27 December 1947
District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Warsaw To the Attention of: Citizen Judge Halina Wereńko
In response to the letter dated 29 November 1947, L.1153/47, I hereby respond as follows:
I spent the first days of the Uprising in Warsaw at the Maltański Hospital on Senatorska Street. Around 6 August 1944 I was sent to the John of God Hospital, where I was instructed to organize a ward with 40 beds for the gravely wounded; I worked on this assignment for a few days. All of the hospital buildings were filled with the wounded, who arrived in large numbers from the direction of Wola and the Ghetto, and also from areas near to the hospital.
A surgical team had been organized at the facility, and the doctors worked day and night in very difficult conditions, headed by colonel Dr. Stroński and Dr. Krause, who were assisted by a few local physicians. The number of nurses was on the whole considerable. There were some 300 wounded. The situation grew worse with each passing day, for the hospital was being shelled systematically by German artillery from three sides. Following the complete destruction of two pavilions, Prof. Falkowski permitted me to go to the commander of the Old Town defense forces, colonel “Wachnowski”, with a proposal that the wounded and the entire surgical team be moved deeper into the Old Town; this met with his wholehearted approval, and an order was given to organize and administer such newly created hospitals. Thereupon the following hospitals were organized:
at Długa Street 7 – approximately 400 beds, with a surgical team for the most severely
wounded who had to undergo complex procedures;
at Kilińskiego Street 1/3 – 200 beds;
at Podwale Street 25 [?];
at the “Krzywa Latarnia” – 250 beds.
I found the following hospitals already functioning: at Miodowa Street 23 – 200 beds; at Miodowa Street 24 – 100 beds; at Długa Street 13/15 – 200 beds; at Długa Street 23 – 50 beds; and a great many first-aid points scattered throughout the area. The number of beds available for the wounded decreased considerably after the Germans, acting in a despicable and barbaric manner, sent in a tank loaded with explosives, which exploded at the intersection of Podwale and Kilińskiego streets, causing enormous losses (approximately 80 dead and 250 wounded) amongst the insurgents and the civilian population, mainly scouts and children. Due to the constant inflow of wounded, which intensified when the Germans commenced their savage bombing campaign and used mines against the defenseless population of the Old Town, I was forced to organize more temporary hospitals/first-aid posts along the entire length of Podwale Street, from the corner of Kilińskiego Street to Freta Street, in abandoned private flats, mainly on the ground floors or in the cellars. Following the partial bombing and burning down of the second and third story of the facility at Długa Street 7, I transferred some 200 wounded to St. Hyacinth’s Church and its catacombs. Although the church was soon bombed, the wounded managed to survive in the ruins.
Around 15 August the hospital at Długa Street 15 was bombed and burned down within a dozen or so minutes, with some 150 wounded and 60 members of staff perishing under the rubble. A great many doctors and nurses died. I think that only a few people escaped death.
At the beginning of the Uprising, the wounded were mainly insurgents who had been engaged in the fighting, but with every passing day the number of wounded civilians continued to grow, so that by around 30 August they accounted for more than 70 percent of all patients. Towards the end of the fight for the Old Town, due to the closing in of the front line and the destruction of buildings by the air force and artillery, only a few ruins were left, and these housed the wounded; some lightly wounded could be found in every extant cellar.
Many wounds, caused by artillery shell fragments, were very severe and were frequently accompanied by complicated fractures and terrible burns brought about by aerial bombs, mines and the falling rubble. The mortality rate was overall high.
At the time, the number of personnel was sufficient, however after 10 August we needed more surgeons and qualified nurses. In the second half of August, the medical and nursing staff suffered enormous casualties, with a great many being killed and injured. During the final stage of the fighting in the Old Town, there were approximately 20 physicians and a dozen or so qualified female nurses for approximately 6,000 wounded. I was forced to engage girl scouts and, indeed, anyone who was willing to work in the hospitals.
The physicians worked around-the-clock, literally; this was particularly true of the surgeons, who did not leave their operating theatres. Very often, the personnel had no time to sleep or eat a simple meal. Until the depots at Bielańska, Długa, and Miodowa streets burned down, we had medical instruments and drugs in abundance. However, the mass of the wounded exhausted our supplies. After 20 August we demanded fresh supplies from Śródmieście, and some were delivered through the sewers by the heroic female liaison officers.
Towards the end of August the situation in the Old Town became hopeless: a lack of food, water, and drugs, coupled with enormous losses amongst the insurgents, forced the commander of the Old Town defense forces, colonel “Wachnowski”, to carry out a probing attack, the ultimate objective of which was to break through to Śródmieście during the night from 29 to 30 August – which, however, was unsuccessful.
Already on 25 August the gradual evacuation of the lightly wounded and some of the civilian population from the Old Town to Śródmieście got under way, intensifying with each passing day. The evacuation of fighting units began on 28 August, and they took with them the less severely wounded, although some gravely wounded soldiers were also taken.
Acting upon an order given by colonel “Wachnowski” on 1 September, the severely wounded who could not be transported were gathered in the basement areas of Freta Street 10, Długa Street 7, in “Krzywa Latarnia”, and at Miodowa Street 23 – approximately 400 wounded under the care of a few doctors and female nurses. They were left with supplies of food and drugs. A few physicians together with the last fighting units passed through the sewers to Śródmieście during the night from 1 to 2 September at around 3.30 a.m., this in accordance with the order and demands of colonel “Wachnowski”.
According to information in Śródmieście, we learned that in the afternoon of 2 September the Old Town was captured by Vlasovtsy and German soldiers, who committed atrocious crimes – they murdered the wounded and then burned their bodies. A number of doctors and female nurses were also shot. I would hereby like to provide the surnames of the people who were with me; many of them are completely unknown to me.
1. Colonel Dr. Stroński – Lower Silesia, Polish Red Cross;
2. Colonel Dr. Krupiński – lst district hospital, Warsaw;
3. Prof. Falkowski – Łódź, University;
4. Dr Krause ?
5. Major Dr. Cyryl Gubarewski – Warsaw, Central Medical Polyclinic of the Ministry of National Defense;
6. Dr. Gilewicz – Warsaw, State Institute of Physical Education;
7. Dr. Szumigaj ?
8. Nurse Teodozja Kamińska – Toruń; she witnessed the murders of the wounded; 9. Blacha, MA – Warsaw.