The insurgent accounts of witness
Jan Romanczyk "Łata" (= a patch) - the boy from "Miotła" (= a broom)
The insurgents' memories
On the 1st of August falls the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising breaking up. That date brings to mind thoughts in the present times. There are just a few people aware of this that happened there when almost all young Warsaw people entered an overt fight with a cruel enemy- the Nazi German.
The enemy, blinded by the desire of possessing the whole world, in 1938 conquered without any shooting Austria and Czechoslovakia. On the 1st of September 1939 it attached Poland that put up stiff resistance. As a result of an enormous military advantage of the enemy that had been preparing for the war for many years and the sluggishness of the allies in carrying out their guarantees towards Poland. On the 17th of September it attacked Poland from the east-side, the contemporary ally of Germany, the USSR. Poland had to capitulate.
To Poles, that in the interwar period got instilled the patriotism, the Marshal Jozef Pilsudski's words weren't alien:" To win and rest on one's laurels it's a defeat, to be defeated and not to give up it's a victory." It caused the situation where a part of Polish soldiers weren't captured, but through Romania got to the East to France, where Polish Army was formed under the leadership of Wladyslaw Sikorski. One part of them stayed in the country and organized the biggest in Europe the Underground Army. That Army had an excellent secret service, conducted military training among young people willing to fight with the enemy. It carried out diversionary and sabotage actions. It took part in the retaliatory and repressive actions as well against enemies and traitors who collaborated with the invaders so as to destroy the Polish underground movement.
The German expansion started crumbling in 1943. German armies were forced to withdraw gradually from the conquered land. In the New Year speech in 1944 Hitler announced that if he was forced to withdraw from Warsaw he would make a heap of rubble of it.
The beginning of actions
The Polish Underground Army put up stiffer and stiffer resistance towards German invaders. On the 31st of June 1944 in the evening I received together with other friends an order to turn up on the 1st of August in the morning in Warsaw in our alarm point in Nowy Swiat near Jerozolimskie Avenues, in the apartment of the company of the Imrtoh and Malinski's Paint and Varnish Warehouse. Because the group from another unit having an alarm point next to us behaves indecently one should calm it down.
When we reached the place, we carried out the task, going to the alarm point indicated. Boys there were disappointed as seeing the columns of Germans withdrawing from the front through Poniatowski Bridge, 3rd May Avenues, Jerozolimskie Avenues to the west though it was high time the preparation for the action had been started while they were forgotten. When they saw us armed, they wanted to join us. We explained them that everyone had their own task and they certainly would get their own order to be carried out. Boys calmed down and we got back to our point. Our commanding officer Kazimierz Jackowski pseud. "Tadeusz Hawelan" was called to the headquarters for the briefing. With impatience we were waiting for his return.
On the 1st of August 1944 at 11:00 our commanding officer got back and informed us that the Warsaw Uprising would start that day at 17:00. The place for starting the action of our group - Okopowa 31 Street. Liaison officers went instantly in the field, so as to inform units to turn up at Okopowa Street on the spot. The group staying in the contact point got an order of going directly to Okopowa Street to prepare the object for the action.
Experienced in fighting with the invader in the unit of Kedyw KG AK happy with the turn of the things, we reached with friends, using local means of transport then, the collective point in the house mentioned above at Okopowa 31 Street. Adventures that happened to us then were characteristic for that time.
As I mentioned, trams were our means of transport. Because of the crowd there was no room inside for us, we were travelling outside standing on the frame securing the wheels, while we held on to the window openings with hands. We were travelling with guns ready to shoot wrapped only in a newspaper. I held the window with two hands, while I laid the pistol on the hands. Travelling next to me Tadeusz Gabrysiak pseud. "Kubinski" held the window with one hand only, while he had a pistol in the second one. During the journey he felt that the hand holding the window was growing numb and that instantly he had to hold it with the second one. So he asked a lady from a tram to hold his luggage. The lady took the small bundle but when she realized what it was she "goggled." Tadeusz said in the calmest possible way: "Please, don't be afraid Madam I'll take it away in a moment."
We travelled on. The tram stopped at the corner of Chlodna Street and Zelazna Street opposite the building where German military policemen were located. Outside the building some military policemen came out looking at us. We were looking at them whether none of them reached for a gun, but everything went without any disruptions and we moved further.
Our parent unit was the platoon of Lieutenant "Torpeda" (= a torpedo) an assault battalion "Miotła" (= a broom), "Radoslaw" grouping Kedyw KG AK. Although the time of the Uprising breaking up was fixed, we were in the place earlier and prepared the object for the fight. We filled bags with sand and put them under windows.
The action on our area had started earlier. At the corner of Dzielna Street and Okopowa Street a German car stopped and shot with a machine gun at people being on the tobacco monopoly. After a short consternation our units being stationed there attacked the car with grenades. Germans dispersed leaving the vehicle. Escaping Germans became the target for our soldiers and some of them fell. There were first items of trophy guns.
The shots hadn't quietened when in front of our positions there aimed two lorries with trailers full of marauders from the front. Cars, shot by us, stopped but soldiers escaped to houses on the opposite street side. The patrol organized by the command of our headquarters took action against German soldiers. Majority of them escaped, though we captured several dozen, respecting Geneva Agreements. I got appointed to the service on the position by the window on the ground floor. When the darkness fell on our area the quietness hung over. Only in the neighbourhood one could see glows of fire. It was the way the first day passed.
