The record of conversation with Mr. Jerzy Kaczyński

Jerzy Kaczyński,
born in the year 1916
a.k.a. "Bohdan"
Home Army lieutenant, doctor,
Kedyw unit "Kolegium A",
Home Army union "Radosław"
honoured with Virtuti Militari Silver Cross,
Cross of Valour (twice) and Medal of Army (for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th time).

                  W.W.: Firstly, could you present your pre-war years and the beginning of the occupation? How did you join the underground.

         J.K.: My pre-war years I spent as a pupil of the grammar school named after Stanisław Staszic in Warsaw. I graduated from this school which was one of the best public grammar schools. My friend who must be recalled here - Staszek Sosabowski - graduated from the grammar school named after Adam Mickiewicz. Both schools were of similar style, i.e. they were public ones. They had good, or rather very good scout troops which we belonged to. Mine was 16 WDH (the 16th Warsaw Scout Troop) - the prominent troop of Warsaw. I had been a scout for few years and my dream was to join the navy. Unfortunately, I was not accepted there due to my weak sight. Another possibility, which also attracted me, was the army. On account on that, I chose something that was the compilation of both university studies and the army - sanitary officer cadet school known as "sanitarka." There I met Staszek Sosabowski for the first time because among friends coming from the Provence, we, residents of Warsaw, stayed together. Staszek joined us as a son of the later general Sosabowski, then the commander of the 21st regiment named after the Warsaw Children. He used to have a colonel rank when I first met him. Besides, I remember him as quite a harsh man.
         At the officer cadet school our life was typical to students of other schools of that kind: we were going to lectures and simultaneously we were undergoing military training. Obviously, all our leave time used to be spent on that. While our civilian friends had three months of holidays, we had just one month. The rest of the time we spent on training camps. I was doing quite well at the school. I reached the fifth year of medical studies at the rank of master sergeant cadet officer. Staszek and Maciek Zwierz achieved the same. In the last year of studies we were brought together. It was kind of a privilege because others were located in nine-person-rooms whereas we stayed in a three-person-room, which turned out to be very comfortable as those big ones were quite tiring.
         When the war in September 1939 broke out I had an assignment to a sanitary train in Lublin, yet those railway tracks and trains had been bombarded. I managed to join the unit that was retreating to the East.

         The end of the September 1939 war found me in Zamo¶ć where I was a member of the backup unit of DAK, i.e. Horse Artillery Division, commanded by lieutenant Cisek, a very nice young man, a reservist, second lieutenant. And so we survived till the last day. We were ordered to entrench near Zamo¶ć. I was assigned to a machine gun standpoint. We were not to surrender but finish our operations. However, a car full of both our and Soviet officers came at dawn. We had to lay down our arms. And so I found myself in the Soviet captivity.
         At first I had made off but due to my uniform I had on I was soon caught.
         Now I was in prison in Zamo¶ć where, surprised, I was observing Soviet soldiers who looked quite miserably in comparison with us. I shall never forget a moment when - having been taken a captive - I was washing myself by a well. It occurred in some Ukrainian village. Its residents would say to us, "You are such a good army and you surrendered yourselves to those bastards!", which was very painful to hear. I was lucky to escape from this prison. I also remember such funny moments like that one: some soldier was searching me and he found a shaker in my bread bin. The shaver consisted of few parts, of course, and one of them I had in my pocket. He asked me, "Czto eto takoje?" ("What is it?") I answered that one used it to shave. He put into his pocket a shaker handle exclusively and I didn't give him other parts. Such are amusing memories. All in all, I managed to escape from there somehow as I used to present myself as a rank-and-file soldier.

                  W.W.: Hadn't they checked your hands?

