Warsaw, 21 August 1945. The investigating judge Mikołaj Halfter heard as a witness the person specified below. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations and of the importance of the oath the witness was sworn and testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Jan Ćwikłowski|
|Date of birth||1 May 1904|
|Parents’ names||Franciszek and Apolonia|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, aleja Szucha 25, flat 17|
|Occupation||mechanic in the Ministry of Education and Culture|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
I worked once as a mason on the construction site of the building at aleja Szucha 25b. Later I got a job in the Ministry of Religion and Education as a plumbing and heating maintenance worker, and I was working there from 15 September 1929 to 6 August 1939, when I was called up for military service. After the end of the campaign, in November 1939, I came back to Warsaw and went to my flat (the same in which I live now) where my wife and my child were staying. Although the building had already been seized by the Germans, they did not throw my family out of the flat. At that time the building was partially taken up by German troops, and partially by German police, who kept the registry of residents. After a few weeks (I cannot tell the exact date as I cannot recall it) the building was taken over by the Gestapo (this was at the end of 1939), and they immediately began to build a detention centre (the same one that stands there to this day).
I wish to mention that after my return to Warsaw in 1939, I got in touch with my former Polish directors – Serafin, the chief, told me to stay in that place as long as possible, keep my eyes open and report to him what was going on. And so I stayed in that building along with six other employees of the Ministry who lived there. These were: the Minister’s assistant Janina Radysówna, who lived there until 1 January 1940, when she was removed because she was not working, the wife of chief Kułakowski (I don’t remember her name), removed around the same time as Radysówna, the wives of two chauffeurs – Jan Rybus and Lucjusz Szabłowski (removed around the same time and for the same reason). As for us, the male residents, the Gestapo men took down our names and told all the Poles to continue working in this building. Apart from my wife and I, those who stayed were: Stefan Sokołowski – a stoker; Jan Staszkiewicz – a janitor; Marian Małecki – a janitor; Kacper Małecki – a caretaker; Marian Ziółkowski, Władysław Szczepaniak, Antoni Podgórski (all caretakers). All these men lived in the building until the uprising.
I wish to say that after my family and my possessions were removed, I ran away from my flat, just a few days before the uprising in 1944, and stayed with some friends in the Mokotów district of Warsaw. During the uprising, the remaining Poles who worked in that building were deported by the Germans out of the city. As far as I know, those who survived this are: Antoni Podgórski (residing in Rawa Mazowiecka at the market square), Kacper Małecki (I don’t know his address), Władysław Szczepaniak (I don’t know his address). I learned from Marian Małecki’s wife (I don’t know her name, she lives at Marszałkowska Street 6) that her husband is dead. Stefan Sokołowski was also not deported by the Germans (Warsaw, Szustra Street 7). Jan Stankiewicz is said to be living in Nowe Miasto near Grójec. Ziółkowski lives in Warsaw at Żabińskiego Street 7.
Apart from those already mentioned, the former employees of the Ministry of Religion and Education who lived somewhere else but also worked in that building were: Wacław Szufliński – a caretaker (I heard he was killed in a camp, where he had been deported by the Germans for facilitating communication with Polish prisoners of the Gestapo); Lucjan Kalisz – a caretaker, who currently lives in Łódź; and Kościński Aleksander – a caretaker (I don’t know his address).
Additionally, until the middle of 1943, Józef Michalak, a caretaker, had also lived and worked in this building. He resigned due to an illness he had been diagnosed with by a German physician. Currently he lives in Warsaw and works as a caretaker in the Ministry of Education.
Under German rule I worked in this building only as a stoker.
Almost all Poles lived on my stairwell (in the back of the building), only the janitors lived in the front.
We all answered to our supervisor, Weber (a Volksdeutsch) – whose first name I don’t remember – and who was the head of the building. Because of my job I had the right to walk in all the corridors, but I avoided doing so unless it was really necessary. I did this because, especially at first, when some Gestapo worker would notice me, he would very often tell me to perform some task for him, and would beat me if I tried to explain that I still had another job to do.
Through the whole period that I worked there, every workday cars would bring and drive back the arrested twice a day: the first time before 8.00 a.m. and the second time – after driving those who had already been interrogated back to Pawiak – around noon. These they would drive back around 5.00 p.m.
