world war 2: warsaw uprising 1944

Lt. Eberhard Schmalz. Warsaw Uprising Account.

Collected and made available by Philip Logan

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Eberhard Schmalz (1919-2002) served in the 8th Panzer Division in Polish, French, and Russian campaigns. In 1944 he commanded the 2nd platoon of Panzer-Jäger Abteilung 1102 of the 102nd Infantry Division fighting on the Eastern front. Wounded in March of 1945 he later emigrated to Brazil and finally to the US.

Eberhard SchmalzI was a Lieutenant of the reserves in a German Infantry Division on the Eastern Front. In August of 1944 I was detailed by my division commander to depart for Warsaw to escort by rail an assault gun (Sturmgeschütze III) that was earmarked as a replacement for my division’s tank destroyer battalion (Panzer-Jäger Abteilung).

As I arrived in Warsaw the Uprising was in full swing. Nevertheless, I found the replacement assault gun still sitting on a railroad flat car awaiting transport to the East.

No sooner than I had arrived I was approached by the SS and ordered to remove the tank from the flat car and find a scratch crew to operate it and support the operations of the SS in quelling the Uprising. With great effort we managed to off load the tank and with short instruction managed to get it operational with an inexperienced crew.

I was directed to report to SS headquarters and to the senior officer in charge.

I do not remember the SS commander but I do recall he had the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross around his neck [Heinrich Reinefarth?]. He informed me once again that I was directly subordinated to him personally and that I would support the operations of the SS in securing the streets in the district near his headquarters.

sturmgeschutze IIIMost of the operations I participated in were patrolling the shattered streets in the district where the SS headquarters were located. During the first few days of the operation I did not have any infantry support, which left me vulnerable to the possibility of “Molotov cocktails” or other explosives being hurled on to my vehicle. Later, the SS provided me with “infantry” support and they rode on top of my tank. For the entire operation we were never fired upon nor did we attack any insurgent positions or personnel.  

Before each daily operation I reported to the SS commander. During one visit I witnessed an event, which sickened me to my very core. The SS officer’s office was on the upper floor of a building and had a balcony that overlooked a large courtyard. The SS had lined up near a wall about 40 or so Polish men, women, and children of all ages. I distinctly recall a young woman holding hands with two small children. It was clear to me what was about to happen. I confronted the SS commander as to why these people were about to be shot. His reply was that they were being executed as a reprisal for the Germans that had been killed in the Uprising. He informed me that it was also none of my concern. Shortly, thereafter the hostages were shot before my eyes. I was disgusted by what I had witnessed and after 60 years later it still haunts me.

I informed the SS that my tank and me were desperately needed at the front and they finally released me from the operation. The SS people helped load my tank back onto the flatcar.

After I returned to my unit I told my fellow officers what I had witness in Warsaw especially the execution of hostages by the SS. My account of what I had witnessed made it to the attention of my company commander st Lieutenant “H.” Lt. H informed me through my good friend surgeon “X” that I had better keep my stories to myself or I could find my situation not too pleasant.

For me the war in the East resumed.

Eberhard Schmalz Oberleutnant d. R. a. D.
May 11, 2002
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