         J.K.: I used to have lots of corns on my hands as I had been rowing before in the Men's Eight. And they were watching my hands, indeed. Having seen my corns, they kept saying, "No to ty raboczij, wsio charaszo" ("You can work, it's all right"). During my stay in Zamo¶ć I saw our captives, marching. I noticed my schoolmate who looked like a pauper despite his being a cavalry officer. He was wearing felt boots. He resembled a Jew as his ancestors were Armenian. I told him, "Romek, what are you doing here? Get out of here!" So he joined me and together we went to the headquarters in order to get passes. I started to explain the citizen's policemen who were Jews wearing red armbands and kept asking them for a pass to Lvov because my aim was to cross the border. They asked me if I was an officer, I replied I was not as I was "Riadowoj" (a Private). Luckily, I had so-called "metal plate of death", I mean a birth certificate with no military rank written, just a name, a surname and a date of birth. I showed it to them and they made sure in fact there was no rank. So I must have been "Riadowoj". I received a pass and we left that place.
         I had many adventures but I'm not going to bore you with the stories. I was caught at the Romanian border, though I had a pass with my photographs issued by the Romanian consulate. It could be easily and cheaply bought. Yet, such passes were valid only in the area of Romania. Soviets caught me at the border and led me to the Police station. I also had an extra photograph; the second was on the pass. The pass was in my pocket all the time. Mind you, I was wearing civilian clothes. I was wondering what to do with it. It was impossible to be eaten because both the paper and the photograph were hard. I curled it into a pellet and put under a wardrobe I was leaning against. Some upper-lieutenant came in, a Cossack with his gun and peered. There were a few men next to me, probably also officers wearing civilian clothes, who had been caught at the time, but he chose me and shouted: "You Major!"
         - "What kind of major am I?"
         Others would support me, "He cannot me major, he's too young."
         - "Well... your colonels are young as well..."
         He came back to me saying, "You've been in the army."
         - "No, I'm a medicine student."
         - "Search him!"
         The Ukrainians were searching me. They were not aware of the whole situation but they found my photograph.
         - "So for sure you have a pass!"
         They were sure the photograph was to be used for a pass.
         - I replied, "No, I haven't."
         So they cut my bread and my soap into pieces, they had a look into everything. I was stripped naked, obviously. They didn't find anything. Having come back to their lieutenant, they informed him, "Comrade lieutenant, this ... they used dirty words here … has got a pass but we cannot find it anywhere." So he stood ahead of me, his arms akimbo and said, "Where is your pass?" I replied, "You were looking for it with no effects." And my only thought was, "If they find it there under the wardrobe, I'll be in trouble!" They had a look here and there and concluded, "No, charaszo, mołodiec. Charaszo striatił" - which means "Well, fine, young man. You hid it well."
         - "Let him go."
         I was given a new pass and was released as the only one from the whole group. I consider it such luck about which Staszek Likiernik has written in his book entitled, "Diabelne szczę¶cie czy palec boży" ("The Evil luck or the hand of God?").
         I had to come back to Lvov then and made a decision not to try to cross the border anymore. I ran out of supplies so I decided to come back to the German zone.
         I crossed the border together with my friend, the one from the cadet officer school who I had met. The crossing of border was quite fearful for us as Ukrainians were not favorable for us. While communicating partly in Polish, partly in Russian, I used to say I was coming to Germans, and they (Ukrainians) couldn't stand Russians, whereas Germans were good for them, that's why they let me go. And so we reached the last village before the border. There we got to some man who was occupied with helping people cross the border and we followed him, having paid him some mony. As farewell he wished us all the best, "Idite s Bohom!" ("May God lead you!")
         So we got to Zamo¶ć again where we jumper on a freight train that took us to the outskirts of Warsaw. We were afraid to go to Warsaw. Having reached the capital,soon afterwards, a month later I suppose, I got to the Polish Underground Army - it was a military organisation of Tokarzewski. Later, for a very short time, I was in NSZ (National Armed Forces) but I left them as quickly as possible to get to ZWZ (Union of Armed Struggle) as there was no AK (Home Army) at the time. This conspiration was being continued and in the year 1943 it became more active thanks to sabotage that had come into being. As for me, together with three friends I found myself in Kedyw (The Sabotage Command) of the Home Army Headquarters. The main units included: "Parasol", "Zo¶ka" and "Osa-Kosa".

                  W.W.: What about your activity and life during the occupation?

         J.K.: In the beginning I was being chosen to various actions.
         Zygmunt Kujawski a.k.a. "Brom" was soon appointed to the action due to his scouting connections with Zo¶ka, so he joined them. I could also participate in various actions. I'm not willing to boast about it - please don't understand me in a wrong way - I'm saying this only to present the then situation - I had been chosen to the Kutschera action, the one that was then cancelled. I was waiting in the Theatre Square at the time but boys came to me by car and said the action had been cancelled.
         In the succeeding Kutschera action my friend from officer cadet school Maciek Dworak, a.k.a. Doktor Maks was a participant. It was fortunate as his workplace was the Transfiguration hospital and he brought the wounded immediately after the action to this hospital and he stayed there. I would have to take them ("Sokół" and "Juno") to the place where I was working, i.e. the Ujazdowski hospital, I mean the Holy Spirithospital, but fortunately he was there instead of me: you know the epilog of that action - the leap from the KierbedĽ bridge to the Vistula river.
         As far as the later occupation actions are concerned, I took part in the "Panienka" action (the Bahnschutz guardhouse commander at the Western Station, responsible for the death of many Polish men killed for trivial reasons, and called "Panienka" thanks to his untypical appearance). It was the most spectacular action I directly participated in, in the guard section. My task was to guard the group of labourers, to whom I said - because they wanted to escape - "Wait men!" I showed then my gun. "Here is the Polish Underground State action!" I was wearing civilian clothes and had Parabellum gun. It was like that till the end of the action. In the meantime I saw Kolumb and Janek Barszczewski, disguised as Germans, were leading Antek Wojciechowski as a "Polish bandit" caught on the railway tracks. I remember myself saying to them, "Kolumb, take care of yourself!"
         We said goodbye and then I heard shooting. It is well-known what it looked like later. I'd like to take this opportunity to correct one fact. Stasinek was not in command of this action. He participated in it but was not in command. Kazik (Kazimierz Jakubowski) was, the one who had prepared the whole action, besides - as it turned out later - unfortunately because he let some German go free. This German had begged him for saving his life, and some time later he recognized Kazik in a tram and denounced him. (Kazimierz Jakubowski was killed together with his wife in the Gestapo headquarters in Aleja Szucha, having betrayed no one).
         I also took part in the Dürrfeld action (the supervisor of Warsaw city corporations, one of the most harmful and dangerous officials of German administration), but it was not direct participation as I was waiting for my friends at the corner of Marszałkowska and Wilcza. Nevertheless, it was not a successful action because Dürrfeld survived, only wounded, and my friends drove to me and told me to "get lost". I was not needed then.

