Village of Białobrzegi, 12 October 1948. A member of the District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Warsaw, Judge Halina Wereńko, interviewed the person specified below as a witness, without swearing him in. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations, the witness testified as follows:
|Forename and surname||Stefan Ochman|
|Names of parents||Stanisław and Tekla, née Kwiatkowska|
|Date of birth||27 December 1902 in Kovel|
|Education||four grades at secondary school|
|State affiliation and nationality||Polish|
|Place of residence||Białobrzegi, Nieporęt municipality|
|Occupation||municipality office worker|
During the German occupation I lived in the Nieporęt municipality. Before the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, i.e. before 22 June 1941, the Germans started extending the barracks, adding huts in the area of the village of Białobrzegi, the Nieporęt municipality, on sports fields and vacant plots and on adjacent peasant grounds. They occupied 8–10 hectares. The barracks are located in the eastern part of the village of Białobrzegi. Approximately a month after thebreakout of the German-Soviet war, I do not remember thedate precisely, the first transports of Soviet prisoners arrived at the barracks. They arrived at the Waliszew railway station, from where they were taken on foot to the barracks in Białobrzegi.
I saw the second or perhaps third transport being driven to the camp. They were walking, really exhausted, some were helping others, some fell down and were finished off by theGerman soldiers. There were carts following each transport collecting corpses. I saw one prisoner of war shot and there were already four corpses on one of the carts. The corpses of the prisoners of war were then buried at a place colloquially called Dębina - Winna Góra, located at a distance of approximately 250 meters to the north-east of the barracks. In Białobrzegi, the camp for Soviet prisoners of war existed until the spring of 1944, when they were transported away in an unknown direction, with only those left in the barracks who had volunteered to work for the Germans and they were free from then onwards.
I was a member of an underground organization whose aim was to fight the Germans. Our cell was very interested in the camp for prisoners of war, and provided assistance and gathered information about the crimes that were committed in the camp. The data concerning the camp were written down, but these notes went missing during therelocation of the Nieporęt municipality in the middle of September 1944. I remember that we determined then that 32,000 Soviet prisoners of war had died in the camp during its operation, including 45 Poles who were in the Red Army. These figures include the general death rate in the camp as well as murders.
On the basis of the information gathered by our organization and from my own observations, I can say that the Soviet prisoners of war were very exhausted and maltreated. The food was so poor that I saw that they ate grass in the spring, and inside the camp the grass had been almost completely plucked. On the basis of conversations with them, I established that they were given food that was completely bland, swede and cabbage leaves with 10–15 decagrams of bread for one person daily. On many occasions I saw for myself that they were given soup that had been made from overcooked cabbage leaves with no seasoning. In these conditions, they were dying of exhaustion and diseases.
The peak of the typhus epidemic was in the winter of 1941/42 and in the spring of 1942. At that time the epidemic spread and affected even the residents of the Nieporęt municipality with the death rate in the camp reaching 350 people a day. Throughout the time when the camp was operational, I could see that prisoners of war were very drawn, nothing but skin and bones. At the end of November or at the beginning of December, 1941, I saw a Mongol prisoner of war wearing only his underwear outdoors behind the wire; he was there for twenty-four hours and then died. I learnt from other prisoners of war that the Mongol had cut out a piece of flesh from a dead prisoner of war and eaten it, for which he was punished by the Germans.
The prisoners of war were not used for labor, except for cleaning inside the camp. On many occasions I saw that soldiers – who were guards in the camp – and prisoners of war who worked for the Germans beat and maltreated other prisoners of war.
I cannot establish how many people went through the camp since the number of the people in the camp was changing, with transports arriving and departing. The average daily number of people in the camp was between five and eight thousand. As I mentioned above, 32,000 prisoners of war died in the camp, and their corpses are buried in several dozen graves in the area of Dębina - Winna Góra. Each grave contains several dozen corpses, with one grave containing 350 corpses from the time of the typhus epidemic at the end of 1941 and the beginning of 1942. I can show the locations. In 1944, each grave still had a plate saying how many people had been buried in it. When I returned to the Nieporęt municipality in 1945, the plates were gone…
In 1942 or maybe 1943, thanks to the efforts of our organization and the representatives of the local community – such as the municipality, teachers and the priest – we managed to obtain permission from the Germans to release some twenty Polish prisoners of war; they were still guarded but could work for local farmers. Among others, Żurański (I do not remember his first name) was released this way; he is in Gdańsk now.
At this the report was concluded and read out.
Additionally, I want to testify that in the autumn of 1943, a transport of internee Italians arrived at the camp. At the same time, there were Soviet prisoners of war in the camp, but they were treated worse and kept separately.