Family memento – Poland – Memories of “After the Uprising 1944” part I
Fragment of memories
“After the Uprising”
From the capitulation of Żoliborz to the last days of October 1945
In the early afternoon of the last day of the Uprising in Żoliborz, I was wounded on my right shoulder. After putting on a drop dressing at the sanitary station, I was taken to the insurgent hospital in the old fort in Traugutt Park. There was a small argument at the entrance to the fort as I was asked to give up my weapons. The explanation that I brought this drop-down revolver myself from Kampinos and that it saved my life during the second attack on the Gdańsk Railway Station did not help. The shot hilt was viewed with curiosity, but the revolver had to be returned in the end.
In the hospital in the fort, I met a doctor I knew, my father’s friend . She examined my dressing. It stated that it is well put on. I also learned that I was very lucky: a few millimeters to the left and the bullet would crush bone, a few to the right – it would cut the artery (or maybe the other way round – I don’t remember). “These are the last hours of the Uprising,” I heard, “I have nowhere to put you, there are badly wounded everywhere. Find a place somewhere where you could even sit ”.
In the alcove, right next to the entrance to the fort, there were the dead and the dead in the hospital, who could not be buried during the day due to a very heavy fire. There was some space by the wall. It was even possible to lie down because of poverty, of course on the bare ground. It didn’t matter to me. I sat down against the wall and began to doze immediately. After a while, “my” doctor brought me some alcohol in a glass: “Here you have a drink, it will do you good”. It must have been pure medicinal spirit; it was terribly strong. I immediately felt dizzy and the movie stopped. When I woke up, it was already light and eerily quiet.
Gdy obudziłem się, na dworze było już widno i niesamowicie cicho. Only rarely, long single shots came. Some nurse helped me up, probably very surprised that one of the dead was trying to get up – after all, I was lying among the corpses.
She took off my drop-off English uniform jacket and put on her women’s black summer coat with a velvet collar. She explained to me that the Germans had been informed that there were no insurgents in this part of the hospital, only civilians. I was still semiconscious from exhaustion, and I was not quite aware of her arguments, but I did not defend myself against this change. I was only surprised that it was the end of the Uprising.
I was given some cold lura to drink that was supposed to pretend to be coffee. She was quite sweet. “I poured the rest of the sugar,” I heard from the nurse, “it’s a pity to leave it here, and I don’t know if it could be taken. I sweetened the grain coffee. Let the people drink at least. Here are a few more dice, put them in your pocket. ”
After a while, I heard loud orders from hospital staff that the wounded who could walk as well as the civilians who hid in the fort go outside. I walked out in front of the fort and was blinded by the light – the sun was already quite high; the day was clear. Only now was I able to realize my appearance. I was dressed in green denim pants, German army boots, a shirt without a right sleeve that was torn off when putting on a dressing, and a ladies’ slightly tight black coat with a velvet collar that must once have been quite elegant. In addition, a hand in a sling and a beard at least two weeks old on the face. All in all, I had to look interesting.
In front of the fort, on both sides of the park alley, stood soldiers in SS uniforms with automatic machines ready to fire; as it turned out later – Ukrainians or Russians. We went out, as instructed, “hands up”. My right arm in a sling; and a ladies’ coat with a little too short sleeves on the left, raised arm revealed a watch; a gift from my father for the 21st birthday (in January 1944). One of them, in an SS officer uniform, stopped me, looked at my watch, and tore it from my hand without bothering to unfasten my belt.
We were formed into a column. I was in her front part; I was one of the first to leave the fort – I stayed overnight right at the entrance. We walked through Powązki and Wola. In the church in Wola, I remember a short rest. In the evening we got to Pruszków. I can’t remember if we were on foot all the time or if they picked us up by train. An absolute break in your curriculum vitae.
Here I owe a little explanation: on the third day I had nothing in my mouth (except for the “medicine” in the fort hospital). While resting in the church of Wola, some soup and bread were distributed. I did not get to the bread; I didn’t get the soup because I didn’t have anything to take with it.
How I slept my first night in the railway workshop hall in Pruszków (which served as Durchgangslager – a transit camp) – I do not know. I woke up early in the morning, freezing cold and wildly hungry. I remembered the sugar cubes in my coat pocket. They were very useful now. I had no luggage, nothing kept me in my place of accommodation. So I went “for a walk” in the hall to find out about the situation. It was not easy, there were people everywhere, many wounded and sick, bundles, suitcases … It was difficult to find a place to put your feet up.
At one point, I heard a soft cry. A female voice repeated my pseudonym “Zdzich”. In the dark and monstrously crowded hall, I couldn’t see who was calling or if it was for me. I managed to get a little closer and I recognized the lady I saw in the insurgent hospital on Krechowiecka Street, where I visited several times injured colleagues from our company. Finally, I hardly got to her. She was holding a piece of dry bread in her hand. At that moment, I felt an incredible hunger. I think it was evident on my face, because without asking, she took a hunk of black, assigned bread from her bag and handed it to me. It tasted like the best cake.
“We need to do something with you quickly,” I heard. “The Germans are about to kick you out of here. How did you get here among the civilians? It says on your face that you are an insurgent and should be in captivity. It’s probably a miracle you made it here. They caught people like you along the way; some were even shot on the spot. Why didn’t you go out with the wounded insurgents? Wait here. I need to arrange something for you soon. We meet at this pillar when – I don’t know, but be sure to wait ”.
She went deeper into the hall, managing efficiently avoiding lying people and their luggage. I sat down on the floor and fell asleep immediately. Then I was able to sleep in any position and situation. I had huge arrears.
I was awakened by a violent tug on my hand. Someone was taking off my coat and unrolling the sleeve of my shirt, the only one left for me. I saw a woman in a white coat leaning over me, a syringe in her hand.
“You are crazy (my dictionary at the time was not very elegant) – this is the left hand, and I am wounded in the right. Why do I need this injection? ”
But I got the injection. When the figure in the white apron was raised, the stranger I expected appeared and said softly in my ear: you got an injection of milk, an ordinary cow’s milk, but boiled. You will soon get a high fever – this is the body’s normal reaction to a foreign protein. We will diagnose typhus and you will be transferred to the typhus barracks. We’ll try to get you out of there.
Everything went according to the program, with the only correction that I got a very high fever and shock, so that apparently they barely saved me. I was unconscious for two days. On the other hand, the German doctor who decided to transfer to the hospital’s typhus barrack had no doubts as to the correctness of the typhus diagnosis.
After regaining consciousness, I was so weak that I did not have the strength to speak. But I was always hungry. We were fed quite well there. I don’t know where the food came from. It was certainly not just normal German allocations. Two days later, “my” nurse in a white coat with a red cross headband came and said: “You’re going out tonight. The Germans are too interested in the hospital, they must have sniffed something out. We have more typhus patients like you here.
I couldn’t believe I could get out. The thing was not to go through “Wacha”, because the typhus ward was practically not guarded, but I did not believe that I would be able to stay on my feet. And yet, dressed in a white apron, with a red cross headband, I went out with “my” nurse, carrying with her a large basket – fortunately empty – for bread for the hospital.
Here is a break in my biography again. I remember vaguely that for several days I was lying in a small house, fed intensively. The hosts were simple people, probably railwaymen, and they hosted, apart from me, two Warsaw families with small children.
Unexpectedly, my strength was recovering quickly, the shot arm did not bother me too much. I was very worried about my parents and my sister – they lived in the Old Town area – I knew nothing about them. As soon as I felt a bit better – against the warnings of the hospitable hosts – I decided to go out and try to learn something about the family. Maybe I can meet someone I know.
I left and … after two hours I was back in the same camp. The first patrol I encountered stopped me. They had no doubts what to do with me. Fortunately, it was a Wehrmacht patrol and they behaved calmly, even dispassionately.
Popped in in an idiotic way. Only that now I was in much better physical shape, and I also knew a bit about the camp’s activities from my own modest experiences, and above all from the information that kept coming to my hosts.
I ended up in the same hall where I was already. I now knew that its “contents” were sorted according to not very clear criteria: for work in Germany, to concentration camps, while old men, women and children were generally taken to various places in the General Government. Of course, I was only interested in the latter group. But it was hard to classify me as old men and women, and I didn’t look like a child. I already knew that the transports to the General Government depart from the neighboring hall.
I was quite rested and fed, so at night I did not go to sleep, but wandered around my hall, going out in front of it, to the barbed wire surrounding it. There were more people who liked jumping to the neighboring hall. At the gate, a group of women and children negotiated with Wachman to let them pass there. There were bottles of vodka on the move (where did they get it?), Probably also rings.
I came closer, put on a piece of motley nylon made of parachute (from the Kampinos airdrops – I kept it as a souvenir; in the back pocket of my pants, so it survived during the exchange of “uniforms”), just like country women do, and when a market was struck at the gate, I ran and a group of a dozen women with children, as well as a few men who grew up out of the ground, holding a terrified little girl by the hand, I ran to the neighboring hall. The night was dark, blackout was in effect. The sentries shouted something, two pistol shots were fired, but nobody was hurt. All this hustle and bustle was supposed to serve only as an alibi for the sentries. Several Germans entered the hall, they shone their torches on the lying people, they talked in the passage for a while, and… they left.
After a long moment, I went to the other side of the hall. I learned that a transport to the General Government was just being formed. So there was a chance. In the dark hall, my age and unusual clothes (still the same, only the shirt in the railway den with two sleeves) did not pay much attention. I approached a family with three young children and relatively large luggage. Without going into details, I said: I have to get to this transport with you. They were not thrilled with this proposal, but they did not refuse to help.
I was given a huge bundle to carry. The oldest boy, probably eight years old, immediately understood the situation: “Carry him so that you cannot see his hand in a sling. I will help on the other hand. ” Another headscarf and we are already in the car. It is an open coal car, clogged so that there is no way to sit down. It was with great difficulty that the children were seated on the bundles. I put myself in the corner of the wagon. Luxurious place, there was a very good support in the corner, you could sleep standing up.
A light rain began to fall. After a short wait, the train started moving. There were women, children and a few older men in our car. In the neighboring ones, as I could tell when it got light, the passenger line-up was similar. There were armed Germans in the guard booths every few wagons.
According to the information obtained in the railway den, such transports were sent to various places in the General Government and located in villages and towns. However, I was not fully convinced that this was true and decided to leave as soon as the opportunity arose. here were more of such wise people on the train. They tried to flee shortly after they departed. The sentries were firing. With what effect I do not know. It was raining and it was very dark. I think there was a good chance of escape. However, I believed that we were too close to Warsaw and that there must be numerous patrols catching escape enthusiasts. Soon it got light. There was no question of escaping now.
The rain had stopped but the day was overcast. The train lingered, stopped at small ignition locks and in the middle of nowhere, it passed military transports. The next night, it passed Jędrzejów and Miechów. We were getting closer to Krakow, but also to Oświęcim. I decided to run away without delay. I did not want to check whether the information obtained about the destination points of transport was correct. I was hoping that the watchmen, all those I have seen much older, are also tired. I have not seen them changed.
At a certain bend, the train slowed down considerably. It was dark, a light rain drizzled again, trees, perhaps a forest, could be seen close to the track. With difficulty, because my right hand was unusable, I pulled myself over the edge of the back wall of the car and slid between the carriages, standing on the bumper. One last glance at the slope of the embankment, whether there is a telegraph pole, culvert or other undesirable obstacle here. pushed off with all my strength and rolled over the side of the embankment. None of the sentries noticed anything. I didn’t hurt my injured hand, I wasn’t even scratched.
I waited for the train to pass and the last car to disappear around the bend. I got up and walked, it seemed to me, into the forest. It turned out, however, that it was not a forest, but a clump of trees with fields behind them. I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t have a map or a compass. All I knew was that I had to get away from the track as soon as possible.
I walked on. After a long walk through the field balks and walking three or four  kilometers, I saw the outlines of some village buildings. I sat down in the ditch and listened. The village was asleep, but the dogs were talking, and the cattle in the barns. I came to the conclusion that there are no strangers in the village. This is not how a sleeping village sounds when there are strangers in it.
I entered the village. Dogs started their concert, I knocked on one of the first huts. I was not mistaken, I found good people who welcomed me into their roof at night, knowing nothing about me and asking nothing. It was the village of Iwanowice Dworskie near Słomniki.
In the village, I came to the house of a young couple with three young children. The oldest was four years old, the youngest – several months. They asked for nothing, gave them food and laid them on the floor on a mattress under the blanket. I don’t know what time I got to their home. I have completely lost track of time I guess it must have been past midnight. In the countryside, it is not the most appropriate time for visiting.
