Warsaw, 12 July 1949. Mgr. Norbert Szuman, member of the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes, interviewed the person named below as an unsworn witness. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations, the witness testified as follows:

Name and surname Józef Łąkowski
Date and place of birth 22 January 1892, Brzeziny, Łódź province
Names of parents Walenty and Julia née Kowanek
Father’s occupation blacksmith
State and national affiliation Polish
Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
Education two grades of elementary school
Occupation bricklayer
Place of residence Warsaw, Powązkowska Street 70
Criminal record none

The outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising found me at home at Powązkowska Street 37. On the second day, the German army brought several men in from Spokojna, Piaskowa and Burakowska streets to remove a tank off the street that the insurgents had burned. When this could not be managed, they collected a number of men from the nearby houses, including ours, to help. Once we had removed the tank, the soldiers set us up in fours and led us to Fort Bema. In all, there could have been as many as 300 of us. We were halted in one of the lanes inside the fort and surrounded by military men, who made us stand in spite of the pouring rain, not allowing us to get any water from the puddles. We stood there from around noon until around 6 p.m. At that point the Germans counted 30 of us out, including myself, and led us into the fort, in the direction of Koło, where they made us dig a pit, 12 x 2 meters, 2 meters deep. We dug until nightfall. The soldiers guarding us kept telling us we were digging our own grave. We were then escorted back.

Returning, we came upon another group of men whom the Germans were escorting into the fort, from which – some 150 steps ahead of us – shots rang out. When we approached, we came upon the body of a man, a wagon-driver from Obozowa Street, and another man, who was wounded. The Germans told us to take them with us.

We joined the rest of our group, who were still standing in the same place. We were then locked up in cells in the old gunpowder magazine. We were kept there for 48 hours, unable to sit down, without food, forced to relieve ourselves on the spot. It was only on the third day that we were given some soup and some of those kept in the fort were interrogated in connection with the shots fired at the Germans. After this investigation, some of the men were set free, around 60. The rest, meanwhile, including myself, remained, and were set to work loading car parts onto trains, dismantling barracks and the like.

We were then sent on foot to a church in Wola, where we stayed for two days, dismantling barricades on [Ciepła?] Street on the day of the American airdrop. We were eventually deported to Pruszków.

Returning to the period of my work at Fort Bema, I’d like to add that some of the men from our group (I don’t remember the date) were once taken by the Germans to bury an unknown man, a civilian, who had been forced into the pit we had previously dug, and shot there. We watched this incident from around 200 meters away. I remember it was a Sunday.

Another time (I don’t remember the date), sometime later, men picked out from our group by the Germans (as above, I don’t remember their names; it may be that I hadn’t known them in the first place) were made to bury – in another part of the fort, in the so-called Long Fort – the bodies of ten civilians, including a woman and a child, which had barely been covered with sand and were still bleeding. Men were also taken from our group to bury the corpses – already decomposing – of men from the house at Powązkowska Street 41, who had been shot by the Powązki road on the other side of the marsh.

At that the report was concluded and read out.