Warsaw, 23 October 1945. Investigating Judge Mikołaj Halfter interviewed the person named below as a witness. Having advised the witness of the criminal liability for making false declarations and of the significance of the oath, the judge swore in the witness, who then testified as follows:
Marian Jackowski, 45 years old, son of Jan and Anna, no criminal record, resident at Litewska Street 4, flat 29
On 1 August, when I was with my wife on Puławska Street in front of the airmen’s barracks, at 4:45 p.m. shots resounded, and then we took refuge in the Mokotów tramway depot. We stayed there until 12:00 p.m. on the next day, when the Germans entered the building and took away everyone staying there: 35 men, as many women, and one five-year old child. We were led to the airmen’s barracks, where we all were placed in the command building. We stayed there until 9:00 p.m. on the same day. At 8:00 p.m. we received soup. At 9:00 p.m., the men were separated from the women. I, together with the other men, was placed in a military prison in that area.
At 8:30 a.m. on the next day we were led out of that prison, arranged in twos in the courtyard, a priest (unknown to me) and two civilians (one aged 50, the other 19) joined us, and next we were escorted to the Gestapo HQ by airmen. On aleja Szucha they led us into the courtyard, where we were told to lie down facing the ground. They also said that whoever moved would be shot dead.
I have to say that nobody had shot at the Germans from the Mokotów tramway depot where we had been staying. We were not searched at the depot nor in the aircraft barracks. At any rate, none of us, I don’t remember any weapons [sic]. I lay in the Gestapo HQ courtyard for three and a half hours. It was raining heavily and it was very cold. When we were lying down I heard shots. When they told us to get up, kicking us, I noticed that one of the men who had been brought in with us was dead. Next, we were led into the hall of the building. Everyone was searched in front of the entrance and they took everything we had, so documents, money, watches etc. We were searched by a Volksdeutsch, Ralkowski (I was told his surname later, when I worked at the Gestapo HQ). Before the war – as they told me – he had been a craftsman, he made window and door fittings. He came from Pomerania.
After the inspection, we were taken one by one to a basement and had to walk between two rows of Gestapo men (Germans and Ukrainians) and each of them beat us with fists or kicked the Polish arrestee passing between them. Having walked past these Gestapo men – they beat me too – I noticed that they knocked out six teeth from my left lower jaw. Then we were put in cells, whence they led us out in twos back into the corridor, where we were examined. I was called out for that examination in the last pair. I was asked who had been shooting and where we had hidden the weapons, where I lived, and what my profession was. I stressed, among other things, that I lived at Litewska Street 4 and that I lived there thanks to the help of Marta Basińska, the host of the Gestapo officers’ casino. Although a Volksdeutsch, being my wife’s client she had a gentle attitude towards us and in the period before the Uprising she warned us a number of times and told us to warn our friends of round-ups. Because, due to her job, she knew in advance when the round-ups would be taking place and gave us the dates. Her information always turned out to be true. It so happened that she came to our flat specifically to tell us about a round-up. I heard that before the war she had been a tutor to General Dreszer’s children. When during the examination I indicated that my wife sewed for Marta Basińska and the commander of the Gestapo officers’ casino, the Gestapo men took me aside.
I have to add that during the interrogation, one Gestapo man asked me questions (he was an interpreter), another stood next to him, and a third Gestapo man beat me on the back and all over my body with a piece of wooden board from a chest. I saw a railwayman, who had been taken out of the cell along with me and who was being examined at the same time in the corridor, beaten with a whip.
I have to underline that when I mentioned Basińska and the casino commander during the examination they stopped beating me in front of the officer. As I learned later, the Gestapo man who beat me with the board (during the interrogation), was called Jan Kukawski (as I remembered later, he had served with me in the Polish Army in 1918 as a volunteer, he was later a sergeant).