The next day I woke up quite late. The traffic in the cottage was full when I woke up and for a while I couldn’t figure out where I was and what was happening to me. The hosts and their children had already finished breakfast. When, after getting dressed and ablution in the yard by the well, I returned to the cottage, I was given a piece of home-made bread and a plate of mash milk. After breakfast, I tried to help my hosts with their work. But they didn’t want to hear about it. “You’re wounded, rest a bit; you can see that you deserve it. You can watch the children. ”
I was in Iwanowice for about five days. I lay on my mattress for two days – I got a high fever in the evening. I don’t know what happened to me. My hosts looked after me. I remember that they gave me some very tasteless herbs. After two days the fever had come and gone just as suddenly. However, I felt very weak.
In the evening, the host took me to the presbytery to see the priest. The priest, who was much older, was evidently prejudiced about our visit, because he knew that I was a Warsaw insurgent, that I was wounded in my hand, and that I was lying down for two days with a high fever. He told me all this as a greeting and added that he didn’t need to know anything else about me. He called his landlady, and together they stripped off my arm. They washed my wound with some liquid, covered it with disinfectant powder and applied a new dressing. It was evident that this was not the first time they had dealt with the dressing of a wound.
After these Samaritan activities, the priest invited me and my host for a “modest meal.” We sat down to the table, where after a while the hostess brought a bowl of dumplings with meat. We got up and the priest began to say a prayer. I could see that he was clearly pleased when I switched on and found I knew her words.
After supper, I asked to contact the local branch of the Home Army. I got an evasive answer. “The foresters come here from time to time, usually quite unexpectedly. When they appear, they will notify me – apparently despite the warm welcome and pleasant conversation, they were afraid to talk to me completely openly. No wonder, they didn’t know anything about me
So I asked about the nearby estates and the names of the owners; maybe I know some of them. This question was accepted with a clear reserve. I learned that in most of the estates there are German troops or there are German administrators and I should not appear there.
I said that I could not sit here any longer, because I was obliged to make contact with the Home Army, I am a soldier after all and no one has dismissed me from the oath, and in the event of a denunciation of someone, always possible, or of the accidental arrival of the Germans, I risk my hosts with my presence. I got an evasive reply that the Germans were rare in this area and there was no need to be afraid of denunciations. There was one in the village who reported, but he has been biting the ground a long time ago.
The next day was beautiful autumn, warm weather. The road through the village ran along a shallow ravine. I sat down next to “my” homestead at the edge of its escarpment and basked in the sun. After some time, a lady about 50 years old joined me, dressed “in town”.
She apologized for bothering me, but she is also from Warsaw, she got out through Pruszków. He’s here with relatives. She found out about me and would like to talk. Maybe I met someone from her family during the Uprising by chance. There are no news of many relatives. I talked to her for a long time. She was glad when I told her that I fought in Żoliborz. Her close cousins lived there. She knows nothing about them, because she herself was in Wola during the Uprising. He is very concerned about them.
It was only after a long conversation that I realized that for a person who was in Wola, and therefore left Warsaw in the first, at most, second week of the Uprising, he knows too well what was happening in Żoliborz. At first I was scared that she was a substitute German informant. After a while, however, I came to the conclusion that “rolling” me did not require such complicated operations. It was a clear result of yesterday’s evening visit to the rectory.
In the evening, my host asked me if I had relatives or friends in Krakow. I answered truthfully that I have no relatives, but I have friends. I was thinking about Miss Kramarzówny, whom I met during my last pre-war vacation.
“You can stay here, but the priest said it would be good if the surgeon saw your arm, because he doesn’t like something there. In this state, you are not suitable for the forest, so if you have the opportunity to mine yourself in Krakow, it might be better to go there. But if not, you can stay here until you regain your strength and power in hand. I didn’t like sitting idle in the countryside. So I replied that I would like to go to Krakow, but how to do it? The first German patrol will pick me up from the train, and on foot a bit too far.
Tomorrow morning, a car from the dairy goes to Krakow, all trusted people. They will drop you off in front of the city, because there is a detailed control at the tollgates. They will show you how to get to the city through suburban alleys.
I made up my mind immediately – I’m going tomorrow. But there is one problem. I cannot ride in green, military, pants and a ladies’ coat. “I can exchange trousers with you – we are of the same height, but I can’t buy a coat.”
The next day, at dawn, I thanked my hosts warmly for their hospitality and help. As a farewell, I received a loaf of home-made bread and a piece of smoked bacon, wrapped in clean white linen and placed in a bag made of thick linen with a shoulder strap. The host took me in a cart to the crossroads, where he was to hand me over to the guards from the dairy.
After a few minutes, an old Opel truck converted into a “Holzgaz” (wood-fired gas generator) arrived. I was placed on the chest, under the cloak, behind the milk cans, under the pile of sacks, right next to the forward side. They warned me that there was a checkpoint a few kilometers away, but I shouldn’t be afraid of anything, just be quiet and not move.
I said goodbye to my host and the car started moving. After about 10 minutes of driving, we stopped. There were German voices. someone lifted the back of the sheet. From conversations with the workers riding on the crate, it appeared that the controllers knew them well. They didn’t check any papers. They got a bubble of cream, a packet of butter and we drove on. I don’t know how long we drove. It was terribly uncomfortable for me to lie on the planks of the car chest, pinched with bags and knocked over by some empty boxes. Finally the car stopped. I struggled out of my corner and hit the ground. I was so numb that I moved for a moment like a paralytic.
“This is the end of our ride together,” I heard. “One kilometer beyond this bend is a checkpoint again, but there is no chance of transporting you there. You have to walk from here. Be careful, because there are many refugees from Warsaw in Krakow and the Germans are organizing manhunts on them. You have no certificate of release from the camp in Pruszków. Certain prison or concentration camp if caught. ‘
I was given detailed instructions on how to go so as not to run into known permanent German posts. Of course, there were also patrols, but these had no fixed routes, and one had to count on luck not to meet them or to see them from a distance far enough to pass them. The instruction was long and very complicated. I didn’t know the city at all. I was in Krakow on a trip with my parents and the last time with the school shortly before the war, i.e. five years ago. I was oriented in the very center of the city, but I did not know the street names (moreover, now most of them had changed names). I had no idea where I was at the moment. The name of the suburbs given to me meant absolutely nothing to me.
I said goodbye to my travel companions, thanked them for the lift, accepted the good wishes, slung the strap of the pin bag over my shoulder and followed the directions given.
I don’t remember the details of a walk to the city center at all. I did not have any destination, as I did not know a single address in Krakow. I finally landed in
the plantations and felt very hungry. So I sat down on the nearest bench and took bread, bacon, and my gardening trestle out of my bag and began to eat.
An elderly couple sat on a bench next to me. They were both probably at least 80 years old , they were dressed very neatly. He was reading the newspaper, she was knitting. rom time to time they exchanged their remarks in an undertone. At one point, when I was cutting bread, I heard: “Look, Kaziuniu (I remember this diminutive name), how these Varsovians are doing well. We haven’t eaten white bread and bacon for many months ”.
At first I was dumbfounded. I stopped cutting the bread, looked in their direction, and with all my willpower I had to refrain from slaughtering them with the horse in my hand, for this remark was so amazing to me that my first reaction was to shut those hypocritical mouths forever.
I know that those who will read these words after many years will not believe them. After five years of war and the Uprising, the constant threat of death and our daily contact with it, we reacted completely differently than imagined by people living under normal conditions.
I didn’t say a word, but there must have been something disturbing about me as they both jumped up nervously and walked quickly away, looking uncertainly behind each other.
I was furious, but also terrified of this mentality. After all, this open loaf of bread and a piece of bacon are all my fortune. I don’t even have a blazer, jacket or sweater. I wear a ladies’ coat. I lost everything in Warsaw. I don’t know if I will be able to find my friends in Krakow; where will I sleep today; What will I eat when the prog from the good people of Iwanowice runs out? What bloody Krakow centuses. After all, they were intellectuals, not some degenerate bullies. . I couldn’t calm down for a long time. I still couldn’t believe that a Pole, an intelligent man, could speak in a similar way. It’s not that it’s for me. But how can such a thing be said to people after such a terrible national tragedy?
inally, I rolled the remains of my rolling pin into a bag and began to wonder what to do next. There must be an address office somewhere. I will go there and get the address of one of the Kramarzówiens. There were three of them and my mother, one of them must be in Krakow. Yes, but who to ask now about where the address office is, so as not to find similar types as those whom I almost slaughtered with a goat.
Walking through Planty, I saw a public toilet. He appeared on my way just when he was urgently needed. As I was leaving, I saw my grandmother in the toilet cleaning something at the entrance. I asked her about the address office. “It is, of course, it is in Krakow, not far from the street (I do not remember the name), at the police station.”
I was already beginning to be happy that my problems are close to being solved, and here is the end of the expected information. I have nothing to go to the police for. But standing in front of a public restroom is also not the solution. So I went in the direction my grandmother indicated in the toilet.
I remember that the building of the police headquarters was located on a square or on a wide street. I stood at a safe distance on the other side of it and, examining the empty shop windows, watched the headquarters building in the shop windows. There were several policemen under arms at the main entrance, barbed wire entanglements limiting the ability to pass in front of the building, and an unfilled machine-gun nest, covered with sandbags. Few people entered and left the building. Everyone entering, even the officers, had ID cards.
On the side of the building, probably to the right of it, there were groups of people who gave the impression from a distance that they might be refugees from Warsaw, who seemed to enter and leave its side wing. I went in that direction, but keeping to the other side of the street (square?).
I envisioned an elderly lady walking slowly with a cane who might have been one of the people coming out of this wing. When she was far away from him, I approached her and asked if she knew where the address office was.
“But I know, that’s where I’m coming back from.”
“Please tell me if the service there is Polish?”
“Yes Poland. I, too, was hesitant to go there, if it is located in and under the police building. The service is Polish; try very hard to help. Only the crowds are terrible there. You just can’t push yourself. There is not only an address office, but also a registration office. ”
I waited for a while, until a slightly larger group of people walked towards the entrance to the address office, and I walked in with them. Indeed, the crowd was unmerciful there. The queue was already standing on the stairs. In the crowd, my women’s coat and arm in a sling did not catch the eye of people, but on the other hand, longer standing in the queue increased the chance that someone would be interested in me. So I took advantage when the clerk called a few names, admittedly not to the address but to the registration office, and went upstairs with the called office. Nobody paid attention, in the general confusion, to the additional “induced”.
In the corridor, I saw a sign “Address Office”. So I threw in the direction of the clerk at the front of our group, “thank you madam” and entered the room probably avoiding the queue waiting for punishment at the door. Nobody even protested.
It was a very large room divided into two parts by a railing. Before her, about twenty people waited for the possibility of asking for the address – in writing, on the printed forms. Behind her – a few clerks were running between cupboards full of binders and customers. The room was stuffy, and there was indescribable confusion and noise.
A little looser (which does not mean loosely!) Was on the right side of this room. Part of the barrier was fenced off, officials did not approach clients there; there was a door in the railing through which someone on staff would come in and out from time to time. I stood by them and wondered how to cram into one of the informants.
After a while the door opened and an old lady stopped in the aisle. She grabbed my unbuttoned coat, covered my arm in a sling with it, and asked “what are you doing here?” Surprised because it seemed obvious to me, I replied that I was looking for an address. She looked at me as if I was crazy and in a loud voice said, “Oh, how good it is that you finally came, here you have to do something about this door, because it keeps jamming”. She opened the door on the railing, literally dragged me inside; she opened the door to the side wardrobe and pushed me in so that I was obstructed from the sight of most people in the room.
“Lord, it’s full of spies here; every time they take someone out of here; how could you come here; you don’t need to ask who you are. Who are you looking for? ”
At this point, I hesitated. Kramarzówny are definitely involved in the underground. By asking about them, I can trace them. My interlocutor apparently noticed this hesitation. “It’s a waste of time,” I heard, “if I wanted to turn you over, I would have already done it, and they can get the information out.”
Wait a minute, I’ll fill out the form in a moment. “Complete madman, you must have been hurt in the head, not in the hand; do not write anything! ” I finally gave my surname, but changed my name and age. She went away to look in binders. She returned a few minutes later: “She doesn’t live here.” .” I hesitated to provide real data when she added “no one with this name is registered in Krakow”.
I was silent for a long time, I didn’t know what to do or what to say. She must have noticed my worried expression, because she changed her tone from rebuking the reckless boy that she comes to a place he should walk from afar to a more gentle and compassionate one: “You don’t know anyone else in Krakow?”.
Nobody came to mind. We had no relatives or friends, even distant ones, in this city. Suddenly I was struck by an enchantment, because my friend from the Military University of Technology (PWST), Zbyszek Łukowiecki, lived with his parents in Krakow. He came to Warsaw to study. I can give his name without fear, he is definitely not at home. I know that he was in the Home Army and I’m sure he took part in the Uprising, although I have no idea where and in what unit. He found his own way to the conspiracy.
