The insurgent accounts of witness

Jan Romanczyk "Łata" (= a patch) - the boy from "Miotła" (= a broom)

An attack on the Gestapo secret agent Zbigniew Kotarski

Jan Romanczyk
born on the 1st of May 1924 in Wolomin
sergeant cadet of Home Army
pseud. "Łukasz Łata" (= Lucas the Patch)
Kedyw of the Main Headquarters of Home Army
"Torpeda" (= a torpedo) Platoon, "Miotła" (= a broom) Battalion
"Radoslav" Grouping

         During a briefing on the 21st of May in 1944 at 11:00 o'clock, the commanding officer our groups, out of which "Torpeda" (= a torpedo) Platoon in "Miotła" (= a broom) Battalion was made during the Warsaw Uprising, Kazimierz Jackowski pseudonym "Taduesz Hawelan" ordered me to make a reconnaissance of Zbigniew Kotarski's lodgings. He was a dangerous Gestapo secret agent for whom the death sentence had been prepared. He lived at Elektoralna 17 Street of Solna Street corner.
         Having received the order I set about carrying out the task on the spot. In the afternoon of that day I went to the address indicated. It was Sunday. I went onto the courtyard of the estate mentioned above and started looking for the list of residents and then I looked for the address of the flat that interested me on the landings.
         Seeing me hanging around the courtyard he came close to me, as I guessed, the house caretaker and asked what I was looking for. I answered that there my friend lived Zbigniew Kotarski and I wanted to meet him. Then this man said that Zbigniew Kotraski hadn't lived there anymore. When he saw my embarrassed face, he said that Mr. Kotarski lived at Ogrodowa Street at number 1, the flat number 17.
         I figured out that it wasn't far away so I went that day to Ogrodowa Street. The house was at the corner of Solna Street as well. I noticed that there were two landings leading to the flat number 17, just like in the pre-wartime tenements, a kitchen landing, a front landing what could be recognized by their appearance, as the kitchen landing had wooden stairs and a front landing had marble ones. Having made a reconnaissance, I went home and started thinking about the plan of our action.
         I decided to ask for help in any further uncovering of the secret agent Mrs. Jadwiga Stawinska, then my very good friend. Mrs. Jadwiga agreed to help me.
         I arranged the following action plan: Mrs. Jadwiga will take a snip of high-quality material (English wool), she will go to the address indicated from the kitchen landing side and will ask about Mr. Zbigniew Kotarski. Having contacted with anyone of the Kotarskis' she will say that she works on the market under the Iron Gate where a young man had come up to her and asked whether she had a good and nice fabric. He gave her that address that she would come if she had anything interesting. We set that I would lead Mrs. Jadwiga near the kitchen landing, and when she would be back I would come up to her only on the Mirowski Square near the covered markets, observing her all the time.
         On Monday the 22nd of May we started the action. I led Mrs. Jadwiga near the kitchen landing, then I went on the street and waited till she would go out. When she went out I followed her and we met at the corner of Zimna Street and Chlodna Street near the Mirowskie Halls.
         After the meeting Mrs. Jadwiga told me about her impressions of the visit. Having knocked on the kitchen door, an old lady opened it and having learnt what the matter was led her through the kitchen and called Mrs. Kotarska saying that somebody came to the Kotarskis'. It was about 10 o'clock. Mrs. Kotarska received Mrs. Jadwiga, heard her out to learn what she came for, took in her hand the snip of the fabric that pleased her for sure. She said that the son wasn't at home, he was at work, would come for dinner and would be home between 14 and 15 o'clock. She asked Mrs. Jadwiga to come when her son would be in and let her out on the front landing.
         Formally I had all data indispensable to carry out the action, but in order not to scare away a man I decided to play till the end and we reported the operation at about 14:30. In the afternoon Mrs. Jadwiga went in through the front stairs, but she stayed there for a short time and went out at once. Everything happened the same way as before.
         When I came close to her in the same place, a young man came close to us and said:
         - "Excuse me, you visited me, didn't you? What can I do for you?"
         After these words I saw a kind of confusion on Mrs. Jadwiga's face. I gripped her hand and smiled what made her self-confident.
         - "Mr. Kotarski?"- she asked and when the young man confirmed it she said:
         - "Yes, I did" - and she told him her version of the matter.
         The young man asked about the description of the man that had given his address to her. Mrs. Jadwiga's explanations apparently didn't please him as he said goodbye to us and went away. Mrs. Jadwiga's relation from the second visit at the Kotarskis' was interesting because mum said that the matter wasn't open anymore as the son had already bought the material and then he had gone out. She let her out on the front landing while he must have observed her from the second room. Thanked to that I met a person about whom I had made a reconnaissance.
         I wrote a report on carrying out the task and presented the action plan. I proposed that the main attack would take place through the kitchen stairs as the old lady as innocent as a lamb would open the door without any fear. Then one from the group would open the front door.

