Warsaw, 2 May 1946. Examining judge Halina Wereńko, delegated to the Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes, interviewed the person named below as a witness. Having advised the witness of the criminal liability for making false declarations and of the significance of the oath, the judge took an oath therefrom, following which the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Stefan Łapiński|
|Parents’ names||Franciszek and Julia, née Dziewącka|
|Date of birth||12 August 1905 in the settlement of Markowizna, district of Kielce|
|Occupation||bookkeeper at the "Franboli" company|
|Education||secondary trade school|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, Koszykowa Street 67, flat 40|
I hereby loan to the District Committee for the Investigation of German Crimes in Warsaw six photographs taken by the Americans following their capture of the camp in Dachau in 1945. The photographs were brought back by a prisoner of the camp in Dachau, Tadeusz Koteusz (residing in Kielce and employed at the Polish Red Cross and the Agricultural Bank; I don’t remember his exact address). I would like to take these photographs back once they are copied.
(The witness submitted to the judge the six photographs mentioned above).
During the Warsaw Uprising I resided at Koszykowa Street 67 in Warsaw. Following the capitulations of the insurrectionists, on 5 October 1944, the entire population of the district in which I lived was evacuated by the Germans.
A detachment of SS men and Gendarmes arrived at the house in which I was living, and ordered the residents to leave the house. We gathered our most important belongings and went outside. Groups numbering more than three thousand people were attached to us, and we were marched off to the Western Railway Station, from where we were taken by a passenger train to the camp in Ursus.
The transit camp occupied an entire complex of "Ursus" factory buildings. At the time the factory was mined. Mines were suspended under the hall ceilings on iron girders. All of the new arrivals were led into a hall in the main building. Here the people were segregated by a German non-commissioned officer whose surname I don’t know. I think that he was a non-commissioned officer of the administrative service. The segregation was performed with a guess, without checking documents, and the non-commissioned officer would use a single hand gesture to divide the people into two groups: one was to be deported for labour to Germany, and the other was to remain in the General Government. Families were separated in the course of the segregation.
I found myself in the group that was to go to Germany. We, that is, the men and the women, were led to a separate barrack fenced in with wire; we stayed there for two days.
I don’t remember who was the commandant of the camp. The guards were Vlasovtsy soldiers and gendarmes. The Polish Main Welfare Council and Polish sanitary authorities had access to the camp. During my two-day stay, the Main Welfare Council twice distributed vegetable soup amongst us, however its quantity was not sufficient to feed all those present. I myself did not receive any assistance from the Polish doctors and female nurses, nor did I get a sick note exempting me from deportation for labour to Germany, even though I had a heart disease.
After two days my transport was loaded onto a covered goods train, on average 50 people to each wagon, and so the wagons were packed tight. Everyone could sit down, but we had to take turns lying down. For the journey, the Germans gave a loaf of bread for every four people. Each wagon was guarded by three or four German railwaymen from the conductor’s team handling the Kraków – Warsaw rapid train route. They were provided with weapons. In addition, there were a considerable number of military personnel on the train, but I don’t know whether they were Wehrmacht or Gendarmerie. When the transport set out on its way, the wagons were open in the daytime, and fenced in with wire for the night. At night, therefore, the wagons were extremely stuffy. Of course there were no toilets in the wagons. There was no question of washing along the way.
The journey took four days. The first stop outside Warsaw was Skierniewice, where the Red Cross gave out a few apples per wagon. There were a few other stops later on, but only in the townships of Soest and Allen did we receive any soup, the quantity of which was insufficient to go around. We were travelling into the unknown, for nobody told us where we were being taken. During the final day of the journey, in Bohum in the Ruhr Basin, we came upon an Allied air-raid. This was at night, and the wagons were closed. Five of the wagons were burned as a result of the bombing, and a dozen or so people were killed. Some of the people dispersed, but a week later they returned to the camp in Spellen near Wesel in Westphalia, close to the Dutch border, where we had been transported. In October 1944 the front was 40 km from Spellen.
The camp in Spellen was a so-called Durchganglager of the Wesel Arbeitsamt, a transit camp for the distribution of labourers amongst different work places. We stayed there for two weeks. We were not put to work. We were given soup once a day, tea once a day, and a portion of bread with butter or margarine.
After two weeks I bribed a female Arbeitsamt office worker (I don’t remember her surname), giving her gold, and was give a pass allowing me to enter the territory of the so-called Wartegau, that is the lands annexed by the Reich, where I was to report to the first Arbeitsamt and request that they employ me. Together with eight other people, freed in the same way as myself, I travelled for four days before reaching Łódź.
I don’t remember the surnames of the Germans who ran that camp. There was a certain non-commissioned officer from the Wehrmacht who would harass Poles and beat them, however I do not know his surname.
The report was read out.