Insurrectionary accounts of witnesses

The memories of Zbigniew Debski from the "Kilinsky" battalion

Further experiences

Zbigniew Debski
born on the 29th of November in 1922 in Lasin
Second Lieutenant of Home Army pseud."Zbych-Prawdzic"
the commander of the seventh unit of the third company "The Grey Ranks-Junior"
Home Army Battalion "Kilinsky "
prisoner number 298383

         In Ozarow we stayed, like the others, in the railway workshops, hangars. From there we were taken to prisoner camp. I was the last one in the group of convalescents. It turned out that all the carriages with prisoners were totally filled up. In the last one, our girl-friends were travelling, nurses, liaison officers. Because other camps were full we went to the camp together with them. On one hand the mud was very pleasant, on the other hand, at times, it was very embarrassing.
         We were travelling for two days and finally we got to Mühlberg. It was an enormous international prisoner camp. As there was no room for us, the tents became our lodges. It wasn't really nice as the temperatures had already got down. After our arrival, we were asked by the command to put the flag and cold steel in deposit. Of course, we did it without a murmur. After a short time we were taken to another camp. The journey looked just the same as the previous one: in sealed cattle vans. And please try to imagine that before our departure we got our flag and cold steel back. We were fully equipped going to another camp. This time it was Altengrabov. The camp was situated on a land that previously served as the cavalry barracks. We were put in the stables.

Prisoner's identification metal badge

         After the coming in, we were arranged in ranks during the assembly. We were standing in the front with the flag and cold steel. The commanding officer of the camp, a senior officer, probably still remembering WWI, an invalid with a walking cane, received us. During the reception one of the German non-commissioned officers ran to his friend and started pulling at his bayonet. He screamed "Deutsche Waffe" and wanted to grab the gun from him. The bayonet was actually German one, but the friend was absolutely unwilling to get separated with it. The commanding officer called non-commissioned officer aside and rebuked him in a horrible way, making him to march away later on. Then he apologized us for that incident. It sounds quite unbelievable, but it was a senior officer who was aware of the Geneva Convention and he behaved in a noble way.

A deposit voucher from the prisoner camp

         Then we were in different camps. It was Sandbostel. The most horrible place ever. There were starvation-level food portions, and our body got swollen from permanent undernourishment. Everyday we got a stock made from beetroot leaves, one potato and a thin slice of bread, less than one hundred grammes.


A letter from a camp post office

         From there we were pushed to Lubeka. The journey was extremely difficult, and we were terribly exhausted. Suddenly, in a flash, the Allied fighters came in. The officers of the Wehrmacht hid themselves in potatoes. The pilots realized that it was a unit made of prisoners. They waved their wings and went further. We got to Bad Schwartau near Lubeka. Here on the second of May in 1945 the English let us free.
         After my stay in Sandbostel I got seriously ill. I was treated in a Hungarian hospital in Travemünde. There were moments I felt miserable, and even the last unction was given to me. One of the treatment methods that they used was blood drawing when the blood pressure was too high. In my situation the treatment wasn't a satisfactory one. I wasn't allowed to drink anything though I was horribly thirsty. Secretly I got some milk, let it get sour and then sipped it. After some time my health improved. Doctors were amazed and wondered how it could have happened. In my opinion, this that saved me was God and sour milk.
         In 1946, for some months, I worked as an adjutant of the first officer company of the Third Officer Grouping in Glashütte in Germany. The opinion for that period of service was written by Colonel Niedzielsky pseud. "Zywiciel" (Breadwinner).


Glashütte 1946

An opinion affirmed by Col. "Zywicielr"

         After the liberation, some of my friends went to Italy to join Polish units. I had to stay because of my health condition. After some time of convalescence I went on to the American Zone. Here I got into the service of Polish guard units attached to the American Army where I was the company commander.

The identification badges CGTC


A card of an honourable badge CGTC "Kosciushko"


The documents of Polish Guard Units

         I wondered what I should do next. My reliable friend, who knew English, thought about going to South Africa or Australia. He tried to persuade me that I should do the same. I decided to go with him when I got in touch with my family. Mum asked me to return home. As a result, my friend went to Australia by himself and I got back. I returned to Poland in June 1948.


