The sixth day of the trial
Presiding judge: – I am resuming the court proceedings. The Tribunal has decided, in accordance with the parties’ request, to consider as read out the testimony of witness Janikowski, interviewed during the investigation, volume IV. The parties may refer to that testimony. Please bring witness Krupka in.
When asked about his personal details, witness Stanisław Krupka replied: 46 years old, residing in Wawer, elementary school teacher, no relationship to the parties.
Presiding judge: – Will the witness please testify regarding the murders committed by the occupation authorities in Wawer? As the head of the commune, the witness was present then, on 26 December. Could you please briefly describe the events?
Witness: – On the night of 26 December, I was woken up by a knocking at the window and pounding at the door. When I opened the door, two Germans in uniforms and Wehrmacht soldier Noczyński, accompanied by Rozwadowski, a Polish policeman, came in and ordered me to get dressed immediately. In the meantime, Noczyński discreetly told me to say goodbye to my family. He was a Dolmetscher – interpreter, a liaison officer between the headquarters in Anin and the Wawer commune.
Presiding judge: – Did the witness have a special relationship with him?
Witness: – He was a liaison officer between the commune and the military headquarters.
When I got dressed and left the apartment, I saw Germans standing on the stairs accompanied by a young man who turned to me, “Sir, save me!” I shrugged and said I didn’t know what this was about. On the way from home to the headquarters, Noczyński discreetly informed me that two Feldfwebels from the local Wehrmacht garrison in Anin had been shot dead. The first and third company of the sixth Battalion of the Berlin Police had arrived, and it was going to be very bad. Two companies together with the local Wehrmacht unit were carrying out a raid. When we arrived at II Poprzeczna Street in Anin, where the military headquarters was located, there were men, in groups of three or four, I don’t remember exactly, standing in rows on the street opposite the building, with their hands up. They had been detained. The men were wearing jackets, some of them were moaning and others, as we could see, were covered in blood. They stayed there for a while and then everyone was taken to the headquarters’ fenced yard. They stopped in the yard and people were taken inside one by one. A moment later, they leaped out, performing a salto mortale in the air, beaten, usually with a wild scream if the word Jude was also shouted.
Presiding judge: – Were there Jews among them?
Witness: – Yes. A moment later, I slowly moved towards the inside of the building, accompanied by Dolmetscher Noczyński, closely watching the situation. I realized what was going on. Since I come from the area near the border, from Ostrołęka, I know the Prussian mentality and I thought it was all clear, that I, as the head of the commune, was obliged to defend the people as much as I could in such conditions, and to provoke the Germans to kill me on the spot because I had no illusions about how this would end.
When climbing the stairs by the entrance to the building, everyone was asked in the doorway, Pole oder Deutsch? When someone answered Pole, the massacre began immediately. Dawid Gering went in before me; there were three or four people between us. The Germans asked him that question several times, probably because of his surname, and when he said Pole, it ended tragically for him. I was taken inside. The door to the headquarters was open; there were two rows of lower-ranking officers. We were supposed to walk between the two rows. At the entrance door, the officers would stick their legs out to trip up men who were climbing the stairs. They would fall on their face before the so-called court, and then consequently fall onto their knees. They would stay in this position with their hands raised up, and they had to crawl to the Germans or give them their identity cards, say their names, and go back between the rows to the vestibule. Then, they were grabbed by the collar and thrown out. All the officers standing in the rows had something to beat us with. Noczyński took me inside and announced who I was. There were a few of them, I don’t remember how many, and the rest were standing higher and had even more cruel faces. One of them, who was standing and wearing a greenish uniform, asked me if I knew what had happened. I said I did not know anything, that I had been pulled out of bed and dragged here. Standing at attention, Noczyński confirmed this. I said that those people had also been pulled out of their beds and knew nothing. Then, the man who was asking questions said, “two Wehrmacht Feldwebels have been killed and you, all Poles, are guilty and will pay for it.” I told him, “You should remember that in 1918, your country was also disorganized, just like our country is now, and that prisons have been disbanded, that the Świętokrzyskie prison has been dissolved. A common criminal incident might have taken place in a commune such as Wawer. Besides, I can show you a copy of a report we sent to the Kreishauptmann [head of the district], asking him to set up a police station.” He told me it was already too late. I said, “Well, now you see us as a belligerent party, but in 1914 we were not belligerent, and some Polish statesmen wanted to base their policy on the so-called Central Powers. In the meantime, innocent people were executed in Kalisz and it changed the whole situation because Allied propaganda took advantage of it.” Then his face twitched in anger and he looked as if wanted to hit me. One of the officers standing in the rows saw this and hit me on the neck. I leaned towards Dolmetscher Noczyński. He asked me about my profession. I told him I was a teacher. Then he asked what else I would like to tell him. I stated that in 1917, when the Americans hesitated over whether they should participate in the war or remain neutral, propaganda took advantage of the sinking of