world war 2: warsaw uprising 1944

Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland.

Excerpts from: German Crimes in Poland. Howard Fertig, New York, 1982.

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  Executions at Market Halls (hale mirowskie)

Record No. 23 / II
During the Rising, on leaving the house where I lived, No. 30 Ogrodowa Street, I found myself in a shelter of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, No. 2 Elektoralna Street. This was on August 7, 1944. In the shelter there were several hundred people, mostly women and children. In the afternoon of this day, after the Insurgents had retreated from Elektoralna Street, a German outpost was set in front of the gateway of the Ministry. About 9 o’clock in the evening 2 gendarmes entered the shelter and ordered all the men to go out. The soldier who stood on guard assured us that we were only going to work. We were led out three by three (we were about 150 men) to Mirowski Square, among the buildings of the two Market Halls. Here we were ordered to remove the corpses, scores of which were lying on the ground, and after that, rubble from the gutters and the roadway. There were about a hundred Poles on the square when we came, all busy cleaning it up, and some hundreds of Germa n gendarmes, who behaved very brutally: beating the Poles, kicking them, and calling them Polnische Banditen. At a certain moment they stopped our work and ordered those who were not Poles to step forward. One man who had White-Russian documents did so, and was immediately released. After an hour and a half’s work, the gendarmes ordered us to form threes. I found myself in the second rank. We were all made to stand with our hands up. An old man in the front rank, who could not hold his hands up any longer, was cruelly struck in the face by a gendarme. After 10 minutes five rows of three were marched off under the escort of five gendarmes armed with tommy guns to the Market Hall in Chlodna Street. By chance I heard the names of two of the gendarmes who shouted to each other, Lipinski and Walter. When we entered the building after passing two gates I saw, almost in the centre of the Hall, a deep hole in which a fire was burning; it must have been sprinkled with petrol because of the dense black smo ke. We were put under a wall on the left side of the entrance near a lavatory. We stood separately with faces turned to the wall and hands up.

After a few minutes I heard a series of shots and I fell. Lying on the ground I heard the moans and groans of people lying close to me and also more shots. When the firing ceased I heard the gendarmes counting those who lay on the ground; they only counted up to thirteen. Then they began to look for two more who were missing. They found a father and son hiding in the adjoining lavatory. They brought them out, and I heard the voice of the boy shouting "Long live Poland", and then shots and moans. Some time later I heard the voices of approaching Poles; cautiously I lifted my head and saw the gendarmes standing beside the hole filled with fire and Poles carrying the corpses and throwing them into it. Their work brought them nearer to me. I then crept into the lavatory and concealed myself behind a partition which formed the roof of the lavatory. Sitting there I heard firing near by and the shouts of Germans from the direction of the hole. At a certain moment another Po le who had escaped from below through the lavatory found himself beside me. He was doctor Jerzy Łakota, who worked in the Child Jesus Hospital.

We sat up there for many hours. The whole time we heard the crackling of the burning corpses in the hole and of the fire itself. Besides, we heard series of shots coming from the other side (nearer to Zimna Street). Dr. Lakota told me that after a volley he had fallen along with the others. The gendarmes came over to see if he was still alive, and beat him brutally; but he pretended to be dead. I might add that when I fell after the volley, I saw a gendarme examining those lying on the ground; those who were still alive he shot with his revolver. I had succeeded in escaping before this. At about 2 o’clock in the night we descended and went out into the street through the already empty Hall, in which the fire was still burning, and succeeded in getting to Krochmalna Street.

Record No. 33 / II
On August 7, 1944, I was in the cellar of a house in Elektoralna Street in Warsaw. This day, at dusk, some German soldiers arrived on the premises and ordered all men to get out of the cellar, and to dismantle the barricades within two hours. I obeyed and went out of the cellar with about fifty other men. The soldiers took us under escort to Zelazna Brama Square, and then to the place near Mirowska Street which is opposite the small square between the two Market Halls. On the pavement of Mirowska Street there lay about 20 dead.

We were ordered to carry these corpses from the pavement of Mirowska Street to the little square between the Halls. With other men I carried the corpses and noticed while doing so that all of then were of more or less middle-aged men. After carrying these corpses we were ordered to remove the barricade which was across the tram line from Zelazna Brama Square to Zelazna Street. Having removed part of this barricade and thus enabled tanks to pass, we were brought in the direction of Zelazna Street, where we were halted, and ordered to put up our hands. We were asked several times if there were no Volks-or Reichsdeutsche among us . Next we were searched; everything of value, such as rings, watches and cigarettes, was taken from us. After being searched we were left standing on the same spot for about an hour and a half. Not far from us were groups of soldiers, in all about 200 men; our prayers for release were answered by the soldiers with laughter and derision. They spoke German , Russian land Ukrainian. One of them told us repeatedly that we should be killed at any moment. Then (we were standing in rows of three) the first three rows were driven into the Market Hall which is nearer to Zelazna Street. Shortly afterwards I heard a series of shots. Then followed the next three rows. I was in the second, or perhaps in the centre of the third. At the moment when we were directly in front of the entrance, one of the soldiers who was escorting us fired, and instantly my neighbour on the left fell to the ground before me, blocking my way; I stumbled and fell, but got up immediately and rejoined my companions. I did not notice what happened to the body over which I had stumbled. After rising, when I reached my companions, who were then entering the hall by the second inside gate, I saw a door leading to the right and immediately ran through it. I saw a hall, entered it, and noticed stairs leading upwards. It was already dark, but the darkness was lighted up by the reflection of the fi res all round me. I thought my escape had been observed, as I heard a shout behind me, but no shots were fired. I ran to a gallery where some of the wooden structure was burning and there I stayed.

During that time I heard separate shots from the interior of the hall. After some time, I looked down from the gallery into the Hall and saw a big round hole, about 6-7 metres (22 feet) across, in the floor of the Hall. In this hole a big fire was burning; its flames rose several metres above the level of the floor. I also noticed that the soldiers were leading a man to the edge of the hole. I saw this man making the sign of the Cross, and then I heard a shot, and saw him fall into the fire. I might add that this shot was fired in such a way that the soldier put his gun to the man’s neck and fired. Later I saw many such scenes. I noticed that when the shot was fired the man did not fall at once, but only after a few seconds. Having watched several murders of this kind I could not look any more, but heard many more shots and moans, which grew weaker and weaker, or even human howls. I supposed that they came from those who had fallen into the fire and were still alive. Fro m the number of shots I took the impression that all those who had been brought with me from the cellar of No. 2, Elektoralna Street were shot. I stayed up in the gallery for some time longer (at least an hour), till the moment the shooting and voices stopped. Then, unnoticed, I ran through the Small Ghetto in the direction of Grzybowska Street, and afterwards came to Zlota Street, where I stayed for a month.
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