23 April 1946 in Warsaw. Janusz Gumkowski (MA), a member of the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, interviewed the person named below as a witness. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations, the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Halina Wiśniewska|
|Parents’ names||Kazimierz and Stefania|
|Place of residence||Zawiercie, 7 Słowackiego Street|
|Occupation||secondary school teacher|
I was the administrative chief of all hospitals in the Old Town during the Warsaw Uprising, in the second half of August 1944. The following facilities were under my care: the hospital at Długa Street 7 – the former building of the Ministry of Justice – and the hospital at Podwale Street in the former building of the "Pod Krzywą Latarnią" restaurant.
During the night from 1 to 2 September the insurrectionary forces left the Old Town, taking with them the lightly wounded from all sanitary facilities, and thus also from the two abovementioned hospitals. According to my calculations, there were some 500 wounded at Długa Street 7, of whom only several dozen left for Śródmieście, while the "Pod Krzywą Latarnią" might have housed up to 200 wounded, and of these, too, only several dozen left for Śródmieście.
On 2 September at 09:00, SS soldiers commanded by an officer entered the hospital at Długa Street and ordered that all of the wounded from the other first-aid posts in the hospital be gathered in one location. When this instruction was fulfilled, another German officer appeared in the company of a few SS men. The soldiers referred to him as Hauptmann. Acting in a brutal manner, he demanded that I hand over the hospital to him. While the SS men were being shown around, they used their revolvers to kill three of the wounded lying in one of the halls. When we reached the first floor of the building, where some of the gravely wounded were also lying, in terrible conditions, for the building was partially bombed out and burnt, the German officer – now speaking in a calmer tone – expressed his surprise that the wounded were being kept in such conditions, and asked whether they would receive any food that day. Having looked through the hospital, the officer left, while his soldiers remained. After some time, another officer appeared and ordered that all of the lightly wounded be gathered in the courtyard. In total, some 50 of them proceeded to the courtyard. Since a meal had already been prepared, I asked the officer whether those gathered in the courtyard might return to the building to eat. The German consented. After dinner, the officer once again ordered all of the less severely wounded and the entire hospital staff to gather in the courtyard. A dozen or so from amongst the so-called lightly wounded who were unable to walk crawled out. Some 50 wounded and 30 members of the personnel gathered in the courtyard. The Germans then proceeded to check that none of the lightly wounded had been left behind in the rooms, declaring that if any such person were found, they would shoot all of the wounded and myself. It was light upstairs, so the Germans checked on their own, but they were afraid of going into the cellars and ordered me to accompany them carrying a candle. After the search was over, we returned to the courtyard.
At this time Vlasovtsy soldiers appeared at the hospital. The group of lightly wounded patients and hospital staff was ordered to walk out and proceed in the direction of Zamkowy Square. At the same time I saw that one of the SS men had begun finishing off the severely wounded who were lying on stretchers and on the ground, at the gate and on the ground floor. He approached them in turn and shot them with an automatic weapon. The Hauptmann who had visited the hospital in the morning returned and kicked up a row that everything was going too slowly. Then, I heard the sound of gunshots coming from the other rooms in which the wounded were lying.
If I remember correctly, during this time the Germans set fire to the hospital, pouring a flammable substance over the stairs and throwing bundles of grenades into the bunkers – in which there were also lightly wounded insurrectionists, women, and children. Father Jacek Roztworowski [sic] granted us all absolution. Once the group of less severely wounded and personnel had left the hospital, the Germans immediately started shooting those who had difficulty walking. Another female nurse, whose surname I don’t remember, and I managed to get to the hospital at Podwale Street, in the "Pod Krzywą Latarnią" building, where we found no staff and no walking wounded, but instead a great number of drunken SS men. We took one of the severely wounded on our backs in order to carry him to Zamkowy Square. In Podwale Street, every few steps along the way I saw the bodies of murdered Polish soldiers from the group of lightly wounded.
Near Kilińskiego Street we were stopped by an SS man. He demanded that we hand over the wounded man whom we were carrying. Since we resisted, he pushed my colleague away and immediately, from a distance of two paces, shot the wounded man, who was leaning with his entire weight on my arm. The shot was fatal. Thereafter, hurling abuse, he ordered us to proceed. In this way, stumbling upon the bodies of the murdered, I reached Zamkowy Square. Here I learned from the female nurses from my hospital that they had been harassed by the Germans, who beat them and tore off their Red Cross armbands.
From Zamkowy Square, together with a group of wounded, regular patients, and hospital personnel, I was taken to Pruszków. I would like to stress that some of us were loaded onto trucks and then filmed.
In January 1945, after Warsaw had been liberated, I went to Długa Street to the burned down building at number 7 where the hospital had been set up during the uprising. I found that blackened human remains were lying on the ground floor and the first floor, which had caved in. I also found burned bodies on the iron stairs leading to the first floor, and therefore surmised that, since on 2 September 1994 only the gravely wounded who were unable to walk unaided when the building was ablaze had remained in the hospital, they must have made one final effort to escape the flames. Despite their efforts, they were burned alive on the stairs. In the bunker, where the blaze had only partially destroyed the stairs, I saw the bodies of those who had been finished off still lying in their beds. If we take into consideration that at the time of our exit, the hospital at Długa Street 7 housed more than 400 people, of whom no more than 50 proceeded to Zamkowy Square, while 28 of the wounded managed to escape, I am of the opinion that more than 300 people died at this location. Furthermore, if we accept that the hospital at Podwale Street in the building of the former "Pod Krzywą Latarnią" restaurant had approximately 200 wounded, only a few of whom proceeded to Zamkowy Square, some 150 people must have died there. In total, therefore, the Germans shot dead some 500 seriously wounded insurrectionists, including a few wounded women and children, in these two hospitals.