Warsaw, 21 February 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 thegravity 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||Apolonia Żabicka, née Franczak|
|Date of birth||18 January 1889|
|Names of parents||Julian and Marianna née Nasiadko|
|Occupation||housewife to a carpenter|
|Education||never went to school, can read and write|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, Bema Street 65, flat 23 (cigarette stand on the corner of Bema Street and Wolska Street)|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Marital status||married, son Stefan, 26, and daughter Aniela, 22|
The outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising caught me at home at Wolska Street 132, where I lived with my daughter and son. My sisters lived in the same house: Kazimiera Rutkowska, with her son Edward, and Franciszka Łucka, with her husband, her three children, and her foster daughter (with families). From 1 August 1944 onward trucks full of German soldiers stood in Sowińskiego Park. I didn’t see any insurgents at all.
On 5 August in the morning, the cars left towards Moczydło Street and our neighbourhood was taken over by a German gendarmerie unit. Before the uprising that unit had been stationed at the corner of Chłodna Street and Żelazna Street. I recognised the gendarmes who had conducted a search of our house before the uprising.
In the morning, looking out to Wolska Street, I saw machine guns on mounts lined up at intervals on the road. Around 10 a.m., sitting with the residents of our house in the hall leading to the basement, I heard shouts and shots coming from Wolska Street.
Later on I realised that these were the cries of the residents of Hankiewicz’s house at Wolska Street 129 (on the corner of Wolska Street, Ordona Street and Prądzyńskiego Street) murdered next to the Sowińskiego Park fence by Wolska Street, between the park gate at Wolska Street and the cross (so from the park gate towards Elekcyjna Street). I saw the corpses there when I was taken with a group of residents of our house to Wolska Street to be shot.
I heard that the following residents of Hankiewicz’s house have survived the execution: Danuta Karcher (residing in Jelonki), Pętlak, an employee of the Warsaw Municipal Board, Pachalski (I don’t know his address) and a little boy (I don’t know his name or address).
I have heard that some of the residents of Hankiewicz’s house were shot at home, others near the fence of Sowińskiego Park.
A moment after we had heard the shots, a German soldier ran into the yard of our house. The other residents said he was a gendarme (myself, I cannot tell the units apart). He was excited, he had a rifle in his hand, he shouted raus. We ran to the exit.
One of our house’s tenants, Antonina Stygienko, went upstairs to get her sick mother. I heard a shot, Stygienko did not join the group afterwards, neither did her husband and mother.
From Elekcyjna Street we were sent to Wolska Street.
At that moment I was very nervous and I didn’t see if there were still machine guns on mounts, as I had seen in the morning. We were led to the cross by the fence of Sowińskiego Park. On Wolska Street, on the road and on the opposite pavement, there stood a group of German soldiers, who started to fire at us with hand-held machine guns.
Right beyond the cross, by the tree, I fell down, but was not wounded. A man’s corpse fell on me, his blood sprayed onto my face. When the bursts [of gunfire] died down, I heard single pistol shots and I saw the soldiers walk between the people on the ground and kill off those still living. I lay under the man’s corpse for the entire day. A few times I heard new volleys from Sowińskiego Park and thereabouts, at Wolska Street, closer to Elekcyjna Street. Around 6 p.m. there was a commotion, civilian men were picking up the bodies one by one, German soldiers walked between the corpses, saying quietly that the living ought to get up. However, I did not believe them and I didn’t move until 8 p.m., when a German soldier picked me up. When I got up, I saw corpses around me, lying in layers, one above the other, piled up to a metre high in places, by the fence of Sowińskiego Park from the gate all the way to the corner of Elekcyjna Street. Counting by eye, there could have been some two thousand corpses there. A few other people got up from among the dead with me. I then learned that around 4 p.m. a car had arrived and some German brought the order to stop the mass killing of civilians.
How many groups were brought to be shot while I was beneath the corpses, I cannot say.
It seems that people from Ordona Street were brought to Sowińskiego Park. While I was lying down, I kept hearing gunshots and cries almost all the time, because – as I learned later – mass murders were going on at that time not only at Wolska Street by Sowińskiego Park, but also at Elekcyjna Street by our house (Wolska Street 132), where the residents of the houses at Elekcyjna Street 4, 6, and 8 were shot.
