Produced by the Polish Ministry of Information in London from reports collected in the last months
of 1939. Published by Hutchinson & Co. Ltd.
The eye-witness accounts recorded here were painstakingly selected by the Ministry to include only those deemed
trustworthy. The names of the witnesses have been documented but not published. Furthermore, those reports which might
identify the author have been omitted so as to protect his or her family in Poland from reprisals at the hands
of the Gestapo or other German authorities.
List of Localities Devoid of Military Objectives Subjected to the German Air Raid of 1st
September, 1939 (from a report of the Polish Ministry of the Interior, 3rd September, 1939).
ANIN-OTWOCK (a small town of 18,000 inhabitants , summer resort):
9:30am. A German plane bombed Anin, situated near Jozefoe and Otwock. Seven persons were killed at Jozefow.
OTWOCK (numerous pensions and sanitoria, town of 15,000 inhabitants):
Nine bombs dropped on Otwock. A number of private dwelling- houses destroyed. Among others, a bomb was dropped on the Villa
Szwajcer, where approximately 15 people were killed and wounded. The Villa Centos, housing backward children of the Jewish
community of Warsaw, was completely destroyed; 7 children perished under the ruins and 35 were wounded.
AUGUSTOW (a centre for excursions as the entire surrounding region abounds in lakes
of glacial origin, renowned for their beauty): 5:30 am More than 20 planes bombed this locality.
BIALOBRZEGI: A German plane bombs a gipsy encampment, composed of some 15 caravans, travelling towards Warsaw.
BIALOWIEZA (an agglomeration of 4,000 inhabitants in the heart of the greatest forest
in Europe): Two German planes bomb Bialowieza. The bombs hit the orthodox church and a number of houses.
Several persons wounded.
BRODNICA (town of 8,500 inhabitants on the Drweca): The bombing
of this place caused little damage; a bomber and 2 fighter planes were destroyed.
BRZEZNICA (on the Xarta, 16th century wooden church): 6:15am. A railway convoy was bombed by German planes.
BYDGOSZCZ: 1:25 pm. A squadron of 5 German planes bombed Bydgoszcz. A trainload of evacuees from Gdynia
derailed; several dead and wounded.
CELESTYNOW: Eleven bombs dropped; 7 dead and 2 wounded.
CHLOPICE: A German plane drops a bomb which causes a house to burn down.
CHWALEWO: German planes bombard this small village. Between the villages of Halewy Stare and Suchopole,
a german plane machine-guns the fields.
CIECHANOW (town of 14,000 on the Lydynia; dates back to the 11th century):9:45 am A German squadron composed of 9 planes flies over Ciechanow in a northerly direction and drops bombs on the
10:45 am. The town is again bombed by 2 planes flying from south to north. Several buildings, the sugar
refinery and dairy have been damaged.
7:30 am. A plane flies over Ciechanow at an altitude of 300 metres. 4:00 pm. Three blasts of machine-gun
fire are directed on the town. Result: 20 persons slightly wounded of which there were 7 women and 3 children; 30 persons
seriously wounded and admitted to hospital; 22 civilians killed, among them 1 child; 4 soldiers killed; 22 houses demolished
and burnt down.
CZESTOCHOWA (place of pilgrimage): 6:30 am. Thirty planes bomb Truskolasy.
DABROWKA: 7 am. A bomb causes a fire.
DZIEKON: 7 am. A bomb causes a fire.
GARWOLIN (Osieck): 3:30 pm. Numerous German planes drop a great number of bombs. A young shepherd is killed.
GDYNIA: 8:30 am. Thirty-six German planes (twin engined JU. 87) bomb the town.
The merchant vessel Gdynia, steaming towards Hel, is bombed and sinks. The German pilots machine-gun the
members of the Gdynia's crew, who are attempting to save themselves with lifebelts.
Six bombs were dropped on the Square des Kachoubes, on the buses transporting the wounded to hospital.
A German plane drops a small wireless transmitter, which is found immediately afterwards at the farm of
a farmer belonging to the German minority, who was an agent in the service of the enemy.
Near #14 Chrzanowska Street, a house is totally destroyed with 6 civilians killed.
Three bombs have been dropped near the hospital run by the nuns, in the centre of the town, killing 4 civilians
with an unkown number of wounded.
GRODNO (on the Niemen, devasted by the Bolshevik invasion of July 12, 1920): 7:30 am. Twenty-seven German planes bomb the town. Bombs fall in the centre. The church and
the hospital for contagious disease are partly destroyed; 19 people killed, 35 seriously wounded, 100 slightly wounded.
GRODZISK MAZOWIECKI: Seven bombs dropped by German planes on the town and eight bombs on the district. Two
houses damaged, 4 people killed, 10 severely wounded, several slightly wounded.
GRUDZIADZ: Railway junction. Eleven alarms. Definitely ascertained 5 civilians killed and 20 wounded.
JABLONNA-LEGJONOWO: German planes drop 3 bombs. One house collapses, 2 people wounded.
JABLONOWO (During WW1, the Germans destroyed the art-collections at Narzymski Palace
in 1914): Several persons wounded, a large number of horses killed.
JASLO: 10 am. In this region, 7 German planes have been brought down by Polish anti-aircraft batteries.
The town suffered a violent raid by 20 planes. One civilian killed and several wounded.
KATOWICE: 5:30 am. Nine german planes bomb the station and the airport. Isolated planes also bomb the thw
town as well as the district.
KIELCE: German aircraft bomb Bialogon and Maslow. No details available.
KOBRYN: 6:15 am. German planes drop approximately 20 bombs. One person killed, 15 wounded.
The inspectorate of schools as well as several private houses are damaged.
KRAKOW: 5:20 am. At the first alarm, about 40 planes fl over. Ten houses inhabited by officers' families
have been demolished.