The second day brought to us a nice surprise, the residents of the house occupied by us prepared a meal for us. Suddenly we got alarmed that from the side of Gibalskiego Street two tanks were approaching. We made an attempt of attacking them, but both crews surrendered. As it turned out the tanks had come from the front. One of them was damaged but it had ammunition and could shoot the second towed it to the Pioneer Park at Powazkowska Street. They were tanks with a one-person crew.
The commanding officer of one of them was German, a former prisoner of the concentration camp in Dachau. In 1942 he signed an agreement of going to the front, he was freed from the camp and conscripted into the army. The second was a graduate of the Berlin Technical University doing the practice in the army, a son of a wealthy manufacturer of period furniture, possessing many villas in different European capitals. He himself, as he said, knew six languages though he couldn't learn Polish as it was very difficult. The Uprising prevented tankmen from carrying out the task.
Our region was harassed with shooting of the machine gun located on the tower of St. Augustine Church at Nowolipki Street. So, when our crew took over the tanks and learnt how to operate them it set about liquidating that position on the spot and with an accurate shot managed to calm them down. The tanks were taken by our armoured unit. Germans were taken to the prisoner camp, we got an order to occupy the positions at the corner of Okopowa Street and Zytnia Street.
One of the insurgent units, "Kolegium A," (= a college; a magistrate's court) gained German magazines of food and kits on Stawki. So we got supply and German kits, while we put our civilian clothes into the rucksacks.
Difficult days of fighting occurred. We understood we wouldn't get any help, that there is little ammunition, that every bullet had to hit accurately. With impatience we waited for the airdrops. We needed ammunition and guns as we had many volunteers that had to be armed. We would need some additional guns as well.
On the 4th of August in the afternoon I received an order to occupy together with some friends a building on the other side of Zytnia Street, in front of the barricade, occupied by nobody. I executed the order and having made a reconnaissance I noticed that at the corner of Okopowa Street and Leszno Street, in the Majde's little factory of soap there are moving Germans. Together with three friends armed with rifles we went on the attic where openings in the wall were found. Friends took the positions by the openings. Everyone chose another German and on command simultaneously we fired shooting three Germans. Germans blindly opened fire doing no harm to us.
On the 6th of August at Zytnia Street and Okopowa Street we were received by the platoon of Lieutenant "Sarmak," and we got detailed to Kamler's factory. On the 7th of August we were directed to the Tobacco Monopoly at Dzielna Street. At night of the seventh and the eighth of August we went to Pfeiffer's tannery at Okopowa Street.
A group of soldiers from the platoon of Lieutenant "Torpeda" near the wall of a Jewish Cemetery at Okopowa Street.
There are standing from the left: Marian Ławacz, pseud. "Marek," Krystyna Trzaska, pseud. "Krysia," Zenon Jackowski, pseud. "Adas," Danuta Aniszewska, pseud. "Danka," Zbigniew Wojterowski pseud. "Sowa" (= an owl), Jan Romanczyk, pseud. "Łata" is kneeling
On the 10th of August I was sent by my commanding officer, Lieutenant "Torpeda" as a liaison-officer to the commanding officer of the battalion of Capt. "Niebora." There was no Captain in his headquarters so I sat on the unfolded mat near the headquarters and was waiting. By me there was sitting a soldier as well and who was interested in my "Blyskawica" (= a flash of lightning - as far as the name itself is concerned; apart from that it is a machine gun of Polish production). I showed to him very thoroughly and explained its mechanism. He asked me to give it into his hand. I took out the magazine and complied with his request. Then he asked me to give it to him with the magazine, secured. I complied with this request as well. I lowered the firing pin, as it was the safety catch for "Blyskawica," I put in the magazine handed it to him and observed what he would do with it. In the moment there was a tumult as the commanding officer was going. I turned my head when I heard the clang of my "Blyskawica" and saw the soldier pull the firing pin and the trigger. With a sudden hand move I directed the barrel to the floor, a burst of shots fell under Captain "Niebora"'s feet. A group of officers accompanying Captain "Niebora" put the screws on me and wanted to bring me to the military tribunal. Out of the oppression I was rescued by Captain "Niebora" who said: "What do you want from him as but for his presence of mind I would be dead already." I got a report and lost in thought I went to the headquarters.
The situation on Wola was getting more and more difficult. Germans attacked our positions using tanks and the artillery. The area conquered by us was getting smaller. The command decided that we had to leave Wola. On the 11th of August Germans supported by a heavy fire of the artillery drove our positions away at Parysowski Square and occupied the magazine at Stawki cutting off us from the Old Town.
In such a situation the Lieutenant-colonel Radoslaw issued an order of fighting our way and demanded that we should instantly attack German positions. On the 11th of August, in full gear, we went out for our headquarters and according to the order we left rucksacks and took guns, ammunition and grenades. We stood in a line formation for the attack. The action was led by the commanding officer of "Miotła" Battalion Cpt. "Niebora" Franciszek Wladyslaw Mazurkiewicz.
