The 5 of August 1944 was a Saturday. From the early morning the Germans were conducting an intensive bombardment of the Wola district. One of the bombs hit a house adjacent to St. Lazarus Hospital, and a fragment of the missile tore an opening in the wall separating the hospital premises from the neighbouring garden. Around noon the bombing stopped, and the Germans commenced an attack using tanks. Civilians were driven on foot in front of the tanks. The hospital bunker was soon filled with people escaping from the tanks. These were mainly woman with small children. The bunker, comprising three halls, was located on Wolska Street, at the corner of Karolkowa Street, and had three exits: one into Wolska Street and two to the hospital garden. There was a large number of patients, wounded, and civilians in the halls. At around 18.00 we heard the loud shouts and calls of German soldiers by the windows. They had dismounted from the tanks and were milling around Wolska Street; soon they started pounding on the hospital door. Having conferred at length, one of the female orderlies who – being from the Poznań province – was fluent in German, approached the door and explained that this was a hospital and there were sick people lying inside. The Germans ordered her to open the door. When she did so, a shot was fired and tore through her chest. The wounded woman instinctively closed the door shut. The Germans resumed their pounding, again shouting to be let in. The door was then opened by one of the patients; he, too, was shot at with a revolver, receiving a severe wound to the lower stomach. German soldiers ran into the first hall and started tinkering with the gas installation, turned off the lights and withdrew. Shortly after, the halls were filled with the strong smell of gas. The air defence commandant turned off the gas supply in the courtyard. Only the acutely sick, unable to walk, remained in the first hall, while the others crowded into the two other halls, contemplating an escape through the garden. A few people managed to run from the hospital building to Leszno Street, but the Germans saw this and set up machine guns from Karolkowa Street, shooting at the escapees.

It was now impossible to flee. Whoever exited the building was shot dead. Everyone had to turn back, while in the bunker the German soldiers were going berserk – seeing that the gas had not poisoned the patients and that everyone was still alive, they started throwing hand grenades. They started off by murdering everyone in the first hall. The scenes were horrific. The grenades tore people to shreds, pieces of flesh were sent flying through the halls. I remember from these terrible scenes: a nun, whose legs were paralysed, was lying in bed, and seeing that death was drawing near, she raised her hands, praying aloud. A soldier threw a grenade at her; the weapon tore off her head and ripped open her chest, exposing her heart. Other patients crept under the benches or covered themselves with pallets. There was a brief respite after the first hall had been butchered. The German soldiers made a barricade from the benches. Standing behind it, they kept their guns trained on the patients, on the defenceless women and children. They called one of the patients forward and, all the time keeping him in their sights, they signalled him that they wanted to collect jewellery. They ordered him to first hand over gold chains with medallions, and then rings and watches. Having filled their pockets to the brim, they gestured that they had enough and began throwing hand grenades into the corner of the hall where the children had gathered. I can still hear the screams of the murdered babies and their cries for mercy, but the tears and sobs of our Polish children only seemed to excite and spur on the maddened soldiers. Not only did they not cease, but rather they started hurling the hand grenades right and left with redoubled strength. Seeing that the situation in the bunker was hopeless, I grabbed my sister under the arm. My sister, Konstancja Suryn, had been in the hospital for three months, suffering from a severe lung abscess. Literally walking over bodies, tens of which lay everywhere, we reached the garden exit, and there a great many dead lay, for the garden was under fire from the machine gun. At the moment when my sister and I ran across, the machine gun fell silent for a while. We were aided by the hole in the wall. We immediately fled to the neighbouring garden and, crawling on out stomachs, crept to Leszno Street, which was in the hands of the insurrectionists. Polish soldiers took care of us and led us to a first-aid post, where we were soon joined by nine more people from the hospital. Only at the post did they notice that I was wounded in the arm. My sleeve and whole dress were soaked in blood – I myself had not noticed this until then, nor did I feel any pain.

Konstancja and Wanda Suryn
Residing in Warsaw
Skierniewicka Street 33
Current address: Katowice
Karola Miarki Square 6, flat 4