6:15 am. In the city proper, a house situated at the corner of Ogrodowa Street and Warszawska has been demolished:
7 persons killed and 15 wounded. Until 5 pm German squadrons have flown over the city on 5 occasions.
KUTNO-LODZ: 7 am. The slow train Kutno - Lodz was bombed near Boza Wola; 2 bombs hit killing 12 persons.
Fourteen bombs were dropped. In the village of Raczka, 2 persons were killed and 2 wounded.
LIDA: 2pm. German squadrons, comprising 30 bombers and reconnaissance planes (two 7 JU. and 3 Heinkels)
have severely bombed the region of Lida.
One house caught fire. There were 20 dead and approximately 36 wounded of which several were women.
LUBLIN: The city was bombed by 10 planes and 4 warnings were sounded.
Several houses have been destroyed in the centre of the city. Total 43 dead of which 9 women and 5 children;
75 persons seriously and 30 slightly wounded.
LWOW: Towards midday there were 2 raids executed by 2 German squadrons at short intervals. Seven planes
were counted during the first raid anmd 9 during the second.
On the Pieracki Square three houses were hit: 10 killed and 15 wounded.
Krotka Street, several houses destroyrd or damaged: 10 dead, 20 wounded, 3 horses killed.
Tokarzewski Street, blocks of flats partly demolished.
Rue du Marechal Foch, one building destroyed, several killed and wounded.
Zimorowicz Street, a bomb did not burst.
Another bomb hit the dispensary, killing several people and wounding about 40.
LASK: The liitle town was machine-gunned by German planes; also a trainload of civilians on the outskirts
MOSTY: 7 am. The small town of Mosty was bombed by 3 German planes: 3 killed and 16 wounded.
NAGORKI: Small village in the distrivt of Lomza. One bomb was dropped.
NIEWIADOW: Fifteen bombs dropped. One dead and 2 wounded reported.
NOWY DWOR: 6 am. Twelve bombs. German planes aim without success at the bridge over the Narew. Bombs are
dropped on the suburb of Polko.
12:45 pm. Seven German planes again drop twelve bombs.
OKLUSZ: 1 pm. Twenty bombs dropped as soon as first alarm sounded. At the second alarm at 2pm, twelve bombs.
Several of these did not explode.
PIETRZYN: Received two bombs near Plonsk.
PLOCK: 6 am. The town was bombed 3 times. About eighty bombs were dropped. Thirty dead and about 100 wounded
PLONSK: The enemy have bombed Plonsk. Deaths are reported.
POZNAN: 7:20 am, 12:40 pm and 4 pm. The centre of the city has been bombed. A great number of dead and wounded
(more than a hundred) have been transported either to the mortuary or the municipal hospital.
PRUSZKOW: Industrial centre at 20 km. from Warsaw. Received 8 bombs which destroyed 3 blocks of flats: 3
killed, 12 wounded.
PUCK: 5:40 am. Attacked by 38 German bombers, the town received incendiary bombs. Many dead and wounded
are signified among the civilian population.
RADOM: Has been bombarded. Details lacking.
RADOMSKO: 6:20 am. An air raid. Nine bombs accounted for with 7 killed and 20 wounded.
STARONIN: Two bombs were dropped. One woman and one child die; one house destroyed.
SRODA (its castle had been destroyed by the Teutonic Knights in 1331):
The town was bombed. DFetails lacking.
SWIDER: 9:00 am. In this summer resort, a German bomber destroyed the Anti-Tubercular School Centre "Ostrowek,"
Fifteen children seriously wounded.
TURKA: A German plane flew over Turka (near Krosno) and dropped 4 bombs.
WARKA: 9:40 am. Three German planes have flown over. More than 50 bombs dropped. One bomb pierced the bridge
without destroying it. German airmen also machine-gunned the market square.
WARSZAWA: Three bombs dropped this morning on colony of the Workmen's Co-Operative (T.O.R.). Block # 76
completely destroyed, blocks 74 and 78 partly.
WARSZAWA-RADOSC: Eight bombs dropped.
WARSZAWA-WLOCHY: German bombers dropped 3 bombs. One house damaged.
WARSZAWA-WYGODA: Bombs have been dropped by a German plane. One dead, several wounded.
WIELUN: Has suffered from 2 repeated German air raids bearing incendiary and explosive bombs. German planes
machine-gunned machine-gunned the town from a low altitude. The hospital, the synagogue and several blocks of flats were destroyed.
WILANOW: There are a great number of wounded civilians in the surrounding fields.
WILNO: Air raid. Details lacking.
WITONIA: Machine-gunned by German planes.
WOLKA WEGLOWA: Eleven bombs have been dropped by the Germans. There are 7 dead and 2 wounded.
ZAMBROW: 5 am, 6 am and 9 am. Enemy aircraft have bombed not only the barracks but the town as well.
ZAWISTY-KOSCIOLY: 7 am. The village situated near Ostrow Mazowiecki has been bombed with 7 bombs and
the inhabitants have been machine-gunned by German aircraft.
ZEGRZE: The enemy has bombed this small locality. Losses among the civilian inhabitants.
Further Reports of Bombings and Massacres, on 1st September and the days following.
CAUTION: NOT FOR THE YOUNG OR THE SQUEAMISH!
Report # 46: Raids on Poznan
On September 1, 1939, two air-raids occurred over Poznan. Doubtless in order to mislead the Polish population
and the army, some of these German planes had Polish ensigns.
The most heavily bombed of all the quarters was Lazarz. Several times the planes dipped very low and
German airmen were seen to machine-gun the civilian population, thus adding numerous victims to those killed by the bombing.
Corpses were seen with their torn-off heads hanging out of the windows. There were several hundreds killed, among them women
and children. The majority of the wounded were transported to the municipal hospital.