         As for other interesting actions, I took part in "Spiess action" (medicament factory of Ludwik Spiess in Tarchomin, at the time in the outlying area of Warsaw; as a result of the action medicaments worth 5 million Polish zlotych were taken out from the factory in trucks; "Stasinek" was in command). The action itself was quite interesting. We were driving two cars - a passenger one: disguised as Germans, and a truck with a driver disguised as a German. The others were wearing civilian clothes. The whole time we were speaking German. Having got into the factory, we immediately occupied the telephone switchboard and guarded it but the German managed to answer the phone and said there was a German action and he could not say anything more. He managed to inform Spiess who set an alarm so it was very "funny" because the mailing alarms were heard by us while we were plundering the factory. Kolumb ran to Spiess and without thinking kicked one of his body parts, furious, at the same time looking for the alarm OFF button. At last he got to the roof and plucked wires. We kept wondering whether or not to stay there. And we decided to stay till the end. Germans would either come or not. We knew they were not so eager to come at night. Then together with Janek Barszczewski I went to the road in order to guard it. If Germans had come, we would have stopped them - that was our task. In the meantime there was one very funny moment. One young passer-by was walking there, supposedly coming back from a date with his girlfriend, and we had to stop him. He didn't know if we were Germans or Polish men. We, armed, shouted, Halt! Hände hoch! (Stop! Hands up!) In the end it turned out he didn't have anything by himself but we had to lead him to the guardhouse and stop to provide him from starting an alarm. Janek stayed while I was leading that young man there. He - an idiot - would catch my hand in which I was taking a gun! So I said, "Release my hand, you idiot or I'll shoot you!"

                  W.W.: In the Polish language?

         J.K.: Yes, indeed. He released my hand and guessed at last, "Are you our men?"
         - "Yes, we are, don't worry." I led him to the guardhouse. Shortly speaking, it was like that. We uploaded two cars. One was taken by us from the factory but unfortunately it was a wooden gas car. We were coming back at dawn. I was sitting at the back of the truck, together with Stach Likiernik. So it was like that.
         As far as other actions are concerned, I was a participant of an action with "Zo¶ka" during which I got to know "Morro" closer (Andrzej Romocki, an outstanding soldier and one of commanders of "Zo¶ka", who died in the Warsaw Uprising). We were chatting during the whole way, in a EKD small-gauge train in the direction of Grodzisk.

         These were some mental pictures of my pre-Uprising activity.

Jerzy Kaczyński with his wife Anna (on the left-hand) and her friend.
The photograph taken during the occupation

                  W.W.: Which feeling preoccupied you while going to the Uprising? Was it enthusiasm? Maybe awareness of the Uprising being a risky operation?

         J.K.: I was going without enthusiasm but I didn't think of the Uprising as a risky action, as we had got used to risk. I considered it a senseless action, predicted that they would shoot us all and civilians would suffer the consequences. It was known to us how armed our so-called line units were - ours was very good - but it was not enough. What could we do - nobody had ever asked us of our opinion. I talked to Stasinek, "What ... I don't want to use dirty words here … hit upon an idea of the Uprising, just now when Russians are staying on the other side with no intention to arrive here". He replied, with feeling similar to mine, "You know, few men gathered, drank a bottle of Cognac and made a decision - it's time for the Uprising!"
         Such were our chats before the Uprising. It is the same standpoint as that of Staszek (Likiernik). Not everybody agrees with us. The bulk of the insurgents were totally unaware of the situation. Where did they expect weapons to come from - from heaven above?

                  W.W.: As a Kedyw diversion unit did you realize your military and clandestine hopes in the actions before the Uprisng?

         J.K.: First of all, we were aware of the German force. We knew we were no partner to fight with them. Our guns and machine guns versus their armor.

                  W.W.: Probably numerous insurgents didn't have a chance to show their activity in fights before. Wasn't the Uprising the last opportunity for them to take an active part in the battle against Germans?

         J.K.: Certainly you are right but, as I have just said, nobody had ever wanted to hear our opinion.

                  W.W.: Coming to the first stage of the Uprising - which positive impressions and events do you remember?

         J.K.: My first day of the Uprising meant assignment to Wola and capturing the Stawki warehouses. The Inflancka street number 5 was the place of our meeting, where I came about 3 p.m. to see the most of our boys gathered. Those from Żoliborz were missing including their commander Stasinek who was to come by car and get my gun that was at his place. And yes, they came but unfortunately without guns as they couldn't get to the weapon warehouses. There (in Żoliborz) there was such shooting that it was impossible and I didn't have my own gun. I got a gun from "Strażak" a.k.a. "Sikacz" - he was a great guy, my friend, a fireman during the occupation, as it seemed to be the best option to survive. He had few guns and gave me one of them. Soon afterwards, while going to the action, we met a Navy-Blue Police patrol - two policemen. We offered them to join us but they disagreed, so we took their guns. I became an owner of VIS with its holder.

The photograph of a group of soldiers from the Kedyw unit "Kolegium A" taken in Wola in the first days of the Uprisingbr> The woman wearing a headscarf is Anna Górska-Kaczyńska, wife of Jerzy Kaczyński