Cpt. Franciszek Wladyslaw Mazurkiewicz pseud. "Niebora"
He looked at the line formation and beckoned me. I reported to the commanding officer and got an order of occupying the advance guard position. My task was that I was the first who climbed heaps of rubble of the damaged houses and using the right sign I informed the commanding officer what I saw. The line formation followed me.
This way we got to the ghetto wall and the wall of the magazine at Stawki. In front of me there was rubble of a small house with a protruding fragment of the corner walls. The commanding officer and the whole line formation joined me. One jumped and I found myself on the old house debris while in front of me I saw a group of some Mongols in German uniforms. When they saw me (I was in a German uniform) they hailed "Deutsch?" I said: "Yo, yo" and pulling the trigger of my "Blyskawica" I sent them a burst of shots. There was a commotion and they started running away in the direction of the gate.
I got back to the commanding officer and reported on the events. Then "Niebora" grabbed a grenade tucked into my belt and jumped on the debris and I followed him. We were stopped by a German fire behind the magazine gate, soldiers hid themselves and were shooting at us. We hid behind the fragment of the wall and with the fire from "Blyskawica" I calmed down the enemy. Next aiming at legs I made them withdraw from the gate.
The commanding officer noticed what was going on and with a thunderous shout "Hurrah!" he moved into the attack. He was followed by me, "Dzidek," and "Ghandi." Crossing the gate light, "Dzidek" was fatally shot. Germans opened a heavy fire. The bullets of the machine gun pierced a thin wall of the magazines. Soon "Ghandi" got shot in the leg. The commanding officer screamed to me: "You've got a grenade under your feet!" I turned, made one step ahead and fell down. The explosion took place that fortunately didn't hurt anyone. Next Capt. "Niebora" was hit with a chip of concrete. When he withdrew for the dressing, nearby the bullet from the small anti-tank cannon burst. The commanding officer fell down injured for the second time and before he was carried to the dressing point he had died.
I was by myself near the gate and I got my bearings. Germans hid themselves behind the carriages 150 metres from the gate. Behind the gate there was a tracked trailer with an attached small anti-tank cannon that was abandoned by Germans as a result of our attack (later it was taken over by the insurgents). I went out from the gate and reported on the situation to the nearest officer. Then I joined the group that was attacking German points on Parysowski Square, that had been driven away from here.
One of our units attacked Germans from the school side on Stawki and drove them away from the magazine area. The road to the Old Town was free. All the way planes were attacking us, but we reached the destination. During the whole action we suffered serious losses, we had the injured and the killed. The balance of the losses is commemorated by a memorial obelisk at the corner of Dzika Street and Stawki Street.
The obelisk at the corner of Dzika Street dedicated to the commanding officer of "Miotła" Battalion and to His soldiers who died clearing the way from Wola to the Old Twon getting out of the encirclement.
Getting onto the Old Town we stopped at Krasinskis' Square in the Krasinskis" Palace. Then we got headquarters at the corner of Dluga Street and Miodowa Street in the Old Hive (a cafe). When we reached the Old Town it looked as if it hadn't seen any battle yet, but the destruction followed us.
As a result of the death of the commanding officer of "Miotła" Battalion and the death of the second in command there took place the reorganization of "Miotła" Battalion that the majority of units were assigned to "Czata 49" (= a watch) Battalion under the leadership of Major "Witold" - Tadeusz Runge.
We got a new assignment including points at Muranow. Our direct commanding officer in "Czata 49" Battalion was Cpt. "Motyl" (= a butterfly) - Zbigniew Scibor-Rylski. The place of our stop was a house at Muranowska 2 Street. From Muranow we carried out a night-time attack on the magazines on Stawki. Germans when we had left Wola occupied again the magazines. The attack, as we realized, surprised Germans, as wandering around the courtyard they abandoned everything, hid in the buildings and were shooting. The sortie was successful, we had no losses though one of the friends pseud. "Ryk," (= a roar) said after the action that "Filipinka" (a manually operated offensive grenade E-40 produced secretly in the AK manufacturing company of arms) that was strapped to his belt was shot through. We gained considerable amounts of supply.
When we got back from the sortie, the commanding officer addressed me and said I would go looking after people, who were improving the barricade, broken by Germans with goliaths. Having seen the improved parts, I occupied a place in a tiny corner, between bricks. Soon Jurek Murawski came with an order I should go for supper, while he would take over my position. I walked away a few steps, when behind me a loud explosion sounded; I got back to the abandoned position and I saw a track of a bomb from a grenade launcher, that hit the place and tore Jurek apart. I wondered whether he had come to save me and to die he himself?
Our points on Muranow were attacked by airplanes and goliaths. We had losses, many friends were seriously injured. Together with Tadeusz Wall pseud. "Gora"(a mountain) I was sent with an order to our headquarters at Mlawska 3 Street. We were passing the ghetto debris, among small carriages taking away the rubble. When we were passing them, the bullets were "playing" on the small carriages.
We reached John of God Church at Bonifraterska Street and here we stayed for a moment. Tadeusz said:" I'm injured in the back." Gently I'm lifting up the rucksack and I can see a dark stain on the uniform. Carefully I'm pulling the uniform away and I can see a white stain on the shirt. Probably there's no white blood? What turned out: the bullet went through the rucksack and punched a hole in a tinned food can, that he had in the rucksack, and Tadeusz feeling the dampness on the back thought he was injured. It's good it finished that way. We set off to the headquarters. We gave back the report, we received an answer and happily returned to the base.