I gave his details. She returned after a while with the address “Kanonicza Street, number …, apartment number …”. For joy, I wanted to kiss her hand. But in both of them she kept some papers. So, without thinking for a long time, I kissed her cheek and started to push my way towards the entrance.
She grabbed my sleeve, losing a bundle of papers in the process. Well, I said, complete madness. Do you know where it is? ” I have no idea. “Then listen, it’s not too far.” I received detailed instructions on how to get there and a warning not to go from the side of Wawel, because police patrols often go there.
I left the building and reached the given address without any problems or adventures. It was a very old tenement house, like all the buildings on this street, badly damaged. The apartment with the given number was on the second (if I remember correctly) floor. I walked in, stood in front of the door, and hesitated. After all, I have never seen Zbyszek’s parents. I don’t know if they know about my existence at all. However, I have no choice but to press the bell and we’ll see what happens next.
At the Łukowiecki family
Zbyszek’s mother opened it for me. I introduced myself to her, but my name meant nothing to her. I asked if I found Zbyszek. I found out he was absent I did not know if he was temporarily or not in Krakow. So I added that I was his friend, and also that of Andrzej Krupiński (I knew that their parents were friends behind each other – “My friends and colleagues from the occupation University of Technology – Konstancin; probably July 1944: from the left: Zbigniew Łukowiecki and Andrzej Krupiński (he died at Boernerów August 2, 1944 “).
I learned that Zbyszek was at home at the beginning of the summer vacation, but at the end of July he went to Warsaw and since then they have not had any news about him. After a while, Mr. Łukowiecki appeared in the hall. I had to repeat and swear that Zbyszek was not in the Uprising with me, that I do not even know what grouping he fought in, because he ended up in the underground in other ways than I did and I have no idea what was happening to him.
They asked me into the room and started asking me questions again from the beginning. I had to briefly tell my stories about the uprising. When I finished, they asked about Andrzej Krupiński. I said that I lost sight of him on the march to Kampinos, and I don’t know what happened to him at Boernerow. At that moment, they came to the conclusion that I was hiding the truth from them, and their son had to be with Andrzej and me (they remembered that we were in one “pack” of friends) and he certainly died.
was tired and nervous about this situation. I don’t think so politely I said: “I understand your anxiety for my son, but I don’t know anything about the fate of my parents and sister, I don’t know what happened to them during the Uprising and I don’t know if they’re alive, I don’t know what happened to my fiancée, and the same I don’t know anything about Zbyszek ”. I guess they noticed my irritation because they changed the subject of the conversation. You must be hungry, I’ll get something ready in a moment.” “No, thank you, I still have some leftovers from Iwanowice. I just dream about washing myself well and would love to change my underwear, but I have nothing to change. “It’s not a problem, there are Zbyszek’s things; Please go to the bathroom, I will give you everything I need in a moment.
In the bathroom, I enjoyed being able to clean thoroughly. It can only be appreciated by those who, like me, have been washing themselves for about 10 weeks under the pump or in a kit near the well. And the days when washing was out of the question were no exception.
or washing, I had to remove the bandage from my arm. In the heat of washing away the layers of dirt, I forgot that for my unhealed wound it might not be advisable to soak in water. But it was too late. I was wet from head to toe.
Before the war, Mr. Łukowiecki was the starost of Podolia or Wołyń. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the town anymore. He managed to escape with his whole family from the Bolsheviks and settled in Krakow. Officially he was involved in charity work in the RGO ). However, I think he really was in the underground civil service.
Immediately after dinner, Mrs. Łukowiecka noticed that I was struggling to keep my eyes open. She offered me to go to sleep, despite the still early hour. I didn’t have the strength to argue. For the first time in nearly three months, I lay in an honest home bed. I fell asleep immediately. I woke up the next day at noon. The Łukowiecki family were already anxious about what was happening to me
Not! I was wrong! I slept in a real bed the night of August 15-16. The “Żubr” battalion moved from Kampinos to Warsaw to Żoliborz in a column of about 800  people, bringing drop weapons and ammunition. We were weighed down like pack mules and we came literally with the last of our strength. Our company “landed” late at night in the yard of the 7th colony of WSM in Suzina Street. The residents welcomed us enthusiastically. With the approval of the command, we were invited to the apartments for a very late dinner and rest
An old lady invited me. I remember that I was washing myself in a real bathroom (although there was no water in the taps), I ate something and I do not know how I ended up in bed. I woke up the next morning in clean sheets, in a room with all the panes and furniture and various knick-knacks in their places.
My old lady, hearing that I was awake, brought hot tea to my bed and home-baked bread with… preserves.
Mr. Łukowiecki brought me an “assignment” of clothes from the RGO: two sets of underwear (two flannel shirts, underpants, socks), trousers made of thick cloth (probably some military ones, dyed dark brown), a jacket that I cannot recall at all and insulated jacket made of German ersatz material. The malicious ones said it was made of paper. However, it lasted until the spring of 1945 and even protected against frost a bit. Finally, I got rid of the women’s coat for good, which so far made me complex and also attracted too much attention with its cut. In the afternoon a middle-aged gentleman visited the Łukowiecki family. He was introduced to me as a friend of the family who had gossip from time to time and was by today too. I don’t know for what purpose they used such camouflage against me, because after a few minutes I had no doubts that it was someone from military or civilian intelligence. The household members left the room under any pretext, and I had to once again tell what happened to me during the Uprising. At the same time, he often interrupted my relationship by asking about various details that were mine
seemed completely irrelevant.
From the first day of my stay in Krakow, Mr. Łukowiecki tried to find out about the fate of my parents and sister. He had great opportunities; due to his work in the RGO, he met many people. Unfortunately, he did not meet anyone who was on Miodowa Street during the Uprising.
He brought me a Krakow newspaper every day. At least two of its pages were filled with advertisements from people seeking each other; mostly from Warsaw. I looked through these ads carefully, but to no avail. On the second or third day, he brought older newspapers, so that I had the opportunity to view probably all the ads that had appeared since the arrival of the first transports of civilians evacuated from Warsaw. Unfortunately, all to no avail. We came to the conclusion that I must, therefore, make an announcement. We agreed on a very short text: “Maciej Bernhardt is looking for Stefania’s mother, Wacław’s father and Danuta’s sister living in Warsaw, 9 Miodowa Street. News at the polite address of ul. Kanonicza nr x, m y
After a few days in Kanonicza Street, I finally got a sleep, had a lot of free time and didn’t know what to do with myself. The apartment was very tiny. I had nothing to do there. I had nothing to do there. After a few minutes, I thought about my loved ones, I was reminded of the images I had remembered during the Uprising. After a few minutes, I thought about my loved ones, I was reminded of the images I had remembered during the Uprising I couldn’t sit still at home. And it was really dangerous to go out on the street in my situation.
After consulting Mr. Łukowiecki, we agreed that I must have some exercise after all. I will be going out in the evening when traffic is minimal and I will be walking from home to the church 250-300 meters away and back. This way I will always “catch” some air and movement.
The next evening, equipped with a borrowed pocket watch, I went for a walk. The idea was brilliant. I missed that bit of movement and air. I walked for half an hour like that, went to church for a while and returned home about a quarter of an hour before the curfew. After the first such walk, I was very tired. However, the form was not the same for me. There were only two such walks. The third ended unexpectedly.
Overnight in the church
I went out for an evening “walk” just like the previous days. I got to the church, turned back towards the house, but didn’t make it to the gate. I was supposed to pay as little attention to myself as possible in the building, because I lived unregistered and no one should suspect that I might be here.
In front of the gate I saw a boy aged 10-12, whom I had seen through the window before, and I knew that he was the son (or maybe a relative) of the caretaker. So I turned back and walked again towards the city center. This time I walked a little further behind the church. The city was quiet, traffic was minimal. People, like phantoms, moved along the darkened streets. I didn’t have a watch, this time I forgot to take with me the big old-fashioned “onion” that was lent to me for my evening escapades. According to my calculations, it was time to come back, the more so that the Łukowiecki family asked not to come back until the last minute before the curfew.
Near the house, I was surprised to see that there were two cars on the other side of the street, and someone was approaching me. In this district and at this time, a car could only mean a “visit” by the Germans. It was too late to escape. Fortunately, it was the son (?) Of the caretaker who was walking towards me; he was playing with a small ball. He hit the pavement with it, caught it, hit it again, etc. and purred something or hummed to the beat of the ball. When we passed each other, I heard “And at the Łukowiecki family, the Germans, at the Łukowiecki’s, the Germans, don’t you come back…” I treated the boy like air; I stopped at the gate of the nearest house and turned back.
What can be done in a foreign city, a few (as it seemed to me) minutes before the curfew, while also having “shaky” Warsaw papers. Passing in front of the church, I went inside without thinking. The church was completely empty. The lights are off, except for the red lamp at the altar and the small light bulb above the front door. The priest was just coming out of the confessional and, looking at his watch, he said to me. “Curfew in fifteen minutes. I cannot confess you anymore, because I will not make it to the rectory. You have to come tomorrow.
“I should definitely go to confession, but now I am brought to church for another reason.” As soon as I could, I explained my situation to him.
“What to do with you?” I heard. “I cannot take you to the rectory. All I can do is lock you up in church. I’ll think overnight and we’ll do something with you tomorrow morning. ” He took me to the sacristy, pulled out a red carpet (probably used for ceremonial weddings) and some old cassocks from the wardrobe. “Make yourself a bed. Only under no circumstances are you allowed to turn on the light here. Come on, stay with God. I have to hurry to make it to the rectory. Not far, but it’s terribly late. And there is a toilet behind the door. He turned off the light and left. A key screeched in the lock.
It was completely dark in the sacristy, I couldn’t see anything. I sat down on the rolled up pavement and closed my eyes, hoping they would get used to the darkness. After a while, I opened them. There was still nothing to be seen. Apparently the window was covered with black paper. An idiotic situation.
With difficulty I unwrapped a piece of the pavement, I felt the cassocks hanging on the chair, which I knocked over on this occasion. I made such a noise that it seemed to me that it must have been heard throughout Krakow and that the police, lured by the noise, would soon come. But nothing happened. It was only from the outside that the cat meowing could hear.
I lay down on the pavement, covered my jacket and cassocks, and tried to sleep. Sleep did not come for a long time. I had some insurrectionary situations, my friends who had died, some pre-war memories. I don’t know when I fell asleep; I guess it’s very late.
I woke up freezing cold. I saw a faint light on the edge of a roll of black paper obscuring the window. I got up and uncovered them a bit. Outside, it was dawning. I tried to warm up. However, the curling of the pavement and the intense exercise did not help.
Time dragged on mercilessly. Eventually I started to doze again. I woke to the sound of the door opening. Two people entered the sacristy: a man in his forties and a young girl. They were not surprised by my presence. Without a word, they took a thermos from their briefcase and poured a mug of hot tea. Please drink; You must have been pretty cold here. They also pulled out a few slices of bread smeared with lard with cracklings and onions, and a piece of cottage cheese.
“Get your fill. You must wait here until afternoon. We’ll come for you when it starts getting dark. You can sit here quietly. None of the priests, altar servers, churchmen, or organists will be surprised about anything or ask anything. It’s better not to show up at church. Not all come for a pious purpose. We have to go. I’ll see you before this evening. ” After a while the churchman entered and started cleaning, a little later two nuns came. Everyone treated me like air. After some time “my” priest appeared. He asked how I slept, advised me to be of good cheer, and began to prepare for the celebration of the Mass.
omeone came to the sacristy from time to time: about baptism, and someone asked for a marriage certificate. Traffic was minimal. Time dragged on mercilessly. It seemed to me that this day would never end.
Around noon, a woman wrapped in a headscarf entered the sacristy. I thought a beggar. She began unrolling the package she had brought with her. A pot of steaming soup and a piece of bread appeared. She put it in front of me, said tasty and added: they will come for you soon. The hot soup and the fatigue of the situation did their job. I don’t know when I fell asleep sitting on the chair. I was awakened by a tug on my arm.
I saw a girl I met this morning and two men. They introduced themselves by pseudonyms. Come on, let’s go right away. We went out into the street. We walked a long time through the city, and then a suburb built up with poor houses. One of the men went first; behind him at a distance of 50 – 100 meters me with a girl; a dozen or so steps behind us – the second. I could barely keep up with the pace I set. I haven’t got back in good shape yet.