Report # 374 By a French Officer on the Reserve: Pictures of "Total Warfare"
On the morning of 1st September, 1939, at Krakow, my wife awakened me at quarter to five; she was quite
pale. "Listen, an air-raid warning!" And shortly afterwards: "It sounds like bombs." At that moment a flight of planes which
seemed to be grazing the roof awakened me completely. The engines were powerful. There must have been five or six machines.
A moment later, we heard repeated detonations, so strong that the whole house was shaken. Our house and the street were in
a state of confusion, the exited population swarmed on to the streets.
I hurried to the French Consulate. On the way I learnt the extent of damage caused by the unexpected attack.
I was told that the air-port of Rakowice, the station, the barracks in the Warszawka Street and the convent of St. Stanislaus
Kostka not far from there, had been hit by bombs. I took that direction. Hardly had I entered the Warszawka when I noticed
that all the windowpanes were broken and that the strips of paper on them had been no use at all. At the corner of a street
at right angles, a house had collapsed; another, 5 or 6 stories high, had the roof literally blown away and all the windows
open to the sky: it seemed that only the 4 walls had remained standing. A policeman was guarding the approach. I learnt that
people had been wounded and killed, among them several women and children.
We remained in Krakow until the evening of the 3rd September. It would be idle to describe all the other
raids which I witnessed, the tragedy of which always the same. The Germans did not spare their bombs. I can still see before
me on the "Plantations" - the promenade of Krakow - the shell-holes measuring 4 metres in diameter and 2 metres in depth.
Another shell-hole at the crossing of the Pawia, Potocki and Basztowa streets was at least 6 metres wide and filled with water.
I want to mention before closing this chapter that the German air-raids on Krakow were like a thunderbolt
out of the blue for the population. Nobody expected them, even the most well-informed. The impression they made was formidable.
Friends from Katowice offered us seats in their car. We left for Warsaw, my wife, my daughter and I, without
being able to take anything with us: 2 small cases was all our luggage. We drove through Kielce, Radom, etc. We learnt on
our way that all the towns we traversed had been bombed on the same day; even small market-towns, like Proszowice, had not
been spared. We saw Polish military formations pass in good order on their way to the front; there was no trace of panic,
no obstruction of the road. In contrast, the exodus of the civilian population was pitiful. At Radom, for instance, towards
midnight and one in the morning, crowds of poorpeople passed, some going from east to west, others from west to east, all
of them loaded like mules and accompanied by all sorts of peasant vehicles loaded with furniture, bedding and miscellaneous
We remained two days in Warsaw, where the A.R.P., more active and stronger than in Krakow, was better able
to keep the Germans at bay. Their machines flew high in the sky, harassed by the anti-aircraft guns and chased by the Polish
fighters. The biggest air-raid that took place during my stay in the capital was that of 4th September.
We left Warsaw on the evening of the 5th; and it was by a real miracle. No trains according to the regular
time-table were leaving in the direction of Lublin or of Lwow. Despairing to get away, I had gone with my wife and daughter
to the station of East-Praga. No hope of seeing a train being assembled. We were returning towards the city when my coachman
"Sir, look over there, on the track to Lwow; a train is being assembled."
"Drive there quickly."
We approached. I could see in the distance, near an almost empty quay, first and second class carriages.
Our compartment filled up little by little, mostly with employees and their families. After many hours of
waiting, we started at last. Without a presentiment of our fate, we had just embarked on the famous train that the press was
to call the "phantom train", which was to be grazed by close to 70 bombs.
On the way I was questioned as to my status - my Polish was of so poor quality! When our companions learnt
that we were French, and that I was an officer who had been called up, they were more than charming to us, and offered us
food, drink, and blankets for the night.
I will not dwell on the details of that interminable journey by a zigzag route which did not bring us to
Lwow until the 9th September. I will only explain briefly what Czeremcha was like. Czeremcha is a small railway junction between
Bialystok and Wlodawa. When our train steamed in, we saw with horror what destruction by aircraft can be like. The torn up
rails were in strands. Here and there gutted carriages lay on their sides. The telephone and telegraph wires hung down along
their poles. The buildings of the station were on fire, as well as a German plane that had fallen on to them.
The train stopped. Almost immediately, it steamed backwards toward a garage track. The stationmaster in
person speeded up the manoeuvre.
We could not understand the reason of this haste. The train was now between the trees of a little wood.
It was about to roll on to the garage track. Suddenly the railway-men hurled themselves under the carriages...
Air-raid! Big bombs burst on every side, at least twenty of them. The compartments are filled with smoke
which is acrid and sickly at the same time. At the end of 5 minutes the 800 passengers on the train are cowering underneath
it. The German machines have disappeared. With a few Poles, I go to see their "work" ....
A humming in the sky. Nine machines approach, nine silvery flies sparkling in the misty blue. We come back
to the wood as fast as our legs can carry us, but we have not gone 10 steps between the trees when the bombs come crashing
down to our right, to our left, in front of us, behind us, while the machine-guns crackle. Two yards away from me, the bark
of a tree is torn off by the bullets. I lie flat on my back and look up at the sky. The group of the first 3 planes passes
on. I begin to breathe. It was too early. Three more planes, the following three, arrive overhead. My respiration seems cut
The bombs crash down again, One of them bursts a few yards away. My wife has been hit by a burst of stones
which have torn her hand. Earth falls back on us like rain. The 3 planes pass on. But the 3 last ones approach overhead. And
the fall begins again. People crowd close to each other like sheep. If a bomb were to fall on one of these groups, there would
be 50 victims at a time. Near me a woman is reciting De Profundis. A little farther off, a dog is howling without
The first 3 planes had not disappeared, as we thought. They had already become minute on the horizon, but
now they turned. They describe a large loop. They are coming back, growing larger, here they are. The bombs fall once more,
burst in the wood. It is a veritable carousel - 3 planes, 3 planes, 3 planes....