The situation on Muranow was getting more and more onerous. The German air-raids and goliaths (remotely-controlled self-propelled tank mines without people) attacked us without any break, we suffered losses. The command decided to leave Muranow. Our new headquarters was Mlawska 3 Street.
I got an outpost in the house at Sapiezynska Street, on the third floor. There was an interesting view from the window. I saw the hillside of Traugutt's fort, there was a small cannon and nearby on the blanket there was lying a German. From time to time he got up, loaded the small cannon and fired, while the bomb was flying into our direction. I called "Adas" with MG-42 (a German machine-gun) and I showed him through binoculars what I'd observed. "Adas" put his MG, took aim and shot, but probably he hit in the metal sheeting of the small cannon shield. The German got up suddenly and leant out of the metal sheeting to see what had happened. "Adas" noticing this shot quickly at the same aim. The German involuntarily hung on the small cannon shield. Germans did smoke shield and when it fell it turned out they took the injured man and started shooting in our direction, hiding prudently from us.
On the 21st of August there was to take place an attack on Danzig Railway Station from our direction, and also from Zoliborz. We reached the Traugutt's Park fence at Miedzyparkova Street. There was still darkness and we were waiting for the sign of starting the attack from Zoliborz. Unfortunately it was useless. When it was light the action calling off took place.
One of our friends seeing a German on Traugutt's Park hillside, before the withdrawal, he accurately shot at him. German as if revived started shooting. Friends withdrew under the cover of the stand of Polonia Stadium. I set off through the middle of Traugutt's Park. I realized I was being shot by Germans. Suddenly I fell on the ground defending myself from the bullets. Soon I got up and ran further in the direction of the printing school building at Konwiktorska Street that was assigned for the place of the unit meeting.
When I was approaching the meeting place, on the first floor of the building, I heard the voice of the commanding officer of my platoon Lieutenant "Torpeda" that there was one soldier missing. Somebody said that he saw "Łata" fall. Then the commanding officer called a moment of silence to commemorate the memory of the friend. I was near and hearing this I called: "Wait." The rank got dispersed and friends greeted me as if I had got back from another world. I returned to the headquarters.
On the 26th of August we got an order to change the unit from "Jerzyki" Platoon defending John of God Hospital at Bonifraterska Street. The defence was very tough. Having the position from the courtyard side, I noticed that to the window bar of the building cellar perpendicularly adjoining to ours, somebody's hands were tying a can with trinitrotoluene, pulling the cord, and disappearing. I hid myself as well, the explosion took place. When I looked out again, the bar was broken and in the cellar Germans were preparing for the attack. Thinking not too much I took the impact grenade and praying to hit the gap in the bar that left after the explosion I threw it into the cellar. I threw it accurately. When I looked out there was a lot of smoke, but... there was silence. Germans started the attack with goliaths and shot-putters. We defended ourselves fiercely, unfortunately we were forced to abandon the burning hospital.
The next day I got an order to defend together with the party the corner of Bonifraterska Street and Sapiezynska Street. The corner consisted of burnt tenements that collapsed under the artillery fire. Just there I had to position my outposts. When Germans started shooting I withdrew people from the endangered places and when they stopped shooting, we got back on our positions. Germans were attacking. We let the attackers come closer and then we started a heavy fire from the machine gun. The German attack was collapsing leaving dead bodies on the battlefield, that were cleared away by Polish civilians kept by Germans for those purposes. Such a situation repeated many times. Germans thought we all would die under the debris, while we didn't have any losses. We were fighting with determination, to be or not to be.
Tomorrow morning we were given a change that I informed about the tactics I used while me myself I went for some rest with happiness. My happiness didn't last long. The commanding officer came, woke me up and ordered to check what was going on as there was raking but no shooting as it had been during my duty. Quickly I went to the outpost abandoned by me and found people playing cards instead of them being on the positions. They excused themselves there was a raking that hadn't been there yet. I called for them going instantly on the positions. They got up but when they were coming closer to the hole in the wall, through which one had to go the raking greeted them. There had already been Germans.
I called two people. One of them I sent for my boys, the second one to neighbours to inform them about the situation. I arranged with my people they would put bayonets on guns while I would go onto the second floor of the neighbouring tenement using the remains of stairs destroyed by a bomb. From there above the wall I'd throw two grenades while they, in the clouds of smoke, would attack the enemy. The action was successful. When the smoke fell down Germans saw right there our boys with bayonets an they bolted leaving two boxes with grenades and three boxes with machine gun ammunition. Just after the action I could take a rest.
Germans were still attacking us with goliaths and planes. We managed to render the goliath harmless. We knew we had German prisoners who could disarm it and thanked to that the explosive could be made useful. So we sent to fetch them. It turned out that they were our friends from the tanks conquered on Wola. The job was done diligently to our content.
At the end of August the situation on the Old Town was getting more and more difficult. I remember that when we came from Wola there was still almost a normal life. One day had hardly passed and an intensive attack on the Old Town started. Communication with the City Centre and Zoliborz was possible only through the canals, through which however the injured couldn't be taken back. In the meantime leaving them there could be fatal. Our opponent was a barbarian, they ignored Geneva Agreements, murdered the injured and the civilians.
