On 20 April 1948 in Gdańsk Investigating Judge Antoni Zachariasiewicz, acting in the capacity of chairman of the District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes, interviewed the person named below as a witness, who having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations, testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Władysław Hochedlinger|
|Age||51 years old|
|Names of parents||Józef and Wanda|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Place of residence||Sopot, Mickiewicza Street 13, flat 1|
|Criminal record||I have a clean criminal record|
|Relationship to the parties||none|
When the Warsaw Uprising broke out, I was in my flat at Focha Street 8. It was only after thewar that I learned that the block of the following streets: Senatorska, Focha, Trębacka and Krakowskie Przedmieście was the insurgent “Old Town” redoubt (North Group). As regards the events that took place on this block between 1 and 10 August 1944, I would like to provide the following information:
Already on the first day of the Uprising I discovered that groups of insurgents were passing through the basements leading under the houses at Focha Street. The sound of gunshots came from various directions. Insurgent barricades had been set up at the corner of Senatorska and Focha streets. It was impossible to go outto Focha Street from the property where I lived, for it was under constant fire from the Germans, both from fixed positions and tanks moving up and down the street. On the third or fourth day my attention and that of my neighbors was drawn by the louder sound of shots, and it was then that we noticed small Polish flags flying from Brühla Palace,which as I remember during the occupation had been turned into the residence of some German dignitary, or maybe into an office. We also saw that the insurgents who were advancing in the direction of this building were being hit by Germans firing from Teatralny Square. We understood, therefore, that the insurgents had captured the Palace and the Germans were cutting off the route along which fresh forces could arrive.
As I remember, on the next day I left home together with an insurgent liaison officer (whose surname I do not remember), and proceeded to Orla Street, where I stayed for two days. We went there through Daniłowiczowska and Bielańska streets, and then along Senatorska and Rymarska streets, under fire, from where we were lucky to reach Elektoralna Street, and from there Orla Street.
Being unable to get through to my brother, Stanisław, who lived at the corner of Nowogrodzka and Bracka streets, I returned to my flat. This could have been on 7 or 8 August. When I returned to my house, I noticed that the men were in a state of panic. The men from my immediate neighborhood were trying to get out of the area, for they were afraid that it would soon be captured by the Germans: there was also a widespread conviction that the Germans would apply ruthless repressive measures against men. The escapees proceeded along Daniłowiczowska Street in the direction of the municipal cinema at Długa Street. In the evening I found myself among the fleeing men, but when I got to the cinema we were forced to turn back, because the German fire made it impossible to proceed any further. Next morning, the house at Focha Street 6 was set on fire by the Germans, and the residents spent nearly the whole day trying to save it from spreading flames. No rescue attempt could be made from the roof, for the Germans fired at our house from the direction of Teatralny Square whenever they saw anyone walking on it. That evening the residents of Focha Street 6 and 8 used the rear courtyard to escape to the house at Kozia Street 5. However, we men arranged turns at guarding our house, fearing that the fire would resume. My turn came on the night of 10 August at 2.00 a.m.. I spent my time, until 4.00 a.m., without anything special happening. I remained at my post voluntarily,talking with my replacements, whose surnames I cannot recall. Between 4.00 a.m. and 5.00 a.m., I noticed Germans in Wehrmacht uniforms entering the courtyard.
We used the rear passage to exit onto the courtyard of the house at Kozia Street 5. We informed our neighbors of the German advance, settled down in various flats and awaited developments. Less than an hour later, we noticed Germans in Wehrmacht uniforms in the courtyard of the house at Kozia Street 5: they were advancing from the direction of Focha Street 8 along the same route as we previously had. They started shouting towards the windows, “ Alle heraus.” After a brief consideration we decided that, all in all, we should walk out into the courtyard and expect an uncertain fate rather than risk discovery in the flats and being shot to death. Thus, we calmly walked into the courtyard, putting our hands up when ordered. As we did so, we had to drop the small bundles or packages that we were carrying. The soldiers standing in the courtyard – young men armed with automatic pistols – behaved in a manner which indicated that they were perfectly unperturbed, with no signs of being recently in battle. They numbered a dozen or so, while there were some three hundred of us Poles. The soldiers started calling for the men to arrange themselves in one line, and the women with children in another. Further, it was announced that the men would be taken to the headquarters for verification, and those with employment certificates would be released immediately. At the same time, a few soldiers started to march the women and children off through the rear passage to Focha Street 8. Without being aware of the terror of my situation, I turned to one of the soldiers and asked whether I could go and fetch my briefcase. He in turn asked me what I had in my briefcase, and when I replied that I had some bread, he nudged the soldier standing next to him and said the following: “Look, he wants some bread.” I then understood that the men were left in order to be executed. I was strengthened in my belief by the fact that the doctors were ordered to step forward, and indeed, when a small group came forward, one of them, after a long while, turned to the soldiers and requested that his son – also a doctor – be selected from our group, and then one of the soldiers replied: “It is too late now.”
Almost at the same time, two soldiers selected the first group of ten men (including me) and led us to one of the branches of the courtyard, where we were told, “Stand against the wall.” I understood that death was inevitable, but I managed to retain enough composure to remember to fall at the first shot, seeing that this was my sole chance of survival. And so I did, collapsing face to the ground.
Lying there, I heard shots and the groans of victims. Next, after a short while, the wounded people were finished off individually, as I could determine by the shots. At this time, a bullet passed my head and hit the wall, showering me with plaster. When the groans and shots around me had died down, I heard receding footsteps, and somewhat later similar shots coming from other branches of the same courtyard. I still heard individual shots, fired at intervals. After a dozen or so minutes, I heard groans and cries for help right next to me. I lifted myself and saw my neighbor – whose surname I cannot recall – sitting close to me. He was in despair that the neighboring wall and the flats located there were already on fire, and that he could not move. This persuaded me to get up and take in my surroundings. Following the instructions of the wounded man, I found a passage to Senatorska Street and proceeded to drag him out in that direction, and made it to the premises of the Ministry of Agriculture, the building which had been turned into a ruin in 1939. Beneath it there was a large shelter where I handed the man over to doctors whose surnames I do not know. Seeing that the Polish populace in the vicinity of the shelter was moving around too freely with their bundles and could thus attract attention of the Germans and bring them down on us, and because no-one heeded my warnings at all, I left the area in the direction of Kozia Street 5, for at the time I had no other option, and I was afraid of a massacre on the premises of the Ministry of Agriculture. There I walked around all of the branches of the courtyard, observing dead male bodies. Houses were aflame. After some time, I saw a group of men, maybe seven or eight, of whom two were wounded from the morning massacre, hiding in the bushes. Keeping in mind that the Germans could return to burn the bodies of the victims, we proceeded to the ruined house at Trębacka Street 4, where we used ladders to climb to the third floor and hid there. We remained there until 17 December 1944, when we left our hiding place on being informed by coal looters that the Germans were no longer shooting Poles who were walking the streets on the spot, but instead transporting them to camps.
From among the people who were hiding with me in the ruins of the house at Trębacka Street 4, there was Balias (whose forename I do not remember, but he should be living in Warsaw), a former resident of the house at Focha Street 6, and Janusz Wnykowski (resident in Gdynia, św. Piotra Street 12, flat 5), a former resident of the house at Focha Street 4, who are still alive. Both of them may possess the same information as me, but I do not think that they could provide any new details. However, they may know the forenames and surnames, and possibly the addresses of those who survived.
The report was read out.