Warsaw, 6 June 1947. Judge Halina Wereńko, a member of the Warsaw District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, heard as a witness the person specified below. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations and of the wording of Article 106 of the Polish Code of Criminal Procedure and of the importance of the oath the witness was sworn under Article 109 of the Polish Code of Criminal Procedure.
The witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Stefan Marian Sokołowski|
|Age||35 years old|
|Parents’ names||Adam and Karolina|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, Szustra Street 7, flat 1|
|Occupation||guard of the Social Building Company|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
Before the war I had been working in the Ministry of Religion and Public Education as a lower-lever functionary, and I had lived in a company flat at aleja Szucha 25. The building at aleja Szucha was first seized by the German troops, then by the Gendarmerie, and at the end of October or in November 1939, by the Gestapo. The Germans did not remove us from our flats, and I was employed as a stoker in the boiler house. In 1943 I filed a notice of resignation, but I was told then that I had to choose: either Auschwitz, or working for the Gestapo.
I wanted to resign because I could not endure psychologically the screams and groans of the arrested being tortured. In 1944, about one and a half to two weeks before the uprising, I obtained permission to move somewhere else (they agreed because at that time the Gestapo was in a state of flux, as the Russian troops were approaching). Before the beginning of the uprising I was coming to work in the building at aleja Szucha, but later I stopped.
I cannot recall now how often they would bring the arrestees to the Gestapo from the prison in the first years, but in the last two years, I remember vividly, they were bringing the arrestees for interrogation twice a day: in the morning and in the afternoon. I saw these people. It didn’t look the same every time: sometimes 10–12 would come in a covered car, sometimes more, and once I saw that the car was literally packed with people, there were some 40 arrested people inside.
I cannot remember either the year or the season of this event.
I didn’t always see the moment when the people who were to be interrogated were gotten out of the car: there were weeks when I would see it every day, and there were weeks when I would not see it at all. It depended on whether I was accidentally in the yard at that moment. I did not want to be in the yard at such moments, except for one period when my brother-in-law had been arrested in Ciechanów and I suspected that they might bring him to Warsaw. Then I tried to be in the yard when they were bringing the arrestees.
I don’t recall, during the period when I was living in the Gestapo building, seeing any people being brought covered in blood or on stretchers. I remember that, as a rule, those people were haggard. I saw many times those who had been interrogated being led out to the car to be taken from the Gestapo. I often saw that they had bruised faces, that they were covered in blood, and some were being led arm in arm by their fellow victims, as they could not walk by themselves. I also saw once the arrestees taking an unconscious woman out on a stretcher. She was about 30 years old.
I didn’t notice whether she was covered in blood. I remember that a 6–7 year old girl was walking by the stretcher, and she was calling out “mummy” to the unconscious woman.
During the entire period I saw only once the very moment of interrogation, of some woman. It happened in the following way: about 11.00 p.m.–12.00 noon the blinds of the opposite window of a Gestapo office were not shut, so I could see that the Gestapo men were beating some woman about the face; the woman wore a fur. Then they put her face down on the table, and while two Gestapo men were holding her, two were beating her. They were using something resembling truncheons.
I could not discern from afar what they were using, but it might have been rubber truncheons. At first they were beating her through her dress, then they pulled it up and I could see she was not wearing underwear; she must have been taken from her flat and apparently they had not given her time to dress. I heard from Kalisz that they were beating her until morning. I would like to add that I inferred from their behaviour that they stopped beating her every time she lost consciousness and were waiting for her to come round (I saw that they stopped beating her several times and were leaning over her as if to listen if she were still alive), and were resuming the beating the moment she moved. Kalisz told me that she allegedly poisoned herself after this interrogation.
I did not see any more interrogations of this sort, but I could constantly hear, whether in my flat, in the yard, or in the boiler house, the sounds of blows and screams and groans of people being tortured during interrogation. Kalisz, who was cleaning the offices, told me that the interrogation rooms were always blood-stained and rather trashed after interrogations. I don’t know whether there was some special torture chamber in the Gestapo. I heard from one of the Polish employees that the interrogated were being “poked in the eye” with fingers and had pins pushed under their fingernails. I don’t know if this is true.
I don’t remember who told me that.
I heard from one of the employees that some handcuffed prisoner jumped or was pushed out of the window onto the yard where there was a basin with water. I did not see this for myself.
I did see, however, probably in 1942, a man lying in the gate who was having his wounds dressed. This man, as I heard, jumped out of the window during interrogation. I also saw a man in a postman’s uniform lying in the yard. He also jumped out of the window. I saw that window, it was broken, so he must have jumped through a shut window.
In the first years, 50–60 Jews were being brought over every day to work in the Gestapo, and later they were being brought in a car, men only. They were carrying coke, helping at the construction site of some building; generally they were doing all sorts of manual labour. When the Ghetto still existed, the gangs coming for labour did not receive food at the Gestapo. Later, after the liquidation of the Ghetto, the Jews were being brought from the labour camp, and these would get some soup at the Gestapo. At the end of 1943 or at the beginning of 1944, the Jews employed in the Gestapo lived for some months in nearby shacks. I saw that they were being treated, just as the Polish people were, like dogs: kicked and beaten.
I did not come into any contact with the arrestees. I know that near the cells where the Polish people were incarcerated, there was a cell or a few cells where Germans were incarcerated, and I saw through a basement window (it was, if I remember correctly, in the spring or summer of 1944) some Germans in uniforms. I don’t know why they were incarcerated there or what for.
As far as I know, nobody was buried on the Gestapo premises. Except for two Jews who were executed near their shack, as far as I know no one else was executed on the Gestapo premises. As I heard, those Jews were executed for going out without a pass. I don’t know whether this was really the case.
In the block in which I lived there was a single cell, occupied in turns by several people, including some older man who the employees were saying was a foreign consul. Who these people were, I don’t know. I did not come into any contact with them.
It seems that those from the single cells were well treated: they had food from the German kitchen. As far as I know, they were not beaten.
I don’t recall the names of the Gestapo men except for the one who was the building administrator and our superior: his name was Weber (I don’t remember his first name), he was a Volksdeutsch.
I would like to add that I saw for myself, and I also heard from the Jews employed in the Gestapo, that several times those Jews had to take killed people out of the cells. I saw a few people, taken out on stretchers, who were covered with paper. The stretcher would then be placed in the car that was taking the arrestees back to Pawiak.
Those Jews who lived for some time near the Gestapo premises (and were working at the Gestapo) told me that they had seen a solitary cell in Pawiak where the Germans would put a prisoner clad in ragged, blood-stained clothes and then they would let a dog in, and it would torment, attack, and bite the prisoner. The Germans, according to those Jews, were standing by the solitary cell and watching it.
The report was read out.