Lusitania with innocent people on board to advocate in favor of joining the war. He said something like Pfarrer or Philosophie, and it looked like I was going to be shot dead on the spot, and that was the point. Then he raised his voice and roared at me, “Shut up, you dog!” Or something like that. I told him, also with a raised voice, that the detained people were innocent, and that the problem could be clarified. Then, one of those who was standing ran up and kicked me. I remembered not to fall over, because it was the greatest tragedy to fall down, if you did, your fate was sealed. You were abused so much that you lost teeth and eyes. I was taken out by Noczyński between the rows of officers and, compared to what happened to others, it went relatively smoothly. I was taken down the stairs and joined the crowd waiting on the left. When leaving me, Noczyński said, “Take care.” I stayed with the crowd and the investigation continued, with people being thrown out in the way that I have already described. I don’t know how much time had passed – because I was so nervous that
Two officials, Kosiarz and Chodzicki, went with me. The Arbeitsamt [employment office] was nearby and I met a few people on the way. I took them with me, but others had escaped from Wawer. We went to the place of execution with shovels. The men had been shot in three or four connected squares. When I started looking for a place to dig a pit, I became interested in what was going on. I went to the neighboring square, where I saw the daughter of a neighbor of mine, Dessau, pulling her father’s body on a sledge. She asked, “May I, sir?” I waved my hand and said, “hurry up.” I went to look for the young man to whom I had spoken in the yard, and I saw another man lying on him with his head smashed. When I took him off, the young man moved up and opened his mouth and eyes. I felt sick. After a moment, I realized that the Germans had to leave, because someone might still be alive. I came back to the place where the Germans had stayed and I showed them that the ground was frozen, and said that they had to bring people with mattocks and axes to break through. It was an old Landwehr unit from Hamburg; most of them spoke Polish because they had been to Westphalia. They marched off to Zastów.
I told the survivors not to say they were from Wawer, but from Czerniaków and Wola, and that they had been shot after the curfew. The men who survived the execution were: Józef Wasilewski, Józef Gabryczewski, Stanisław Olejnicki, and a fourth one. Wasilewski and Gawryszewski are still alive and can tell the Tribunal about the execution.
Please allow me to fulfill the last wish of Mr. Nosek, Ratajski’s first delegate, who wanted me to publicly express gratitude to the personnel of the Hospital of Transfiguration of Jesus and the Infant Jesus, in particular to Dr. Zbigniew Skotnicki, Fabisiewicz, and Koszela, who examined those who had been shot without reporting them, thus putting their lives in danger as they were obliged to report every gunshot wound. Dr. Skotnicki is alive and he could describe the events to the Tribunal.
The Germans returned after the seriously wounded had been removed from the place of the execution, and brought people to help them dig pits. The families had already gathered and helped us put everyone into the grave.
When I went to the commune office, I listed the names of the executed men and wrote a short message, which I wanted to deliver to Tomasz Arciszewski, who was in Helenów, Anin. A German vehicle arrived and I was instructed to immediately go to the headquarters. I was terribly scared, especially about the message. I already knew that the families and all the workers would die.
When I arrived at the headquarters, a tall German in uniform, who was addressed as major, reproached me for burying Bartosik, the owner of the café – his body was supposed to hang for three days. I told him I did not receive any instructions regarding his body, so we buried everyone, just as I was told to do. Finally, they decided that the head of the Polish police station, Kołodziej, would dig out Bartosik and hang him back up.
They also demanded a list of the executed men, so I told them they would get it the next day. I was told that we would receive posters giving information about the curfew, that a police company would arrive, and we were to prepare rooms for them in the school building.
I came back and made the list. On that or the following evening, the government in London released the list of the executed men, but they made a mistake, including in it the names of those who had survived.
A week later, Schmidt and Wenzel returned. They arrived at night, took me to the Polish police station, and told me that they knew that the London radio had revealed that some people had been saved. They told me they wanted to know where those men were and that I had to tell them. I told them I was at the place of the execution, but I did not know anything, and I had no idea where they could be. They said I had ten minutes or I would be shot dead immediately, and they handcuffed me. Before ten minutes passed, I said, “I wasn’t alone, there were fifteen other soldiers. If they didn’t see anything, how could I see something?” They discussed it and decided to call the commandant. When he arrived and was told what was going on, he gave an order to bring those soldiers in. After ten or fifteen minutes, Wiśniewski and the soldiers arrived. Standing at attention, they all confirmed that they did not leave the place and did not see any survivors. Then, the Führer-Bataillon asked, “What do you want from him? If the soldiers were there and didn’t see anything, he’s also not guilty.” They wanted to take me away, but he told them I had to stay because the bridge on the Świder river was going to be built the next day and the carts were already there. So they left me there and went away.
There was also an American intervention because Szczygieł was an American citizen, which was revealed later on when a civilian and two military men arrived.