This hell comes to an end at last. The sky is clear. We go back to our train which had remained on the garage
track, hidden by some bushy trees. At last we can breathe freely. I ask the station-master whether there are any victims.
He answers drily:
"Sir, you are an officer, and a French officer at that. The parole is this: there are no victims.
All is well. There are only some persons who have not rejoined the train. You understand me?"
We arrived at Lwow on the afternoon of the 8th September. We remained 4 days in that town, trying to find
some means of transport which would allow us to reach the Rumaninan frontier.
All cars, including taxi-cabs, had already been requisitioned. The station was in ruins, the tracks destroyed.
The bombing never ceased. I began to despair, and I had already decided with my family to leave Lwow in a fiacre, and once
outside the town, to ask a peasant to convey us further. By this means of locomotion we would have certainly needed a week
to reach the frontier. We were saved by a Polish airman, Lieutenant X., who, learning by chance of our misfortune, and himself
entrusted with a mission not far from the frontier, offered to take us in hs car as far as Sniatyn.
The first hours of the journey presented nothing outstanding. We were already familiar with demolished villages,
destroyed bridges, the craters of bombs along the roads, the sight of German planes flying overhead. About 4 p.m. on 11th
September, we were approaching Stryj, a small town of 20,000 inhabitants, situated between Lwow and Stanislawow. Before we
had turned into the principle street, we saw a German plane which seemed to be coming back from a reconnaissance flight, and
which seemed to us to bode no good.
At the central street-crossing of the town, our improvised chauffeur stopped his car near a little corner-cafe
which consisted only of a ground-floor, and left again to fetch petrol. Earlier he had advised us, if the planes
came, to leave the cafe and to take refuge in one of the houses opposite, which were 3 to 4 stories high and appeared safer
to him. We entered the cafe and sat down to have a drink with our travelling companion, Dr... deputy for.... Near us, by the
open window, three non-commissioned officers sat talking about the war. Constant noise came in from the street, where cars
were following each other without a pause. Suddenly, without an air-raid warningm, we heard the characteristic sliding sound
of planes coming down towards the ground.
Air-raid again! The bombs crash almost without ceasing towards the station, situated at about 500 metres
from where we were. The little cafe is like a volcano. Everything is trembling, the doors bang, through the open windows we
can see clouds of smoke rising up from 10 different places. I risk a look at the sky - 3 silvery machines are flying at about
500 metres. Now they are passing. I turn around. My wife is sitting down, pale as a corpse, my daughter is crimson. I take
them both by the arms and lead them to a trench which I have noticed in the garden behind the cafe. They will be safer there
if the roof collapses.
My wife feels ill and asks for a glass of water. I go back inside the cafe. The women behind the counter are in a panic
and talk at the top of their voices. Suddenly, a humming in the sky. I look up - 3 planes are here, just above us. Detonations....
The bombs crash one after the other, sometimes 2 or 3 together.
A lath from the roof falls on to my head. A charivari as though hell were let loose.... And the sliding sound of the
bombs dropping continues. The bombs burst without pause. Will it ever stop? Silence at last. I go to the garden. The trench
is full of terrified people who are beginning to poke their heads out. I find my wife and daughter.
This time, the bombs fell in the middle of the town, one of them 20 metres from the trench. I fear that it had been aimed
and I beg my wife and daughter to leave the trench. We meet a peasant who is quite blackened and bleeding profusely. His horse
has been killed quite close to him, between the shafts. The man is washing, pouring water over himself. His wounds are only
superficial. I follow the 3 little silver flies against thesky; 3 little sparkling specks that become more and more indistinct.
But I can still hear a humming very distinctly... Renewed detonations! So loud this time that they take our breath
away. And again, bombs dropping all over the town.
After this last bombardment, we thought we had reached the end of our troubles. People were leaving the shelters,
the cellars, the holes... It was quite enough for one day! In the street, the inhabitants were milling around, hurrying hither
and thither, bringing first aid to the wounded. The dead.... there would be time for them later on. I went on to the street
several times to see whether our chauffeur was coming back. At last, I returned to the cafe and sat down next to my wife.
Suddenly, the sliding, popping sound again, as though the machines were coming down on to the very roof. Then a tremendous
thunder - I see the walls shaking, with my own eyes I see them shaking. All the window-panes splinter. I find myself hurled
against a large mirror which is just behind me and I go through it like into an empty box. Splinters of glass fall at my feet.
All round us houses are collapsing. I am slightly distracted from these horrors by the sight of my poor wife, pale and trembling
beside me, and by Dr... who, at each whistle, instinctively arches his back as though preparing himself to receive the bomb.
My daughter is still very red and opens her mouth wide. At one moment, we hear a rain of hard, heavy blows on the roof of
our cafe. We all look at each other anxiously, we are all thinking the same: is it a new method of destruction invented by
the Germans? It turns out to be a shower of bricks and cement which have been hurled high into the air and fall down after
about half a minute. At last, it ceases.
I glance into the street; the four-storied house has disappeared, all that is left of it is a heap of beams and
rubble. On the other street the same scene of desolation, everywhere ruins and shell-holes, the high-road is littered with
blocks of masonry, some of them 40 centimetres across. The proprietor of the cafe returns from the garden, his face covered
with blood, he is screaming - a bomb has fallen into the trench, it is filled with dead and dying. Doctors and ambulance-men
come rushing from all sides. Our doctor offers his services - alas, mostly misplaced eagerness, for most of the victims are
buried under the ruins.
In the meanwhile, our lieutenant-chauffeur returned. He assured us that when he saw the four-storied house had collapsed,
he made a sign of the cross, convinced that we were all three buried under the debris, and that by his fatal advice, he had
been the involuntary cause of our death. He urged us to get back into the car, and we drove away.
