Warszawa, 6 May 1946. Judge Halina Wereńko, delegated to the Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes, interviewed the person specified below as a witness. Having advised the witness of the criminal liability for making false declarations and of the gravity of the oath, the judge swore the witness in accordance with Art. 109 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Maria Wanda Suryn|
|Names of parents||Karol and Felicja née Leszczyńska|
|Date of birth||27 August 1906|
|Occupation||officer in the Epidemics Fighting Station in Katowice|
|Education||business high school|
|Place of residence||Katowice, Karola Miarki Square 6, flat 3|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
On 1 August 1944 at 3 p.m. I came to St Lazarus Hospital, on Wolska Street on the corner of Karolkowa Street in Warsaw, to see my sister Konstancja, who had had an abscess in her lung. I wanted to take my sister home, but as the uprising broke out, I myself remained in the hospital.
All of us spent the night between 2 and 3 August 1944 in safety shelters. German troops were trying to force a barricade in Młynarska Street, bringing tanks in to attack. Fighting took place in the streets, the hospital was also under fire. German air units were attacking targets close to the hospital.
Together with my sister, I was staying in the safety shelter of building A, from the side of Wolska Street. The safety shelter filled up with civilians running through the open gate of the hospital from the side of Karolkowa Street. These people told me that German soldiers had driven them in front of the tanks. I was not able to figure out from these confused and frightened tales on which stretch the tanks had been used.
Insurgents were coming to the safety shelter to rest, have some water and have their wounds dressed.
No insurgent operations were carried out from the hospital territory. I heard the commanding officer of the insurgents of this section (I don’t remember his name or pseudonym) saying that it was necessary to maintain the extra-territoriality of the hospital. From a house on Karolkowa Street, located next to the hospital, insurgents were shooting at Germans.
In the safety shelter of building A, where I was, there were three rooms. Patients with the most severe conditions were gathered in the first room, in the second mostly patients with venereal diseases who were housed in that building, in the third one (where the boiler room was) the civilians. Many hospital employees with their families, [ordinarily] residing in small houses within the hospital grounds, sought shelter there. In the safety shelter there were from six hundred up to seven hundred people; two thirds of them were civilians.
We had no wounded patients. Those were directed to the building located on Leszno Street. There was no doctor in our shelter. Sometimes only paramedics reported for duty. Thus the patients were attended to mostly by healthy civilians.
On 5 August 1944 the fighting intensified. There was heavy bombardment from airplanes and heavy shelling. Insurgents ran through the building, leaving, and were going back to Wolska Street. At around 2 p.m. we noticed German tanks in Wolska Street, and we also heard screaming, commotion and calls in German. At around 4 p.m. we heard banging on the hospital door from the side of Wolska Street. A Venereal ward attendant (I don’t remember her name) who spoke German well (she came from the Poznań area) approached the door. Standing at the door she was yelling that this was a hospital and that we only had patients with serious conditions here. From the other side of the door we heard an order in German to open the door, and when the attendant opened the door a little, shots were fired. The attendant came back to us, but after having had her wounds dressed she died. The door closed automatically. When the banging on the door was repeated, a police officer from Białystok who had a venereal disease and was wearing a uniform went to the door to open it. He came back a moment later with a gunshot wound to his abdomen. We had barely managed to dress the wounds of the attendant and the police officer, when two or three German soldiers wearing waterproof cloaks, probably from the tank service, burst into room number 1 (where the patients with severe conditions lay). They said nothing, they only started to tamper with the gas pipes. The light was on in the safety shelter, and a strong smell of gas spread at the same time. The Commanding Officer of the Anti-Aircraft Defence [Obrona Przeciwlotnicza] of our building shut off the gas. Right after the German soldiers had left, a few civilians ran away in the direction of Leszno Street, among others a husband and wife, he an orderly, she [a patient] with a lung disease (I don’t know the name). We gathered the patients with less severe conditions, intending to run, but escape proved impossible. A machine gun was set up somewhere in Karolkowa Street, and everyone who poked out from our pavilion was shot at.
I peeked into the first room and I saw that Germans soldiers were already there. The light was on. It was frighteningly quiet. The patients (only severe cases) had ashen faces. The soldiers were throwing grenades the size of an egg. When a grenade was thrown, you could hear cries of the people being blown apart.
I saw that the grenades were being thrown by three soldiers. I am unable to say what their unit was. They wore waterproof cloaks, they had garlands of grenades around their necks.
It was no longer possible to escape. The civilians crowded in the second room and in the boiler room.
Between the first and the second room the Germans soldiers constructed a barricade from benches and stopped, aiming machine guns [rozpylacz] at us. A soldier called to a patient from our group (a less severe case) and gestured towards a gold chain with a medallion, suggesting that he demand such items. The patient walked among us collecting jewellery, a soldier with a pistol in his hand hovered over him and gradually collected the gold items from the patient. When the Germans had filled their pockets, one of them gestured with his hand that that was enough.
Mothers with small children and a sick nun were standing in the outer corner of the second room. This group was the first one to be hit with grenades. I saw a small child crawl towards the first of the soldiers throwing the grenades and start kissing his boots, but the soldier threw the child back. The children were screaming terribly.
Although I was in the boiler room, I was hit by grenade shrapnel. Without waiting for the Germans to enter the boiler room, together with my sister and six other people (whose names I don’t know) I escaped through the exit, which was being fired on from Karolkowa Street. Running, we were trampling over the dead bodies of people who had tried to escape the same way before us. We managed to get to a neighbouring house that had been hit by a bomb, and from there, through a hole in the wall, we got to the neighbouring property. Through the gardens near the hospital fence, crawling and running, we managed to get to Leszno Street, where we met some insurgents. The insurgents, seeing the patients in hospital robes and barefoot (because this is the way how most of us ran), took us to the second house behind Karol and Maria Hospital. I got my wounds dressed there. We were joined by a male nurse with his wife, who had run away before us, and a priest (I don’t know his name). The priest, together with a Home Army courier girl, led us under German fire through the ghetto to Chłodna Street, to the fire station, and further to Grzybowska Street. In that area, which was controlled by insurgents, we separated.
From hearsay I know that in pavilion B of St Lazarus Hospital German soldiers killed the women with venereal diseases and the Sisters of the Good Samaritan. Murders took place also in pavilion K. Our head nurse, Maria Kotkowska, managed to survive that. She now lives in Ostrowiec Kielecki.
From those murdered in the safety shelter of pavilion A, I only remember patient Kowalska. I don’t know any other names.
In February 1945 I went to the safety shelter in pavilion A, wishing to look for a suitcase with jewellery that I had left there. The corpses had been cleared from the safety shelter. In front of the safety shelter, from the side of the yard, partially charred remains were lying, as if swept into a pile.
At that the report was concluded and read out.