The owner welcomed us in a small but neatly kept house. As he introduced himself, he was half a railwayman and half a gardener. We were treated to a modest dinner. The conversation was social-bland. They did not ask me anything, nor did they raise any topics that might expose them. Apparently they disbelieved me. I couldn’t be surprised – after all, they didn’t know anything about me. After dinner, I found out that I would be passed on the next day.
The hostess took me to a tiny room in the attic. The hostess took me to a tiny room in the attic. There was a basin on the stool, next to it a watering can and a bucket. You can wash up here and have a good night. The light switch is downstairs by the stairs. If you’re ready, please knock on the floor, we’ll put it out. It was warm in the room, but the couch was terribly uncomfortable. Satisfied, it collapsed halfway, the springs pinched the cover and creaked at the slightest movement. Still, it was better here than yesterday in the sacristy.
The next morning, early in the morning, after breakfast, we drove a steam-horse wagon
loaded with potatoes, cabbage and similar specialties to the market in the village, the name of which I had never heard or remembered before. Apart from the host and me, there was also a man who had been our “rear guard” the previous evening. We drove for quite a long time, I think it was at least 5-6 kilometers. The market was located in a small town, or rather a large settlement. Trade was poor, but around noon our car was almost empty.
Around 2 p.m. a girl appeared, the same one who “looked after” me yesterday. Upon my remark, after saying hello that the liaison officer had not yet reported, she replied: “what is it, I am here, let’s go in a minute”. She spoke to my companions for a moment, said goodbye to them, and we set off. I was prepared for a long walk and I was a bit afraid if I could do it, because I could still feel yesterday’s hike in my bones. We walked along a side country road, then along dirt paths, through some grove. Like yesterday, all attempts to establish a conversation were dismissed by my guide in silence or given in monosyllabic responses, not encouraging further conversation.
At the partisans
We walked for quite a long time; I think not less than 2 hours; in a small, sparse grove we heard: “Whoever is walking, let one come closer and tell you the password”. We were stopped by a partisan detachment. My guardian signaled me to stay where I was, took a dozen steps, gave me a password that I did not understand. After a while, she came back to me with three armed men. It was obvious that they knew her very well. They also knew who I was from her. They introduced themselves with pseudonyms and watched with undisguised curiosity what a real insurgent looked like. I, on the other hand, looked at what the partisans near Krakow looked like. They were dressed rather in civilian clothes, and if not for military belts on jackets and forage caps with eagles, they could have passed for civilians. They were well armed. One had a German Schmeisser submachine gun, the other a rifle, third parabellum gun; all of them had German grenades stuck in their belts
The one with the rifle joined us and the three of us went to the buildings visible at a distance of about half a kilometer. It was quite a large village. The command of the Home Army partisan unit was quartered there. In the dairy building we found a lieutenant, a sergeant and a civilian standing aloof. I checked in according to the rules. I saw that it was appreciated. They gave their nicknames as well as the number and name of the branch. They welcomed me very nicely. They knew that the Warsaw insurgent would be delivered to them from Krakow. I briefly presented them my uprising fate and my escape from the transport. They listened without asking any questions. They were only interested in how my wound healed and said that in a day or two the doctor who looked after them was to come to the ward and instructed the sergeant to make sure that I was examined by him.
In conclusion, the lieutenant said to me in a polite but formal tone: “We have no doubt that everything you said is true, but you yourself understand that we need to check it; for now you are assigned to the provisioning group and we will not give you a gun, besides you are wounded and exhausted, you deserve some rest. Tomorrow you will get the paper and you have a whole day to write the record of your service in the Home Army, especially during the Uprising and how you avoided captivity ”.
“Do you have anything to write about? A pencil, no! it has to be written decently, you will get a pen; do you understand what i am asking? Not only do we want to learn more details about the Uprising, but please also provide facts that will help to identify you. Now, sergeant, please take the cadet to the quarters, provide some supplies and look after in general properly. ”
The next day, as announced, I received a few sheets of checkered paper, a pen holder with a nib and a school inkwell. To my remark that I can no longer write with such an instrument, a fountain pen, even quite good, was borrowed from somewhere.
I sat down at the table in the cottage and began to write. It was very slow for me. I never imagined that the two months of the Uprising and almost a month later wandering would have such an effect on me. I couldn’t put the sentence together correctly. The text seemed terribly coarse and clunky to me, and I had trouble figuring out the sequence of events. I remembered many of them perfectly, sometimes even with the tiniest details.
At the same time, it was difficult for me to figure out what happened before and what happened later; nicknames were wrong. Some of them I couldn’t remember. I had already written a lot of paper, and it was far from the end and it did not add up to a reasonable whole. I began to fear that my “essay” might make me a suspect.
My struggle with my own memory and stubborn pen was interrupted by lunch (very good and plentiful). At the end of it, the civilian who had been present at my first conversation the day before came, and he did not interfere at all at all. He greeted everyone present and asked me if I was finished. I replied that I had not yet mentioned the unexpected problems and difficulties I had encountered. He didn’t answer anything, changed the subject and joined the general conversation about the war situation.
After dinner, he asked me to the next, empty room. He introduced himself as an intelligence officer and said he needed to talk to me. He asked for my essay and
read it carefully. “Well, it’s not as bad as you said. I am asking for pseudonyms or surnames and units in which they served, people who know you and can confirm your identity and participation in the Home Army and the Uprising ”. Well, you still have time for that until evening, now let’s talk. ”
The guy looked very inconspicuous, but he was extremely bright and very intelligent. For example, he asked me for the names and surnames of my close and distant relatives, people I knew well. Two names definitely interested him: my uncle Rzewnicki – a retired electrical engineer and quite well-known mountaineer before the war, and a friend of my father – judge (or prosecutor) Stypułkowski. When it turned out that I was a student of the Military University of Technology (PWST), he asked to name a few professors, and at one of them he asked “what was the subject he lectured?”. When I told him that “machine parts”, he asked me to explain to him what this item covered. When it turned out from the conversation that during the Uprising I operated the “Piat” drop anti-tank grenade launcher – he asked me to describe it and state how it is loaded,
Then he was interested in where I missed my mark in Krakow. I gave the name and address of the Łukówcki family, I also added that they were very worried about me and here I told why I gave up visiting them. The guy looked at me, grimaced, which was probably meant to be a smile, and added in a tone that was now quite unofficial. “Don’t worry about that. They already know you’ve found contact with us. They were looking for you through the appropriate underground services. ”
I was glad “they were very kind to me and I didn’t want to cause them any anxiety, they have enough worries about their son, who was in the Uprising and they don’t know anything about him. Plus, now I’m no longer a suspicious guy with whom nothing is known. ” At this point, he interrupted me and, with a slightly less official face than at the beginning of the interrogation, added: “We still have to check you according to our requirements. Before supper, I’ll send a – as you called it – an essay here and we’ll put it into a normal course. ‘ Feeling much more confident now, I joked “but will it be possible to clarify everything before the end of the war?” “Don’t worry about that. The war is over, but you will still have time to recover.
The following days were rather boring. I was prescribing some provisioning settlements, I used a wagon to get food to neighboring villages. I helped prepare transports of food, linen, soap, etc. for forest units. But I was not allowed to go to them. “You must wait for the verification to complete.” Nice story, I thought, it could go on for months. My colleagues are either in captivity or dead, so how can I verify the information I have provided? Without it, until the end of the war, I will have to count loaves of bread, bars of soap, deliver dirty linen of partisans to wash in the cottages and complete clean ones, etc. Nice prospect, no what!
The next day, I was called to the doctor who came for the previously announced visit to the ward. I was informed that I was to report to him. He officially came to the village and at the local primary school he received the villagers and patients from the area, including partisans. He was an old man, probably in his sixties, a typical “omnibus” village doctor; jovial and lovable.
“I will tell the lieutenant to let you rest, and as soon as possible, you must have your hand X-rayed.” We said goodbye like old friends.
For the next few days, I had nothing to do. As instructed by the doctor, I was allowed to rest. On the first day, I was even happy with it, because my classes so far had been hopelessly boring and I was actually still very tired. The next day, however, the inactivity became arduous, and the next few days were therefore simply unbearable. Someone kindly provided me with a few fiction books, but I was unable to concentrate and after a dozen or so minutes I stopped reading. I felt terrible, and my shot-through arm, so far not causing me much trouble, began to remind me more and more of its existence.
About ten days after arriving in the unit, I was called to a lieutenant I already knew. “I have good news for you,” he greeted me. “The information you provided has been confirmed. From now on, you have the full rights of a Home Army soldier. In fact, we had no doubts from the beginning, but we had to follow the orders that were binding for us. ” He shook my hand warmly until I hissed in pain. “Oh, sorry, I forgot the doctor told me something’s not healing your wound very well. You know – he thought for a moment – don’t get me wrong, you can stay in the ward as a convalescent, but I see that you feel bad in this role. We can send you to our den to recover. If you have relatives or friends not too far away to settle in, I would be glad to give you a vacation.
I admit that I do not feel very well in my current role and that the condition of my injured hand is starting to bother me, but in this area I have no opportunity to settle down. I don’t know anybody here. “Don’t worry about it, we’ll find something for you, and when you recover, we’ll be waiting for you in the ward.”
I was about to report back, but the lieutenant clearly wanted a chat that day. He stopped me and we chatted very pleasantly for at least a quarter of an hour. Suddenly it occurred to me that there was actually a place to stay. “I think I have something, Lieutenant. Unfortunately, not in the immediate vicinity, but near Radomsko ”.
“It’s quite far from here, about 100 kilometers. I don’t want to be indiscreet, but I need to know more. ”
My sister, 8 years older, studied veterinary medicine before the war. For several years, her friend from university and friend – Ala Bartyzel, lived with us. Her father was a clerk in the commune in the village near Radomsko (unfortunately I forgot its name already). Ala lived with us throughout her studies, until the war. During the occupation, she came several times to take – like Danusia – the last fifth-year exams. There was no doubt for me that at Ali’s parents’ house, I would definitely be able to stay, and maybe they would know something about the fate of my family there.
The lieutenant was not thrilled with my story. There were strong partisan units in the vicinity of Radomsko and I was able to get a transfer without any difficulties. The problem, however, was getting there. n foot – too far, and very dangerous by rail. Trains on the route Krakow – Warsaw were under strict German control. Documents were thoroughly checked and passengers were searched. Many people were arrested.
“At your age, with a Warsaw Kennkarte and a wounded hand, there is little chance that you will get there. The vicinity of Radomsko is taken over by the Home Army and you may feel quite confident there, but the city itself and the local Gestapo have the worst opinion. It can be a serious problem getting out of the train station and crossing the city, as well as reaching a village a few kilometers away from Radomsko. We do not have detailed data on the situation in that area here. I also have no right to give you the contacts, because it is a private matter and too little important to increase the possibility of exposing our connections. But I will think, maybe a good idea will come to my mind. For now, rest. Bye, see you tomorrow”.
 Her name is forgotten. I only remember that until the Uprising she lived on Czarnieckiego Street, near Inwalidów Square, and that she was the aunt of my friend Janek Filipkowski (he died in Mokotów).
) about 6 km according to the map
) that is as much as I am now, when I choose fragments of memories written at the end of the 1940s for Gapa.
) Central Welfare Council – tolerated by the Germans
) According to some publications, around 600 600
Excerpt from the memoirs
Excerpt from the memoirs
From the last days of October 1944 to the first days of February 1945
I’m going to Radomsko
he next day after lunch, I was unexpectedly summoned to the lieutenant. I found him a “civilian” from an interview. “We know that you have survived, issued in 1943, a genuine (though” left “) ID card from a company that collects scrap metal in Warsaw, valid until the end of 1944. We came to the conclusion that you can travel relatively safely to your friends near Radomsko. You will get an “almost real” document from a company dealing with the supply of scrap metal to smelters in Silesia, stating that you are going to a really existing scrap collection point in Radomsko to speed up deliveries, as well as a certificate that you have been released from the transport of evacuees from Warsaw. Nobody is able to check the latter. Hundreds of thousands of people have been transported and there is no record of them, so everything will look quite real. We will also give you a backup, emergency contact in Radomsko, if you are in trouble.
I left at dawn the next day. By car to the nearest ignition switch, a side railway line. There I got on a passenger and freight train going (or rather dragging) to the nearest station on the Krakow – Warsaw route. The distance was about 30 km. The train stopped at the smallest ignition locks, put the wagons on the sidings; from others he took them. The ride took over three hours. There were no surprises at that time. Before the end of the ride, the conductor came to see me, checked my ticket and said. “We are reaching the end of our route. You will change over there for a hurry. You must have a ticket and a special pass Please follow me at the station.