Until we reached the frontier, we were again eye-witnesses of numerous visions - but does it not evoke them all to relate
Testimony # 456: Execution of Polish Prisoners
On September, 8,1939, I was at a locality called Biskupice in the vicinity of Tarnow on the left bank of
the river Dunajec. We were the last Polish detachment to be on the spot at that time. The Germans were already close in front
of us. Under fire we managed to take refuge behind the embankment. Corporal "X" and I were witnesses of the following incident.
On the meadow behind the embankment we were suddenly faced by a superior number of German soldiers. I stood so near that I
could clearly distinguish their black uniforms. They must have been members of the S.S. formations or belonged to an armoured
detachment. Having heard the command in German "Hande hoch," the Polish soldiers threw down their arms and raised their hands.
The Germans approached and, despite the fact that they could clearly see that the Polish soldiers were unarmed and ready to
give themselves up into their hands, began all of a sudden to fire at them from automatic pistols killing them all. Two hours
later - the Germans had already left - I ventured out from my hiding place. The soldiers were frightfully mutilated, in most
cases ripped open from head to abdomen by the bullets fired at close range in quick succession.
Report # 19: A Martyr of Silesia
Doctor Olszak was one of the most respected citizens of Karwina, in Silesia near Teschen. He was a great
philanthropist and had for forty years been at the head of the Catholic and social movement.
On the 8th of September, 1939, he was taken away in a car during the night with his wife to Frysztat, capital
of the district. Both were tortured with indescribable cruelty, in the localities occupied by the Gestapo and the S.S. They
were beaten with rods of iron, and kicked while they lay on the ground. The battering of the heavy military boots fractured
Dr. Olszak's skull. The bodies of both man and wife were black with bruises. They were taken back unconscious to Karwina,
where they were abandoned at the door of their house. Then the executioners, who were four in numebr, feasted in the villa
of their victims. The doctor had suffered the fracture of several ribs, and an internal haemorrhage of the thorax, as well
as a cerebral haemorrhage, caused by the fracture of the skull. He died on September 11.
Although the dead man had been the president of the parochial committee, the Gestapo forbade the bells to
be rung, and the population was forbidden to take part in his obsequies. The crowd that had collected in spite of this order
was stationed along the road, in the ditches, to pay a last tribute to their benefactor, even though it might only be a silent
prayer: they were dispersed with blows.
Doctor Olszak's villa was pillaged, and all his possessions confiscated. As to Madame Olszak, she was arrested
although she was ill and wounded, and sent, so it appears, to the Sudeten. I do not know her fate. Doctor Olszak was sixty-five
and his wife sixty.
Report # 540: For the Pleasure of Killing
The following attack took place in the town of Latoszewice, near Miedzyrzec. The sun was shining, it was
11 am. We were near the presbytery, under some bushy trees. There was not a single soldier in the whole place. Two autobuses
were stationary in front of the church. The passengers were women and children, and, except for the driver of the bus, there
was not a single man near. At the moment when we were about to enter the presbytery, we were surprised by 3 German planes.
We had hardly the time to realize to realize our danger when the bombing began. The planes were at an altitude of 800 metres
at most. They dropped 4 pr 5 bombs. One of them fell on the autobus. Not one person escaped. The driver was torn to pieces,
like the vehicle.
Another bomb fell on the church. The remainder of the bombs were dropped onto the market-place, where there
were many people assembled. There were screams and frantic agitation. I saw wounded who were screaming and writhing in horrible
pain. I do not think I shall ever be able to forget that sight. M.M., H.K. and T.S. of Warsaw, were also witnesses.
The following fact furnishes the most convincing proof that the German airmen killed merely for the pleasure
of killing. This happened on the 12th of September at 8 kilometres from Miedzyrzec, at 2 or 3 pm. In the middle of a vast
open space a herd of cattle was grazing. There were seven cows watched by two little boys of six or seven years of age, and
a little girl of about five. This group was attacked by a plane. When I approached after the raid, the two little boys were
already dead; the little girl, horribly mutilated, was dying in the arms of my travelling companion, M.H.K.
The cows had all perished. One of them had received thirty bullets. We were so profoundly moved by what
we had seen that we decided to give the unfortunate children a burial. We could not find a living soul in the houses which
were about 700 metres away from the scene. Seized by panic, the inhabitants had fled, without thinking of the children abandoned
to their fate. We dug a common grave for the 3 victims, using the tools of the car, and we fashioned a cross from two
bits of wood tied together with a piece of string.
Reports # 616 and # 1021: Prisoners of War
On the 2nd or 3rd of September, 1939, between Rybnik and Wadzim, in Silesia, the Germans captured a detachment
of the 12th Infantry Regiment. They made no prisoners, but threw the men to the ground, and drove over their bodies with tanks.
On the 24th of September, 1939, a large convoy of Polish prisoners passed the town of Naleczow. These men
received no food at all at that time, except what the population gave them. The Germans forced them to run all the time. Very
many soldiers fell by the roadside with fatigue and hunger. At the end of the column I saw about ten soldiers who had vainly
attempted to escape. Before and after them were cars with machine-guns. Some of their faces were streaming with blood. A German
non-commissioned officer was running alongside the prisoners, and from time to time hit them in the face with a kind of long
Report # 1122: Cars Riddled with Bullets
During the night from the 11th to 12th of September, two private cars that had been riddled by bullets from machine-guns
of German planes were found on the road from Lwow to Przemysl. Four civilians were killed.
Report # 1090: Lootings
I and several comrades in civilian clothes had managed to escape after a short captivity at the hands of
the Bolsheviks. On the 23rd of September, 1939, to the east of Lwow, not far from Niemirow, we met the first German patrols.
In the course of our peregrination, I saw frequent scenes of looting. Not far from Niemirow I met two peasant
women of Ruthenian origin; they told me how the German authorities of occupation, having learnt that they had married
Poles, pillaged their small farms from attic to cellar.