After the examination, I was told to stand facing the wall (in the corridor). As I stood 30 cm from the wall, Kukawski walked up to me and hit me with the board in the neck, forcing me to move closer to the wall. After some time I was taken to a cell, a so-called “tram.” I sat there for about an hour with my back to the entrance. After an hour, my wife was brought in. I stood up and kissed her. Then the key-man – as I learned later, he was a Gestapo man, Freilich (from Bytom) – said to me in Polish: “Sit down madman, idiot.” After around half an hour, the same officer (I don’t know his surname), who was present at my examination with the interpreter, entered the cell. The interpreter called me: “controller” (I was wearing my official hat) and ordered me to come closer to the bars. He asked me what documents and things I possessed. I enumerated what had been taken from me. Then, they gave me back my documents and my watch, and the interpreter announced that my wife and I would be used for labor at the Gestapo HQ. Soon after, we were taken to a solitary ward, where we were placed in the last cell; a Cossack (Russian) brought us a piece of bread and cold coffee. Next, the interpreter announced to us that the commander of the officers’ casino, Sterk, would come for us and take us to work. And so it happened, at 3:30 p.m. we were led to Sterk’s office, where we were given food and he sent me to work, placing me under the command of a Volksdeutsch, Aleksander Grynczel. From that time, I worked at the Gestapo (in Warsaw) as a worker-hostage until 1 September 1944. A Gestapo man, Sterk’s deputy – Alfred Bannisterk or Bannistark – told me that we were hostages and we would go to “Sport- Platz” for the smallest offense. That’s what they called the place where they executed people, that is the property at aleja Szucha 12/14. After a couple of days, some Polish workers joined us, so that in the end there were eight Polish men and three Polish women (counting my wife Zofia). I remember only one of those worker’s surnames, namely Roman (I don’t know his current whereabouts). I have to note that all those people had been saved from execution by commander Sterk. He was a very decent man, I might call him a guardian of Poles. For example, when two of my miserable companions – workers from our group – seized the opportunity to flee when they were deporting foreigners from Warsaw (from aleja Szucha), getting into the cars with those being taken away, Sterk, when he learned about the escape, did not enforce any repressions on the remaining workers and brushed the escape under the carpet. He also cautioned Alfred Bannisterk not to abuse us; Bannisterk was very brutal with us.
I was used for labor: loading food and textile products around the city (we were driven around under a Russian escort) from different shops [and taking them] to the Gestapo HQ, and for manual work in the casino.
In the first days (4-7 August), I saw many women and children brought to aleja Szucha from the city, later six tanks arrived and the women and children were told to get on those tanks. They were not tied to the tanks (I was around 150-200 meters from them). This was around 10:00 – 11:00 in the morning. I saw that some of the women were placed in front of the tanks. According to my estimate, there were around 1000 women and children there in total. I then saw the tanks – with the women and children on and in front of them – roll in the direction of Trzech Krzyży Square. I saw one of the tanks the next day (I have to state that there were 10 tanks assigned to the Gestapo at that time, their numbers being: 612, 614, 622, 623, 624, 712, 722, 724, and two more numbers which I don’t remember) standing next to a hydrant, it was spattered with blood and it was being cleaned. I had no doubts that it was one of the tanks that had gone into the city on the previous day, covered by the women and children. By their serial numbers, I saw that the six tanks were those assigned to the Gestapo, and the blood-splattered one was one of them.
In mid-August, I saw them bring an insurgent into the Gestapo HQ (he had a white-and-red band on his arm). A soldier was leading him on a chain fastened to his neck, another walked behind him with a rozpylacz [machine gun] ready to shoot.
On 19 or 20 August, around 5000 were brought in to aleja Szucha – men, women, and children, with bundles, carts and so on. As these people told me, they were from Czerniaków. The men were ordered to go into the Gestapo courtyard and the women and children were driven in the direction of Unii Lubelskiej Square. Half an hour after the women had left the men were led out, in groups of 50, and rushed into the ruins of a burned down house at aleja Szucha on 12/14, the one which I showed to the Judge on 18 October, where, as I was told, people were executed.
I did not see the executions myself, but I heard gunshots coming from that direction, and I heard from my wife and others that people were being executed in those ruins. I saw that around 50 groups were taken from the Gestapo HQ courtyard into the ruins during those days, I reckon over 2000 people. I did not see any of those men or boys (there were 10-year- old boys among them) led back out from there. Throughout all of August I saw groups of men led into the ruins almost every day (sometimes a few a day, sometimes several groups numbering from a few to several dozen people). At times, I saw that some people – apparently ill – were carried on blankets. None of those people came back from the ruins. Almost every day I saw columns of smoke (I was told they were burning the corpses in the ruins) and one could smell a horrible stench, as if of burning meat. There were days one literally couldn’t breathe.
