The tenth day of the hearing
After the break
Chairman: - Please call the witness Engineer Kawecki.
[Witness Jerzy Kawecki is sworn in: 34 years old, residing in Sopot, an engineer, no relation to the parties involved.]
Chairman: - Let the witness present succinctly and exhaustively what he knows in this matter.
Witness: - Have I been summoned in order to testify about my stay in Pruszków and events related to that stay?
Chairman: - Yes.
Witness: - I was taken from Saska Kępa at the end of August during what was not exactly a round-up, but a collection of all men living in Saska Kępa. Three such operations took place, between 10–21 August. In the last wave, the rest of the men were taken, and we were transported to Pruszków, but it is possible that the transport was destined elsewhere, because the train went further, but after some attempts to escape—and dozens of people succeeded in doing so, but I don’t know if they were killed or wounded (but when we came back, I saw some lying along the route)—we were diverted back to the workshops in Pruszków, to hall number 7. This was 23 August. The area of the railway workshops was completely unfit to serve as a camp. I knew this beforehand, because as a representative of the company, I used to work there. The report that you have before you, Mr. Chairman, is the workshop plan. With no drinking water, the area was completely unprepared for housing anyone—water from the fireplug taps, which were in all the halls, was used for washing and drinking. The workshops were divided roughly into those who could work and those who couldn’t. The women were separated. Our transport from Saska Kępa was allocated for a journey to the Reich, from hall 6 to the exit hall. A few months later, I learned that this transport didn’t go to the Reich, but only went as far as Stutthof. I don’t know if all of it went or just part of it, but I met someone from that transport after staying in Stutthof, in Gdansk. Because I was sick, I managed to get into Hall 2, which was used as a hospital, with the help of the sisters from hall 6. The hospital was also completely unsuitable, it was a repair hall separated by two large repair pits, which of course made it difficult to move around. There were cases of patients falling into these pits and breaking a limb.
Chairman: - What were the hospital facilities?
Witness: - There were none, the transitional hall was divided into one part, in which check- ups were conducted by Dr. Kenig and a second doctor, I don’t remember his surname, but it also began with a "K". A decision was made immediately as to whether a given patient would go for a more rigorous examination in the hall at the back. There was a doctor from the German side there, a Russian prisoner of war, a colonel, I don’t remember their surnames. Then a hospital was set up in hall 8. I don’t know anything about that. There were no hospital facilities. Cane mats were spread out, with the hall divided into three parts, and the patients were able to lie and rest. There was a first aid kit kept by the doctors, and mostly it was the sisters who helped out.
Chairman: - How many were sick?
Witness: - The number changed constantly, several hundred people a day passed through this hall, directed toward the second part, where there were six rooms, three of which had bunks for lying, three that were without any bunks – there were shelves for some tools, three tiers, which were difficult for the patient to get onto. The bottom shelves were possible to negotiate, but as for the top ones, you had to climb up. The hospital food was slightly better, which is why everyone tried to get in there. Everyone who tried to get out of Pruszków was also in the hospital. I was among those, because after my recovery I tried to leave the hospital. Unfortunately I was detected and sent back to hall 6, from where, thanks to the help of some friends from the kitchen, I got out [and got into the kitchen] as an employee of the order section, and there I survived until mid-September, when, allegedly ill, I got out of there. Hall number 6 was intended for departures. None of this was suitable for overnight accommodation, which suited the Germans’ objectives, because according to them, the people who ended up there were to spend the night, then be divided into those who were sick and old and fit for the hospital and then sent to the GG, while the rest were set to departure for work. In terms of sleeping, these halls were totally unsuitable due to the unbelievable filth. The floor was covered in oil, there were pits for dissembling machines, some cars were lined up to be dismantled, during the day the workers removed the equipment and littered the hall so that the refugees were tearing the curtains from the windows – I saw them climb almost to the roof in order to take down a curtain to have something to lie on. They slept on seven-meter long, unsecured, wooden chutes.
Chairman: - How did the sick people perform their bodily needs?
A witness: - Outside of the hall there were temporary toilets built from cane mats. If at night it was impossible to go out, then of course the patients used the pits in the room, dirtying them up, and as time progressed, as no one cleaned them, the situation deteriorated, with a hug mound of filth piling up.
Chairman: - Was it one big toilet?
Witness: - Yes. One more detail I wanted to point out, something interesting. General Bach or someone came to the camp. It was staged by the Germans, so that the kitchen staff were all lined up, bread was distributed, everything was filmed, and then a cart stood where the bread was put back. We, being in the kitchen, basically had food in abundance.
Judge Grudziński: - Did the witness see defendant Fischer or hear that he was there?
A witness: - I didn’t. My visual memory isn’t good, but neither did I hear of him being there at the time while I was there.
Judge Grudziński: - How densely were people packed in the various halls?
Witness: - There were between five and thirty thousand people. There were five halls: - number 6, 5, 4, 3 and 1. That hall measured eight thousand square kilometers, of which half could be used. Hall No. 6 had the same area, the others were slightly smaller. People were crammed in there really tight. Because there were no places to sleep, doors were ripped off and boards ripped out, if only to have something to lie down on. Some people squatted on the cement floor. One of the great halls – I don’t know why – was flooded with water, then it was drained. However, the water remained in the pits.
Judge Grudziński: - On average, how long did the deporteees stay there?
Witness: - On average, 24 hours. Some longer.
Judge Grudziński: - And food?
A witness: - With food, there was a problem in that there were no dishes. Working in the kitchen, we tried to share as much food as possible. Immediately after the arrival of a transport, when a mass of people passed along the road into the workshops, we set out baskets with bread on both sides which we distributed. We also did this in the halls. We ran around trying to make sure that the elderly and the children got some, those who weren’t able to jostle around the carts while the food was being distributed, because people were hungry, they threw themselves at the bread and it was difficult to keep order. The Germans didn’t help. There were cases where a cart with three soup cans with six hundred liters was overturned along with the staff. The worst plague was the lack of dishes. The Central Welfare Council donated some, but the people didn’t have any dishes, so when they were leaving, they took with them some trays, plates, lampshades—anything that could be used as dishes.
Judge Grudziński: - How did the administration look, who was in charge?
Witness: - I never really knew too much about this. I wasn’t interested, because while I was there, I was thinking about how to escape. In the kitchen, I helped others at work, and at the same time I was trying to get out. I know Mrs. Bogucka, who managed the kitchen and really sacrificed herself. She was the first in the kitchen at five in the morning. The German administration didn’t really bother about it, they just looked after the entrance to the kitchen – access to the SS was forbidden, the Ukrainians and the Wehrmacht took care of the security.
Attorney Chmurski: - How long did this Pruszków operation last, and how many people passed through?
Witness: - I was in Pruszków from 23 August–14 September. This period I know. At that time, the average daily count exceeded ten thousand people. In the period after the fall of the Old Town, in early September, it exceeded thirty thousand.
There is one more thing. The Germans installed a delousing room there, but with a capacity of twenty-three people per hour. Within an eight-hour work day, only a minimum number of people could have been deloused. This facility was used by the kitchen staff, which at the time exceeded two hundred people.
In the second half of September, the Germans put on a completely inappropriate artistic performance in Hall 7 for SS soldiers. It seems that Polish artists were forced to participate under duress. There were two or three performances, dance productions and recitations.
Chairman: - There are no further questions. The witness may stand down. Will witness Mazurek please take the stand.