In the village of "X" to the east of the San, I spent the night in a peasant's house; it was completely
empty, there was no horse left, no food, no linen - everything had been taken by the Germans.
The reputation for looting of the invaders spread so rapidly that on the 3rd of September, as I was going
from Krasnik to Lublin, carrying a loaf of Rye bread, I was advised to cut it into pieces and to hide some in all my
pockets, for otherwise the German soldiers would take it from me.
Report # 758: German Parachutists
Between the 1st and 6th of September, a German machine was brought down at Lwow. The German airmen had Polish
uniforms in their kitbags.
During the night from the 12th to 13th of September, in the sector of Lesienice, near Lwow, three German
parachutists were found, two of them were in Polish uniforms, and the third in civilian clothes. The two officers were killed
during the struggle that engaged between them and the Polish patrol. The civilian, who could speak Polish, admitted that he
had been entrusted with the mission of spreading the rumour that the Germans were interning all men over fourteen , and
also wives of Polish functionaries and officers.
Report # 114: German Knights in the Village
Our detachment reconquered the locality of Wisniewo, where German tanks had been before us. The enemy began
to retreat before our attack. During their retreat, the Germans set fire to the village and the nearby mills.
As we traversed the regained village, we came near a ditch where the corpses of six peasants were lying.
A passer-by, who had been hiding among the trees, explained the mystery to me. On the day before, the enemy,
after having taken the village, began by arresting all healthy men. It was said that the younger ones were being sent to Prussia.
Six older ones, torn from the side of their wives, were locked up in a shed. Several German soldiers, after a libation, behaved
ignominiously towards the peasant women, and then, having decided that the six men were disguised Polish soldiers, they dragged
the latter before the tanks, and killed them one by one.
Alas, my comrades and I were to see even worse. Quite near the village there is a little wood. There we
found, scattered about, approximately 20 bodies, mostly of women and children, that had been horribly mutilated and crushed.
Nearby we could see the traces of the tanks.
I imagine that the victims must have been simply executed; it is possible that the tanks were driven over
them so as to obliterate so far as possible the traces of the crime.
Report # 75: "War is not Directed against Women and Children"
On the 4th of September, 1939, I was working at the President Moscicki Hospital at Tarnow. Fourteen children
from a holiday camp were brought in wounded. Several of them were in obvious danger of death. A German airman had flown low
enough to be able to machine-gun the children at play.
In the same hospital, on the 3rd of September, four wounded women told me how, on their way to church, they
had seen a plane approaching, and had attempted to hide under a tree. The airman discovered them and came down, and began
to fire rounds at them, wounded all four.
On the evening of the 6th of September a little girl of eleven was brought to me, whose identity I could
naturally not verify under the circumstances. One of her legs was almost completely severed from the body by a bursting
bomb; it was only connected by a few shreds of flesh. I can still see her, the poor little thing, her head covered with a
handkerchief such as the peasant women in our regions wear. She died the same day at 8:15 p.m.
Report # 432: A Mother and Her Six Children
On 7th September, 1939, I happened to be on the road to Tarnow. Until the end of my days I shall never forget
what I saw there. German planes had just flown over. Among the civilians that had been killed, I noticed this group: a mother
dying in agony by the roadside in a ditch, next to her three little girls dead. Three other children, boys, were crying by
the side of their dying mother, and their 3 little sisters who did not move. It was impossible for me to continue on my way.
I waited until the mother had given up the ghost; afterwards, I took charge of the boys, the eldest of whom was fifteen, and
took them with me to Tarnow.
The next morning I went to Mass at Tarnow; there was an air raid at that moment, aimed so close to the church
that we heard the bursts distinctly, in spite of the service. The faithful left the church precipitately. When we got out,
we found the rent and mutilated bodies of those who had been killed during the raid.
I counted 18 corpses in the immediate surroundings of the church.
Report # 511: Holiday Camp
At Belchatow, near Pabianice, on 5th September, 1939, I met 4 carts conveying wounded children. There were
about 10 to a vehicle. These children came from Piotrkow, where they had been staying at a holiday camp. They had been bombed
by a German squadron during the recreation hour.
Report # 90: A Sanitorium
The first bomb that was dropped on Otwock on 1st September destroyed a children's sanitorium. About
30 sick children remained, dead or wounded, under the ruins.
Report # 122: The Cart
I was present at the following scene:
On the 7th September, 1939, a cart was driving along through open country between Rawa Mazowiecka and grodzisk;
the cart occupied by a peasant with his wife and three children. A plane arrived and swooped down over the cart. The peasant
had time to jump down. All that was left of the woman, the 3 children and the horses were bloody fragments in a great crater
caused by the explosion of the bomb.
I know for certainty that there was no military objective in the region.
Report # 762: Fired Villages
I have walked 300 kilometres in the direction of Warsaw via Garwolin towards the south-east. On the way
I did not see a single village (literally not a single one) which had not been burnt down. I have seen isolated houses, lying
far away from any military objective, such as stations or others, which had also been burnt down, so all this had been deliberately
In the end, we were able to procure a motor-cycle, but we travelled only at night. During the day we hid
in the woods, for the Germans fired at the civilian population using the roads.
I have had occasion to see German planes bombing woods which might serve as shelters for the refugees during
the daytime. After these operations, nothing remained except denuded and splintered tree trunks.
Report # 249: Towns Burnt Down
The bombing of Siedlce took place on 6th September, 1939. The town was bombed as well as the station, and
it burnt all night long.
The Germans bombed Lukow on the same day. The town was a prey to the flames during the entire night. The
inhabitants of both towns fled terrified by the suddenness and violence of the aerial attack.