There was a crowd of people on the platform and a lot of Germans; civilian, military, as well as gendarmerie and police patrols. Our train stopped at a side platform, much less crowded. I got out and followed the conductor to the service room for Polish railwaymen. After a while, two German railwaymen entered the room. They were dealing with some business matters. They didn’t pay attention to me. After a good hour, “my” railwayman finally came. He handed me a ticket and a blank pass. I entered my name and destination in German: Dienstreise (business trip). When asked how much I owe him for the ticket, he was indignant: “You have something, everything is taken care of as needed, and I will collect the ticket from the smugglers. They can afford to pay for a ticket like you.
“The fast train arrives in half an hour. It will be monstrously crowded. Please do not push towards him and wait patiently. We are attaching a third-class postal and one passenger car here, but when all passengers are already crammed into it. I’ll tell you where to stand, you will surely get inside. ”
The railwayman’s forecast came true to the letter. The train arrived on time and the so-called “Dantean scenes”. In addition, while the train was still standing, the Germans checked the passengers’ documents and pulled a dozen or so people out of the wagons. At that time, I was sitting comfortably on a bench on the platform and reading in a newspaper about the heroic retreat of the German army and bandit raids on German cities, as a result of which only hospitals and museums were destroyed, and old women and children were killed and wounded.
A few minutes before the scheduled departure of the train, I stood at the place indicated by the railwayman. The postal and passenger car pulled up. The front door stopped almost directly in front of me. I entered the car without difficulty and even found a seat. Within a few minutes of the train’s departure, the wagon filled up “stiffly”. Where did these people come from – I don’t know. After all, the platform was almost empty.
The journey proceeded without any extraordinary emotions, excluding of course the stories of fellow passengers about the trains being shot at by partisans. As I found out later, such accidents did take place. Only the partisans of the Home Army and the National Armed Forces fired at the German holiday trains, while the Soviet one, and apparently also the AL, shot at everything that was moving.
After about an hour, the conductor entered the compartment, accompanied by two gendarmes with characteristic “plates” on their chests. They carefully checked tickets, passes and documents. I handed the ticket to the conductor, and the pass, ID card of the Warsaw scrap metal purchasing company and the letter about the destination – to the gendarmes. They looked through them carefully and gave them with kind attention to a man who works for the good of the Reich’s armaments industry:
“Yesterday there was a raid on bandits (that is partisans) in the surrounding forests and we hope that the journey will go smoothly.” I replied that “I am glad that my business trip was on this date and that I also hope that nothing will prevent me from completing the task.”
Soon after the ticket inspection, we drove to the railway station in Radomsko. “Friends” gendarmes also got off there. At the station, there were two exits from the passenger platform: one for the Germans and the other for Poles, with a crowded crowd. I stood on the platform, wondering if it was better to push with the crowd or wait for the crowd to discharge a little.
The gendarmes who passed by me waved at me: you are on a business trip, you have the right to pass without crowds. There was, of course, police and military control at the door. I had a lively conversation with the gendarmes (at that time I spoke German quite well and with a good accent) about the correctness of their predictions that the journey would pass smoothly. I walked through the gate without being stopped, not even showing my papers.
I was in Radomsko for the first time in my life. I had no idea which way to go, nor in what direction the village of XX , where Ali’s parents lived, was located. There were several horse-drawn carriages in the driveway. I went to the first one and asked how far it was to XX. The cab driver replied that it was several kilometers away. Shit, too far to walk, the cab won’t go that far, and besides, I don’t have the money to pay for this course.
“And who are you going to there?” Asked the cab driver, seeing my sour face. To Mr. Bartyzel, a writer in the commune. “He doesn’t live there anymore, they moved to YY, he’ll be two years now.” I didn’t know anything about it. The fact that Ala wasn’t in Warsaw for a long time. Perhaps she wrote to Danusia about it, but it escaped my attention. After all, this was not the most important news for me. There is no advice, you have to go to a backup point of contact. Determined to make an unforeseen change of plans, out of curiosity rather than in the hope that this information might be useful to me right away, I asked how far it is from the village of YY. “And it will be like this from 6 km.” And you are sure that the Bartyzels live there. “Sure, everyone around here knows them. He is still an official, but in a different commune, and his daughter is a doctor of animals ”. Well, now I’m sure the finish line is close!
How much do you take for the course to YY? I don’t remember what the sum was. All I know is that I could afford it. When I went to the Uprising, I had just over 500 zlotys in my wallet. I practically did not spend any of it, because there was nowhere and for what. n Krakow, I got a grant from RGO – I think 300 zlotys. I had no desire and enthusiasm to wander through unknown terrain, asking for directions and people.
Well let’s go. After less than an hour, we were there, arousing quite a sensation, because no one in their right mind spent money on a carriage. Carts were hunted at the market and they returned home in the evening in the desired direction. It cost many times cheaper.
I didn’t know Ali’s parents. Fortunately, Ala was at home, she recognized me immediately.
I was received very warmly. Only later did I realize that when I asked about my parents and Danusia, I got a strange answer that tomorrow we would try to find out something. It was already evening, I was tired of the day’s impressions. I ate a dinner that made my eyes close by themselves. I answered questions with a half-mouth. I remember that Ala changed my dressings after dinner. I don’t know when or how I found myself in bed.
I’m going to Wielgomłyn
The next morning I found out that the Father and our housekeeper Marynia were located in the village of Wielgomłyny, several kilometers away from here. Ala did not see him, but the news spread quickly (even though the phone was only available in the commune and it was surely tapped) and the news about an old doctor from Warsaw, from the Old Town, disabled without a left hand, very thin, arrived shortly after his arrival , that is over a month ago. However, there was no news about Mum and Danusia. I didn’t ask for anything. I realized they were dead.
After hearing this news, I wanted to go to Wielgomłyn immediately. Ali’s parents strongly advised me against it, explaining that “my unexpected appearance may be too strong an experience for my father who is suffering from heart disease. We will try to inform him carefully somehow that you are alive. Maybe someone will go there in a wagon, then you will take it. It is a nice long way to Wielgomłyn, and you can see that you are not in the best shape either ” I guess I must have really looked like this and not feeling well because I gave in.
I don’t know what I was doing all day. A completely white blur in my memory. The next day, around noon, I received a message that Father knows that I am alive, because he received a Krakow newspaper with my advertisement and already knows about my stay here, and Marynia – our housekeeper – is on her way to YY to bring me to Father I do not know how these messages traveled, probably over the phone in the commune, although it was only for business calls and certainly under surveillance.
The next day, around noon, our housekeeper Marynia came to YY. She knocked on the door of the house, greeted her and said in a firm voice, “I came for Mr. Maciej”. She greeted me as if we broke up yesterday and ordered “please collect your belongings and come back, the doctor will be impatient”.
She was hardly persuaded by the hosts that she had already walked a dozen (14?) Kilometers and the same road still awaited her, so it is worth taking a break before her. She was convinced only by the argument that I couldn’t walk that long before lunch. I am wounded, exhausted and I need to eat to have the strength to go this far. Well, she said, let’s collect Mr. Maciej’s things, it’s a pity to waste time.
She was very disappointed that I had absolutely no luggage, Just a change of underwear, a cloth in which the pin was wrapped, a small towel, a piece of soap and a spare handkerchief – it was the “trip” I got for the road. Yesterday I also added pieces of green, motley nylon (it was only after the war that I learned that this new material is called like that) and parachute nylon lines from the arms drops in Kampinos. I cut them off as a souvenir and carried them in my back pocket. They happily survived all my adventures, including the change of pants in Iwanowice. I admit that carrying it with me was actually pointless, as it exposed me during a possible revision to questions that could not be answered reasonably. However, I could not part with them, and so far I had nowhere to leave for safekeeping.
Marynia said that she absolutely would not allow me to carry “this” with me (I must admit that she showed much more common sense here than I have so far). So I gave ‘it’ to Ali for safekeeping. On the farm, it was not a problem to safely hide the rags and a piece of string that fit in the back pocket of the pants. Unfortunately, they never came back to me.
Shortly after that, Ala called us to dinner. Her parents, brother and I with Marynia were sitting at the table. Marynia gave a dry account as if she wanted to ask questions.
On August 26, around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, our house was bombed by Stukas. These were the last days of the fight for the Old Town. Miodowa Street had been on the front line for at least a week. At that time, Marynia was in the basement of a neighboring house, where water was supplied from an artesian well. She went there for water. Father treated the wounded in the basement in the left outbuilding of our house. In our basement (situated in the right outbuilding) there was my mother, Danusia, her eighteen-month-old son Jacek and mother of Hanka, my fiancée, Maria Rychłowska.
After the first few days of the Uprising, Danusia came with her son to Miodowa, because she thought it would be safer there. Mrs. Rychłowska came with her. The bombs fell on the right outbuilding of our house on Miodowa Street and blew it all the way to the basement.
Our basement was located in this part. The rest of the house was heavily damaged, but the cellars and exits remained. Marynia and other survivors tried to dig into our basement, but to no avail. She found her father stunned and completely devastated. She looked after him until the end of the fights, during the transition to Pruszków, in the Pruszków camp, during rail transport to Radomsko, a journey by wagon several kilometers to Wielgomłyn, where he was assigned, along with many other survivors from Warsaw, a temporary place of stay. There is no doubt that the Father lived it all thanks to her alone.
We left YY around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The day was clear, but already cool. During the march I was even too hot in my paper jacket, but if we were going in a car, I would definitely be cold by now. We walked in complete silence for about three hours, resting only once for no more than 5 minutes. When we got to Wielgomłyn, it started to get dark. In the house where my father lived, a kerosene lamp was already burning.
My father greeted me warmly, trying to hide his emotion. This time he completely failed. “You already know that you don’t have a Mother, Sister, and Jacuś is also gone.”
He wept like a child. I’ve never seen him like this before. He couldn’t calm down for a very long time. nally, suddenly he regained his composure and said in his usual, calm voice: “show this wounded hand of yours; we’ll see what it looks like. He asked Marynia for help. She took off the bandage and the dressing from my hand and pulled up the kerosene lamp. Father looked at the hand from all sides for a long time.
He estimated that the wound after the projectile entry healed very well and in a few days it would be without dressing. On the other hand, the wound after the projectile exit is much more extensive and is still not healed yet. He ordered me to take a piece of paper from the school notebook lying on the table, wrote something on it and asked Marynia to take it to the pharmacy and bring the prescribed medicine. I was surprised where to find a pharmacy at this time. It turned out that there was Mr Dworzaczek’s pharmacy in this town and it was very well stocked. It is worth noting that it happened in a “sunken” village in “deep” provinces, in the fifth year of the war.
My father came here with the first, not very numerous, group of expelled Warsaw residents.
He was very well and warmly received. He was given a room with a kitchen with basic furnishings, bedding, pots, plates and cutlery in a house on the market square. Lingerie, a coat, sweater, towels, etc. were collected in the village. Marynia was also given the most necessary personal items. Fuel for the kitchen stove and basic foodstuffs were delivered. And all this without money.
It was known that my father left Warsaw just like he went to treat the wounded. He had some coins in his purse. Mom had the money and jewelry with her. My father didn’t even have his wedding ring. He didn’t wear it when he saw patients. When Marynia went to a nearby cellar to fetch water, she also obviously did not have any money with her, nor the golden trinkets that she bought, “so as not to go to the request for old age”.
There was no doctor in the village and its immediate vicinity. There were many people willing to seek advice from a doctor who, in addition, was mentioned by the local pharmacist as “a fame from Warsaw”. My father did not want to accept money because he got everything for free. After a few days (but it was
still a few weeks before my arrival), the pharmacist handed over to my father as it was decided (but I don’t know what it was behind the body) to resolve the issue of medical fees. The fee will be in kind in the form of eggs, milk, flour. hens, etc. how much the patient can afford, plus a minimal – unfortunately I do not remember what – fee in money, “because the doctor cannot afford cigarettes and he will not sell the hen at the market to buy it”. It was a wise and fair solution. And the attitude of the inhabitants of Wielgomłyn is really touching.
My father had many patients, especially in the first days after his arrival. Thanks to this, we did not lack food and fuel, and most importantly, that he had a job that, even for a moment, allowed him to forget about his last experiences. In medical practice, she helped him (after all, he was an invalid without an arm, and although he did the injections himself, he could not put together a boiled syringe, or open an ampoule with medicine and take it) a secret
medicine student – probably in the 3rd or 4th year – Janka Karcz. She was the niece of a local organist, who was staying with her family in Wielgomłyny on vacation and had nowhere to return from.
The conditions of our stay in Wielgomłyny were perfect, compared to those of the majority of expelled Warsaw residents. The only significant drawback was that the house had no sewage system and it was necessary to use the “outhouse” in the yard. It was a serious problem, especially for Father, during the harsh winter of 44/45.
