Warsaw, 18 December 1947. Judge Halina Wereńko, a member of the District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes, interviewed the person named below as a witness, without taking an oath. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations, the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Janina Barbara Putkowska|
|Parents’ names||Jan and Zofia, née Gęsińska|
|Date of birth||15 September 1924 in Warsaw|
|Citizenship and nationality||Polish|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, Chałubińskiego Street 10, flat 13|
|Education||secondary (secondary school leaving exam)|
During the Warsaw Uprising I was assigned as a nurse to the sanitary team of Dr Petrynowska on the premises of the State Securities Printing House at Wójtowska Street in Warsaw. The insurrectionists captured the Printing House on 2 August 1944, and on that day we received the first wounded. The first-aid post, which subsequently turned into a hospital, was located in the basement area of the main building, from the side of Sanguszki Street, and in the president’s bunker. The Germans attacked the Printing House from the direction of the Citadel. Starting from 23 August, the Germans began to penetrate the premises of the Printing House, which they finally occupied during the night from 27 to 28 August.
Initially, we received only wounded insurrectionists. However, after the destruction of the John of God Hospital we also admitted civilians. Some of the wounded from our hospital were transferred to hospitals in the Old Town proper.
At first the wounded were registered, but later – during the final two weeks – registration was abandoned, and thus it is difficult to determine the total number of wounded.
Apart from the wounded, there was also a group of civilians in the basement area – mainly these were employees of the Printing House. During the night from 27 to 28 August, a German detachment forced its way into the Printing House from Sanguszki Street, so that the insurrectionists withdrew to the premises of the paper-mill at Wójtowska Street. On 28 August in the morning, together with Dr Petrynowska and the other nurses, I was preparing dressings in the president’s bunker, where the wounded and the civilian refugees had been gathered, some 40 people in total. Next, we passed into the basement beneath the paper-mill, where the remaining wounded and a few civilians were grouped – up to 30 people in all.
At 11:00 I heard an alarm and saw that the insurrectionists had gone out into the street, and afterwards I heard the sound of fighting. Three wounded insurrectionists arrived at our bunker, and I saw that others were withdrawing to the passage leading to the Old Town. I then heard German voices. A great many grenades were thrown through the square openings in the ceiling of the basement, setting the cellulose bales on fire. While we were trying to douse the fire, nurse Firlej was hit by grenade shrapnel and died. Dr Petrynowska went up to the entrance and started shouting: – Hier ist Lazarett, nicht schiessen! (This is a hospital, do not shoot!). Despite her loud cries, even more grenades were thrown in! During the intervals between detonations her voice would doubtless have been heard by those upstairs. A piece of shrapnel hit Dr Petrynowska in the stomach; I took her to a pallet, on which she later died. Dr Petrynowska’s place was taken by Maria Kowalska, who kept on repeating her message and waving a piece of white gauze. After a while, a German soldier appeared at the entrance (I didn’t recognise his unit) and ordered Kowalska to go upstairs, while a few soldiers walked down into the basement. They asked who was in the bunker. I replied that these were wounded civilians. The Germans passed amongst the wounded, and one of them removed Dr Petrynowska’s watch from her dying hand. They saw the rifles and uniforms left behind by the insurrectionists. Next, they ordered all those who could walk to go upstairs. When asked what would happen with the wounded who were left behind, they gave an ironic answer – ”we will transport them“. Apart from us – the three nurses – three insurrectionists (whom we had helped change into civilian clothes beforehand) also exited the basement. One of them was Zbigniew Ulrych, a former employee of the State Securities Printing House (I don’t know his address), and also there was a woman civilian.
I have no concrete information regarding the fate of the wounded who we left behind. I did not hear that anybody saw them again. We were taken to the Citadel, to Traugutt’s cross, and from there to the school near Traugutt’s park, which was used as a transit point for civilians; finally, we were taken to Pfeiffer’s factory, where the SD interrogated us about passages leading to the Old Town.
While at Pfeiffer’s factory, the three insurrectionists who had come with us from the State Securities Printing House were separated from our group. I have heard that no one knows of their fate. We were held at Pfeiffer’s factory until 5 September, and then sent to the camp in Pruszków.
While in the factory I observed that a few hours after our arrival, civilians from the Old Town began to be brought in. Among others, I saw a group of people from the State Securities Printing House, from the president’s bunker, however only civilians. These included, among others, Falska (currently residing in Łódź at Dowborczyków Street 18, the building of the State Securities Printing House), and Rybak, an employee of the State Securities Printing House, together with his wife (I don’t know their present address). Falska told me that the group of civilians had left the president’s bunker when the Germans had ordered them to, leaving the wounded behind.
At this point the report was brought to a close and read out.