The Bank Square view
That was why our command trying to establish a connection with the City Centre through the streets prepared an attack on the Old Town from Barokowa Street, a night-time landing on the Bank Square and simultaneously the attack of the units from the City Centre from the side of the Iron Square Gate. The landing in which I took part reached the Bank Square. The attack from the above, from the side of Barokowa Street, took place. Unfortunately there wasn't an attack from the Iron Gate Square because during the day Germans drove insurgents away from there. The whole undertaking didn't end in success.
Underneath I am describing my experiences connected with the canal landing on the Bank Square.
On the 30th of August on Krasinski's Square at Dluga Street there is ready for marching out a column of insurgents. It's 22 o'clock. First there is coming an eight-person group of Lieutenant "Cedro," a very brave and courageous officer, then after him to the canal there are coming six people from Lieutenant "Torpeda": "Adas" - a gun-layer Zenon Jackowski with MG-42, "Gabrys" - a gunner's mate Jan Kurpinski "Kaminski" - a gunner's mate Jan Peczkowski; "Marek" - Marian Lawacz, "Łata" - Jan Romanczyk, "Sowa" - Zbigniew Wojterowski behind us the group of "Jerzyki" and other units.
It was dark and damp in the canals. Guns and ammunition had to be kept high so that it wouldn't get wet and would be good for shooting. After almost 3 hours of walking very tired we reached the destination. At one o'clock the attack was to take place. Everyone is resting waiting for this that the next minutes will bring.
It's the 31st of August, 1.00 o'clock. The opening with clatter of the manhole lid takes place. Fresh air gets in the canal. Lieutenant "Cedro" is jumping out first and then his people. Suddenly shots above the canal are heard. Those by the exit are withdrawing. In the manhole one head of those that got out appears and screams: "Go out!" With all impetus I am pushing my way to the exit, in front of me "Marek," behind me "Sowa," "Gabrys" and "Kaminski." After going out "Kaminski" ran onto the square in the bushes and we ran to the fountain.
On the square a chaotic shooting fell. It's easy to be felt that Germans are confused, though more intensely they are raking the canal exit. Suddenly the quietness fell and a carrying voice is heard - "Hallo! Wer ist da?" - "Hier sind Deutsche" - I answer loudly and hear a reply - "Hier auch sind Deutsche." I can hear forcing one's way through the bushes. I cannot stand it I am sending a burst of shots from "Blyskawica" in that direction. And again the same voice is heard: "Verfluchte Mensch, wer ist da?" - "Hier sind Deutsche" I answer again. German's irritated voice is yelling -"Hier auch sind Deutsche! Warum schiessen Sie?" Two well-built figures are looming out of the bushes. I am taking aim, shooting, there's no more of the conversation. The cannonade has just started!
And again the quietness fell and some voice was heard: "Hallo Karl Mueller, weist du was heir los?" On the other side somebody's answering: "Ich weisst nicht." - Then the first is saying: "Zwischen uns sind polnischen Banditen." And again a really heavy raking starts. We worked out there were only four of us that stayed by the fountain. Making a smoke cover out of the grenades we are withdrawing. I am the last one that gets into the manhole. The lid influenced by the grenade explosion shuts down falling on my head. I am falling on "Marek." The lid traps "Blyskawica" and my left hand thumb. The canal-man counted up and said one was missing. He arranges something with Cpt. "Motyl". He turns to me that I'd give my "Vis" (pistol) to the canal-man as without a gun he was afraid of looking out.
Nurses applied dressing to me and I went through the canal after the withdrawing unit. I felt an enormous thirst. A mess tin was empty. I turned to friends for help: "Give me something to drink or otherwise I'll drink the dirty water from the canal," somebody from the column said: "I have half of a litre of spirit." Then I said "give the spirit." I got a sealed half-litre bottle of spirit. With delight and very carefully I took two swallows, I felt better and moved with the column ahead. Suddenly the column stops as it doesn't know where to go on. They have found themselves at the crossroads and they're looking for a guide. As there's nobody like that, I am coming forward, getting in front and we move on. During that marching I had an unpleasant adventure, that made me irritated a lot. One of the friends screamed that Germans were flooding the canal and there was a danger of panic, fortunately it wasn't true. I stopped the column and the matter got explained. We were walking against the water current that was swelling in front of us. When we stopped, water flowed down and everything was clarified.
We reached the canal under Krakowskie Przedmiescie and were waiting for the decision of the command about this we should do next. Here a friend sitting by me noticed on my neck a dried little stream of blood, I found that I was injured in the neck near the larynx. The nurse came and put on dressing, I understood why I had such a thirst. In the meantime the decision came: we are going to the City Centre. There is a signal-we are going out of canals. We found ourselves on Warecka Street at Nowy Swiat. Among our friends a photojournalist is hanging around and is taking photos. I went to the West Bank and thought there would be a dressing point, but there wasn't. The city still nice, but taught by experience we realize that the destruction is following us.