Wielgomłyny was the base for partisan units of the Home Army. Almost all adult inhabitants of this town were soldiers of the Home Army or cooperated with it. The Germans rarely showed up here, because the area was dangerous for them. If they “visited”, the civil authorities were accompanied by a strong army or police force. The village was always warned about this and a large group of people who should not meet the Germans had to disappear into the nearby forests before their arrival.
Immediately after my arrival, I made contact with the local Home Army unit. They welcomed me very warmly. They were forewarned of my arrival on their premises. To this day, it remains a mystery to me how, during the occupation, when telephones and a telegraph were under strict German control, the secret information of the Home Army was transferred quickly, accurately and safely. Most of the soldiers of the local Home Army unit were located in the villages (the winter was very harsh). An efficiently operating alarm network could quickly bring them to the meeting place with relatively few troops hibernating in well-hidden dugouts in the forests. I was assigned to a wintering group in Wielgomłyny.
I also had meetings with “wintering” soldiers, to whom I tried to pass on my experiences and observations from the fighting in Warsaw and taught them using sketches, handling and shooting rules from English Piat anti-tank grenade launchers.
A regulated, calm lifestyle, good but very simple nutrition, daily long walks and chopping wood made me regain full physical fitness. I felt physically better and better. The injured hand healed almost completely, and I was able to use it almost as if I had been injured. Mentally, I felt lousy. I still couldn’t stop thinking about my loved ones who died in the Uprising.
I was also aware that the war was ending and that although Germany would lose it, the ending would be completely different from what was expected.
I knew enough about the Bolsheviks from the Parents who survived the Moscow Revolution to know what to expect from them. I also knew from eyewitnesses what was happening in the areas they had taken in 1939. I also got to know the help they gave us during the Uprising.
My relatives were killed by German bombs, but it was on the 26th day of the Uprising. At that time, the Russians had a significant advantage in the air, Soviet airports were located several dozen kilometers from Warsaw, and Warsaw was within the range of their anti-aircraft artillery. However, the German Stukas flew undisturbed by anyone and dropped bombs as if they were on a training ground, systematically destroying our resistance points one by one. The Russians also did not try to destroy German field airfields located around Warsaw, from which the Stukas took off …
I was also worried about my Father. I knew that his health was bad, that we were homeless, with no money, nothing …
Christmas 1944 is the saddest Christmas in my life. We were invited on Christmas Eve to the organist’s house, Mr. Karcz. It was a very nice house; kind, helpful people tried to help us not only materially, but also to support us. However, my father did not want to go there on Christmas Eve. He was persuaded for a long time, one by one, by almost all representatives of this large family. I have to admit they did it very tactfully. Eventually, Father relented. It was sad to say no to these kind people, although we all preferred to be alone at home on that day.
I know we were there for Christmas Eve, but I completely don’t remember what it was like. I vaguely see the period of Christmas and New Year and the first days of January. The only memory is very severe frosts, over 20 degrees Celsius, which lasts for many days.
One day, early in the morning, a large partisan unit of Lieutenant Andrzej, the legendary commander in this area, came to Wielgomłyn. He walked in the insured march, but it was evident that he felt very confident in this area. The fact that the Germans hadn’t been here for a few weeks, I guess.
Lieutenant Andrzej ordered a briefing of local commanders from the ranks (if I remember) of the squad commander. The largest room in the local school could hardly accommodate all the newcomers. I was invited to this briefing. The commander and the second officer, also with the rank of lieutenant, presented us with the situation on the Russian front, and also briefly on the Western and Italian fronts. They gave many examples of the hostile attitude of the
Red Army and Berlingers towards the Home Army units. They warned about Moscow’s surprisingly extensive network of agents. Most of those present listened to this information incredulously. As if we all had an established opinion about the Bolsheviks and we knew what was happening in
our eastern lands, but it was not in our minds that we could face the same fate.
The conclusions of the briefing were not happy: We cannot fight the new invader, because such a fight has no chance of success, and moreover, it would be an action in favor of Germany – unacceptable to any of us. Help from Western countries and our army from the Western and Italian fronts is unrealistic due to the distance and the presence of Soviet troops on Polish soil. “You must – we heard – take into account the possibility of dissolving Home Army units.” For now, we have an order to avoid any clashes with the Red Army and maintain efficient communication at all levels of command.
After the briefing, Lieutenant Andrzej stopped some of those present, including – to my surprise – also me. He asked about the Uprising in Żoliborz and about the march and return to the Kampinos Forest. He was particularly interested in the behavior of the Hungarian troops present in its vicinity, the course of the Allied airdrops in the forest and in the city, the mood of the soldiers after the surrender, etc. He asked a lot of detailed questions. Finally thanked him.
I checked out and came home to my father.
We were just sitting down to dinner when there was a knock on the door. Marynia opened it and we heard that someone was asking about the doctor. My father left thinking that he was a patient for advice and after a while he entered the room with… Lieutenant Andrzej. The unexpected visitor politely apologized for the “intrusion”. He stated that he wanted to find out about the mood of the population, including the evacuated Warsaw residents. Marynia, without asking, placed a plate full of potato soup in front of him. He thanked us and stayed at our modest dinner. The conversation concerned, of course, the military and political situation. The resulting conclusions were not cheerful.
At one point the lieutenant looked at his watch, apologized for a moment, picked up his fur hat from the chair and took out a miniature radio set for headphones.
“Sorry, the BBC broadcasts the news now, and among them encrypted messages for the Home Army units.” He listened attentively for a long moment. Finally he put the camera down and, seeing my interest in it, set it on the table. “Look at him; this is the very latest in technology. The camera has lamps of a new type, metal, very small, consuming little electricity from the battery (transistors have not been known yet), miniaturized in such a way that it fits under a winter cap. I can listen to allied, as well as German and Russian stations, while walking or driving a cart. A fantastic achievement. Just a pity that we didn’t have something similar before. Please try the excellent reception. ” I tried. Indeed, the reception was flawless.
One January night, in the morning we were awakened by the distant rumble of an artillery cannonade. It was obvious that the Soviet offensive had begun. After a few hours, the cannonade had stopped. From time to time, only very distant single explosions were heard. It was difficult to tell whether the offensive had collapsed or whether the advancing troops faced German resistance. The day passed peacefully; people were interested rather than worried. No German unit appeared, and no partisans were visible. We haven’t received any orders. We knew from the radio monitoring that the offensive had started and its successful course.
The next evening, at times, the very distant sounds of artillery salvos were heard. It was clear that Wielgomłyny was not in the main, or even in the auxiliary, direction of the attack. So we can not be afraid of heavy fights in the area and all the consequences that come with it. On the other hand, the broken German troops may seek shelter in the surrounding forests and burn the nearby villages to clear the foreground.
The local commander of the Home Army ordered a combat alarm and led our unit out of the village, leaving only detectors with a well-hidden radio station inside. Until the morning we scoured the nearby forests in search of hidden German troops. In the morning, our detectors tracked a German unit passing through the forest. He moved very quietly and carefully, sending patrols in all directions. We were unable to determine its size. Presumably he was in the strength of an infantry battalion. We were on his heels, but we did not attack without full recognition. We were ordered to avoid any “misunderstandings” with “liberators.” The German unit went around Radomsko with a large arc from the west and south. In the morning we lost contact with him and returned to Wielgomłyn, very tired.
We waited all day for the entry of the Soviet troops. In vain. The day passed quietly, nothing unusual happened. In the evening, a motorcycle unexpectedly appeared with a basket and three Germans. They stopped in the market square, looked around uncertainly.
They gave the impression that they wanted to ask something. All the windows in the village were dark, but they were definitely being watched from every window. Everyone was expecting Russians. At the sound of the motorcycle engine from every window in the market square one looked at “whether they had already come”. Disarming three Germans, although each of them had a submachine gun in his hand, was not a problem. But no one moved. The Germans talked to each other for a while and left without any problems.
I cannot imagine such a situation if we were to expect our troops to enter; true liberation. After all, there were a hundred Home Army soldiers in the village, and they were very well-armed. I remember three posts in houses on the market square. We could shoot the Germans like ducks. However, not a single shot was fired. As if it would not be appropriate to shoot the escapees who have no chance of escaping the Russians and are already sentenced to death.
After a few hours, the advance guards of the Russian infantry entered Wielgomłyn. They set up posts, and some of them sat on porches, on woodsheds, pigsties and slept. The frost that night was strong, at least 15 degrees. Residents invited them to their homes, offered them hot tea, milk, soup and bread. They refused both refreshments and refused to enter their houses. We had the impression that they were strictly forbidden to have any contact with the local
My father spoke perfect Russian. He graduated from a Russian gymnasium and spent the entire first war in Russia. He went outside and tried to talk to the soldiers who had arrived. He was surprised to find that they did not understand Russian. After a long moment, a Russian non-commissioned officer came, who also refused to enter the house and a plate of hot soup that Marynia had brought him. He explained that they had to be on alert, because the Germans could be here at any time. It was a poor evasion because the front had already moved far to the west. Apparently, they had such orders not to make contact with the local “bourgeoisie”.
I don’t remember much about the trip from Wielgomłyn to Warsaw. I don’t even remember the exact dates. We set off with my brother-in-law (who came to Wielgomłyn in search of his wife – and my sister), most probably between 22 and 24 January. We got to Warsaw probably in the last days of January. I remember crossing the frozen Vistula on ice and the surprise of Praga, relatively little damaged by hostilities, full of troops, crowds of people, street trade and noise.
We stayed in a modest tenement house on a side street, probably near Ząbkowska Street, with my brother-in-law’s friends.
The next day we went to Miodowa Street. It wasn’t cleared of the rubble yet. Only a path on the (former) road has been trodden among the debris. The house was partially demolished and completely burned out. From the street, there is an entrance gate and a front wall, more or less up to the 2nd floor. Our balcony was heavily shot but was clinging to the columns of the first floor balcony. Of the three windows (or rather window openings in the wall) of the living room, only one, closest to the balcony, has survived. The others could only be guessed at.
From the accounts of my father and Marynia, I know that when they left the remnants of our house after the Germans conquered this area, only the right outbuilding was completely destroyed; the front part and the left outbuilding were riddled with bullets, but not burned. The defenders managed to extinguish all fires The surviving remnants were burned by the Germans after the fall of the Uprising.
We entered the gate. The staircase was collapsed; There was no question of even going to the first floor. The yard was covered with a thick layer of rubble. It was easy to climb, especially since the rubble was covered with a thick layer of snow. I looked around. After the living room, dining room, my room, work room and kitchen, there was not even a memory left. A fragment of the Father’s study window, the dining room balcony and the entire bathroom window and ceiling have survived.
Our basement was located under the right outbuilding, where my relatives had taken refuge. On the other hand, the opposite (left) and transverse outbuildings were burned out, but almost complete.
The entrance to the kitchen staircase in the right outbuilding and the stairs leading from it to the basement have also survived. We went down them. We got to the beginning of the main cellar corridor. Two or three meters away, the corridor to the ceiling was covered with rubble and ash. We had a sapper shovel and a large hammer with us. We pulled a steel rod out of the rubble. We tried to dig out the rubble and break through a solid wall, made in the last century. A terrible job with the light of the candle that she brought with her. Finally, when we managed to overcome the resistance of the bricks and pierce a small hole, it turned out that the interior of the basement is buried with rubble and ash, at least up to the height of the knocked hole, and most likely up to the ceiling, if its ceiling exists at all. But it wasn’t our basement yet, but the neighbor’s basement adjoining it. It was impossible to get to ours.
We went outside to get some fresh air. We were pretty tired. We rested for half an hour wondering what to do next. In fact, for safety reasons, you should first dismantle the burnt walls that could collapse at any moment, and then dig up the debris from the top in the place where our basement was located. For this, it needed a team of people and appropriate ladders or scaffolding and pickaxes to break walls.
After the rest, we decided to try to find out about the situation from the side of the neighboring house (Miodowa 11). The house was partially demolished and, like all the houses, completely burnt out. However, his part adjacent to our house has survived; she was burned out, of course. We got easily to the basement and to the passage to our house that had been broken during the Uprising. The passage was covered with rubble and ash. There was no way to get through.
We returned to Praga barely alive. We were crossing the Vistula River in the dark. We were thirsty the most. We didn’t drink anything all day. We did not take the drink with us, only a dry roll, and there was no question of buying anything. There was a lot of snow
, but it was dirty, and underneath it lay unburied bodies of people and animals. He was not fit to quench my thirst.
The next day I went to change my money. Occupational “millers” lost their value and each 500 “millers” was exchanged for 500 new zlotys. By the way, a seal with a swastika was cut out of the Kennkarte as proof of the money exchange. I received an additional “left” Kennkarte and 500 zlotys from my brother-in-law. In the first days money was exchanged without difficulty “for someone from the family or a neighbor” as long as the Kennkarte did not have an eagle cut out of a swastika – a proof of money exchange.