         I'm not going to describe the capture of Stawki because it is well-known. From the action I remember the first killed Germans during the Uprising. We also took two Ukrainians or Russians captive.
         The first wounded were on our side, as well: "Supełek", suffering from his belly gunshot, Antek, suffering from his own grenade shrapnels and also "Rymwid" who had a wound over his collar-bone. I remember this wound exactly as it was the first dressing I was making. The worst situation was that of "Supełek" because he had his belly injured and we had no possibility to get him to the hospital.
         It was nighttime and we didn't know what was happening. We just saw the first fires. We had to wait till the dawn. In the morning some officer came sent by "Radosław" and gave us an order to join him so we put our camouflage uniforms on - as the first unit - and went to the place of stay of "Radosław". We should have been his protection but he quickly made us join "Miotła", only some of us stayed with him.
         I don't remember the exact date, but after few days my wife Anulka (Anna Górska) and Krysia Dębska, the wife of "Stasinek" joined us. It could have been August 4. When did Danka (Danuta Mancewicz) come? At least one day later, I suppose it was August 6. "Stasinek" was wounded then with his face injured. I accompanied him at that moment and brought him with my arms. His first question was, "Jurek, what happened with my eye?" I unveiled his eyeball - it was not damaged - mind you, he had only one eye (one eye was lost in the accident in his childhood; in another eye retina unstuck itself and Stasinek lost his sight till the end of his life). I asked him, "Can you see?"
         - "No, I cannot."
         Not good ... and in that moment he caught his gun. I took his VIS gun out of his hand. Besides, there are few people "willing" to be said to have taken his gun out of his hand, including Andrzej (Andrzej Rybicki, Warsaw Kedyw District commander) - it's not true - he was not by my side then. There were two of us only, others came after a while. But it's not important. Besides, what else can be said?

This card of a Home Army soldier, owned by Jerzy Kaczyński, was by him on the whole Uprising fight route and survived his stay in the German captivity

                  W.W.: Let's come back to Stasinek for a while. Did he know then - at the beginning of the Uprising - that his father was the sky-troops commander? Did he know of or rather suspect the demand of the Uprising command to drop the troops in the area of the cemeteries? Did Stasinek have any hopes connected with that?

         J.K.: Certainly, Stasinek knew it and we knew, as well, that his father was the sky-troops commander but we didn't believe they would come to help us. Of course, it would be great but...

                  W.W.: How did you react at wounds and death of your closest friends? As an experienced doctor, were you mentally prepared? Did you steel your heart against that somehow?

         J.K.: I was prepared in the same way as for my own death. We were all prepared that we would die in a while. It was nothing unnatural.

                  W.W.: Could you tell me about the attack on Stawki on August 11, when your unit lost heavily? The number of casualties has been discussed (from 8 to 50 casualties are reported - not only from the unit of Kolegium A, of course). Are you aware of any facts about that heavy loss?

         J.K.: A day before the attack on Stawki I was sitting with "Olszyna" (Wiwatowski) who was a commander then. We were just chatting. He was an associated professor at the Warsaw University, the Polish Philology department. We were discussing the lack of sense of the Uprising. At dawn we started an attack and were marching cross the field at the ghetto area, the one that was utterly levelised, covered with weeds, plants, grass and small bushes - it was no cover while fire such enormous that we couldn't rise heads. Whistle of bullets was heard everywhere. Those who were in the back couldn't move on. The first group, though, had gone ahead with "Radosław" and "Niebora", the "Miotła" commander and they found themselves in the front line. Suddenly we heard someone screaming, "Machine gun, to the front!" The boys gave up a bit and didn't want to rise again so I had to do it and made them escape from that as sitting in the place was of any help. So I took this machine gun forward and heard, "Radosław is wounded!" I ran forward to find "Radosław". He was wounded and had fragments of a bullet in his belly but his wounds were not serious, fortunately. He was shocked at that. "Niebora" was killed in this attack. The first question asked by "Radosław" was, "What happened to Niebora?" I didn't want to tell him about this death so I replied I didn't know. I gave him a morphine injection, dressed his belly and tried to carry him. He was heavy whereas I wasn't in the best shape so unfortunately I had to lie him on the ground and pull him along. Luckily, some stretcher patrol appeared and took care of him.
         Afterwards we were passing Stawki together with the unit of "Zo¶ka". I was running hand in hand with major Jan, the commander whom I had known from the pre-Rising time of discussing various actions. We were running towards Kacza street. Gunfire was enormous - either cannons or grenade launchers. We were jumping from one pile of bricks to another and I remember one unforgettable sight: one boy ran ahead of us and was hit by a shrapnel at his neck and artery. Blood was gushing high, not lower than two meters up. Major Jan and I looked at ourselves and our faces said, it was pointless. But I took him behind the wall and put a dressing which was of no use, though. The first sanitary patrol to appear took him.
         I could recognize our fallen ones only thanks to their outfit as they had heads torn off. I recognized Janek "Strażak" when I saw his gun, a machine gun, a useless one, and his "Walter". I could recognize "Olszyna" because his specific cap was lying next to him. We used to take their identification cards.
         Later I found myself in the Old Town. I wasn't by the explosion but immediately after the explosion of the trap-tank in the Kilińskiego street. What I saw there was the whole spine, covered with blond and hung on the second floor, together with the skull, literally torn off the body. Also I saw lots of human remains on the walls.
         My sanitary boss from Kedyw major Cyprian Sadowski a.k.a. "Skiba" ordered me to open the hospital at the "Bent Lantern". Everybody knows the fate of the Old Town. The hospital was ready to function on August 13.

         The boys from my unit collected mattresses from the neighbouring houses and flats. The hospital was situated at the place where were two cellar levels but on the bottom one there stayed the owner with his friends. They all belonged to AL (the People's Army). They occupied this bottom level whereas we stayed a bit high er at the cellar. I'm not willing to relate what was happening at the hospital. You read about it (in a novel by Józef Stompor entitled "Burning Field Hospitals").

                  W.W.: What did the organisation sphere of your work at hospital look like? What about provision including electricity, only in the beginning, I suppose, equipment, medicines, etc? How many doctors were at the time and in which system did they work (permanently just with sleep breaks, on shifts?)