When working on aleja Szucha in August 1944, I heard that Poles living at Litewska Street 4 were taken from their homes on 2 August. As the administrator of that house I know that the following individuals were living there at the time: Kazimierz Tomczak (around 52 years old), Zbigniew Tomczak (19 years old), Konstanty Balcerzak (45 years old), Jan Wach (33 years old). They still have not returned or given any sign of life. In my opinion, they were executed in August in the ruins at aleja Szucha 12/14.
I have to add that I also saw Polish blue policemen being led to the execution site in the ruins. I didn’t see them come back out of the ruins either.
In August, around 100 Polish prisoners were staying in the house at Litewska Street 14 (serving sentences for being on a train without a ticket, making moonshine, being out after curfew etc.). They were used for different jobs. I talked to some of them and they said that they had to work burning the corpses of those executed, that they burned them in the ruins of the house at aleja Szucha 12/14, that they took the clothing of those killed (people were executed naked) to Litewska Street 14 and stored it there: [the Germans] carted away the better things somewhere else. Later, when I was in Sochaczew, where some of the Gestapo men from Warsaw had gone (after 1 September), I saw a pile of men’s clothes by a shed in Szepietowski’s garden. There were more or less a few thousand items of clothing and shoes there.
On 1 September 1944, when the Gestapo men leaving Warsaw for Kompina (Łowicz county) took me and my wife with them, a Gestapo man, Maksymilian Laszkowski, who had worked for City Trams before the war (he had the Cross of Independence and was a war invalid) told me on the way that the prisoners from Litewska Street 14 had been set free at 9:00 a.m.
that day. The other Gestapo man driving with us (I don’t know his name) laughed out loud when he heard those words (Laszkowski and he both spoke Polish). I therefore deduced that the prisoners from Litewska Street had been executed.
After we were transported to Kompina, a German officer started to criticize Sterk, who had come with us, to the effect that he “surrounded himself with Polish family” (he spoke in German, but there was someone among us who interpreted it for us). Sterk answered that we worked well.
We were transported from Kompina to Sochaczew, where we were placed at Reymonta Street 18, where the Gestapo’s main provision warehouse was located. Sterk was there as well. My wife and I, and Karpiński with his wife were placed in a separate flat. The Gestapo men moved into a neighboring flat, Jan Kukawski, Bieńkowski (I think his name was Bronisław), Antoni Wasikowski, and Altman (I don’t know his first name). They organized a drinking party. Once, when I was coming back from work, I met Kukawski in the corridor, who dragged me to their room, where Bieńkowski, Wasikowski, and Altman were sitting and drinking vodka. They offered me vodka. I refused saying that they would execute me for drinking vodka, but Kukawski said that I could drink with them and that I was in no danger. Then they started to talk – they all spoke Polish – about the times before the war started in 1939. I learned from the conversation that Kukawski had served in the 21st infantry regiment in the 8th company. Bieńkowski, Wasikowski and Altman did not say anything of interest. The next day, I met Kukawski and he said to me that “soon we will crack down on them.” I asked him whom he meant, to which Kukawski replied those who wore such uniforms, showing his uniform. That conversation took place in late October 1944.
I have to mention that – as I said above – when I was drinking vodka at Kukawski’s, Ralkowski came in, drank some vodka and, looking at me, said in Polish: “I hate Poles to the bones, if I could, I would shoot them all dead.” Kukawski, Bieńkowski, Wasikowski, and Altman said nothing in response.
Sterk was not in Sochaczew anymore in late October, he was moved to Krakow. However, one time, when he came to Sochaczew, my wife started begging him though the interpreter, Karpiński, to release us, and he, underlining that he was no longer our superior, agreed to help us. And indeed, he took us in his car when leaving. When we arrived in Krakow, he set us free, warning us not to be caught by the Germans. He handed my wife a note with his address and surname, so that, if need be, we could refer to him.
Luckily, we managed to get from Krakow to Jędrzejowo, where we stayed at Budra’s.
The report was read out.