While walking down Targowa Street, I saw posters calling for a trip to the Regained Territories in order to develop them. I thought it was a good idea for me. I went to the information desk indicated on the poster. There were quite a few people like me who wanted to know the details. Professionals in all possible professions were sought. When I told the clerk that I had a technician diploma and two years of military polytechnic university, he jumped up in his chair and immediately dragged me to his boss. This one asked me again about qualifications. And when I repeated them to him, he said that we need such people.
But I have no evidence of what I told you. Everything was lost during the Uprising. The guest checked the address in the Kennkarte and grunted “indeed, nothing could have happened on Miodowa Street”. He looked at me and suddenly asked, “Do you know how steel differs from cast iron?” A trivial question, I answered it without thinking and correctly. He took a slide rule from a drawer in his desk and asked, “what do you know how to use?” Of course. “Well, count it for me,” and wrote a simple act in the margins of the paper.
He glanced at the result given: “Well, I don’t know if everything you said is true, but you have an idea of the technique. Right now, we need people on the coast the most, especially in Gdańsk. I’ll give you a referral there. You can go even today. The referral is for a free ticket. ” He ordered the clerk who had brought me to write out an appropriate document, and when he left he casually said, “Don’t tell too much about your participation in the Uprising, it may be unhealthy.” After a while, he signed the prepared referral and asked “when are you going?” Actually, nothing keeps me here anymore, so maybe tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. “It’s good, there is a need for people and a healthier climate for you. Please go as fast as you can. Trains depart from the station in Ożarów.
Saying goodbye, I thanked him for the information and advice he had given me and said that “I will take care of my health”. He smiled significantly and added, “Good luck.”
I was coming home in a good mood. Well, finally something starts to fall into place. I have a job, but I don’t know which one yet. Apparently, Gdańsk is very dilapidated, but some flat must be found. I am a sought-after specialist; My father as a doctor, despite his poor health, can also come in handy. Doctors are sorely lacking.
Into the unknown
The next day I got up early in the morning; it was still dark. I was ready to leave when the hostess appeared and announced in an irresistible manner that she would not let me go to frost without breakfast. I didn’t defend myself too much because I was hungry and wondered how I could survive without food all day, and maybe even longer.
On Targowa Street, a group of people was standing by the notice board. I walked over to them and saw two or three copies of the newspaper hanging out. In addition to the news from the front and local messages, there was also a brief mention of the appointment of a team to take over and launch coal mines in Upper Silesia, led by engineer Bolesław Krupiński. There was no doubt that it was the father of my fallen colleague and friend, Andrzej Krupiński.
At this point, I began to regret that I had accepted the referral to Gdańsk. After all, I have to communicate with Mr. Krupiński and tell him everything I know (that is, very little) about his son’s death. There is also plenty of work in Silesia.
I went to Miodowa Street again. I stood on the rubble in front of our house and looked at its remains for a long time. I was so sorry not to have my camera with me. I absolutely wanted to remember what was left of the memories of my youth. I was a keen photographer, I had nice equipment: a little Kodak “Retina” and a professional Voigtlaender. I took really good photos. Both cameras are under the rubble here, along with about two thousand of my photos. I did a lot of them during the war and occupation. I think some of them had documentary value.
I stood there for a long time on Miodowa Street. Finally, an acute chill forced me to continue my journey. I walked along Senatorska Street, through Teatralny Square, Bielańska Square and Bankowy Square to Leszno. I knew all these streets and squares so well, I walked them so many times. Now you were walking along a path that had been cut through the snow covering the ruins, in absolute silence and in sight, most often, you could not see a living soul. It was only in Leszno that I saw individual people and small groups wandering for no one knows where and why. From Leszno I turned into Orla Street. The house where Danusia and Paweł lived was completely burned out, but not demolished. As I found out later, apparently none of its inhabitants died …
Wandering along Leszno towards the west, I decided to go to Boernerowo. It’s almost on the way to Ożarów. It was quite a bit of a road. Today the bus takes about half an hour from downtown. I got there around noon, maybe a little later. First of all, I went to the field where Lt. Starża had lost almost all of our company. Two large mass graves and 10 (12?)
Single graves were visible in the field.
In the winter scenery, the area looked completely different than on a hot August morning. Wandering around the field, I tried to recreate the course of the column’s march and the place I had reached, or rather crawled. The first single graves were about 50 meters away.
All the time I wandered through this field, no one was there except me. I was getting ready to return to Boernerow when I saw an old man coming from the other side, carrying a small sack on his back. As he passed me, I politely asked him if he knew anything about these graves and the massacre that took place here. He answered with an incomprehensible grunt, adjusted the bag over his shoulder and quickened his pace. Old weirdo, I thought, and slowly walked towards the Boernerov’s houses between the trees.
I don’t know what time it was, I didn’t have a watch after all. I thought it must be around noon, maybe a little later. People were nowhere to be seen, though smoke was escaping from many of the chimneys I was wandering around this little neighborhood, hoping to finally meet someone on the street. Finally, an elderly woman emerged from one of the houses. I ran up to her and asked her about the graves in the field. She looked around, said she didn’t know anything about it, quickened her pace and disappeared around the corner of the alley. I did not have the courage to visit the houses, but how to gather any information about the events that interested me in such a situation. fter a while I saw a woman with a child of several years, pulling firewood on a sled. Her reaction to my questions was almost identical. What kind of people live here, I thought where they came from. I have not yet had any experience with the security service and the NKVD and their behavior was completely incomprehensible to me. I was going to understand them very soon.
was getting ready to leave Boernerów when I saw a fairly young man on the street of the estate, walking with an energetic step. Well, this one will definitely know something, or at least you can talk to him. Indeed, a visitor around the age of thirty, slightly dragging, as in the Eastern Borderlands, listened patiently to my question and kindly replied that he could not answer it, because he had been here for a very
short time, but he would gladly take me to his hosts, who are the old inhabitants of Boernerowo and they certainly know something about these graves in the field. He remembers saying something about it, but he is not a local and cannot remember the details.
I thanked him and we went together to his hosts. He knocked, the door opened, I entered the dark hall and immediately I heard: “knocks on the peak”, and three men with guns in their hands began to check whether I had a gun. They unrolled my pin, checked what’s inside and gave it back politely. They took a Kennkarte from my jacket pocket, handed it to my “guide” who threw it into a desk drawer without looking. Nobody responded to my questions about this. One of those present motioned for me to follow him. He led me up the steps to the basement, opened a door, pushed me in, and the door closed behind me.
It was dim in the basement. Only after a while I saw that there were still five people in it. hey looked at me without saying anything. I said something to them, they said nothing. So I sat down on the straw in the corner and wondered what was going on here.
I felt hungry, I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, though hearty, but since then it’s been eight hours, and I’ve done at least 15 kilometers. So I took out my rolling pin and started eating. I swallowed a few bites and turned to those present, “sorry gentlemen, maybe the gentlemen are hungry, please help yourself” they looked at me in surprise and did not answer anything. Two of them whispered for a while in the corner. One of them finally replied, “Thank you, if you have too much food, we’ll be happy to help you so that you don’t have to carry it.”
They ate, thanked them, but were reluctant to talk. No, no, I thought, curled up on the straw and fell asleep. I was awakened by the movement in the basement. It turned out that we were brought “supper”. It consisted of a watery but hot soup and a piece of black bread I didn’t have a soup canteen. One of my companions repaid for the snack earlier and lent me his. Everyone was very reserved in the conversation: “please, thank you; be careful because it will spill; mum made better soup at home, etc. Not a word about who they are, how they got here, what is it all about; just meaningless words and bits of sentences. They talked to each other, but in a whisper that I could not understand.
Some time after dinner, one of them, who seemed to be their leader because they were addressing him with some – what seemed to me – respect, unexpectedly turned to me. “Well, buddy, I think you now know that we are under the loving care of the NKVD. These here are ordinary catchers, they caught us this morning. But at night or tomorrow morning, they will take us to where professionals and investigators will take care of us. Remember your biography because they don’t like it when you don’t agree ”.
I had no doubts that the NKVD stopped us, but I couldn’t understand why. It was only later that I found out that immediately after the occupation of Warsaw, the Red Army intensively tracked the Home Army in the nearby Kampinos Forest. She was especially interested in, among others Boernerow as one of the bases of communication with the Forest. For now, there was a nice prospect of an investigation into this matter. he people sitting with me were probably Home Army soldiers caught in an exposed contact point. Not merry. Before something is explained, if anything can be explained at all, you can land in Siberia.
I tried to talk to my companions, but to no avail. They didn’t feel like it at all. They probably thought I was a plug to eavesdrop on their conversations. They whispered among themselves almost all the time. They seemed to be waiting for something. But maybe it just seemed to me. houghts were racing in my head. I was worried what it would be if Father didn’t get the promised message soon. After all, he will torment himself to death.
I don’t know when I fell asleep, despite the cold that was taking its toll on all of us. I was awakened by some movement and the bitter cold in the basement. My roommates, despite the frost, opened a small, barred window under the ceiling and clearly listened. False drunken wails came from afar. Two drunks were shouting over each other. After a while they fell silent.
Close that window, it’s cold as hell in here. “Be quiet,” I heard in reply, “it’s stuffy here and you need to ventilate.” The youngest of my companions, a piece of a bull, sat down beside me and hissed in my ear. “Don’t move and don’t speak or I’ll suffocate. It’s supposed to be quiet here; everyone is asleep, do you understand? ” I didn’t understand much, except that I had to be quiet because something was brewing here. I guess those drunken screams were not insignificant. Nothing happened for a long time. At last we heard the car’s engine roar. t was getting closer, it became more and more clear. A car stopped in front of the house. After a while a second one drove up. I heard a conversation in Russian. They came for us, I thought. We could hear the front door opening, a moment of conversation, some very brief commotion and two armed young men in Polish uniforms burst into our basement.
My companions threw themselves around their necks. And who is this? one of the guests asked. We do not know. They packed it in this afternoon. Either one of ours or a plug. We don’t have time to think. Get out quickly, everyone! At the front door was lying dead, the same man who had kindly brought me here. There was no shooting, he had to get stabbed. The other one was still in the corridor, I couldn’t see him well, but I think he was dead as well. A few stood against the wall with their hands already professionally bound and their mouths gagged. We went outside. There were two cars in front of the house with their engines running. The Willys rover and a German Opel Blitz truck with a box covered with a sheet.
All freed ones got into the truck. Everyone but me had guns. I didn’t notice when they got it. We waited a while, as it turned out later, for some of our liberators, who at that time locked five related “catchers” in the basement.
We started sharply from the spot and the cars headed towards the village of Babice Stare. One of the “liberators” who was riding with us said to me, “We have no way of taking you with us because we don’t know who you are. We will drop you away from the village, because if you want to betray us, before you get to some post and explain what’s going on, we will be far away. If we are overly cautious, then do not hold it against us and remember that the Russians have much better intelligence than the Germans and unfortunately many Poles work for them ”. e knocked on the cab and the car stopped. “Get off and good luck if you’re yours.”
I recited, as in a recruiting training, “Cadet Zdzich reports back” and jumped out of the car. “Hi! do not get caught a second time because we may not be at hand, ”I heard in reply and the Opel truck“ Blitz ”drove away.
At night (I suppose it was two or three in the morning) I found myself in the middle of a road in completely unfamiliar terrain. I saw that we were driving through Stare Babice – I knew this area from classes in the cadet school – but after that the car turned several times, it was probably driving for some time, judging from the bumps, on a dirt road and I completely lost my orientation.
First thing, I stood under the nearest tree. I have dreamed about this moment for a long time.
I didn’t know which direction to go. I was afraid that in the dark I might unexpectedly run into a military or partisan police station or patrol. How do I explain my presence here and my journey at night. I think you have to wait until morning. Not a happy prospect, I don’t know what time it is, and in spite of anger, it takes quite a solid frost before dawn. It would not interfere with the march, but it would be difficult to stand still.
Suddenly terrified: My identity card with my real name and a certificate from Wielgomłyn was left in the drawer of the desk at the NKVDzists’ house. After all, they will come to the Father now. I felt a cold sweat pour over me. And suddenly there was a revelation: yes, they have a Kennkarte, but not mine, but my brother-in-law’s “left” exhibited in a town in eastern Poland, which was completely destroyed during the war, and the data contained in it are fictitious. You can look for its owner for a long time.
Mine is sitting in the right inner jacket pocket, along with a referral to Gdańsk. I abruptly unbutton my jacket and check: there are remnants of the old wallet, I can feel the Kennkarte in it. I breathed a breath, the stone fell from my heart.
