got almost to Powsinska Street. There we crammed into two cars with Germans .We dispersed and a shooting incident ensued. Germans caught into the car two or three injured people and withdrew in Sadyba direction. K-2 company split into two parts. There was no contact and nobody knew exactly what should be done. We decided to head for the city from where the shooting was heard. We set off in the direction of Lazienki, Podchorazy Street and Sielecka Street. Here my friend "Valus" died. He was setting a light machine gun, and suddenly a shot was fired and the bullet him straight on the forehead. He didn't even notice, he'd died. He lived nearby, at Podchorazych Street. A younger,16-year-old, sister died two weeks before the Uprising from pneumonia. Father with an older brother went to the Uprising at Warsaw Old Town. At home there stayed a solitary mother.
Then there were ups and downs. On the 2nd of September Sadyba fell. When Germans surrounded Sadyba one part of units managed to withdraw in the direction of Chelmska Street. Unfortunately not everybody managed to do it. One part of insurgents stayed in Czerniakow Fort. One among others there was my future wife, Teresa Kuklinska pseud. "Basia," that was a nurse in "Oaza" ( an oasis) Battalion. She was my younger school-friend. During the Uprising we didn't meet even once even though at some moment we were fighting literally several dozen metres from each other. Only later did the Fate decide that we should be together.
When I was preparing myself for the Uprising aunt sewed a green blouse to me, something like an English battle-dress. I didn't know how she had come by such a fabric but the blouse presented itself amazingly. We rushed into the cellar of the house at Godebsky 10 Street together with one of the women-liaison-officers. When it became clear that any minute Germans would appear among us, civilians present together with us in the cellar made me take off the combat blouse. I was dressed in a little drill suit, I got a pair of pliers into the pocket, a some string was protruding from the pocket. They made a stray workman out of me.
In a moment our building was hit with a bomb. The second part of the house collapsed. For the first time if my life I had seen the cellar wall rocking. I didn't know how it came that standing nearby I found myself on the ground. Several minutes later we heard "Alle raus!" and shooting. Germans called to go out and simultaneously they were shooting at the cellar entrance. My friend "Kordian," knowing German very well started screaming: "Don't shoot, we're going out."
Everyone sitting in the cellar found themselves outside. Outside two Germans were waiting for us. The first one was searching everybody, one by one, the second one with a sub-machine barrel made a selection. One part of boys was directed on the left. Everybody, in a moment, were shot. We hadn't had then any veteran's rights yet, Germans found us bandits. I don't have drawing skills, but I have remembered up to now a German's face that decided about my life.
Short, unshaven, face with restless eyes. That face has always been in my mind's eye. The barrel of his gun directed at me on the right - towards life.
All people gathered on Sadyba were driven to Czerniakowsky Fort. I got there together with my friends from the company, that had managed to avoid the execution. We met some women-liaison-officers from the unit as well. There had arrived to us, as I learnt later on, General von dem Bach. He gave a speech that all civilians (insurgents had been liquidated earlier) would be transported to General Gouvernement or to work in Germany. Nobody would be hurt. All night long they had been leading us from Sadyba, through Sluzewiec, Rakowiec to the West Station. From the West Station by an electric tram they transported us to Pruszkow.
born on the 8th of October 1926
Home Army soldier
pseud. "Genek," "Sek"(= a snag)
K-2 company, "Karpaty" battalion
"Baszta" AK regiment
elaboration: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz
translation: Małgorzata Szyszkowska
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