There were also mass murders of local residents at Wolska Street 128, by the forge.
Once I got up from under the dead I saw the corpses of the following residents of our house: my mother Marianna Fronczak, 76, my brother Władysław Fronczak, 54, his wife Cecylia, 49, their daughter Alicja, 17, and their subtenant Edmund Skowroński, 20; my sister Franciszka Łucka, 43, her husband Stanisław Łucki, 47, their sons Eugeniusz, 20, Zbigniew, 18, daughter Henryka, 13, foster daughter Alusia Krakowiak, 7; my sister Kazimiera Rutkowska, 45, her son Edward, 21, her subtenant Jan Mikołajko, around 50; the janitor Janina Perkowska with her daughters: Danuta, 11, and Irena, 17; Kopeć with his daughter; Stanisława Kasprzak with her daughter Danuta; Danuta Gałka, 17; Leszek Gałka, 7; Daniel Paszewski with his wife Helena, son Wiesiek, 13, daughter Mira, 8; Julian Piątkowski with his son Roman, 24, and mother Leokadia; Stanisław Wójcicki with his wife Antonina, sons Edward and Aleksander; Flerowa with her sister-in-law with two children; Janina Zwerska with her subtenant Janina Jabłońska and her friend Naklicki; Janina Narowska; Jadczak with his wife and four children; Roman Pasterski with a female acquaintance; Stanisław Matysiak, his wife Stanisława and daughter Jadwiga; Marianna Jezierska with three subtenants (mother and daughter with a child); Franciszka Zwarska with her son Bogusz and little daughter Wanda; Marian Wąsowski with his wife and child; Enowa with two children; Bolesław Jabłoński and his wife Marianna; Jan Kołakowski, his wife Julia, and daughters Danusia and Basia; Nowak with his wife and child; Anzelm Wąsowski with his wife and his daughter Teresa; Mieczysław Wallas; Stefan Brewiński with his wife; Jan Grajber with his mother Franciszka and his granddaughter Jadzia; Jan Tomasiewicz with his wife and his son Janusz.
The following got up with me from amongst the dead: Zofia Bekier (currently residing at Redutowa Street 19), her daughter Wacława Gałka with her husband, Helena Wójcicka (currently living with me), Agnieszka Wallas (I don’t know her address), my sister’s daughter- in-law Janina Narowska, then seven months pregnant, Janina Zworska, my sister’s mother in law, and Stanisława Kasprzak, as well as other people whose names I don’t know.
Narowska, Zworska, and Kasprzak were wounded.
Seeing his children shot dead, Stanisław Gałka went out of his mind, the soldiers took him and some ten other men, including Edward Wójcicki, to Sowińskiego Park, and shot them there.
As I had seen before, civilian men were taking bodies from the fence already at noon. I noticed then that they were taking them to Sowińskiego Park and assembling them into two pyres in the park squares, where now there are graves and where ashes are buried.
One of the tenants at our house, Edward Kucharski (now living at Płocka Street), survived the execution and carried the bodies to Sowińskiego Park.
I was taken as part of the group of people who survived the execution to Saint Lawrence church. On the way there I saw a burning pyre of bodies by the embankment behind the Orthodox church.
At Saint Lawrence we found bishop Niemira and a group of civilians. I learned that on that day, in the morning (5 August), Father Krygier, Franaszkowa and her son, Edward Gaczkowski (secretary in the parish office) and a few other people I did not know had been shot by the Germans at Saint Lawrence church. A painter, whose name I don’t know, had supposedly seen the killing of Father Krygier from the scaffolding.
The events at Saint Lawrence church can be recounted by the church organist, Stanisław Cieślak (residing at the parish, at Wolska Street 140).
On the next day, the group from Saint Lawrence church and I were taken to the transit camp in Pruszków.
A group of sick people were left behind at the church, including Janina Narowska, Stanisława Kasprzak and Janina Zworska. Their corpses were exhumed in 1945 from the area near the church belfry and recognised by their families.
On 5 August in the evening, a group of survivors from the carnage near the forge (Wolska Street 124) were brought to Saint Lawrence church. It was from them that I learned of the mass execution there.
At that the report was concluded and read out.