Report # 14: At the Hour of Mass
At Siedlce, where I had just arrived from the country, I experienced my first air raid. It was on 10th September,
a Sunday. When the alarm was over, I saw that, besides some private houses, the churches had suffered most. In going round
in the little town, I had the impression that not one had been spared. There were corpses everywhere. The hour of divine service
had been chosen for the accomplishment of this savage act.
There was no A.R.P. at Siedlce. The German airmen were flying very low.
Report # 322: The Shepherdesses and the Herds
Two women and a little girl happened to be beside the road, with three cows in a field, in the neighbourhood
of Szepietow (district of Bialystok). The German airman was flying so low that he could see distinctly what he had before
him. In spite of that, he dropped a bomb. Nothing was left of the women, the child, or the animals. This happened on 3rd September,
Here is what I saw in another place:
On the road from Wysikie Mazowieckie to Czyzew, on the same day, 8th September, exactly at 5 kilometres
beyond Wysokie, and at 3 kilometres in a southerly direction, half an hour later airmen attacked a peasant and killed
his cow. I talked to the peasant. The man assured me that two or three villages in the neighbourhood had been burnt down,
although there were no troops in the region. On the same day I met some nuns from Bialowieza, who told me that their hospital
had been bombed. They added that at Bialowieza, a place where there were no troops whatever, German airman swooping down to
a low altitude had massacred the civilian population which happened to be in the public gardens of the town.
Report # 579: The Little Goose Girl
It was on 14th September, 1939, at 19:10 a.m. at ... Well concealed in a forest, we were able from a post
of observation to witness the following scene. Before us, on a large clearing at about 500 metres distant from where we were,
a little girl was watching a fairly large flock of geese.
Suddenly a German twin-engined machine appeared; it swooped straight down on to this spot, which he swept
with machine-gun bullets. When he had left, I went to the spot, and was able to ascertain that he had succeeded in his aim.
The child had been hit, and I had the sorrow of watching her die in my arms.
Report # 837: The Little Goatherd
On 9th September, 1939, whilst I was going in the direction of Chelm, I met many refugees. The German planes
came down to 150 and even 100 metres above the crowd of fleeing people, and dropped light bombs, then they returned again
on the same route and machine-gunned the civilian population.
The following incident, at which I was present. aroused my indignation even more than anything I had seen
elsewhere. At about 2 kilometres from that road a little boy was pasturing a herd of goats. The place where the little
boy and his goats happened to be was a large open space, absolutely deserted. One glance sufficed to tell that there
was nobody there except the little goatherd. Nevertheless, the German airmen swooped down over him and dropped several light
bombs on the boy and the goats; then, coming back to the charge, they opened fire with their machine-guns. I went to the scene
of the crime; the little boy was dead, his body riddled with bullets.
Report # 162: A Labourer at His Plough
On 11th September, 1939, at 11 a.m., I happened to be near Sobieszyn. I had stopped not far from the agricultural
school of the place. A farmer was working in his field with a plough drawn by one horse. There was not a soul near by. The
distance between him and houses of the village was considerable. Suddenly a plane flew over him, and dropped a bomb on the
solitary ploughman, which killed him instantly.
Report # 1401: Fusilade on a Village
German troops entered the region of Koniecpol immediately after the passage of the sappers, and fired at
inhabitants of the village in the streets and on the fields, and bombarded the houses. Thirty people were killed, most of
them old men, women, and children, as nearly all men of military age had been mobilized. Afterwards, the Germans set fire
to the village by firing incediary bullets at the thatched roofs of the village. Many people were wounded by this fusilade.
I remember a peasant woman who was holding a child in her arms; the mother was wounded, the child dead. Three-quarters of
all the houses of the village were destroyed by the fire, as well as a new mill. This happened on September 5, 1939.
Report # 319: Systematic Destruction
The little town of "X", whose name I cannot reveal, as I have left my family there, was burnt down by the
Germans on 4th and 5th of September. There had been fighting from Swieta Anna and Czestochowa to Jedrzejow. As soon as the
Polish troops retreated, the Germans burnt down all that remained of the town and the village which had the same name. The
castle of "X" was entirely looted, carpets, pictures, etc., destroyed or taken away.
In the small town 5 Jews were killed by the Germans. In the neighbourhood, the Germans destroyed and burnt
down a considerable number of market towns and villages. I myself passed through Lelow, Kurow, Markuszow, and Zwolen on the
7th and on the 27th September, and I was able to ascertain that not a single house had remained standing. At Lelow, the Germans
systematically burnt down all the houses, one by one, without even sparing the fine old church which was classed as a national
monument. The German captain charged with this task confirmed to me the severity of the orders he had received in this connection.
On the market-place of Zwolen there were still corpses of inhabitants killed by the air raid on the civilian
population, which had taken place while the market was held. The planes flew very low, and fired with their machine-guns.
On the road to Radomsko I saw the corpse of a peasant woman in the fields near a village which had been
completely burnt down.
At Koniecpol Stary, a peasant was arrested and searched by a German patrol. A razor was found in his
pocket. The Germans battered him with blows, and finished him off by shooting him, without any form of trial. This happened
about the 10th of September, 1939.
Reports #s 1071, 654 and 780: Machine-Gunning the Evacuees
On Monday, 4th September, at 10 a.m., there was a considerable number of refugees on the main road from
Kielce to Warsaw, fleeing from the front line, which was coming closer. Suddenly, three German planes arrived and began to
machine-gun the civilians. Dreadful screams were heard, and a general confusion ensued. One man was killed, who left a widow
and five children; another man was wounded in his belly.
On the 2th of September, 1939, on my way to Kurow, I had to stop at some distance from a village which was
occupied by German troops. The Germans surrounded the defenceless village, then they forced the men to come out of their houses
and made them get into cars. Thereupon they began to loot the houses mercilessly, one by one, taking away the sheepskin coats,
the corn, the pigs, in a word, everything of any value at all. When I entered the village an hour after the Germans had left,
I was able to take stock of the looting which it had suffered.
