world war 2: warsaw uprising 1944

Waclaw Micuta. From Czerniakow to Mokotow. In: Andrzej M. Kobos, Kanaly w Powstaniu

Warszawskim. Zeszyty Historyczne, No. 109, Instytut Literacki, Paris, 1994.

[ exit ]  
  zoskaCaptain Waclaw Micuta 'Wacek', decorated with the Order of Virtuti Militari and Cross of Valour [ medals ], commanded an armored platoon of two captured German 'Tiger' tanks with 'Zoska' battalion. The platoon fought in the Wola district liberating the 'Goose Farm' (Gesiowka) camp [ Goose Farm ]. On August 11 his unit, before retreating to the Old Town quarter, burnt down and abandoned both tanks.

Translation: Renata Siuzdak.

* * *

The theme of Mokotow and who else, if anybody, was in command of the battalion in Mokotow was running throughout my life […]

I don’t remember much from Mokotow. Maybe ‘Xen’1 was in command of a part of the unit there, or maybe not; but it was a remnant of the battalion, mainly a remnant of an armored platoon. This is my version, and I will remain true to this version in accordance with a soldier’s honor.

Going back to Czerniakow, it just happened that the manhole to the sewers leading to Mokotow was in the section defended by a part of an armored platoon, nearly the Vistula River2. ‘Radoslaw’ asked to send a patrol through the sewers. The first patrol went, returned, and informed us that the passage was impossible. I remembered the situation in the Old Town and Zoliborz, so I addressed our Jewish friends and asked if they would like to go. They went, by themselves3. There were two, three of them. They didn’t come back for a long time, and I thought that they had perished. All of a sudden they came back, saying, “captain, the passage is possible, only be careful.” Immediately I ran to ‘Radoslaw’ and told him, “Colonel, there is a passage!”

He said, “Wacek, the situation is dramatic. Do you have any available soldiers?”

“I do!” I replied.

“So take everyone, secure the sewers, put messengers there, and send me a dispatch as soon as you can if a passage is possible,” the Colonel ordered.

We went into the sewers. The Jews were walking in front of us. They were guiding us and telling us what to do. The unit that was walking with me maintained full military discipline. Those people were ready for any action. It was a remnant of a unit, but they were not castaways.

At the last crossroads, nobody was left behind with the exception of ‘Bozenka’.4 I left her thinking that she was in the sewers for the first time in her life, but as it turned out she had moved through the sewers before. Afterwards I had terrible pricks of conscience for 30 or 40 years that I had left that young woman in the stench, and that Germans could have gone down there at any any time.5

We walked to Mokotow. After that, I sent a patrol back to the sewers. Our people, ‘Bozenka’ among them, were securing the passage, so it would stay clear.

‘Radoslaw’ came through.6 I don’t know how many people he brought with him, I don’t know who they were.7 They had weapons, and they kept their discipline.

I didn’t see them in action in Mokotow because I blacked out, but I am sure that those people were in good form, able to participate in an armed combat there.8

Among those people, there was no commanding officer of our platoon, captain ‘Jerzy’, and people from ‘Zoska’ who were with him. It was a terrible thing for a friend and an officer. I asked for volunteers because to go to the sewers was the end of the world, a horrible job. The patrol went and landed again on Czerniakow Beachhead, but it couldn’t find ‘Jerzy’. ‘Jerzy’ either didn’t receive an order, or he took another route.9 In any case, ‘Jerzy’ didn’t get to Mokotow.

When ‘Radoslaw’ came through, and the patrol returned saying that ‘Jerzy’ couldn’t be found, for me it was the end of the world and the end of the war. I lost both my consciousness and my memory. Probably it was the last stage of total exhaustion. Up to that moment I had been faking it all. I don’t remember anything from Mokotow.

I woke up and my memory came back when the Germans stormed into the basement. I thought that they would kill us all. I was sitting by the entrance and for the first time, I submitted my decorations and badges. But this German scoundrel, while I was thinking that he would throw a grenade at me, only saluted me as Herr Hauptmann. At that moment I said to the wounded Zygmunt Zbichorski10 who was nearby: “Zygmus, we are taking flight.”

1 Boleslaw Stanczyk, pseudonym ‘Xen’, Lieutenant, a Cross of Valour recipient.

2 At the end of Zagorna Street going onto Solec Street.

3 18th or 19th of September.

4 Teresa Wilska ‘Bozenka’, a Cross of Valour recipient, a messenger for the commander of an armored platoon of the ‘Zoska’ battalion.

5 The prevailing feeling of the people in the sewers was fear, greater than during the fights above ground. The seclusion, darkness, flashlights, and candles going out, loneliness, loss of a sense of time, dazedness, the often deafening crack of grenade explosions, machine guns shooting into the manholes – all produced a psychological atmosphere of fear and horror.

6 During the night of September 19/20, Lieutenant Colonel ‘Radoslaw’ walked through the sewers from the Czerniakow district to the Mokotow district with about 200 soldiers. A considerably large group of soldiers of his armed wing stayed on the Czerniakow Beachhead, not knowing about the evacuation order. The decision made by Lieutenant Colonel ‘Radoslaw’ to withdraw from the Czerniakow district without an order from the Main Headquarters, together with most of his still alive soldiers, even under the circumstances of no communication with Command and almost non-existing communication between isolated points of resistance, later brought criticism from, for example, General ‘Bor’.

7 Among them, a covering party from the ‘Zoska’ battalion, commanded by Marian Malkowski or ‘Marian’, a cadet, a Cross of Valour recipient, withdrawn from the building at 2 Okrag Street, and remnants of the ‘Parasol’ battalion which acted as a rear guard.

8 Lieutenant Colonel Jozef Rokicki, pseudonym ‘Karol’, Commander of the ‘South’ Group, had instructed Lieutenant Colonel ‘Radoslaw’, after his arrival in the Mokotow district, to reorganize his soldiers into two companies.

9 On the 22nd of September, a few soldiers who had stayed on the Czerniakow Beachhead swam across the Vistula River to the Praga district on the Soviet side. A few wounded were evacuated on the Soviet river boats. A few groups of soldiers were taken into German captivity. The Germans shot a lot of captives on the spot, among them soldiers from the ‘Parasol’ battalion. From one group of captives, the Germans hanged a few soldiers, among them a priest and two female messengers. From another group they murdered a badly wounded commander from the ‘Parasol’ battalion, Second Lieutenant Jerzy Zborowski ‘Jeremi’, an Order of Virtuti Militari and a Cross of Valour recipient. Six female messengers and female medics were taken to Wola district, where on the 26th of September they were executed in the Church of St. Adalbert.

After losing any hope of receiving Soviet help, on the night of September 23/24 , a group of soldiers under the command of Captain ‘Jerzy’ broke through into City Center district, losing a few soldiers in the process. Some wounded soldiers who had blended with the civilian population were captured by the Germans. Armed combat in the Czerniakow district came to an end on the 24th of September, 1944.

10 Zygmunt Zbichorski, pseudonym ‘Zygmunt’, Captain, an Order of Virtuti Militari and a Cross of Valour recipient. Armored platoon.

    [ exit ]