I very often saw people who were being brought for interrogation, and those arrested who were being led out when it was over. I saw, although not very often, people brought for interrogation with their heads or hands bandaged. I never saw, however, anyone brought on a stretcher. But it was a rare day when nobody was carried out to the prison van (the car used for transport of the arrested) after interrogation; usually it was one person or a few more. Those carried out were mostly men, but sometimes also women. They were usually covered in blood, some had mutilated faces, or blood was dripping from their jackets or trousers.
[drawing with a description]
As the citizen judge can see for himself, from the windows of my flat I could watch people going from the square to the other yard. From this window (my flat is situated on the ground floor) I could also see part of the square where the cars used to stop.
(The above drawing was executed by the judge in the course of hearing the witness, as the hearing took place in the witness’ flat). From 1940 to the Uprising of 1944 several interrogated people jumped out of the windows on the second or third floor and killed themselves. Two people (at different times) jumped into the yard under my windows, three people jumped at different times into the yard which those arrested had to cross to come in, two people into the [...] yard, the one with the fountain, and one person jumped onto thestaircase, falling on a chandelier. The chandelier is still there, crooked, but in the same spot.
I heard that this person did not die (Kalisz told me so), thanks to his falling on a shack with a roof made of plywood, and that he was then led out by two Gestapo men holding him by the arms. In 1943 and 1944 I noticed that the arrested who were being led from the detention centre to the interrogation room were mostly handcuffed.
I would like to emphasise that the one who jumped out of the window and fell into the fountain (I watched this from the boiler room window) had his hands handcuffed in back. As he fell into the fountain (filled with water approximately 60cm deep), he was being shot at repeatedly from several windows.
I don’t know whether he got hit. I saw that about five minutes after his fall they fished him out with boathooks, put him on a stretcher and transported to the Gestapo detention centre.
I have not heard anything about Germans murdering prisoners in our building, apart from the following events. I know only this: in 1940, early on, when the detention centre was not ready yet and only cell no. 10 was in use, it was occupied by two men and a woman. I had not seen the men, but I managed to have a brief conversation with the woman, as she was cleaning the toilet which I was repairing. She told me that she was detained with her husband and her brother-in-law (or maybe father, I don’t remember exactly) for political reasons and that they were brought to Warsaw from some place (I forgot the name of that place). She was [...]. A few days later, on Easter day, I saw a Gestapo man who was leaving the building covered in blood. After some time I asked Weber about this and he told me that those prisoners purportedly called the Gestapo guard on the pretext of wanting to go to thetoilet, pulled him into the cell and attacked him, and he shot them all in self-defence. What really happened there, I do not know.
Another killing happened in the summer of 1943: in back of the house, where I used to store rubbish, I saw lying there a Jew whom I knew by sight and who was often brought to work for the Gestapo. I thought that he had fainted and I took him by the hand, but at that moment I heard “raus!” from behind and when I turned around, I saw a Gestapo man with a revolver in his hand. I had not heard any shots before. I took the hand of that Jew and I saw blood on the back of his head.
Then I heard from the Jews who worked for the Gestapo as workmen, and who lived in theshacks in a square on the premises of the building at aleja Szucha 27 (it was in the autumn of 1943), that one Jew was shot on that square during dinnertime in the presence of other Jewish workmen. The Gestapo men allegedly told the Jews that it was punishment for stealing from the Jews, as he had supervised the warehouse for the Jewish workmen.
In the same period of time the same workers told me that two more people were killed: one who was terminally ill from venereal disease, and one caught on the run. None of the above- mentioned victims were buried on those grounds. The corpses were taken away by a car from the city hall.
I had neither seen for myself nor been told anything that would indicate that there was a torture chamber in our building. I think that there was no such thing. Generally, torturing the arrested consisted of beating them. Only once, when I was on a staircase, I saw through the opposite window that in one room a man was lying on the floor while two Gestapo men stood on his arms and others were twisting his legs, one leg each. This was in the summer of 1943.
I had not seen other instances of beating or torturing. Almost every day, however, I heard thescreams (at first very loud, then quieter, and then silence) of people being beaten and thesound of blows. Once when I was in the attic I heard, through the ventilation duct, the sound of flogging from one of the rooms, groans, and a voice saying “that’s for Poland,” “you want Poland, here you go.” It was said in Polish.
I did not have any contact with those who were in the Gestapo detention centre. I think, but I am not sure, that the “trams” – four cells with chairs – were being occupied for short periods of time by prisoners from Pawiak awaiting interrogation or return to the prison; theother cells were being occupied by detainees caught on the streets or brought from their homes.
For how long people would stay in those cells, I do not know. How many people, on average, were kept in the detention centre, I do not know. The car from Pawiak used to bring in two rounds of approximately 50–60 people.