The frost bothered me more and more. Waving your arms and practicing the squats did not help much. At one point I heard the distant whistle of the locomotive, then another and another. More or less the direction could be determined. The harder distance. I do not know for how many kilometers on a frosty night such a signal can be heard?
I remembered that at my parents’ house I had heard the whistles of locomotives from the Gdańsk railway station very clearly at night. From Miodowa Street to the station it was in a straight line from one and a half kilometers. But it was in summer, with the windows open. In winter, the voice spreads much better, and the whistle was barely audible here, so there may be several kilometers to the tracks. And how much to the train station in Ożarów?
I was already so cold that despite the obvious contraindications, I decided to go in the direction from which I thought I could hear railway noises. Unfortunately, the road I was standing on was roughly at right angles to the direction I was interested in. I decided to go ahead and turn left onto the nearest road or path. Despite the lack of a moon, the road was clearly visible. The ruts cut off from the white snow.
After about a kilometer, I turned left into a dirt road. I could not check if I was going in the right direction because, as to anger, the locomotive (locomotives?) Fell silent and there were no train noises. On the right, a large dark spot was visible on the horizon. It is not known the forest or the village buildings. There was a slight mist on the ground, and it was hard to make out the contours in the darkness.
I slowed my pace, warmed up completely, and did not want to reach the village before dawn. But the dark spot on the right was getting closer and closer. But I still couldn’t recognize her. There was a small village chapel at the crossroads of dirt roads. Next to it, a stump that may have served as a support for a bench in the past. I sat on it. Not so much from fatigue as from the desire to wait to somehow make it to dawn.
I was not tired or sleepy. The emotions of recent events effectively warded off sleepiness. However, I had to take a nap (although I do not know how it was possible, because the stump was not the most comfortable seat). Footsteps on the road woke me up, the snow was clearly creaking. I was approached by an old woman carrying a can of milk in a sheet on her back.
I heard an old voice say, “Praise be to him.” I replied, “Forever and ever.” “And you scared me. I looked at my feet and saw you only a few steps away. The devil, what or what I thought, but when he sits next to the chapel, it’s probably not the devil.
What are you doing here? ” “I am waiting for it to light up, I have lost my way and I am afraid of further wandering in the dark. “Where is your path to?” I’m going to the station in Ożarów. “Well, it’s not far away; it will be about three kilometers. I’m going, and here she mentioned the name of the place that I don’t remember, so I can take you a bit, and then it’s a straight road.
She looked at me closely. “Young, probably from partisans. They are looking for them terribly, worse than for the Germans. But on this side it is quiet, far from the forest. You can easily reach the fields. You have to be careful at the station.
At the station, I have nothing to fear, but how to get to it safely and explain where I’m going from. “Where are you coming from?” From Prague, but not the shortest way. “So you said you went looking for a place to stay in the village.
At the station, now there are crowds of people waiting for the trains for hours, some of them even for a few days. Many go to nearby villages to buy food or stay overnight. ”
hank you for the advice, because I didn’t really know what to do. “You are welcome”.
“Well, I turn right here, and go straight ahead and after such a small pond you have to turn into the road between the fields. The first houses in Ożarów will be visible behind the grove. You’ll be at the station in less than an hour. Then stay with God. ” “God bless you for good advice, goodbye.”
On the same day, in the evening, I took a freight train with the intention of getting to Gdańsk, according to my referral. However, I landed in Katowice; but that is a completely different story.
Warsaw, August 2004
In the fall of 1946, I went to Wielgomłyn to visit the people to whom I owe so much. I was driving from Radomsko on a truck box. On the way, an older man got on, who recognized me and, after a moment of casual conversation, told me to get out and come back at the first opportunity. “Everyone knows here that you were in the Home Army. The local UB organizes constant hunting of the Home Army here; get out of here and don’t show up anytime soon ”. I already had my own experience with this institution, so I took good advice.
The next time I went to Wielgomłyn by car in 1960 or 1961. I did not meet any of my friends, nor did anyone recognize me. Later, my rather complicated fate never led me to Wielgomłyn again.
Today, retired for many years, I am too old and not very mobile to visit Wielgomłyn. But I have kept my best memories about this town and, above all, its inhabitants.
) I remember that this village had a “strange”, non-Polish (?) Name; I didn’t find her on the exact staff map; the name of any of the villages (on the left side of the railway track towards Warsaw) within a radius of 20 km from Radomsko did not remind me of the “strange” name I had heard many times, but not remembered.
AFTER RISING – PART 3
RAILWAYER FOR THE SECOND TIME
It was already dawn when I reached the first buildings in Ożarów. People were hovering between the houses, and my presence did not arouse any particular interest. There was a crowd of people at the train station. It was impossible to cram into the information pane, or to any railwayman. From casual informants, I was getting exactly contradictory information, only agreeing that we do not know when the train will be and where it will go. Tickets are not really needed, because they only let the military and those who have official departure orders on the train.
I did not have an order to leave (I did not know then that such a document even exists), but I had an official referral to Gdańsk, in which it was clearly written that it also served as a ticket. There was no point in pushing through the windows at the station. I went to the duty traffic. There were more wise men, and there were two railwaymen with white and red armbands and armbands on their arm in front of the entrance to the station, blocking the entrance. I pulled out my referral with a large seal visible from a distance and, stopped by the guards, stated that I did not come to ask for information, nor to ask for admission to the train (which is not there yet and no one knows when it will be) I have an order to get to Gdańsk and the person on duty must enable me to do so.
Paper with a stamp made an impression on officials at that time. I was let in front of the duty traffic. He was a Polish railwayman, but he had two Russian “helpers”. I explained the matter to him, some civilian translated my speech into Russian. One of the Russians took a referral from me and asked a civilian to translate it. “Nu da, let him go.”
The person on duty could not say when the train to Gdańsk would be. It is not known whether there will be a direct train today. You have to go in that direction and catch the next bargains. Military transports have priority. Sometimes they take business passengers, but it depends on the commander of the transport. They generally refuse. So far they know nothing about trains “for people”. One military transport has been announced for the time being. He doesn’t know the details, and if he did, he wouldn’t say it anyway, because it’s a secret. I asked him if there was anything to eat here. The stationmaster took the telephone receiver and turned the crank: “I will send one hungry to you there, feed him; goes on business “. He pointed to a nearby control room. There, next to it, they have a military kitchen serving railwaymen. There will be something for you there. I thanked him and walked along the tracks to the control room.
There were two elderly Polish railwaymen and three young people with armbands on their sleeves. One had a pepesh, the others – rifles. They identified me. “Sit down, comrade – this is the first time in my life I have been addressed in this way – we are about to give you something to eat.” In a moment he brought a tin plate full of smoking hot soldier’s pea soup and a half a loaf of bread. “Please eat. You are going to take over and secure post-German machines (I had it written in the referral) and workshops. This is an official mission, you must be in good shape. Please don’t be embarrassed. May be a refill. I will bring you some military biscuits for the road, they will definitely come in handy ”. I ate with appetite, was not embarrassed, asked for a refill and put a few military biscuits in my bag. It was warm in the control room, the little stove was red hot. There was no lack of coal here. I rested my head against the wall and fell asleep immediately. I had hardly slept at all the night before.
Movement in the control room woke me up. It turned out that three trains arrived almost simultaneously, of which (apparently) two unannounced. Railroad workers cursed powerfully at the mess in the movement of military trains, whose drivers did not care about their Polish colleagues and ran them according to their own, usually drunk, discernment. t’s a miracle that a major catastrophe has yet to happen. Apparently, two days earlier, two military trains, traveling along the same track facing each other, stopped just 50 meters from here. One of them was carrying a large shipment of ammunition for the front.
Unfortunately, none of the arriving trains went towards Gdańsk. In the general, indescribable confusion, there was an unexpected moment of peace. None of the railroad or military telephones rang, and no one was banging on the control room door. One of its employees, an older railwayman, joined me. “I need to rest for a moment or I’ll go crazy in this mess.” He poured himself a cup of tea, pulled a small bottle of vodka out of his coat, and looked at me questioningly. I nodded – I got my portion of “fortified” tea, but in a tin mug, there was no other.
If you are in a hurry, I can put you on the locomotive of a freight train going to Katowice via Koluszki. My cousin is running it.
You will change on the way, maybe in Koluszki, maybe at another station. He will advise you. You have to get out of here as soon as possible, because it’s the worst here. The Warsaw knot is broken and broken. After all, both railway bridges in Warsaw are destroyed. This is a dead end station and a dime a dozen riders. It will surely be easier next. ”
I don’t think I have any other choice, I can wait even a few days here. Anyway, the farther from Warsaw and Boernerów, the better. “I agree, sir, but how can I do you and your cousin a favor?”
“Mister something! You are traveling on business, it is my duty to help you. After all, I see that you are not a looter and a war merchant. Perhaps when we meet again, you will buy me a goblet and we will be paid! “For now, sit quietly and recharge your batteries, because the hell is awake and the locomotive or tender is not a sleeping car.”
I took good advice, and from the field kitchen I got a canteen of something that was too thick for barley but too sparse for porridge. But it was possible to eat. I sat down in the corner, full of food, and dozed. “My” railwayman picked me up. Goods to Katowice will be departing soon. I’ll take you to my cousin.
We walked quite a long time. “My” train was standing on a siding, it was very long. After the well-heated control room, it seemed to me that it was very frosty outside. From the conversations of the railwaymen passing by it appeared that it was only a few steps The engineer left the locomotive, greeted his cousin, and looked at me carefully for a moment. “You may go,” and he shook my hand.
“Now go to the locomotive and switch to the tender. There’s a place in the corner where it’s not very windy while driving. Get in there. My helper knows everything and won’t ask you anything. We’ll talk after that. I said goodbye to the railwayman from the control room and climbed into the locomotive, the assistant squeezed my hand so that he almost shattered my bones; a peasant could be a heavyweight wrestler.
After a while the driver came back, tilted the folding seat back, sat down and lit his pipe: “Well, now we’ll wait. You probably think that the driver is nothing but drives. And I will tell you that it is waiting the most. Even in normal times, and even during the war, it is nothing but waiting ”.
Contrary to his expectations, after a short time the semaphore showed a clear path and we slowly moved from the place. Stone fell from my heart. Although theoretically I did not leave any traces behind me that I was involved – accidentally, but who cares – in Boerner’s history, I preferred to be as far away as possible from this fateful place for me. I remembered, however, that in my attempts to talk to my roommates in the basement, I must have mentioned something in passing about the fact that I was supposed to go to Gdańsk. I wasn’t sure about it, because there were too many events and impressions lately. I did not remember if I was saying something about it or just about to do so.
At this point, I had an idea to go to Katowice to Mr. Krupiński instead of Gdańsk. I do not have the appropriate referral, but I can always refer to it. There were so many people at the point recruiting people to leave for the Recovered Territories, such a primitive way of registering and writing out referrals that probably no one will ever be able to check who of the referrals did not come and for what.
Anyway, I did not have the opportunity to travel and I went wherever it was possible and where there was also a need for people to work. I’ve decided, I’m going to Katowice!
Initially, the train traveled very slowly. The tracks were damaged in some places by the retreating Germans and were only temporarily repaired. ven at a very low speed, the locomotive rocked solidly from side to side and you had to hold on well to avoid falling. . At last we moved to a straight section and the driver sped up a little and clearly breathed a breath. He took out his pipe, lit it, and offered his assistant some tobacco. He nodded at me, “you want pipe tobacco? Good American. I got yesterday from the Ruthenians; I was carrying some big boys and I got a whole package as a gift ”. Thank you, I don’t smoke a pipe. “Eh, you don’t know what’s good!”
I walked closer to him, he clearly wanted to talk. So what, are you on the locomotive for the first time?” First, but I know a bit about this machine. This is a Polish, pre-war locomotive from the factory in Chrzanów and I have recited its basic characteristics to him. The guy literally gasped. “How do you know that? And from school. “They don’t teach about it at school.” It depends on what. “You mean you went to a technical college?” Yeah, something like that. He shook his head in disbelief. “You seem too young to me, but you do know a little about this machine.”
The trip to Katowice lasted over a day. We drove probably no more than 9 or 10 hours in total. The rest were stops under a closed semaphore and waiting on the sidings of small train stations for the passage of military transports. However, I was not bored. The train driver was a very interesting man and we talked almost all the time, not only about our locomotive. We parted at two o’clock in the afternoon, in great friendship, on one of the numerous freight sidings in Katowice. Unfortunately, I did not remember his name.
“My friends and colleagues from the Occupational University of Technology – Konstancin; probably July 1944: from the left: Zbigniew Łukowiecki and Andrzej Krupiński (he died near Boernerowo on August 2, 1944); “
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