world war 2: warsaw uprising 1944

Maria Krystyna Bankowska 'Krzyska'. Powstańczy dziennik łączniczki z 'K-1'. (excerpts)

Courtesy of the Polish Academic Information Center at the State University of New York at Buffalo

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  As the "W" hour approaches

At around 9 a.m. the District Commandant of the Army's Women Service (Wojskowa Służba Kobiet; WSK), Captain 'Rakieta' brought the order to the Commandant of the Communications Platoon: "The decision has been made regarding 'W': it is to be August 1 at 17:00 hours. All blue communications components, including telephones, to be in place at 16:00 hours. 'Bażant.'

Consternation painted on her face, 'Krzyśka' looks at the Commandant. Yesterday evening she received the order to stand down all the emergency action points and was informed that the Uprising would not begin earlier than in two weeks.

"Please confirm the receipt of the order. I have to alert others. Good luck." says the District Commandant.

'Krzyśka' wonders what to do.

'Mała Danusia' and 'Kalina' are on duty on location. They are given orders to immediately activate the emergency network and to transmit to the communication personnel the command to be at the ready stations assigned to them at 15:00 hours. She herself quickly visits the district headquarters to obtain confirmation of the order, the she by her home..

Her sister, 'Wanda,' had already taken her things and gone to her action post on Kopernik Street where the communications personnel assigned to the First District's Headquarters were assembling. 'Krzyśka' says good-bye to her mother, takes her things and at about 14:30 hours she starts out on her bicycle on an inspection tour of the action posts, checking on the presence of the communication personnel under her command. As 15:00 hours approached, she arrives at 11 Moniuszko Street and, leaving her bicycle by the elevator, goes to offices of Wasilewski & Skra. Already no one was working in the offices, instead communications personnel are gathering. She continues her inspection tour. At one point she passes the Headquarters of the Home Army on Tamka Street where cars full of soldiers and arms stand ready to depart. Bicycling as hard as she can she reaches 2 Dabrowski Square where – after exchanging passwords – she enters the apartment that had been converte d into a military barrack..

Here the soldiers are disassembling and cleaning their weapons. One can see officers in uniform and soldiers with red and white armbands. Lieutenant 'Rymkiewicz' spots "Krzyśka" and approaches her. She stands to attention and reports: "The Commandant of the Communications Platoon of the First Districts reports the readiness of the 82nd Communications Platoon. Present at action posts are 78 members of the platoon, 4 are absent, 2 without justification." After making the report she is ordered to return to 11 Moniuszko Street where those assigned to it are to remain until the 'W' hour.

As she enters the bottom landing on the staircase at 11 Moniuszko, she is stopped by an elderly lady, a resident of the house, who warns her not to remain there because there are many young people milling around the house and she has alerted the Gestapo.

This totally unexpected news terrifies 'Krzyśka.' Handing her bicycle to the communications person standing in the shadow of the elevator, she orders her to report in the event of danger. Herself, she burst into the assigned apartment and without informing the personnel there of the danger, orders them to hide the communication equipment (telephones) and post lookouts at the windows. 'Bożena Czarna,' is ordered to go with an urgent report of the danger they are facing to Dabrowski Square and to return with some of the boys that they might provide them with protection. However, 'Bożena Czarna' soon returns reporting that as she entered the Sqare so did a German patrol armed to the teeth and was met with fire. In the situation which has developed, 'Krzyśka' decides to contact the detachment located elsewhere in the building. As she enters its location, the detachment is being briefed. Seven boys are standing in line putting on armbands. Their commandant is ch ecking the firearms which only some of them possess. To the question posed by the others as to when they will get theirs, the commandant replies, "When you capture them."

The 'W' hour approaches. The building's portal has been barricaded. In the apartment enthusiasm abounds and the girls crowd towards the windows. The street is almost empty. Boys wearing armbands, some with firearms, are standing in the portals of the buildings. The sound of shooting is getting nearer. Opposite to the portal of 11 Moniuszki Street lies a wounded German. The boys want to drag him into the portal and take his gun. But he lies in the field of fire from Napolean Square and the commandant forbids them to do so before nightfall.

One of the girls at the window shouts, "Look what he is doing, he's unfurled a flag, a flag!"

A small boy, not yet a teenager, has rushed out from the portal, crosses the street under fire, climbed onto the cigarette kiosk and affixed to it the first flag on our street. The white and red flag weaves in the wind. The street is empty, as if dead.

The first couple of hours of the Uprising have passed. It begins to get dark and it starts to pour.

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