Warsaw, 11 March 1947. A Member of the Warsaw District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, Halina Wereńko, heard 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||Paweł Branny|
|Names of parents||Jan and Ewa|
|Date of birth||13 May 1888|
|Education||qualified roads and bridges engineer|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, Gimnastyczna Street 3|
|State affiliation and nationality||Polish|
|Occupation||Chief of the Inspection Department|
As a resident of Mokotów Fort, situated at the junction of Racławicka and Wołoska streets, I came into contact with General Doerfler, then commander of the airport in Okęcie (Lufthafenkommando Warschau), because twice or thrice he organized there an anti-aircraft defense show for the civilian residents of the fort. These shows took place in May and June 1944. The method of putting out incendiary phosphorus shells was especially attention- grabbing. During the Warsaw Uprising I came to the fort premises as late as on the evening of 6 August, and Doerfler allowed me to see my family, who were still staying in the flat, ordering an armed soldier to escort me to my flat.
On 7 August 1944 my family and I, just as was the case with other residents, were told to go to the fort dungeons. 48 hours later, yielding to requests from the women and children and fearing that an epidemic might break out, Doerfler allowed the women and children to return to the flats, and the men – about a hundred – were placed in a special barracks, which had been built within the fort moats before the outbreak of the Uprising. Some 20 men from that group, everyone up to 55 years of age, were going in a truck to Rakowiec, under the supervision of lawyer Dobrowolski, to load military equipment onto train cars. Others were digging up potatoes and other vegetables for the soldiers and civilians. Doerfler behaved correctly towards me and other civilians, in stark contrast to a Volksdeutsch woman by the name of Grabarz, to whom he barely paid heed.
When I got back to the fort, I learned from the soldiers that the residents of the house on Balonowa Street, at the corner with Racławicka Street, where the shop of Maria Konarska was situated, had been murdered in retaliation for an insurgent action carried out from that house.
From what I heard, when on 1 August the civilians had been thrown out of their flats and marched to the fort dungeons, it was not conducted in a brutal fashion, but there might have been instances of brutal behavior from individual soldiers in cases of resistance or panic on the part of the residents of particular houses.
I had not heard, and it was never mentioned in the fort dungeons, that Doerfler, as a fort commander, had set up a court-martial on the premises, and that the men who had been caught by chance and brought to the fort were interrogated by it.
On 14 August 1944, Doerfler left with a few officers for Kutno (or so he said). Lieutenant Colonel Schutzle took over his duties, but he was more harsh towards the Poles: on 20 August he gave the order – allegedly following an order received from a higher authority – that all civilians be evacuated to the Pruszków transit camp. Only a few people remained, these being Raniecki, male servants who were operating the cleaning pump, the so-called cesspool, and the women who worked in the officers’ kitchen.
At this point the report was concluded and read out.