On 8 November 1945 in Warsaw, the investigating judge Mikołaj Halfter heard as a witness the person specified below. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Bolesław Lessman|
|Date of birth||17 February 1904|
|Parents’ names||Józef and Natalia|
|Place of residence||Nowy Wawer, aleja Błękitna 60|
|Occupation||junior tax officer in the Excise Office|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
On 26 December 1939, between 8.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m., when I was already in bed, someone knocked on my door (I lived in the same house as I do now). When I opened the door, three German soldiers came in, checked my identity papers and told me to get dressed, although eventually they left me in my home; they asked, among other things, whether I was a Jew. When they had left, I went to bed again.
After some time, about an hour later, someone started to bang on the terrace door. As the terrace door was so blocked that it could not be opened, I came to the kitchen door and I saw [...] gendarmes in the doorway of the flat where the lights were turned on, and they told me to get dressed immediately, as I had already undressed. I had graduated from the Higher School of Commerce and I spoke a little German, so I told them that my identity papers had already been checked by some soldiers and I tried to show them my papers, that is, my Ausweiss [worker’s identity card] issued by [...][...] Warszawa Miasto 1, where I worked then as a treasurer in the Tax Office. These gendarmes, however, did not want to see my papers but rushed me to get dressed quickly.
Then – after a cursory search of my flat – they led me out of my house and took me to the Wawer station of the broad gauge railway, where they had me join a crowd of men. I didn’t know what it was about, so I asked a neighbouring person what had happened. Then one German soldier, whom I hadn’t noticed before, as it was dark, hit me and forbade me to talk.
We were standing by the building of the station for about an hour while new men were being brought. From there we were taken through a railway tunnel to II Poprzeczna Street in Anin, where they made us stand in threes. Then each group of three had to go to the headquarters in the house at no. 3, which was previously owned by Józef Kruczko. I waited very long for my turn, as I was almost in the last group.
When it was finally my turn and I had to walk through a line of gendarmes standing before the headquarters entrance, I received so many punches that upon approaching the door I had my head already smashed. The gendarmes who were standing in the doorway put their legs up and told me to leap over them. When I tried to do so, they pushed me so hard that rather than just entering, I burst into the interrogation room and fell on the floor.
When I got up I saw that there were many German soldiers in the room, and one of them was sitting at the table and taking down the personal details of the people entering. When I gave my details upon request, a major standing in the room (I don’t know his name) asked me in German whether I was German. I answered him that I was Polish, and I emphasised that I was a treasurer and that I had the keys to the cashier’s office. They didn’t ask me any questions and told me to leave, and the gendarme who was standing in the doorway hit me several times on the head. They were beating me out through the doors of the office in which the “interrogation” took place. In the yard I was placed on the right side of the exit. My neighbour, Bożyszczak, was standing next to me. We were standing there for a long time with our hands in back of us, and it was very cold. Bożyszczak was without his jacket (due to this he caught a cold and died a few months later).
After some time someone left the headquarters (I didn’t see him, as I was standing sideways to the door) and started saying something in German. I didn’t understand it. Then someone started speaking Polish. He said, “Do you know what you were brought here for? For killing two of our soldiers, this is what it’s for. You will all be executed.” After these words the Polish people gathered there began pleading and crying. This was to no avail, although people were saying that it was not a political murder, but that the soldiers were murdered by bandits who we (the arrestees) would find and bring to justice.
Without taking any notice of these words, they began to take men by tens from time to time and lead them away. I was in the last ten. Before I was taken, I had heard the sound of machine guns shooting from afar. When I was taken with the last group, we were led again through the railway tunnel, and as we were passing by Bartoszek’s café (at the corner of Rubinowa Street and Widoczna Street) I saw him – as the dawn began to break – hanging above the door of his café. The rope on which he was hanged was fastened to the gutter. His name [...] Barszczak and not Bart [...] but I think it was Bartoszek.
We were led into Rubinowa Street. When we reached its end, I saw a prison car on the square – the so-called shack [tarpaulin-covered truck] – and a searchlight, which was already turned off. I also saw a big, wolf-like dog.
At the square I saw many men lying: they must have already been executed. I could still hear death rattles and groaning. We were placed along a paling. After that, someone said in German that we were being given a reprieve, as the major wanted to give us a chance. They told us to gather all the executed before 12.00 noon, as otherwise they would execute all the men from Wawer and burn the village down. They told us to go through the meadows and left.
When they had left (I was lingering on purpose in order to see if my brothers-in-law were not among the executed) I saw one man getting up. I came to him and then I saw it was Piegat, a hairdresser from Wawer. I knew him. He asked me, “where is my home,” he must have been very agitated. I walked a few steps with him and showed him the direction of his house. He went, and I heard one of the executed groaning. I approached him, helped him up (the Germans had already left the site) and tried to walk him somewhere else, but after a few steps he fell and died.
I shouted “if anyone is alive, run, the Germans are not here.” I noticed that some three or four men got up and ran in the direction of Zastów village (I didn’t see them clearly and I don’t know their names; I don’t know who they were).
Then we dug a ditch, and with the help of workers brought from the Wawer commune, we buried the executed. It was done in the presence of the Wawer blue police and the village administrator, Rawicki. The Germans were not present.
During the burial I counted some 120 corpses. We were placing crosses on the graves, but if someone had no identity papers on him and was unknown, we would put one cross for several people. There were a few Jews among the executed (three or four).
Of my acquaintances these, among others, were executed at that time: engineer Szalewicz, 70 years old; barrister Jabłoński, about 30 years old (I don’t remember his first name); doctor Stryjewski; bookkeeper Suchodolski, 50 years old; Szczygieł and his son; Daniel Gering. I cannot recall more names at the moment.
The report was read out.
I would like to add that Stanisław Krupka, who was to be executed with me on 27 December 1939, was given a reprieve with me at about 6.00 a.m. (now he lives somewhere in the West, I don’t know his address). Apart from him, Bożyszczak, Stryjewski, and some other men whose names I don’t remember were also released.