The posters were confiscated the next day because it turned out that we were not allowed to display them, but only announce it orally.
Presiding judge: – More or less, how many people were there in the room where the trial was held?
Witness: – About fifteen people.
Presiding judge: – All of them in uniform?
Witness: – Yes.
Presiding judge: – Would the witness be able to recognize any of those people today?
Witness: – I only saw a mass of humans with savage faces.
Presiding judge: – May the defendants please take off their headphones? Does the witness recognize among the defendants anyone who was present there at the time?
Witness: – No.
Presiding judge: – And what about the fourth man, wasn’t he there?
Witness: – They were all wearing greenish uniforms and hats, so it’s difficult for me to tell.
Presiding judge: – How many names were there on the list?
Witness: – A hundred and eight names. Since several men were saved, we did not include them. Later on, when they arrived, they asked where the survivors were, and I told them, “If you have your own list, compare it to this one and you’ll see who’s missing.”
Presiding judge: – Does this list still exist?
Witness: – No, it burned during the uprising.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – The witness has said that someone was addressed as a “major.” Who was addressed in this way and what, do you think, the people who called him wanted?
Witness: – They wanted to stop the execution. They were calling: “Major, stop the execution, we’ll find the perpetrators. We’ve been pulled out of our homes; we know nothing about it. We’ll help you find those criminals.” And so on; roughly like that.
Prosecutor Siewierski: – Who did they call to?
Witness: – I heard the word “major.”
Prosecutor Siewierski: – What was the answer?
Witness: – There was none.
Judge Grudziński: – Were all the groups taken out by the same military man?
Witness: – At first by the same one, but when he developed nervous tics, another one replaced him.
Judge Grudziński: – How much does the witness know about German military ranks?
Witness: – A bit.
Judge Grudziński: – Was the witness able to tell the rank of the man who took the witness in?
Witness: – Noczyński? Yes.
Judge Grudziński: – Did the beating take place in the room where the trial was held?
Witness: – People would fall on the ground in front of the court. They had to keep their hands up and walk between two rows of soldiers who beat them.
Judge Grudziński: – Did it happen in the room in the presence of officers?
Witness: – They themselves participated in the beating.
Judge Grudziński: – When you were being taken out, were there any others ahead of you?
Witness: – Yes, there were others ahead of me.
Judge Grudziński: – How many?
Witness: – I was too nervous to remember.
Judge Grudziński: – Was the verdict announced in the yard?
Witness: – The verdict was announced at three or four o’clock and it said, “All the men gathered here are sentenced.”
Judge Grudziński: – Did you see the officer?
Witness: – I saw an officer in uniform, but I did not see his face.
Judge Grudziński: – Was he the one who had asked you questions in the room?
Witness: – I couldn’t tell.
Attorney Węgliński: – Perhaps you remember the moment when you entered the room and talked to that officer. Can you recall any details?
Witness: – Everyone was standing, I don’t remember any details.
Attorney Węgliński: – Don’t you recall any characteristic details that would distinguish that officer from the rest?
Witness: – He was tall and had the posture of a Prussian officer.
Attorney Węgliński: – Did he have glasses?
Witness: – I think he had a monocle.
Attorney Węgliński: – So you remember that he had a monocle. And what about the other one?
Witness: – He was lower than the other man.
Attorney Węgliński: – How much lower?
Witness: – A lot.
Attorney Węgliński: – Did you talk to the first or the second officer?
Witness: – To both of them.
Attorney Węgliński: – You have mentioned only the first one while testifying.
Witness: – I talked mainly to the first one, but when he got angry, I talked to the other.
Attorney Węgliński: – Did you see if any of them was holding a ruler?
Witness: – No.
Attorney Węgliński: – Was anyone writing the conversations down?
Witness: – Yes.
Attorney Węgliński: – Did anyone sit next to that man?
Witness: – I don’t remember.
Attorney Węgliński: – Was the whole court present there?
Witness: – If you could call it a court.
Attorney Węgliński: – How many men were there?
Witness: – Five.
Attorney Węgliński: – Including the one with a monocle?
Witness: – Yes.
Attorney Węgliński: – When he said you were pardoned, do you recall what exactly he said about the pardon? Who took that decision?
Witness: – He said, “You are very lucky, you have been pardoned.”
Attorney Węgliński: – Have been pardoned by whom?
Witness: – By the court.
Attorney Węgliński: – And didn’t he say that you had been pardoned by the major?
Witness: – No.
Attorney Węgliński: – Do you remember it? Are you sure he didn’t?
Witness: – He said, “You will not be executed, you are really lucky, you only have to bury the others.”
Attorney Wagner: – Were you summoned to the headquarters?
Witness: – Yes, I was.
Attorney Wagner: – Where was it?
Witness: – The headquarters was at II Poprzeczna Street in Anin.
Attorney Wagner: – What unit was it?
Witness: – Bau-Batallion.
President: – No more questions? The witness is excused.