The insurgent accounts of witness
My war 1939-1945
At the corner of Mlynarska and Leszna Streets there was a house (a three-storey?) where was located, known in the district, the grocer's shop. It was said:" at a seller." The top of the house from Mlynarska Street bordered on the buildings of "Alfa" factory that produced candies. The second top - from Leszno side was connected to a tiny square used by Mr. Dudek for storing scrap metal.
Mr. Dudek often played "preferans" (card game) with Grandfather at Weitknecht's (I'm mentioning him in "Rainbow" story). It gave me some "connections" for rummaging about in the scrap metal and for searching for things attractive to me. Those treasures I took to the cellar. On the lid of the coal box I had my own "workshop" and I manufactured out of them constructions useful for me. It could be said that I lived in symbiosis with Mr. Dudek as when I was rummaging about in the scrap metal, he could pop out to drink some beer...
The crossroads of Gorczewska and Mlynarska Streets. The whole corner of the house from the left was occupied by Weitknecht's pub.
On the other street side there was Little Dudek's scrap metal shop.
I was passing the warehouse going to school at Karolkowa. Once I saw that from a standing platform huge, cast-iron casts of strange shapes were dumped. I didn't have time to look at it, but it interested me so much that I couldn't wait for the last break. On top of all that Mr. Jasienowski (music and drawing teacher) put me in the corner as I had sung out of tune the song "Lord John and the Lord stood up..." I had to stay after lessons and repeat the boring melody to the accompaniment of Mr. Jasienowski's violin. When I did it right I could evacuate myself.
Boys called me to play "gazda" (boys game) with them, but I rushed to Mr. Dudek's house.
Such an immense amount of scrap metal I had never seen though one reminded me of a tank. "How nice!" - I screamed to myself and the game started... In one opening I put a considerable piece of a pipe- it was a cannon! The top I covered with a rusty bowl. I attached some other scarp metal elements and the tank was ready!
But what was the tank worth without a tank soldier... The inside of the metal box was so roomy that I could fit myself in, but how I could get in? It was only the head that got into the opening. On the side there was a rectangular hatch not bigger than un unfolded exercise-book. First attempts to get inside were unsuccessful. But I kept on trying till I finally squeezed myself inside scraping the shoulders.
I sat myself on some scrap metal wrapped in cloths. I stuck my head out of the top opening. I moved the cannon pipe and shot: BUMP! BUMP! BUMP!...A machine gun was shooting at the pile of enemy scrap metal: bump-bump-bump!...
The fun lasted long enough and one had to get out. Here the problems started! In spite of the desperate attempts I couldn't leave the tank. I tried to call Mr. Dudek for help, but he went somewhere and nobody knew what was going with him. I got stuck for good!
Little Carol went onto the square and he was followed by a staggering German. I got puzzled! I didn't know what to do? I cringed in the tank and looked through "the loophole" what would happen...They went into a warehouse. After some minutes' time German went out, while Little Carol closed the door. I wanted to lift myself up to call for him but legs got so numb that I couldn't do it. When I was chafing feeling into them I saw Little Carol above me with a canvas bundle.
- For Heaven's sake! Where did you get in? - he screamed. Probably he thought my situation to be hopeless, as the quietness fell.
After a while I felt a smell as if somebody had opened a barrel with beer - it was Mr. Dudek that came. Then they both were thinking about me being pulled out. In spite of many ideas and efforts also on my part I didn't get back freedom. Little Carol requested me to hand a canvas bundle on which I was sitting. "It'll be more room," he said.
I handed them through the top opening-four bundles. From the last bundle a rifle fell out and hit me on the toe. I looked in a surprise at Little Carol.
- Come on, come on! It's an old cap gun.
I hold my aching toe and Little Carol took out the cap gun by himself, hiding it into the pocket. Soon Mr. Dudek and Little Carol were joined by "Malarz" (= painter). He looked at me with interest and asked:
- How did you put him there?
- He did it himself - Mr. Dudek answered.
- And what doesn't he want to get out?
- He wants but he cannot...
- Let the rat in then he'll jump out!
- Better think how to take him out...
- I'll do it in no time at all. Hold my bottle and I'll come at once- and he went away.
Soon he came with some smelly grease wrapped in a newspaper.
- Take your clothes off till you are naked - he said.
Little Carol helped me take clothes off, while Malarz and Dudek wasting no time, took a sip from the bottle. When I was naked, Malarz took up the initiative.
- Grey soap is good for everything! - he mumbled and he started covering me with the smelly grease.
- You'll be getting out as if you were born, head first! Carol, pull for the small head and I'll be tickling his shins!
Little Carol didn't even have to brace his body. I jumped out like a cork.
- Hit him on the fat arse that he could cry! - Malarz was joking - Little Dudek, little moonshine ran out, we're going to the seller...
Little Carol wiped me off with cloths and helped me have a quick wash. Numb with cold hardly could I dress myself.
It was the way that my short career as a tank soldier ended.
Next day, getting back from school I was passing the scrap metal dealer shop without any intention of getting there, but Mr. Dudek called me.
- Sir Carol left something for you, it's in the warehouse - he said.
There was a cap gun wrapped in cloth...
Little Carol had never been seen by me anymore, and I stopped visiting the scrap metal dealer shop as well.
The truth about Little Carol I learnt about many years later. Before the war he was the so-called "staff-officer" in the rank of major. During the occupation he hid out from Gestapo. Undercover agents intruded on his sister many times. She was Grandparents' neighbour. She was arrested and transported to the labour camp. (After war she came back to her house, died in 1948).
Little Carol had been active in the underground movement since the beginning of the occupation. He was employed under an assumed surname, mostly as a night-watchman at i.e. Mr. Dudek's. To Weitknecht's pub lots of soldiers were dropping in for beer and "on various business." Here Little Carol carried out the "purchase" of guns from Germans. This way there happened to be "cap guns" in my tank.
Little Carol survived the war, but he had to hide again-this time from UB (= Polish Secret Service under Communism). Probably he managed to leave Poland and probably he died in 1947 in Canada.
in our times
drawn up by: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz
translation: Małgorzata Szyszkowska
Copyright © 2011 SPPW1944. All rights reserved.