"Miotła" Battalion on the combat trail
From the corner of Warecka and Nowy Swiat we set off to the PKO Bank edifice at the corner of Marszalkowska Street and Swietokrzyska Street. Here the commanding officer ordered me to go for the dressing at Zlota Street. At the dressing point the doctor took off a dirty, smelly dressing. At first sight he said the finger had to be amputated as in such conditions there could be an infection and they didn't have anaesthetics but I had to wait 20 minutes when they sterilized instruments and in the meantime my finger was bathing in calium hyper manganicum. After 20 minutes when the tools were sterilized the examination of the finger took place and to the doctor's surprise and to my satisfaction there was no necessity of the amputation. But wasn't it influenced by the spirit I'd drunk? The doctor stated that if I got a high temperature I had to visit the dressing point, but it wasn't necessary and the finger remained. Having the dressing put on I took the return road.
On the way I was stopped by the patrol of our field military policemen and they wanted to disarm me explaining that solitary soldiers mustn't walk with guns. I explained to the military policemen I was there on business and I wouldn't give the gun back unless they killed me I withdrew from them and released the safety catch. They offered to visit them and I agreed. Seeing my firmness they allowed me to return to the unit with a gun. When I reached the PKO Bank edifice it turned out that PKO edifice had been bombarded. There hadn't been our people yet, though they had left a message so I followed them and found them. We got the headquarters on Zlota Street at Wielka. Here my friends washed my uniform in the canals. At night there came an order of marching out and I had to put on a wet uniform.
Then we got to headquarters at Nowy Swiat at number 40. Then we went through the passage made from sandbags through Jerozolimskie Avenues to Mokotowska Street. When we were getting into the passage a civilian forced his way. When we were at the end of the passage a kind of bullet happened to be there, that injured fatally the civilian. That man took my place so he rescued my life. From Mokotowska we went on the positions to the Lazarus Hospital opposite the National Museum where Germans were.
After one-day stay on the hospital area we were detailed on Okrag Street. Twenty four hours later we got to the hospital defence but it burnt nevertheless. We occupied positions on warm debris. Our headquarters was found at Ksiezycowa Street.
The eleventh of September together with others I was sent on Okrag Street to take away from here the left things. After the return we saw seriously injured friend carried on the stretcher. It turned out that a plane had dropped a bomb on our headquarters. Lots of friends got injured and there were just seven people left in my party. After coming I was instantly called to the commanding officer of the company Captain "Janusz" because the commanding officer "Szczesny" had been seriously injured. I got an order of going together with my people on the buttress to support the crews in Professor Pniewski's villa and the Chinese and French Embassy.
Getting to the cutting leading to the villa I noticed two soldiers running down and I heard steps in the pit. First I noticed a helmet with a white eagle, so I didn't have doubts, it was a Pole running but when I loomed out of the bushes and stopped him he was surprised. Soon the commanding officer with people ran following him, he was leaving the outpost. I stopped him and said I was going to support and that outpost couldn't be abandoned. I'll go to the woman liaison officer to file a report and I'll be back soon, I asked him to leave a liaison officer and get back to the position. Having filed the report to the nurse I got back to the cutting, there was no liaison officer. Through the cutting I went to the villa, it was empty. Out of my people I placed two people in the villa. German tanks drove away as it was getting dark. Soon the cadet "Ludwik" came with people and excused me from the duty.
Having carried out the task I went to sleep on the spot, as I was very tired with the earlier, long duty on the hospital area. And even this time I didn't sleep long as my commanding officer woke me up and together with two friends sent me to the commanding officer of the fragment Cpt. "Janusz" (Janusz Kokorniak). He then informed me that I was the commanding officer of the military policemen field patrol as he'd lost his trust towards the commanding officer in Professor Pniewski's villa. Yesterday he abandoned a point that couldn't be abandoned.
Cpt. "Janusz" gave me two letters: one to Professor Pniewski, the second one to the commanding officer of the outpost. He ordered to defend the outpost, there was no way of leaving it and if the commanding officer wanted to do it I was to forbid him to do it using even a gun if necessary. Well, the order not very interesting but let it be. We were greeted warmly there, we were given the accommodation and we went to sleep, but I slept not very well thinking about performing the order.
It was the day of the 12th of September, a quiet and calm morning signalled a storm. Hardly did we finish breakfast when the cannonade started that aim was our house. I proposed to the commanding officer of the fragment to take up the posts endangered by raking to what he willingly agreed. We waited till the end of squall and when the cannonade stopped we filled all the positions with machine guns. After a while, from YMCA side, into the adjoining garden, German soldiers started gathering, preparing a line formation. We kept calmness till the moment they approached us within an effective fire reach. It happened the line moved into the attack but due to our raking it broke down and withdrew leaving the injured and killed on the field that were cleaned away by Poles captured by Germans.
Such an attack repeated many times. Finally two tanks arrived. For that eventuality we had a piat (= a British anti-tank grenade launcher). The piat operator took the position very quickly and shot at the tank. The tank directed the barrel at the window where the operator had a position and fired a shot. It happened probably in the same moment or a little bit later as having shot the operator quickly jumped off from the window but the tank bomb hit his position. The shrapnel of the bomb injured him really seriously. He was quickly taken for the dressing. The operator's shot was accurate as it damaged the tank. The tanks departed. When I was walking with an injured operator nearby a bomb from a grenade launcher exploded and I got injured on the chest. I had a pierced pleura, I started suffocating. I had to go for the dressing what made me excluded from a further fighting.