         J.K.: We worked ceaselessly. If there was a while, we could take a nap. But there was no longer break. Constantly the wounded were being taken. Provision was quite fine, I mean I had two doctors to help me. One of them was my friend Włodek, and the second Mr. Jagodowski MD. The latter was a manager of the sanatorium in Zakopane. He joined us during the Uprising and would provide me with all medicaments , including the ones from pharmacies such as sulfonamides, morphine, dressinfs, and so on. Thanks to his eagerness to visiting these pharmacies, I was provided quite well. I had piles of dressings. Mine were basic medical instruments. And so we kept working.
We also had more serious cases. I remember one young man who didn't have the whole piece of scalp bone. In spite of that he was still alive. There were more similar cases. The wounded man came from our unit. He was known as "Żmudzin". He suffered from spine gunshot and legs' paralysis with bladder paralysis. He couldn't urinate. I had to catheterize him on a permanent basis. This engineer gave me his watch with a request to deliver it to his wife, a dentist in Saska Kępa. I promised to do it - as long as I would survive. At that time no one could be sure what the end would be.

                  W.W.: What kind of surgical interventions were taken at hospital then?

         J.K.: Surgical interventions. Mainly minor surgery. Laparotomy, for example, was impossible to be done. People who needed that were referred by us to the central hospital in the Długa street number 7. They had an operating room there, etc. I was mainly dealing with legs and arms' gunshot wounds, fractures, minor amputations, clearing the wounds, first wound dressing, and alike.

                  W.W.: How many people (let's say in percentage) were you able to help, and how many just ease suffering?

         J.K.: We could help at least fifty percent of the wounded. Suffering of thirty, maybe twenty percent could be only relieved.

                  W.W.: Could you give any examples of behaviour or attitude of the wounded? Is it true that young people would better bear pain and suffering than older ones, e.g. forty-year-old persons who would panic?

         J.K.: It's true, however I had merely young patients. They were boys from the units, so I didn't have a contact with older ones. One exception was my sanitary commander from Kedyw, the one who suffered from pleura inflammation. He was staying by me at the "Bend Lantern", few years older than me, at least ten years, I think. Others were youngsters who would bear suffering in a very brave way.

                  W.W.: Were civilians also given attendance at hospital?

         J.K.: I didn't have civilian patients.

                  W.W.: What about German soldiers?

         J.K.: I didn't have such, either. German soldiers were staying under the custody of "Brom" in the Miodowa street.

                  W.W.: It is generally known what the Old Town looked after fights - nothing but ruins. Was the hospital destroyed at the result of bombing or were the basements in which ithad been situated resistant to air raids?

         J.K.: The hospital was burnt and destroyed while the cellars survived; they had suffered burning. All the corpses lying there were burnt.

                  W.W.: Could you now describe in few words the sound atmosphere in which you worked at hospital? Were explosions and machine-gun shots heard? Or maybe the background was moan of the wounded only?

         J.K.: I heard everything because the windows overlooked the street. There was constant shooting and bombs all the time. I was wondering when they would throw bombs at us. So sounds were varied: machine guns' shots and moans of the wounded as it was the hospital.

                  W.W.: How exhausted were you with this work?

         J.K.: Very much - I could hardly stand it. I tried to delve into work because I didn't think I could overcome all this. This work became my anesthetic.

                  W.W.: Is it true that physical tiredness caused by permanent work simultaneously helped as you had time neither to think the reality over nor to "go to pieces"?

         J.K.: Yes, for sure. As I said before, I was lucky to have a gun so it was not my intention to surrender as I knew what the fate of those who had surrendered was. Weapon was kind of consolation because in the case of burying, one could shoot and kill themselves as it was the worst perspective at that time.
         It was like that till August 30, the day when the wounded were gathered and our task was to transport them by sewers.
         Before that, there was one more crossing up. The units were assigned, the ones that were to cross and join "Zo¶ka" and "Parasol". We didn't reach the place as it was impossible to pass the crowds of people. The street was completely blocked. During the whole night, step by step, we were passing them. When I met "Radosław" at last, it turned out that the first unit had left with major Jan who I was to go with. That's why together with my sanitary companions I stayed by "Radosław". Afterwards, as I said before, there was evacuation through sewers. I took with me those wounded ones who were able to walk, including Krzy¶ "Kolumb". The way was difficult due to an awful smell and all these impurities alongside. Moreover, Germans were throwing grenades, though, we managed to get to the Warecka street somehow.

                  W.W.: Was the march during the day or at night?

         J.K.: During the day, we went down in the morning. In the Warecka street we left the sewers and were completely surprised to see window panes and people who would behave normally. It was an enormous contrast. My wife and I had a plan to get to the Mokotowska street where we lived at that time. We made it and spent one night there but the flat was on the fifth floor so if there was bombing one could find themselves on the ground floor immediately. Anyway, after few days we got an order to move to Czerniaków.

                  W.W.: This district experienced equally strong fights like the ones in the Old Town. How can you compare these two districts? Which was worse in this respect?

