Eleventh day of the hearing
Chairman: - Please bring in the witness Lessman.
The witness enters, the court instructs him of his obligation to tell the truth, and he takes the oath.
Witness: - Bolesław Lessman, 42, residing in Wawrze, Błękitna Street 60, civil servant, no relation to the parties.
Chairman. - Please, in accordance with the sacred oath you have sworn, present to the Court exactly everything that you know about this case. Were you in Wawer?
Witness Bolesław Lesman: - Yes, I was at home then.
Chairman: - Please, describe this critical night of 27 December to the Tribunal.
Witness: Between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. on 27 December 1939, three uniformed men holding weapons, Germans, came to me. Because neither I nor my wife speaks German, I showed them my ID from the Tax Office in Warsaw, where I worked as a treasurer. They only said in German: "Hurry up!" and they told me to go with them. I took my overcoat, my hat and went with them, but in the meantime, I was still showing them the ID from the Tax Office, where it stated that I was an official and that the police and gendarmerie had to offer me assistance. They tossed my ID onto the floor and I went outside past the gate. They asked me if I was a Jew, I said I wasn’t. They told me that in that case I should go home. I went back and my wife asked me what had happened. I said, "I don’t know." So I went to sleep. Between 10-11:00 p.m., there was a strong pounding on the door. I didn’t know what was happening, so I went out again, alone, and opened the door. The same three were there as well as some others. As it turned out later, it was the gendarmerie, and those men were probably from the Wehrmacht, I don’t know those military distinctions. I said that I was an official, that I worked and I thought that they had come to take me to work. I show them my ID, nothing, just hurry up and get dressed. I left, I was brought to the station, then I saw a lot of people, and standing next to them I asked why we had been taken there. Then a German approached me and struck me for talking. I tried to ask why we had been brought there – this was next to the station. A man standing next to me said, "You don’t know what happened? Some bandits killed two Germans and all of us are going to be shot."
Later, they escorted us and lined us up against the house. The commandant’s office was on the other side. We were lined up in rows of three. We all had to cross our arms. Our hands were going numb because it was cold. When we wanted to rub our hands, the Germans beat us. Then three of us were led to the premises where the commandant’s office was located. Because it was a high floor, actually one and a half floors, there were steps. A police guard was in place. These policemen beat us with rifles and with their hands. Each of us was led to the door where the commandant’s office was. Two Germans stood in our way. Can I show you how they were positioned?
Chairman: - Feel free.
Witness: - (Showing). You had to jump over the legs of these Germans. Whoever couldn’t jump fell on these steps. Daume was standing at the table, with an interpreter next to him.
Chairman: - This man here? (points to the accused Daume).
Witness: - Yes. Him.
Chairman: - How did you know his name?
Witness: - His name was given to me just now, but I remember his face. He stood leaning against the table, staring at us with rage. The interpreter took our personal data. I explained that I was an official of the Tax Office and that I would have to hand over the keys. Nothing helped, I was just pushed around, beaten and stood against the house with my hands folded. We were lined up again in threes. When everyone had been interviewed and everyone left, a German came and spoke German. Who he was, I don’t know, because I was standing on the opposite side. He spoke German which was then translated into Polish: "You killed two of our soldiers, you will all be shot." Everyone began to cry, plead, beg: "We’re not guilty, spare us the death penalty, some bandits did it, we’ll find them." But nothing helped. Dozens were taken away and in a moment salvos could be heard. In the morning, when dawn was breaking, a dozen of us were taken away.
Chairman: - Who was in that dozen?
Witness: - There was Krupka—the mayor; then Stryjewski, whose son the doctor was shot; then there was someone else who died, I forget his name. We were led out to this square. I know this place because the owner of the café, Bartoszek, was hanged there. They stood us in a row against the house. We were all ready to be shot. Meanwhile, one of the Germans addressed us, and one of them explained: "We’ll spare you the death penalty if you bury all of them by 12:00 so that there is no trace. If you don’t, we’ll kill you all. We’ll kill all the men in Wawer and burn the entire village." After a while, the Germans took the police truck, the spotlights, the murder weapons— the rifles—and drove away. I shouted, "If anyone’s alive, get up, because the Germans have gone!"
Chairman: - You shouted at those who had been shot?
Witness: - Yes. I saw one soaked with blood. "Are you alive?" "Yes, I’m alive, but show me where my house is, because I can’t see." I picked him up, but he fell and died, because he was so wounded and riddled with bullets. Then came the uniformed police. We dug these ditches. Around 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. I escaped because I was so tired and upset and I went home.
