Warsaw, 5 October 1946
Commission for the Investigation of
German Crimes in Poland
Aleje Jerozolimskie 41, flat 9, 4th floor
To the Citizen Head
of the Borough Court in Inowrocław.
In the case concerning the indictment of the former Governor of the Warsaw District, Fischer, and others for war crimes against the Polish nation, I hereby request the Borough Court to interview as a witness, in accordance with Articles 107 and 115 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Dr Florian Bronicki, resident in Inowrocław, Solankowa Street 51, regarding the following:
– For how long, during the German occupation, did the witness work as a doctor in the Dulag at Skaryszewska Street in the Praga district of Warsaw;
– How were medical examinations of persons performed at this Dulag, in order to establish their fitness for work;
– Did the Polish physician not feel awkward when giving his opinions in this regard, and if the answer to the present question is positive – what regulations were used as the basis for these opinions, and given the existing state of affairs, were not all examined persons considered as fit for work, the examination being a meaningless formality;
– How many persons did the witness examine in the Dulag at Skaryszewska during his period of work there;
– Whether it followed from the accounts of persons examined by the witness that they were forcibly transported to the Dulag, and that they did not volunteer to go to Germany for work, and whether the witness is aware of the total number of persons who passed through the Dulag at Skaryszewska and were taken away therefrom to work in Germany.
In consideration of the importance and urgency of the case, it is requested that the present request be processed in as short a time as possible.
Appellate examining judge
Inowrocław, 16 October 1946
Borough Court in Inowrocław,
Borough Court Judge Czyściecki
Senior court record-keeper Sroczyńska, court reporter
In the case
concerning the indictment of the former Governor of the Warsaw District,
Fischer, and accompanying persons
after the case was called out, there appeared:
Dr Florian Bronicki
Heard pursuant to Articles 107 and 115 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, he testified as follows:
My name is Florian Bronicki, 38 years of age, physician, religion – Roman Catholic, resident in Inowrocław at Solankowa Street 51, criminal record – none.
having been advised of the importance of my testimony and of the criminal liability for making false declarations, I hereby testify as follows:
Point 1) I was referred to the Dulag by Dr Strohal, who was the head of the Employment Exchange Office at the Medical Chamber in Warsaw, on 31 1940, as a venereologist to the medical board.
Initially I worked casually, and from May 1940 I was a member of the permanent medical board, which worked under the chairmanship of German doctors. This situation lasted until 17 August 1943, on which day I was arrested along with Dr Motyka by the Field Gendarmerie and Gestapo, being accused of sabotage, provoking an attack on Dr Koszelińska, a member of said board, falsifying the results of medical examinations, and abusing the trust of the German medical authorities.
Point 2) Following delousing and a bath, the examined persons appeared before the medical board, which comprised three non-German physicians, mainly specialists (ophthalmologist, internist and venereologist), and a German chairman.
Initially, these boards were assembled by Dr Gromski from amongst physicians referred to the Dulag by Dr Strohal from the Employment Exchange Office at the Medical Chamber; subsequently, however, due to the migration of doctors to the provinces (these were primarily physicians displaced from the Poznań province and Pomerania), a single permanent board was formed, this comprising: Dr Dudzińska – a Pole, Dr Koszelińska – a Ukrainian, and myself as a venereologist. Shortly after, however, when Dr Koszelińska became an influential person thanks to the support of Dr Strohal (who was a school friend of her husband in Lwów, and who in the years immediately preceding the War had worked as an assistant lecturer at the Department of Forensic Medicine of Warsaw University), sessions of the board witnessed frequent clashes between her and Dr Dudzińska and myself. Dr Koszelińska soon began to suspect that our diagnoses (mainly concerning trachoma and syphilis, or suspicions of these diseases, which resulted in examined persons being immediately released) were tendentious, which was in fact the case. There is absolutely no doubt that Dr Koszelińska acted as the ‚eyes and ears’ of the Brühl Palace at the Dulag, and this was first evidenced in the removal of Dr Dudzińska from the board. In May 1940, following a session of the board, Dr Koszelińska, Dr Dudzińska, and an officer of the Dulag started up a conversation concerning Ukrainian affairs, and this took a rather acerbic course. Dr Koszelińska brought this to the attention of Dr Schrempf – at that time the Amtsarzt of Warsaw – resulting in the immediate dismissal of Dr Dudzińska, while I myself was warned by Dr Gromski on [Dr Schrempf’s] instructions, that no political issues may be discussed.