On the 12th of September 1944 after the injury, the military participation of mine in the Warsaw Uprising finished. When I turned up in the dressing point I realized that the wound of my chest was serious. Out of my wound, even though not very big, the air was coming out and it's difficult for me to breathe. Having laid some hours in the first-aid post on the 13th of September in the morning friends on a stretcher took me from the dressing point to Professor Piniewski's villa and transported to our headquarters at Ksiezycowa Street.
Here I was greeted by the commanding officer of the platoon Lieutenant "Torpeda" and he informed me about the order from the Commander in Chief General "Bor" I was to be decorated with. By the order nr 421 from the day of 09.09.44 I was decorated with the V Class Order of Military Virtue. It pleased me a lot although my actual situation wasn't very good. After that ceremony I was transported to the hospital at Czerniakowska Street the corner of Ludna.
The doctor said that the wound had to be sewn up, though there were no anaesthetics and it would be painful. With calmness I received the doctor's opinion and I underwent surgery, during which I stayed silent. When the doctor said the surgery had finished I asked the doctor: "When will it hurt?" What made the doctor's smile appear on his face. I thanked him cordially for taking care of me.
After the surgery I was put on a mattress in the hospital basement. Our opponent behaved like a barbarian ignoring Geneva Agreements. It raked and bombarded hospital, shot at nurses decorated with a red cross badge coming to the injured aid. In that situation the upper rooms of the hospital couldn't be used. I was laid on the floor as there were no empty beds. Just about 11:00 there died a seriously injured nurse and I was laid in the bed on her place.
Life in hospital was full of tension. There were heard moans of the injured and the suffering. Nurses tried to help them in the dinner time they handed around meals obtained with difficulty. At about 13:00 one could hear a whirr of planes that dropped bombs near the hospital. The time was slowly passing by. It was getting on for 16:00 again the whirr of planes was heard. Now they dropped the bombs directly on the hospital.
I heard a bomb with a delayed fuse as if just above my head piercing the ceilings. The last ceiling it was too weak to pierce through and it fell down. Some moments that stayed before the explosion I spent on a short examination of conscience and contrition. The explosion took place and I survived, there was a lot of dust. When the dust fell down I saw fire behind the next door of our room. I wondered whether we had an evacuation route or we should burn alive? A nurse ran and said our soldiers withdrew and that we put ourselves at the enemy's mercy.
Among us there was a German soldier who had been injured on the 1st of August at Przemyslowa Street and then put by our first-aid services in the hospital and cured there. That soldier decided to go with our doctor and a nurse with a white flag to German positions and defend our people. The nurse asked me whether I agreed to it. I was surprised why I was asked about it but if they had arranged I was to decide I agreed. The doctor the nurse and a German equipped with the white flag went out on the German positions. There they got an order of evacuating hospital on the area of gasworks.
After the return a nurse came took my German uniform and threw it into the fire. Then she gave an account of the mission at the German. Having reached German positions the injured German soldier came to the fore. He said it was a civilian hospital where were lying incidentally injured on the street. The German officer asked who he was. The soldier told about himself in detail. Then the German officer asked how he had been treated how the insurgents treated him. The German said he'd been treated like everyone else, while polish soldiers offered him a cigarette. The German officer took note of the German's explanations and requested to leave the hospital as it was burning and said that it wouldn't harm a hair on our head.
The nurse helped me go out in the underwear. I was wrapped in a blanket, girded with a soldierly belt with a Hungarian forage cap on the head. The little eagle I attached to the blanket, so that it wasn't visible, Hungarian soldierly shoes on the feet and so we went with the nurse to the gasworks. The nurse helped me go as I was limping, I had a shrapnel under the sole. Her little briefcase was in my keeping though and so we reached the gasworks gate. Here a confusion took place. We were stopped by an Asian Russian in a German uniform and he wanted to take away from me the nurses' little briefcase, while I was unwilling to give it back. During that scrimmage I looked to the side. There was standing a German officer, our eyes met, while I showed him the Asian Russian with my eyes. The German officer started coming closer, I didn't know what his reaction could be. The German kicked the Asian Russian and yelled: "Weg, raus!" To us he turned: "Bitte weiter." We went on.
Passing the building with a red brick we passed a German soldier that was standing on a concrete paavement. When I was passing him he asked me speaking German: "Bist du Ungarn?" (Are you Hungarian?) I said speaking Polish: "No." The German bent low to my ear and said in hushed tones: "So take off the cap from the head otherwise they'll shoot you." [it was said in a deep-Silesian dialect]. I took the advice of the Silesian man and passing on I threw away the forage cap. This way we got onto the square in front of the red-brick building. The nurse went for another ill people and I stayed there till the next day. We were laid down on the square in front of the gasworks and we waited what could happen next.
We were lying outdoors. People from the areas conquered by Germans and expelled from their houses joined us. That people were driven further. One couple left a blanket for me so that I had two blankets. The night was chilly; good there was no rain. At night above us Po-2 Russian biplanes were flying .On the other side of Vistula there were Soviet soldiers.
