Warsaw, 29 April 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||Piotr Zaleski|
|Names of parents||Marcin and Waleria née Konienko|
|Date of birth||22 February 1903, Kępiszki estate, Kowno county|
|Occupation||doctor in Pruszków medical center|
|Education||doctor of medicine, specialist in dermatological and venereal diseases|
|Place of residence||Pruszków, 3 Maja Street 7, flat 5|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
From 1937 onwards, I worked at Saint Lazarus Hospital as resident doctor in the dermatological and venereal department. In 1944, the hospital was located at Wolska Street 18, it had gates at Leszno Street 127 and from the side of Karolkowa Street. I also lived on the hospital premises.
At the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, Saint Lazarus Hospital was in the hands of the insurgents, with fights against the Germans taking place nearby, mostly around Młynarska Street. One could hear gunshots from the hospital grounds.
Between 1 and 5 August, while the hospital was in the hands of the insurgents, it once happened that a boy, twelve years old or so, was shooting at the Germans with a revolver from the hospital balcony.
Aside from that incident, the Germans were not attacked from the hospital. I opposed such incidents myself, so as to preserve the neutrality of the hospital.
On 5 August, before the Germans entered the hospital grounds, we had some three hundred wounded insurgents and around three hundred other patients, including more than twenty children with skin or venereal diseases. We had wounded civilians of either sex (more or less half of them female) and we had the original venereal patients. Besides that, around six hundred civilians took shelter in the hospital, believing it would be safer there. There were more women and children than men amongst the civilians. Therefore, taken together, when the Germans entered on 5 August there may have been up to around 1,200 people in the hospital.
On 5 August around 8 p.m. the insurgents withdrew from our grounds after fighting a German unit. Immediately after that, the Germans rushed into the hospital through the gate at Wolska Street and began to exterminate everyone present.
I have currently learned from the press that the commander of German forces in Wola was General Reinefarth.
I find it hard to say what German formations entered the hospital. I saw gendarmes, Wehrmacht soldiers and “Ukrainians”. They wore green and black. They were all armed with machine guns [rozpylacz], grenades, and had belts of bullets round their necks. The soldiers first rushed into the building closest to the Wolska Street gate, marked with the letter A, which housed Dr Rowiński’s women’s internal diseases ward and Associate Professor Kapuściński’s men’s venereal and dermatological ward.
I stress that Dr Rowiński had not been present in Saint Lazarus Hospital from 1 August, while Dr Kapuściński had been sent to the Auschwitz camp. His replacement was Dr Bohdanowicz, who had also been absent since the outbreak of the uprising.
The Germans shot everyone in building A on sight. As far as I know, none of the personnel or the patients survived. There were no doctors in pavilion A. Out of the nurses, Aniela Szulc, around thirty years old, and the sewing room director Rutkowska, 60-odd years old, died there. I don’t remember any other names. The details can be given by Maria Falińska, a nurse currently employed at Wolski Hospital.
After building A was exterminated, the angry horde of German troopers rushed to further buildings and eliminated everyone present in the outbuildings, in the little house near building E, and in the building which housed the women’s internal diseases ward on theground floor and the dermatological and venereal ward for the mandatory treatment patients on the upper floors. In building E, the following were murdered: Dr Lucyna Szymańska, nurse Kowalczyk, seven Sisters of Charity (I don’t remember their names) and two Jewish doctors freed from the Pawiak prison (I don’t know their names). Thepharmacist, Ignacy Giedroyć, M.Pharm., was murdered in the pharmacy.
I was in the main building, near Leszno Street, which housed the women’s and men’s internal diseases wards of Professor Semaran-Biemianowski, who was absent, the urology ward of Dr Lilpop, also absent, the physiotherapy section, the X-ray laboratory, hospital offices and administration.
When the Germans entered I was in the operating room with wounded patients together with Dr Napoleon Sowiński, who survived but whose address I don’t know, and Dr Giziński, whose address I don’t know. In the building where I worked there were six wounded Germans, soldiers, who, when armed Germans came in from the yard, ran at them, shouting “Don’t shoot” and “Kill us first”. Faced with this intervention, the attackers took the nursing and medical personnel, as well as the clerks, around one hundred people in total, and led them to the hospital kitchens in the basement. After taking us away, the Germans murdered the wounded who remained in the building.
I note that when the personnel was given the raus order, I left a wounded man lying on the operating table, with the dressing removed from his leg.
We were left for half an hour in the hospital kitchens, then we were lined up against the wall next to the kitchens. The Germans dragged individuals who caught their eye from the group and shot them in front of everyone else. When taking people out to be shot, the Germans did not check their documents, they simply took anyone the look of whom they did not like. Some fifty people died in this way.
The hospital raid began around 8 p.m. At 1 a.m. on 6 August only fifty-three people were taken to Saint Stanisław Hospital at the corner of Wolska Street and Młynarska Street.
Out of the survivors, I can name my sister-in-law, Władysława Goch, currently in Silesia, andSister Placyda Matecka, the hospital warehouse supervisor, currently residing in Pruszków with the Samaritan Sisters at 3 Maja Street.
I have heard that there was an exhumation at Saint Lazarus Hospital in 1945, which revealed 850 bodies. Moreover, corpses had also been burnt at the hospital.
Some four or five hundred bodies may have been burnt at the hospital. I think no more than 1,200 people had been murdered by the Germans in Saint Lazarus Hospital.
I add that when we were being led, in the night, out of our hospital to Saint Stanisław Hospital, as we were going through the Saint Lazarus Hospital yard we walked over dead bodies.
My testimony may be supplemented by the testimonies of the men who were burning the bodies in Saint Lazarus Hospital. They may provide details on the extermination process after I left the hospital grounds. I know that one of those who were burning the bodies was the cousin of Helena Misztal; the latter works at the Ministry of Health (I don’t know the name or whereabouts of the cousin).
(The witness has also drafted a site drawing of Saint Lazarus Hospital, attached to the present report.)
The report has been read out.