A repatriation document

         Fulfilling my parents' wish I started studies. Because my father was an owner of a drugstore I got a degree in pharmaceutics. I passed the entrance exams in Warsaw, but I didn't get there. Firstly, because there were too many candidates. Secondly, I belonged to Home Army and this I didn't hide it didn't matter. Finally, because of my late home-coming. As a result, I started learning on Torun University at the department of chemistry (pharmaceutics was unavailable here). In 1950 the drugstores were nationalized and my father got arrested. My pharmaceutics seemed to be rather unhelpful. In 1952 I graduated from the chemistry department. During my studies I wasn't associated with any organization but the Academic Association of Students where I organized a hunting circle. I was elected to be the president of the circle because of my hunting traditions. All members of the circle, except for the president, got a licence for a gun. Polish Secret Police made to me different conditions to fulfil before I was allowed to get a gun licence. I didn't accept those stipulations and I didn't receive the licence. Of course I used the gun quite often during hunting sessions as my friends lent it to me.
         After completing the university studies I took up a post in the pharmaceutical factory in Trachomin. When the trial period ended the director said that unfortunately he had to dismiss me. The same happened at Rydygier in the Pharmaceutical Institute and in many other places. Sometimes I learnt the reason of my dismissal, sometimes I didn't. Once they said that I was socially suspicious as I wore white shirts, shove everyday and wore polished shoes. Today it sounds funny, but it was a fact in those times.
         Finally I got to the cooperative movement. First I worked in the Central Chemical Laboratory at Wspolna Street, then in the factory in the Mars Avenue in Rembertow. Here I felt safe as I wasn't invited for any conversations. Finally, I got to work in INCO where many people like me worked as well. In INCO I was a director of the chemical factory and I worked there as long as I retired.
         In 1980 I became the president of Kilinsky Battalion Circle. I am a cofounder of the Association of Warsaw Insurgents and the member of the executive committee of ZG ZPW.


A certificate of a three-time given award of the Cross of Valour

         I am a cofounder and a member of both Social Committees of the Warsaw Uprising Monument Building. I am a cofounder and a member of the Committee of the War Order Virtuti Militari Knight Club where I am serving as a secretary. Lots of various functions in many social organizations.

The act of blessing the banner of Home Army batallion "Kilinsky"

         I was awarded with many orders for my actions. In 2006 I was promoted to the rank of major.


The orders


A formal uniform

         Home Army Commander of Batallion "Kiliñsky" Lieutenant-Colonel Henryk Leliva Roycevich described my activities in the batallion the following way:
         Zbigniew Debski, pseud. "Zbych-Prawdzic" in the Resistance Movement from January 1940, Polish Military Organization (POZ), the Association of Military Fighting, later on the third companion of Home Army Batallion "Kilinsky." He graduated from the school for lower-ranked commanders and an officer cadet school in 1944. His dedication and courage during the Warsaw Uprising was above average. Dedicated and brave he was a soldier and a commander of the unit in the third company of the above mentioned batallion, especially when conquering Gorskiego School, Cristal and Cafe Club and the Main Post office and many other buildings of PAST. In the last one he was the only one who got on the roof and hung the flag there. 08.09.1944 fighting for the post Nowy Swiat 21, whose commander he was, in a direct fight, dealt with some Germans, he himself got hurt and being buried under the debris he got seriously injured. Temporarily cured, he got back from hospital and served till the end of the Uprising. Promoted to the rank of the second lieutenant, imprisoned in many prisoner camps. A proposal of awarding him with the Fifth Class Virtuti Milirati Order was handed to General "Monter" before the Uprising capitulation.

Zbigniew Dêbski

translation: Malgorzata Szyszkowska

      Zbigniew Debski
born on the 29th of November in 1922 in Lasin
Second Lieutenant of Home Army pseud."Zbych-Prawdzic"
the commander of the seventh unit of the third company "The Grey Ranks-Junior"
Home Army Battalion "Kilinsky "
prisoner number 298383

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