Chairman: - Did you say that this defendant was there?
Witness: - Yes, he was there.
Chairman: - How many Germans were there?
Witness: - There were a few of them, one spoke Polish.
Chairman: - Where was the accused standing?
Witness: - Behind the table.
Chairman: - How was he dressed?
Witness: - (after a great deal of thought.) In a coat.
Chairman: - You don’t remember?
Witness: - After seven years, I can’t remember. However, in a coat, that much detail I do remember.
Chairman: - Did they ask any questions other than concerning your personal details?
Witness: - No.
Chairman: - Were you asked for any explanation?
A witness: - No, just beaten and kicked.
Attorney Węgliński: - Maybe you will kindly tell the court how long you were in that room?
Witness: - Do you mean where the court was? About fifteen minutes.
Solicitor: - Why so long?
Witness: - I don’t know, they had to get my personal information.
Attorney Węgliński: - Did you show your Kennkarte?
Witness: - No, my Ausweis.
Attorney Węgliński: - Who did you present it to?
A witness: - To the interpreter and the one who stood behind the table.
Attorney Węgliński: - Were there several people standing behind the table?
Witness: - Someone else was there.
Solicitor Węgliński: - Does that mean that a few were standing behind the table? First, you showed the Kennkarte to the interpreter and then you showed it to someone else?
Witness: - Yes.
Attorney Węgliński: - In response to the Tribunal’s question about whether or not he was in a coat, you weren’t entirely sure. Was he in a hat?
Witness: - No.
Attorney Węgliński: - And were the others in coats or hats?
Witness: - I don’t remember.
Attorney Węgliński: - Do you recall your first testimony, which you filed in this case before the district court?
Witness: - I do.
Attorney Węgliński: - When you entered the room, whom did you first notice?
Witness: - There were several policemen.
Attorney Węgliński: - What rank? Whom did you notice, whom did you mention? Was there a captain or a lieutenant or a colonel?
Witness: - I don’t remember this, I don’t recall their ranks.
Attorney Węgliński: - One more thing, which is quite relevant, perhaps you can kindly remember the moment when you were brought to the fence, when you saw these dozens being led away, when it was your turn and when you were told to turn round—what were you told exactly?
Witness: - That we had been spared the death penalty.
Solicitor: - By whom? Did they not say who? You testified to this event.
Witness: - Yes, they said that the Major had spared us the death penalty.
Attorney Węgliński: - Were you there all night?
Witness: - Yes, all night, until 11:00 a.m. Then my nerves couldn’t take it any more, I was cold and tired and went home.
Attorney Węgliński: - How many people did you notice who had survived the execution?
Witness: - At that time two or three picked themselves up.
Attorney Węgliński: - Given that there are some contradictions in the testimonies given by the witness today and before the investigating judge, please enter into the protocol the testimony of the witness delivered on 8 November 1945 in front of the investigating judge.
Prosecutor Siewierski: - I have no objection to this, when it comes to any passages where there are contradictions.
Judge Grudziński: - Did you enter the room where you were questioned alone?
Witness: - Three of us entered.
Judge Grudziński: - Were you all questioned at the same time?
Witness: - No, in turns.
Judge Grudziński: - Which turn was yours?
Witness: - I don’t remember.
Judge Grudziński: - Did you show your ID?
Witness: Yes, and the keys too, because I was a treasurer and that was my explanation.
Judge Grudziński: - Did the interpreter show someone the ID card?
Witness: - Yes, to those behind the table.
Judge Grudziński: - Are you absolutely sure?
Witness: - Yes.
Prosecutor Siewierski: - Were you asked about participation in this murder, about affiliation to an organization? Was there any insinuation that there were any allegations?
Witness: - No, I wasn’t asked. I was beaten—that was the only question.
Prosecutor Siewierski: - Apart from writing down personal details, there wasn’t anything else?
Witness: - Nothing. If anyone said anything more, he got it in the face.
Judge Grudziński: - Did this beating take place in the room where the so-called court was?
Witness: - No.
Judge Grudziński: - As you fell over the leg that tripped you up, did you fall directly into the room?
Witness: - Yes.
Judge Grudziński: - So the Germans must have seen this?
Witness: - Of course they saw it.
Attorney Węgliński: - Did you say that the interpreter gave Daume your work ID—the one who was bareheaded, without a hat?
Witness: - Yes, the one without the hat.
Attorney Węgliński: - Thank you, I do not have any further questions.
Chairman: - The Tribunal has decided, in the absence of objections from the parties, to count as evidence testimony given on 8 November 1945 in Warsaw in front of the investigating judge.