I noticed that during the first few days after some Gestapo man had been killed by the organisation in town, the Gestapo men would treat the arrestees with more hostility and abuse them more than they generally did. I always knew about that because those killed were being brought to the Gestapo, washed in the bathroom (Weber would always take the key, which otherwise was kept by me) and then the corpse would be displayed in a room on the first floor in the front of the building, where it would remain until the funeral. In 1944 two or three Gestapo men were killed in town almost every week.
In a room above my flat – with a window barred and netted since the end of 1942 – there lived some tall man with grizzled hair. I know neither his name nor nationality. Someone told me that he might have been a consul. How long he stayed there I cannot tell, I think it must have been two or three months. He had been there, I suppose, since the summer of 1942, and at first the window was not barred. At that time, in the adjacent room (over my flat) there was a guardroom; sometimes I heard him walking in the middle of the night. From time to time several people at once would come to the “consul’s” room, some older Gestapo officers and a typist, and I would hear the sound of typing for an hour and a half or two hours. The “consul” was being taken to town roughly every second day; he would leave the room and cross the yard (once I even saw that he walked in the direction of Aleje Ujazdowskie), always accompanied by a Gestapo man in plain clothes. Then, after several months, they took him somewhere else.
He was getting food from the Gestapo kitchen, the same as theirs.
After he was gone, the cell was occupied by a young blonde man with curly hair, wearing plain clothes. People were saying that he was an airman from the English landing. He spent around five months in that room. I saw him being led away to the Gestapo building almost every day. After two or three hours they would bring him back. I never saw any marks from a beating on his body. I do not know his nationality. He was also getting food from the Gestapo kitchen.
After him, the room was occupied by a Pole. Our caretaker, Podgórski, told me that the man was a professor who had been working in a Polish organisation and got caught, and then he allegedly began to collaborate with the Germans, and that he was placed in that room after an attempted escape from the main building through a ground floor window in the back of the building.
I myself saw, in the early autumn of 1943, after some commotion and [...], the Gestapo men running to the back of the building and then [...] coming back with this man (the “professor”). This man occupied the room at least until my escape before the uprising.
I never saw him being led to the Gestapo building, but the Gestapo officers of lower ranks used to visit him in the room. One night I heard him sing aloud various Polish songs, from the national anthem Poland is Not Yet Lost to some other military songs, all night long. During the whole period of his stay it happened only once. I never heard any screams from his room. Podgórski told me that he had known him before the war, he even gave me the name, but I cannot recall it.
I would like to add that I ran away with my family before the uprising because a Polish woman – Franciszka Paluka, who was working in the Gestapo kitchen – denounced me twice in writing, accusing me of stealing food from the Gestapo kitchen and spying on the Gestapo men. I learned this from a Gestapo man in charge of the kitchen, who read her letters to me and showed other kitchen workers a letter which stated that I was among those who were thieves and snouts. The author of the letter also accused other kitchen workers of stealing. The Gestapo man did not tell us who wrote the letter but he threatened that those who steal would be deported to the camp. I suspect that woman because after she had quarrelled with her helper, miss Fryda Badalewska (from Grudziądz), whose fiancé was in the organisation, Fryda and her fiancé were arrested by the Gestapo men. As we learned later, they were both executed in Pawiak. Moreover, a co-worker, a Polish guy named Maksio, who was delivering vegetables to the Gestapo kitchen, told me that he had accidentally overheard her accusing me before the Gestapo man in charge of the kitchen when they had been in the store room, telling him that I was the biggest thief and that I was telling everyone what happens in the Gestapo building (I forgot the surname of this Maksio). Later I spoke about this to Franciszka Paluka and she admitted that she had verbally accused me before the man in charge of the kitchen (I don’t remember his name). She told me that she did it because she got carried away with emotion upon being told that I was a thief. She did not admit to having written those letters.
I did not discuss with her the case of Fryda Badalewska.
When I noticed on the next day that one of the Gestapo men was talking about me to the chief of the kitchen, I decided that I had to run away. Besides, I had been gradually removing my belongings from the flat. I stayed with my friends. I don’t know what happened to Franciszka Paluka. She was from Poznań. Maybe she lives there now.
I want to add that the same Paluka, as I was told by a volksdeutsch, Olga Beker, the keeper of the Gestapo kitchen, wanted to get on the Volksliste [the German People’s List], but she was denied her request or the case was rejected. When we learned this, all the Polish people who were working there started to shun her.
The report was read out.