Koszalin, 14 September 1945
MORP headquarters [International Red Aid]
Testimony of cadet corporal Tadeusz Koper,
former prisoner of Pawiak, now a chief
of the main office of the Citizen’s Militia
Voivodeship Headquarters in Szczecin
On 7 August 1942 in Warsaw, after being cordoned off by the German police and Luftwaffe troops, the delegates of the Polish workers of the German plants on the grounds of the Skoda plant were arrested, and as a result and in consequence of the investigation, five fighters for a free and democratic Poland, founders of an underground movement representing the PPR [Polish Workers’ Party], before a crowd of several thousand airport workers, were hanged in the first public execution.
As the memory of the first victims from the red list has faded, and the execution site – known to many who were forced to see the hanged bodies – had not been sanctified, and the possible perpetrator of the discovery and arrest of those people is still at large, since I have learned about the above-mentioned matters, and since I had been arrested along with the executed men, I want to shed some light on this case, so that on the one hand the glorious figures of the PPR members could enter the national pantheon of heroes, and on the other hand those who had brought about their arrest and death would get the deserved punishment.
Among the arrested on the memorable day of 7 August 1942, Saturday, at 11.45 a.m., there were:
|3.||citizen Koper Tadeusz|
|4.||citizen Stasiński Alojzy|
After arrest and transport to Pawiak (8th ward), on 11 August, the investigation began, but they did not use the usual method of transporting [prisoners] to aleja Szucha, but instead a whole galaxy of important Nazi bandits came to Pawiak. This testifies best as to the importance of the case.
During the investigation, as a result of contradictory testimonies, they began to torture comrades Goetze and Nowak, and as a consequence three new comrades were brought to our cell, namely:
citizen Jaworski (I don’t know his real name), he used this name both at work and in Pawiak,
citizen Pieczecik, employee of the Junkers company (Ju 88),
citizen Wieladek, a foreman in the Nestler company.
We were charged with forming communist cells (yacheykas) and sabotage groups, the so- called fives, which had purportedly planted bombs on two planes and at the plane petrol station. Link by link, using their methods, the Gestapo began a meticulous investigation concerning only those five comrades from the PPR, who were in effect first tortured – and we witnessed this – and then executed.
We were spared only thanks to the collegial behavior of our comrades from the PPR, who took the whole blame during the interrogations, adamantly denying any cooperation with us, which in truth had existed, as we had all been members of the technical sabotage fives which had been closely cooperating with the PPR cell.
The heroes from the PPR who were killed in the public execution are:
comrade Dąbrowski, who was brought to the gallows from his home at the last moment.
I did not witness the execution (as I was still in Pawiak then), but I know that the convicts, especially comrade Goetze, were shouting when on the gallows to the Poles standing in the distance: “Long live free and independent Poland! Long live the Polish Workers’ Party!”
The corpses of those comrades were hanging for two days in the scorching August sun, and the crowd of several thousand workers was watching them tearfully, as they were being forced by the bandits to go and see the execution site.
In order to shed some light on the reason why we had been arrested, which may help to catch one or even many culprits, I would like to state that some of us, including myself, had been asked during interrogation whether we had known Tadeusz Branicki, then a supplies manager of the common canteen for workers from four companies.
On the day before he was taken, as it turned out later, for execution, comrade Nowak – still in the cell – had said unambiguously that he had been told in the interrogation room that Branicki had told them everything, so there had been no need to deny anything.
One of my colleagues from Warsaw came to me and said that Branicki was in Warsaw, and since there has been no mention in any press during the last month of these then very important events, I decided to come forward and tell the truth.
I suppose that Branicki will be able to specify in detail what role he played in arresting us, especially since at the time when he held his post, people who were not employed on the premises would often come there, and sometimes even Gestapo men in uniforms.
Branicki had a helper, or rather a supervisor, a non-commissioned officer, Stibel, from the German regiment’s headquarters, with whom he was on very good terms.
I have said the above voluntarily and without coercion, and what I have said is true to facts and can be confirmed by my former fellow inmates, and although it is not the point of this testimony, I would like to add that although we had been released and watched constantly by the Gestapo, both at work and at leisure, we are responsible for a large number of airplane motors rendered completely useless and for other similar acts of sabotage.
Revealing all this, I wish, as a member of the fraternal Polish Socialist Party, that the heroism and dedication of the fallen comrades should expand the glorious page of the PPR’s deeds during the occupation, as the execution of its members was the first public execution in the entire General Government and, since we remember the others, we should not be silent about those who had begun the underground work among the working masses for the sake of a free, democratic and just Poland!
Please find attached the addresses of my former fellow inmates from Pawiak who can confirm my testimony:
Stasiński Alojzy, employed in “Czytelnik,” Marszałkowska 1/3 (home address: Okęcie, Słowicza 18/1);
Grześkowiak, second lieutenant for political and educational matters, residing in Okęcie (the full address may be provided by citizen Stasiński);
Citizen Korycki is alive and for sure lives somewhere in Warsaw.
I learned that Branicki is in Warsaw from citizen Narcyz Kopeć, residing with citizen Stasiński.