Inspection report

Warsaw, 28 May 1948. Member of the District Commission for the Investigation of German

Crimes, Judge Halina Wereńsko, in the presence of the [Commission] clerk Andrzej Janowski

and of the [following] persons summoned: Wacława Szlacheta, Edward Kucharski, Apolonia

Żabicka, Zofia Bekier, Wacława Gałka and Aleksandra Matysiak, has completed an inspection

and a description of the area adjacent to Sowińskiego Park from the side of Wolska Street

and Elekcyjna Street, where – as implied by the results of the previous investigation into

Sowińskiego Park, [Commission file no.] OKMW III/I L. 4 (Wola 5) – on 5 August 1944,

the German gendarmerie and SS units committed mass murders of civilians (men, women,

and children) brought from the houses at Wolska Street 129 and 132, Elekcyjna Street 4,

6, and 8, a group from Ordona Street and further otherwise unidentified groups, together

estimated by the witnesses to number more than 1,500 persons.

By order of the judge, clerk Janowski completed a site drawing of the aforementioned area. The sketch is attached to the present report. The judge has concluded that the chain- link fence separating Sowińskiego Park from Wolska Street has been repaired with wire in many places over the space of 50 metres between the park gate and Elekcyjna Street. The breaks are at various heights, from 160 cm to 25 cm above ground. The fence between the first and the second post, between the second and the third post and between the twelfth and the thirteenth post, counting from Elekcyjna Street, is made of different wire than the other sections: newer, less rusted, without repaired spots. Edward Kucharski, present at the inspection, relates that on 5 August 1944 he saw the wire cut in those locations. No traces of bullets have been found on the young shrubs growing in the park, near the fence.

Wacława Szlacheta, consistent with her testimony given on 28 May 1948, has said that on 5 August 1944, before 10 a.m., she had been brought as part of a group of over 500 inhabitants of the house at Wolska Street 129 to the Sowińskiego Park fence by the German gendarmerie. On her way there, she saw three machine guns set on pods on the opposite pavement of Wolska Street. One stood at the corner of Wolska Street and Ordona Street, another at Wolska Street near Hankiewicz’s house, five metres away from the first, next to a tree, the third further towards Prądzyńskiego Street, she could not say where exactly. When the Germans started to fire the aforementioned machine guns at the group, she fell down, but was not wounded. She points to a place near the park gate where she fell. While lying down, she did not see the new groups of people being brought to be shot. The judge has noted that from the spot where Wacława Szlacheta was lying face-down it would have been impossible to see the murders committed near the fence closer to Elekcyjna Street.

Edward Kucharski, Apolonia Żabicka, Wacława Gałka and Zofia Bekier speak consistently with their testimonies, given by Edward Kucharski on 6 March 1946, by Apolonia Żabicka on 21 February 1946, by Wacława Gałka on 25 March 1946 and by Zofia Bekier on 9 March 1946. On 5 August, at about 10 a.m., walking in a group of about 400 residents of the house at Elekcyjna Street 1/3 (Wolska 132), they were led by the gendarmerie, SS-men and “Ukrainians” through a gate from the side of Elekcyjna Street, marked as “F” on the sketch. The group was led to Wolska Street and everyone – men, women, and children – was crowded near the fence of Sowińskiego Park between the corner of Elekcyjna Street and the trees past the stone cross. Everyone could see the corpses of civilians between the cross and the Sowińskiego Park gate. Edward Kucharski points to a place where he then saw machine guns set up on stands. One was on the corner of Ordona Street and Wolska Street in the location marked K M D on the sketch, another on the square at Elekcyjna Street 2, by the corner of the building at Wolska Street 130, at the location marked K M “B” on the sketch. These machine guns were used to murder the group brought from the municipal house. The witnesses point to places where they fell down without being wounded (except for Zofia Bekier, who was shot in the hip).

Matysiak, consistently with her testimony given on 17 January 1946, testified that on 5 August 1944, around 10 a.m., when the municipal house at Elekcyjna Street 1/3 (Wolska Street 132) was on fire, she was brought by the SS-men and “Ukrainians” as part of a group of some 80 residents of the house at Elekcyjna Street 8 to the pavement near the municipal house on the corner of Elekcyjna Street and Wolska Street. When she arrived, there were already corpses on the pavement by the side of the municipal house between the corner of the house by Wolska Street and further alongside the house (marked as X-Y on the sketch). She recognised some of them as residents of houses at Elekcyjna Street 4 and 6 with whom she had had a passing acquaintance. Those houses were roughly of the same size as the house at Elekcyjna Street 8, hence there could have been about 150 residents.

The judge has noted that there were bullet holes in the wall of the house at Elekcyjna Street 1/3. Edward Kucharski has stated that on the same day, the men from the group employed at burning the bodies carried him to Sowińskiego Park while working at piling up the bodies, and placed him in the square marked as S I on the sketch. Trying to avoid letting the Germans see that he was alive, he joined the group and together with it he carried corpses from the murder sites near the park (from Wolska Street between the park gate and the corner of Wolska Street and from Elekcyjna Street where they were lying in front ofthe municipal house). When he started carrying the bodies, he saw that there were layers of corpses by the fence of the park, on Wolska Street, reaching to the road. There could have been more than 1,500 dead there.

All the witnesses present agree that after getting up, during the evening of 5 August 1944, they saw bodies by the fence of Sowińskiego Park on Wolska Street. The bodies were piled up on the square in Sowińskiego Park marked as S I and S II on the sketch. The corpses were burnt on two pyres in the squares. The judge has concluded that the ground is still darker at both aforementioned squares, and that during the exhumations between 31 July and 2 August 1946 (exhumation reports of 31 July, 1 August, 2 August) two graves were dug up in the squares with ashes and charred bones being recovered therefrom. Edward Kucharski provides information that a few more dead were thrown, as ordered by the German soldiers, into a park lavatory (marked as V on the sketch), and that around 30 were thrown into the basement of the burning municipal house. Those summoned pointed to an embankment deep in the park, marked as W on the sketch, from where Janina Słupczyńska (now deceased), according to the testimony she gave on 8 March 1946, watched the execution. The judge has noted that the murder site could not be clearly seen from the embankment (marked as W on the sketch), nor the events in the square, due to trees obscuring the field of vision.

Concerning the grave deeper in the park, marked on the sketch as 4, added to the exhumation report of 21 July 1946, the witnesses cannot present any exact information. Witness Kucharski states that he did not carry the bodies from Wolska Street and Elekcyjna Street there; he repeats the rumour that this was where the residents of nearby houses, caught by the Germans in the Orthodox cemetery during an escape attempt, were shot.

At this the report was concluded.

The site drawing has been attached.