Some time later, this officer was beaten to death along with another (Mr Łukomski?) and they both vanished into the blue. On Dr Koszelińska’s recommendation, Dr Dudzińska’s place on the board was taken by Dr Jewsiejenko, also a Ukrainian woman. Thus I found myself a member of a highly international board, made up of two Ukrainian women – of whom one, Dr K., was entirely hostile towards Poles, while the other, Dr J., was loyal, and even amicably disposed towards us, and even though she owed her position to Dr Koszelińska, hated her with all her heart for her actions during the sessions of the board, although she feared her greatly – and one German.
The examination was performed in turn by the ophthalmologist, internist and venereologist. The result depended on a number of factors, namely: the degree of escalation of anti-Polish policy, the current demand for labour, and the attitude and humour of the chairman and the mainspring of the whole board – Dr Koszelińska. During the first period (the year 1940) the approach was basically thus: take only those who are completely healthy. At that time, any suspicion of contagious ailments (trachoma, tuberculosis, venereal diseases) resulted in the examined person being classified as permanently unfit for work. This was all the easier to perform because no additional examinations were performed, while the majority of the German physicians who chaired the board were young and totally ignorant of ophthalmic, dermal, and venereal diseases. After some time, however, due to the considerable numbers passing through Skaryszewska and the small quantity of those fit for work, additional medical examinations (sputurn, roentgenoscopy, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, urine analysis, Wassermann tests) were introduced, and expert opinions were passed on the basis of the results thereof. Nevertheless, we soon found a solution, this consisting in the mobilisation of trusted persons who falsified the results on a large scale; this was discovered only in August 1943, and Dr Motyka and myself were arrested as a result.
Point 3) Basically, each member of the board made a diagnosis in their speciality and wrote it down in the examined person’s records, while I, as the final examiner, was obligated to present a report and pronounce an opinion.
In unequivocal instances there were no particular difficulties with issuing a certificate of disability; obviously, it was most difficult in dubious cases or ones that were especially ‚made up’ – then, a person’s fitness or unfitness, permanent or temporary, was decided not only on the basis of his or her general condition (age, state of nutrition, and sometimes familial relations), but also by the strength of my argumentation and the attitude of the German physician towards me – provided, of course, Dr Koszelińska did not show up just in time to scupper my plan, which she usually did with great passion, undermining my ‚loyal’ position.
To recapitulate, I hereby declare that the medical examinations performed at Skaryszewska Street were not in essence a meaningless formality, for the Germans first and foremost wanted healthy individuals (they were terrified of bringing contagious diseases home), as evidenced by the performance of all and any additional supplementary examinations, with the examined persons sometimes having to stand before the board as many as three or five times.
Point 4) Between 31 March 1940 and 17 August 1943 I examined (including re- examinations) some 220 to 230 thousand people.
During my period of work, the greatest numbers appeared from September 1942 to May 1943. At the time, we examined between 600 and one thousand people a day. The demand for labour was then very great and the selection less thorough, however the methods of crippling the campaign on our part were much improved.
For example, during a single board session chaired by Dr Prof. Sejtz, only 230 persons out of 732 examined were classified as fit for work.
Point 5) At least 90 per cent of those examined were arrested in round-ups in Warsaw and counties of the Warsaw district. Many of those examined complained these operations were conducted mainly at night, and were accompanied by harassment and beatings, particularly in villages and smaller townships. Not infrequently, those who resisted or tried to escape were shot and wounded or killed. So-called volunteers were more common in the years 1940–41, subsequently however – as the situation in Germany deteriorated and the bombings intensified – their percentage fell continuously.
Point 6) Until the end of my period of work at Skaryszewska Street, that is, until 17 August 1943, some 350,000 people might have passed through the Dulag. I don’t know how many of them were deported to the Reich. This question could be answered by the officers who worked there from the beginning to the end, namely by Ms Kazimiera Ćwierciakiewiczowa (Łódź, Dowborczyków Street 20 flat 6); Ms Janina Kaczmarska (Warsaw, Cicha Street 1 flat 14); and Mr Piotr Jaworski (Gdańsk, ? Street – A member of the Alliance of the Democrats).
Out of the physicians employed at Skaryszewska, I can mention the following as being particularly hostile towards Poles: Dr Kohmann (deputy to the Distriksarzt), Dr Strohal (died in Poznań), Dr Vieweg, head doctor of Social Insurance, Dr Herback, his successor, Dr Kaufmann, deputy to Dr Hagen, Dr Jung (Brühl Palace), and Dr Aronett – the same location.
As regards their loyalty and kindliness, the following should be commended: Prof. Dr Sejtz – institute of hygiene, Dr Gress – Brühl Palace, Dr Klimek – the same location, and Dr Galwossus, a military physician.
Amongst the head of the Dulag, the following were complete scoundrels: Werner, Steinbrück, and the head of the round-ups, Sobecki, who before the War had recruited agricultural labourers to work in the Reich.