         J.K.: I wouldn't say, worse. You know, one can adapt to everything. We adapted ourselves to constant shooting, explosions, bombs, tanks, also to Germans who were assaulting and Goliath tanks which were exploding. When I was in Czerniaków, atDistrict 2, such a Goliath tank exploded. It was the place where I threw my grenade. It was just during celebrations of my birthday, September 17. This day, September 17, was my real date of birth which nowadays is celebrated on September 4, due to the calendar difference.
         We were sitting on the ground floor, waiting. When the tank exploded, we kept calm but Germans were assaulting so Zygmunt and I decided to take part in the action and we ran to the second floor where Berling soldiers were staying. We ran higher andout of the window were shooting Germans who would quickly cross the street to enter our building. At one point we turned back in the direction of the neighbouring room that was seen through a hole in the wall. We noticed a man wearing a camouflage uniform and a field cap - alike us - and heard him shouting at us, "Kameraden, alles in ordnung?" ("Mates, is everything fine?"). We seemed not to be fully aware of that.
         In fact we were wearing German shirts. We had our armbands on but they were dirty so he didn't notice them. Zygmunt asked him, "Kameraden, wer bist du?" ("Mate, who are you?") He understood and made away. I threw this grenade then and it rebounded from a brick and fell on our side. After the explosion we moved and went downstairs to look for our nurses. There was no Berling soldiers left on the floor - they ran away, terrified - but our mates were waiting for us downstairs. The girls were undoubtedly heroic, which is impossible to describe. They were braver than boys. They were all heroic. I know of just few cases of breakdowns among our people. I remember one such example, from the second assault at Stawki, on August 11. After this assault and my dressing wounds of "Radosław" I was taking a rest on some rubble. Next to me girls were sitting as well as one of our older boys. I smelled him and said, "Listen to me, go and wash yourself. It's impossible to sit next to you". This was a case of fear, emotions and their consequences but there was the sole case of physiological symptom of fear I had observed.

                  W.W.: How did you react at the Berling soldiers' landing?

         J.K.: We thought we would be fighting by their side furthermore. We expected them to bear the brunt of this fight. As it turned out, the first group landed and there was no continuation. They couldn't fight in a city. They were mostly boys from the Lublin region, also many Home Army soldiers but they knew nothing about the realms of fights in a city. As a consequence, they would hide themselves and do nothing. As for me, I got hold of a tommy-gun (it was standing in a corner left by someone) and luckily reached with it Mokotów and City Centre, in a sewer, of course.

                  W.W.: After the evacuation by sewers from Czerniaków to Mokotów you found yourself again in the quite calm district, as for uprising conditions. How did the soldiers behave, what were they talking about? I'm asking because, according to some witnesses' reports, they used to cause panic in Mokotów by their defeatism and the chances of the Uprising assessment. They would talk loud about "massacrethat is going to happen in Mokotów", while there was still fighting spirit in Mokotów.

         J.K.: Yes, indeed, we seemed to be followed by massacre, so it wasn't a good sign for Mokotów. Its residents were worried but only in that sense. Generally, we were accepted like "heroes". They were saluting us in the street, which was quite funny.

         In turn, I had an unpleasant event later in the City Center while I was penetrating the cellars, with a gun and wearing a camouflage uniform. I heard the following compliments, "You bandits, what have you done to us?" But we got used to that a bit, though I wasn't to blame.

                  W.W.: Did you take part in any fights in Mokotów?

         J.K.: There we didn't take part in any fights. We would take care of the wounded and waited for the end.

                  W.W.: After few calm days, a massive German attack occurred, the same as in other districts before. You evacuated yourself by sewers on time, together with Radosław units. How can you describe this, your third one, crossing the sewers?

         J.K.: We were lucky to evacuate ourselves to the City Centre on time. "Radosław" had got a formal agreement to do so.Our evacuation was well organized. We were united. With guns, with everything we possesed, we went to the City Centre. That sewer was horrific. We had to step on the dead bodies. It was really horrendously there. Among my three sewer crossings, the third one was the worst. Moreover, we didn't knew if we were going in the right direction, despite the fact that we somehow were used to the sewers as most of us were crossing not for the first time. We left in the Aleje Ujazdowskie and stayed with "Czata" - I don't remember the exact number, though I can see the building in my imagination, it was on the fourth floor, I suppose.

                  W.W.: What were you doing until the end of the Uprising, after the second passing to the City Centre?

         J.K.: We found ourselves in the ¦niadeckich street, next to the hospital. We were together with our nurses, with "Brom" and with "Kolumb". The latter would bring us food. I suffered from dysentery then and could hardy eat. We lived there to see the capitulation followed by evacuation.

                  W.W.: What did you feel at the moment of capitulation?

         J.K.: To escape from this way to the camp seemed the best option for me but my wife was pregnant at the initial phase and I couldn't leave her so I decided to go into captivity.
         We were led to some POW camp. Together with us there were Russians and Italians. We organised a hospital and operations rooms. Colonel Bendkowski would operate. And so we lived in hunger. Food was horrible: nettle soup, a bit of bread, margarine sometimes, it was like that until packets from the allies came. Then we could be treated as rich POWs. Thanks to cigarettes found in the packets it was possible for us to buy bread from Germans and some other things. My wife gave a Caesarian birth to our child at the hospital. It happened one day before the capitulation and again we were "stuck". Together with "Kolumb" we had planned to reach the American zone. The Americans were nearer and nearer. We had our plan ready but the Soviets came.
         I remember it clearly: I wouldn't like to use bad words but hordes were riding horses or in carts, everyone dirty and not resembling a regular army. They were shouting at us at the sight of few new-born children (there were few deliveries at the camp hospital), "What little insurgents! Damn them!" They must have known we were insurgents as they had occupied the camp. I remember some unpleasant, moment full of tension: suddenly the army that was coming forward, started to run back, again riding horses and in carts or whatever they possessed. And they were shouting at us, "Run away! Germans are coming!" And Germans came nearby the camp. We didn't know what to do. We had weapon that had been taken away from the German guards but how paltry this weapon was! We could imagine whenever they would come they would shoot us; it was typical of them. Fortunately they didn't manage to come because Russians counterattacked and made them run away.
         And so we reached the end and decided to come back to Poland. Together with my friend Kumant and few others I prepared carts, weapon and horses. And here is my experience I have once talked about - I worn a watch on my wrist. I was riding a bike following our group. On my belt I had a machine gun. Several Russians, five or six young men,stopped me. I noticed they had no guns. "Who are you?", they asked, and so on. I was wearing an English sweatshirt and a brimless cap. I answered I was a Warsaw insurgent. They liked my watch, of course. At some moment a nice atmosphere vanished as they said, "Sell us your watch!" I replied it was not for sale, it was a keepsake.
         - "If so, we'll get this watch from you ourselves".
         I burst into laughing (I knew they had no guns, outsider at east). I took my machine gun and said:
         - "Just try".
         - "No, we're just joking."