         The commanding officer accepted that idea and arranged the action plan to which he appointed eight people:
         Kazimierz Jackowski - "Tadeusz Hawelan" - the commanding officer of the unit and of the action,
         Stanislaw Domin - "Stefan Boruta" - the second in command,
         Adam Domin - "Andrzej Babinicz",
         Stanislaw Grodkiewicz - "Stanislaw Bialy",
         Zenon Jackowski - "Adam Horski",
         Jan Romanczyk - "Łukasz Łata",
         Roman Staniewski - "Stanislaw Kwiatkowski",
         Józef Wysocki - "Kubryn".

         "Boruta" and "Lata" would stay in the gate as a guard so that the caretaker when he'd hear the shot wouldn't close it and wouldn't hide preventing the group from withdrawing. "Hawelan", "Adas", "Babinicz", and "Kwiatkowski" would enter through the kitchen landing, "Kubryn", and "Bialy" through the front landing. The action date was set for the day of the 28th of May on Sunday 1944 - the first day of the Pentecost.
         We lived in Ursus, one of us in Wlochy. On the fixed day, armed, we met at the stop of EKD (= Warsaw Commuter Railway) running from Wlochy to Warsaw. By this train we reached to Nowgrodzka Street at Marszalkowska Street. Through Marszalkowska Street on foot we went to the action place . We were going in pairs, in some intervals.
         At Marszalkowska behind Swietokrzyska from Krolewska Street there came out a patrol of field military policemen with metals on the chest. One of the military policemen, nudging the friend, drew his attention on the first pair, while the second one nudging the first one showed him the rest. We passed one another without accosting one another.
         A moment later "Kwiatkowski" came to me and said that the commanding officer ordered me to go upstairs through the front stairs. I got very surprised with changes of the arrangements but an order was an order. Soon we reached the aim and the action started.
         Four people at the kitchen door didn't have, as I'd expected, any problems while three of us stood by the front door that soon opened. "Hawelan" encountering Kotarski pretended to be a Gestapo worker and speaking German asked why he didn't do this the Police Chief ordered him to do. He started speaking German giving explanations.
         I was standing in the ante-chamber door, when Kotarski was passing me he looked at me. When he recognized me he turned to me and asked: - "You on this material?" When I nodded and looked at the FN9 pistol held in the hand, Kotarski said: - "Mum they want to blast me away."
         The action continued. During the examination of Kotarski's documents there was found and taken his Gestapo card, photographs in the German uniform and many materials prepared by Gestapo. "Hawelan" demanded he would give the gun back. Kotarski hesitated looking for it. Then "Hawelan" said that he would show him where he had the gun. He led him to the bathroom, ordered him to bend under the bath and the execution took place. The Gestapo secret agent was to be shot with a pistol with a silencer, but it didn't shoot so FN-gun was used. Two loud shots sounded.
         After the execution we withdrew very quickly. It was early, there was almost nobody on street. There was just one man going with a child when from the fourth floor a woman's scream was heard: "Bandits." Quickly we went to the EKD stop on the way back home, having behind us a well-done job.
         Later one brought a charge against me of changing the arrangements. As it turned out a friend mistook the pseudonyms and the order I was given hadn't been set for me. Because there were no complications caused by that situation the case was dismissed.
         As we had been informed it was a very dangerous secret agent. In the sixties I came across, by chance, his grave at the Fourth Gate on Powazki Cemetery.

Jan Romańczyk

      Jan Romanczyk
born on the 1st of May 1924 in Wolomin
sergeant cadet of Home Army
pseud. "Łukasz Łata"
Kedyw of the Main Headquarters of Home Army
"Torpeda" Platoon,
"Miotła" Battalion
"Radoslaw" Grouping

elaboration: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz

translation: Małgorzata Szyszkowska

Copyright © 2011 Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz. All rights reserved.