The insurgent accounts of witness
My war 1939-1945
A trophy death
Germans were shooting at the Old Town with everything they had, lethal Stukas were wailing. There were great losses among Starowka residents. Hospitals got filled up with the injured, more and more ruins appeared, lots of houses were burning.
Before the evening shooting calmed down...
Making use of the moment of silence, we brought with Antek collected among people sheets and blankets to the hospital at Dluga Street. I got back along Kilinskiego Street. People were going out of the cellar kennels. They were squinting their eyes in the light of setting sun with difficulty there were coming in through the clouds of smoke. Somewhere the accordion was heard and some voices, a few not very sober people joined in a funny melody! Girls in the army-camouflage brought victuals to their boys from the barricades. Near the edifice of the Ministry of Justice stopped a unit of insurgents - they were tired, they were sitting on the pavement, putting their backs against the house wall.
Nothing threatened the blow that was to come in several dozen minutes' time... Lots of people lost their life, so did my friend Antek, who was walking by me, cunningly whistling through the teeth. We rushed home (Podwale 29) to have a celebration out of the given crackers and onions to us. We dealt with it quickly as lately we hadn't felt full up. We wondered what else we could do till Germans would break our idyll, but Antek noticed something interesting before the house and we ran out on the street.
This we saw made us dumbstruck! On a concrete landing under the ramparts, there was standing a tank with a white and red flag!
- Insurgents conquered the tank! - Antek screamed dashing into their direction. I dashed after him. With difficulty we squeezed through the tight crowd of people to watch it from close up, touch it, strike its cool armour-plate...
Out of happiness and emotions my throat became dry. A similar feeling overpowered probably everybody, who was looking at our "Tiger." I was a little bit disappointed that it wasn't a real "Tiger" - then we would have shown to Krauts! The most important was it was ours! Everyone wanted to watch it carefully and to learn how the tank had been seized. A smiling soldier patiently was answering repeated questions, incessantly smartening a protruding, from the forage cap, lock of pale hair.
The problem that interested us was how to climb it! Antek that was older and taller than me managed to climb the top - I didn't unfortunately.
The engine had already whirred pouring out clouds of exhaust fumes - the tank was to move on in a moment, and in no way could I hang on it! Finally, my foot found some support, with a hand I grabbed the edge of the armour plate, the second hand grabbed Mr. Jozio who lived in a neighbouring cellar and I was moving!
I was moving on the tank!
My happiness didn't last long nevertheless. When turning from Podwale to Kilinskiego Street my foot slipped, I hung on the hands and in spite of a desperate fight fro staying on the tank I came off!
Instantly a crowd of people absorbed me, and soon I was pushed out of it. I ran in the direction of house to deliver to everybody that amazing information.
When I got on Podwale, just behind the corner of the building, a horrendous impact threw me on the ground!
I didn't know how much time had passed before I managed to get up. I lost completely the sense of direction. Next to me people were running, I ran with them. Nothing was seen... Dust and smoke. I slipped on something slippery and fell down - it was the shreds of human bodies.
Two girls pulled me out, they were saying something to me, but all I saw was moving lips - I got deaf!
I didn't know how and when I got to the cellar. I didn't understand what had happened... There was a great havoc, somebody by me was crying.
Making use of the havoc I got out of the cellar and keeping my balance with difficulty I got to Kilinskiego. I was bruised and injured, but the shock was anaesthetic. It was almost dark, but this I saw was terrible - this couldn't be described, couldn't be forgotten!
Battered, torn bodies were piled up everywhere where it was possible... Everywhere was heard screaming and crying... Everything around was splattered with blood soft sticky substance... Debris of collapsed walls, bent, scattered tank scrap metal...Suddenly all that had whirled around and stopped existing...
I was woken up by shakes and close explosions, when I opened eyes I saw the vault of my cellar.
Explosion of the conquered tank packed with explosives deprived hundreds of people of life, hundreds were injured, but for only several dozen seconds and I could have vanished into the blue...
A statue at Kilinskiego Street commemorating the tragedy caused by the explosion of the mine
that was in the conquered storm vehicle on the 13th August 1944.
When sometimes I light a lamp on the casual gravestone, I have the impression that it is my own one...
in our times
drawn up by: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz
translation: Małgorzata Szyszkowska
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