         In such circumstances we reached the Polish border where we were welcomed by posters saying, "Spit dwarves of the reaction: Home Army (AK) and National Armed Forces(NSZ)". We hadn't known so far what the attitude to AK soldiers was. These posters made us realize that. Before, when I had met some Soviet unit, one officer talked to me and explained, "You know, comrade, in pre-war Poland, only aristocrats and counts used to serve in the army."
         I understood. Everyone had already heard of Katyń. But these posters made us quite heavy-hearted. We knew we had belonged to that reality.
         My situation was good as I had to pass only two exams to get a diploma. These two lacking exams were left by me on purpose because all the rest I had passed during clandestine teaching. Soon I passed these two.
         During one of them my examiner was Prof. Grzybowski, who was afterwards murdered by Secret Political Police (UB). It was a great man who left his unhappy family. He was a dermatology professor, his brother was surgery professor, while his second brother - a chemistry professor abroad. Another brother was killed by Germans at the hospital in Wola, another one was heavily burnt in the explosion in the lab where he was preparing explosive materials. There was also this "our" professor who was active during the whole occupation at clandestine medical teaching where he organized and conducted our examination, together with Prof. Orłowski, one of the most famous internal medicine professors who used to gather all the notes from our examinations. Both professors kept them at homes illegally.
         After my having come back to Warsaw, I was given by them all certificates of passed examinations immediately. Then I passed an exam of forensic medicine and an exam of dermatology and my examiner was Prof. D±browski. At the exam conducted by Prof. Grzybowski - I shall never forget that - I was quite nervous. I was wearing boots and green military trousers. I sat down and, fretful, I put my one leg on another one. Professor looked at me, alarming, - "My friend, please sit decently. You are at the examination." Confused from the very beginning, I managed to overcome this and passed the exam. Shortly, I got my diploma.

                  W.W.: Coming back to the Uprising, were you and your friends surprised with such great German barbarity?

         J.K.: I had known Germans before so it wasn't any big surprise for me. I had heard about their deeds in WW I in Belgium - they behaved in a similar way, maybe not so extremely like in Poland, but we were quite aware of what was going on in Germany. I didn't know their advantages, so their dark sides were not surprising for me. Those who had known pre-war Germans, were surprised by their barbarity. I, though, must have taken that for granted. We were not so gentle for them, as well - if we had an occasion, certainly.

                  W.W.: Could you say anything about the German behaviour during combat? Were they, for example in the Old Town, attacking faint-heartedly (I read about such opinions in the German command reports and I also know such viewpoints of some reports of lighting participants in the Old Town), having the strength of their attack on equipment superiority?

         J.K.: Not at all. They were attacking in a brave way. It was a strong army. Only the Ukrainians were worse than the Germans.

                  W.W.: Did you stay in touch with your friends from the underground and the Uprising?

         J.K.: My mates from Wola (the "Wola group" of the Kedyw Kolegium A unit) used to visit me after the Uprising for several years. At that time I lived in Radiówek, where I worked as a workplace doctor and had a flat there. It's a town near Warsaw, with a radio station. My friends would come every few days, and always with some bottle because they liked to drink a bit. They were my closest friends.
         Till now "Medyk" gives me calls - he was one of the youngest from our unit.

                  W.W.: Were you in contact with Mr. Likiernik along the whole era of communism?
Or maybe your contact was more difficult then?

         J.K.: No, it wasn't. He used to come to me. He had been saved (in the Uprising) by my wife's friend (Irena Minkiewicz), a nurse. Afterwards he stayed in contact with her and once she visited him in Paris (her place of living was Australia, where she left with her husband). Together with him she came to Poland, nota bene, for the first time after emigration.

                  W.W.: Did you make use of your both medical and life experience of the Uprising in your subsequent professional and private life? Or, conversely, do you consider them some mental "scar"?

         J.K.: My experience was useful. As far as surgery is concerned, having come back from the camp, I workedat the surgery ward.I was an assistant at the hospital in Katowice. Before the Uprising I used to work at the Holy Spirit hospital. My ward head of the Katowice hospital, who had also worked at the Holy Spirit hospital, was a Silesian and was given a ward in Silesia straight away. I asked him if he could give me a job there and he agreed. Out of hand I was given the post with a flat and all I needed.Staszek Likiernik visited us just before his going to France. He asked if we could help him somehow. My wife helped him as she had cousins in Zakopane. He said goodbye and set to the border.