The morning broke, it was the fourteenth of September. In the afternoon we were formed in a column, at front there was a white flag and we moved to the Red Cross Steet. Me limping I couldn't catch up with the column and I was walking by myself. I heard many times: "Halt!" I stopped. In my direction there was walking a German soldier and he threw some small bundle to me. In the air German trousers were unfurled and fell down some 150 metres from me. Having no strength to go back I didn't go further. I heard again a German's voice: "Halt! I stopped. The German started running up to me, lifted up the trousers, ran to me with a grudge. I hadn't got back for them. When I explained to him I was weak he threw them on my neck. I went further. I caught up with my people at a German police station at Smolna Street. After a short rest we got to Foksal Street and then through Kopernika Street to Krakowskie Przedmiescie. Here in the Baby Jesus Hospital at Kopernika only one injured man was taken as there was no more room.
It had been already dark when we were stopped in St. Roch Hospital at the front of Krakowskie Przedmiescie. Nurses from the hospital cleared away broken glass from the floor in one of the rooms, joined in one every two armchairs and so we were ready for sleeping. The night passed quietly. In the morning after a frugal breakfast prepared by nurses from the hospital we moved on and stopped at Carmelites' Church at Krakowskie Przedmiescie in Dziekanka.
We were cordially received. It was a group of healthy and a little bit injured people that had survived from Starowka. There were also priests from Carmelites' Church. Those people took care of us, and found some clothes for me. Among us there was: Lieutenant Leszek Nizynski pseud. "Niemy" (= mute) the commanding officer of the Platoon "Niedzwiedzie" (= bears) from "Miotła" Battalion, a blind Lieutenant "Frank" with wife and many other. We got a pallet and we were put in the recess near the window. I started feeling a sharp pain in the region of my heart. There was found a doctor who having interviewed me ordered me to keep calm and if the pain intensified I'd take a pill of nitroglycerin that he had given to me. The pain lasted three days, then it passed away. I didn't take the pill.
During the dinner time young people appeared, a boy and a girl. Passing our beds they stopped and looking at us asked where we were from. I answered that by chance injured people on the street. They stopped, took out two mess tins out of the bag they had on themselves and put them in front of us out of the mess tin a smell of delicious meal was coming. Strangers said they would supply food for us. I said we would share one portion with each other while the second one was to be given to Lieutenant Franek lying opposite with burnt out eyes and to his wife.
They boy stayed with us while the girl ran somewhere and brought two additional portions. A conversation ensued. Young people told us where they were from and what they were doing here. They said they were from Praga. They had been caught on the street and transported to work in a German kitchen in the building of Bureau of Council of State. They said we shouldn't worry about food. As long as they were there we had it guaranteed.
The hospital wasn't safe very much. One person appeared in the window from Praga side and got shot with a bullet fired from Vistula. The local German command said that all should be evacuated. In the meantime I was given trousers, a jacket and a no-finished-yet coat.
In Dziekanka we stayed from the 15th of September to the 23rd. On the 23rd of September Germans decided to evacuate us. We were taken on the carts on which coal to the kitchen was transported. We were going through Krakowskie Przedmiescie to Ossolinscy Street and to Pilsudski Square. On the square called Adolf Hitler Platz there was standing untouched Saski Palace with the Grave of the Unknown Soldier. In front of the grave there was a statue of Prince Jozef Poniatowski. Around the square many Germans were hanging. It was sad t think that seemingly so cultural a nation perpetrated such barbarities on the Polish culture, destroying later such monuments. Further we entered Wierzbova and Senatorska Streets passing Bank Square at which I looked recalling battles lately fought there. Then we drove through Elektoralna to Chlodna and further to Wolska Street.
From Wolska we turned into Plocka near the hospital. When we were reaching the hospital I heard as if a familiar voice: "Janek what are you doing here? I'm with a cart so I'll take you." A boy with whom I had earlier attended school ran to the cart on which we were going and stopped the horse. He tried to take me in his arms. A German looked at it indifferently and was waiting. I asked my best friend to take my colleague, Lieutenant "Niemy" who was more injured as I could limp to his cart on my own. He did as I'd asked and soon we were found on the cart and we could talk freely. The German drove further in silence.
The columns of cars set off to Wolas' bounds. Here the German military policemen ordered us to drive to the tiny hospital in Komorowo and they didn't give us any escort. Olek Ryczywolski, who had taken us as I mentioned before was my primary school friend in Ursus. He had a farmstead and horses. He would drive near the hospital, take the injured and distributed them to tiny hospitals in near-Warsaw towns.
Safely we were passing Olek's house, so under the pretext of watering horses he stopped put us down and drove along further. I limped slowly to the house leaving the injured friend. Slowly I got to the house in Ursus I asked father he would go to take the injured man. Mum's out, she'd gone out to sell something as one had to live by something. When she came back the happiness was enormous. We tidied ourselves up and went resting.
News about our return spread quickly around the vicinity. In the morning we were visited by a director of a tiny local hospital, dr. Wloczewski, a very good patriot who ran the hospital in Ursus. Then families of our friends who were in the Warsaw Uprising with us visited us. Not for everyone, unfortunately, did we have good news. We had to cure ourselves. My wound opened and I had to go for the dressing. Dr. Wloczewski took out the shrapnel from my sole and I could walk better. Leszek after some days contacted with the family and went to it. The Uprising finished, but fights in Warsaw still lasted to the 2nd of October.
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
elaboration: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz
translation: Małgorzata Szyszkowska
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