         And we kept waiting and wondering, "How to come back to Warsaw?", because my feeling of being a Warsaw man was strong and so much made us linked to that city, despite the ruins, everything there was ours and connected with us. One beautiful day I got a letter from the ward head of gynaecology and midwifery of the Holy Spirit hospital - afterwards known as the Wola hospital. The Swedish were preparing the equipment for the whole ward, including tools and everything needed. The other ward head, my co-worker during the occupation, offered me to join him. It seemed paradise for me. So I thanked the surgery ward head after one year of work and we came back to Warsaw. The conditions were worse, certainly, because there were not many hospital flats to dispose. My wife and I were given a little room upstairs inside one of the clinics. I started work as an assistant of gynaecology and midwifery. So, I changed surgery into gynaecology, but I was satisfied. I had to work in few wards simultanously. I had a full-time work at the hospital, I worked in the emergency gynaecology and midwifery service as a specialist doctor because doctors were needed in this field. In addition, I worked as a workplace doctor of the Warsaw gasworks, I had also extra hours in the surgery out-patients'-clinic in the City Centre. All in all, I was extremely busy and had to go from one shift to another, either in the emergency service or at the hospital, and in the morning I had to wake up and get ready to an operation. It was quite tiring.

                  W.W.: What are, in your opinion, positive and negative aspects of the Warsaw Uprising?

         J.K.: Again, I will be against those who are in favour of the Uprising. I see no positive aspects - nothing at all.

                  W.W.: Some of those who are for the Uprising underline the fact that the moral balance of the nation was saved. The Czech people did not fight and ...

         J.K.: It's nonsense. Complete nonsense. Yes, the Czech people were clever, and we were not. Mind you, this great destruction of more than 200 thousand civilians and about 50 thousand soldiers, the best part of the Polish society at the time - as Warsaw was home of the most worthy people from the whole nation: be it Posen, Vilnius, the Pomerania - has never been compensated, which can be seen up till now.

                  W.W.: If you were to compare people of those days and present-day ones?

         J.K.: Don't be offended - there are exceptions of course - but there is no comparison. I'm sorry to say that - certainly there are exceptions, so please don't misunderstand me - but I cannot understand at all what's going on with medicine presently. Also, what one can hear about the youth, what one can see… I'm talking about these very young people, their aggression ...

                  W.W.: Caused by drugs probably?

         J.K.: Yes, that's it. We didn't use to have anything in common with such things.

                  W.W.: Can one say that your generation was unique? Was it brought up in a specific way? Wouldn't the present generation behave in the same way? Maybe the truth is, as Mr. Likiernik states, that it was quite a natural movement, self-defence behaviour?

         J.K.: I disagree with the expression of Staszek - it was not "self-defence".

                  W.W.: Maybe I haven't expressed the thought of Mr. Likiernik correctly. His point is, the situation evoked such behaviour.

         J.K.: Was my generation unique? - I don't think so. But comparing to what one can observe nowadays, I'm not so sure it wasn't. Not unique but different - I would describe it in that way. "Unique" sounds too bumptious.

                  W.W.: Unique in the context of special time in which you lived ...

         J.K.: In this context, one can say so ...

                  W.W.: Did you watch the film entitled "Kolumbowie"? It is based on the book which is the report of your and your friends' adventures.

         J.K.: Yes, I did.

                  W.W.: So my question is: Does the atmosphere shown in this film, be it behavior, gestures, the way of speaking and so on, resemble your real behavior of those times?

         J.K.: Oh, yes, indeed ...

                  W.W.: Were you victimized after the war?

         J.K.: Doctors were needed but there were just few. Moreover, my ward head was a member of the Polish Socialist Party. His surname was Hanke - he was of German descendent -but he was left-wing and was respected by those party members, so I was cared of by him in some respect. He knew well who I was. But he was respectable for me so all the time I was lucky. However, this full-time employment in few workplaces caused quite negative consequences for me. Then I had to go to a nursing home in Zakopane.

                  W.W.: Until when were you active at work?

         J.K.: I got the specialization, and then, having come back, I worked in clinics as a second level specialist. For some time I used to work as a gynaecology and midwifery expert in the district of Praga Południe. It was good work then, it gave me a chance to meet ward heads, colleagues, etc. It was like that… I finished work not earlier than in the year 1982. Those last years were not as active as before. I was making cytology. The last years I devoted to detecting cancer cells, as part of cervix cancer prevention.

                  W.W.: You experienced the whole era of Polish fights for independence: from the Warsaw Uprising till the "Round Table." What were your viewpoints on different events in the history of Poland which followed the Warsaw Uprising, i.e. Poznań 1956, so-called Thaw, the year 1968, the massacre on the Coast in the year 1970, Radom 1976 ,the Solidarity movement and regaining the independence in the year 1989 as well as the decline of the Soviet Union, and then the Polish membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union?

         J.K.: I had survived this époque since the year 1939 because I took an active part in the 1939 war. Among those events you have enumerated, the ending seems interesting: the downfall of the Soviet Union was a joyful moment, quite an unexpected one. I highly consider the fact of joining NATO by Poland. As for Poznań, the Thaw... yes, like for everybody… it was joy, shortly speaking. As for the time of Gomułka, though, I didn't share the enthusiasm of those first days after Gomułlka had come to power.

                  W.W.: Are there any aspects of the Warsaw Uprising which haven't been shown clearly enough so far, and are waiting to be discovered?

         J.K.: I've got such a good article - I must take it... (the article by Paweł Wieczorkiewicz, "Obł±kana koncepcja powstania"). There is nothing to be added. I can lend you that. It's worth photocopying.

                  W.W.: Thank you for the conversation.

Jerzy Kaczyński (on the right-hand) and Stanisław Sosabowski "Stasinek" at the Medicine Graduates Homecoming in the 1980s

the interview conducted by: Wojciech Włodarczyk

edited by: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz

translated by: Monika Ałasa

Copyright © 2016 SPPW1944. All rights reserved.