I also passed through the village of Kajetanow, near Kielce, whilst it was burning. The Germans had set
fire to it, although the village had not the slightest importance from a strategical point of view. Everything was destroyed
by the fire. At the moment when I passed, there was only a single hut left which was not on fire. I then saw with my own eyes
how a German soldier approached in order to set fire to that hut. A terrified, weeping woman came out of the house, fell on
to her knees, wringing her hands and imploring the soldier to spare her home. It was in vain. The soldier did not go away
until the hut was entirely surrounded by flames.
In the village of Dlutow, in the neighbourhood of Pabianice, I saw on the 5th of September, 1939, approximately
12 German planes who had come down to a very low altitude and attacked a convoy of refugees of which I was one. There was
not a single soldier among us. There were ten killed and severely wounded. Some panic-stricken women climbed down from the
road in order to escape to an open field, instintively trying to conceal themselves from the airmen, but they were discovered
and pursued with rounds of machine-gun fire.
On 7th September, in the afternoon, following the main road which leads from Rzeszow to Przeworsk, I saw
German planes bombing fleeing refugees. All along my road I found the dismembered corpses of women, children and horses, and
carts splintered to bits. The bodies lay on the spot where death had surprised them. Here and there one could see a severed
arm or leg and rags of blood-soaked clothing.
It was in the neighbourhood of Lancut that I saw the greatest number of dead.
On 16th of September the civilian hospital of Brody was bombed and burnt down completely. Three doctors,
15 nurses of the Red Cross, and about sixty wounded soldiers and civilians perished on that day.
Report # 27: Woods Peopled with Corpses
On the 14th of September, the Germans succeeded in barring the road of Lwow in the neighbourhood of Rudki.
On learning this, the civilian population in flight took the direction towards the neighbourhood of Grodek Jagiellonski. When
the enemy planes arrived, the population took shelter in the woods. But even there the ill-fated creatures were not spared
by the planes. Constantly they flew over these woods. Many of those who had taken refuge there were killed or seriously wounded.
When I passed there on 23rd September, following a road through the forest, I was obliged to hold my nose and to hurry on,
for the putrefying corpses which nobody had had time to bury were spreading a nauseating stench.
Reports Nos. 572,185,640,974,207,431 and 943: Trainloads of Evacuees
Between 5th and 9th September, trains of evacuees coming from Katowice and Krakw were bombed at the station
of Sambor. Approximately 100 civilians were killed.
I was among a convoy of evacuees which had left Warsaw on 7th September. The railway track was in such a
bad condition that it took us 3 days to reach Brzesc-nad-Bugiem (Brest-Litovsk). As we came into the station of Krasne,
that small station was bombed with extraordinary violence.
Nine machines (three flying squds of three) appeared above the station, and dropped bombs during twenty
minutes. The number of bombs dropped must have been about 200.
On 8th September, 1939, I was passing through Demby Wielkie, situated at approximately 15 kilometres from
Minsk Mazowiecki. A train which contained only civilians was standing in the station of Demby Wielkie. Two carriages were
literally shattered to atoms. The German airmen had thrown a bomb on to these carriages which had torn the passengers to pieces.
The aspect of this train was so horrible that nobody wanted to go near it.
The convoy could not proceed on its way, and had to remain in the station, as the rails had been torn up.
On the main line, Przemysl-Stryj, a train filled with evacuees was advancing. The passengers were exclusively
civilians, and to nine-tenths these were women and children. The convoy stopped outside the station of Gaje Wyzne. As the
halt was to last a considerable time, the women and children, who had already been on their way for several days, went to
the bank of a stream nearby in order to wash. At that moment a German flying squad appeared, and, after having bombed
the train, began to pursue the women and children. Fifteen persons perished at Gaje Wyzne, killed by machine-gun bullets.
Their papers and identity cards are in the keeping of the Reverend Father.....
The family of Captain ...., director of the Instruction Service of ....., composed of his wife, his daughter,
and a maid, had taken shelter under a tree and formed an isolated group at a distance from the others. A plane dropped a bomb
on to this group as well, killing the 3 women on the spot. A little girl suffered a nervous shock, and the physicians despair
of healing her. All the children were so terrified that long after that day they were unable to sleep soundly, awakening
frequently during the night and screaming with terror.
On 13th September, 1939, I was near Rejowiec (coming from Lublin), and I witnessed the following incident:
Six German planes attacked a trainload of civilian evacuees at the moment when it was approaching Rejowiec.
The planes dropped a certain number of bombs on to the train. Fifteen people were killed, and among them several mothers with
small children. These children were so small that they could not understand the terrible loss which they had just suffered;
one of them asked me naively how his mother was going to be buried, when the funeral would be, etc....
On 16th September, the Germans dropped bombs and machine-gunned a trainload of evacuees, crammed with women
and children, at the station of Radziwillow. At that time there was no military transport whatever on the track. The train
caught fire, and more than 50 persons were killed and several hundred wounded.
Accompanied by my son, aged 14, I had been on my way for several days. I was going via Wilno to Lublin,
where I was to meet my husband. The last stage of our journey, from Warsaw to Lublin, was the hardest. We left on the
evening of the 5th, and arrived in the morning of the 8th, so that we took 2 days and 3 nights to cover a distance which normally
is covered in a few hours. Our train was only conveying refugees, mostly women and children. We were obliged to be continually
on our guard, listening for the sound of German bombers. The partitions of the carriages, riddled with holes, and the windows
broken by the bullets of German machine-guns, were sufficient warning of the risks we were running.
On the first day we only saw the German planes in the distance. But on the second day, at the moment when
we were approaching Krzywda, we suddenly saw a squadron of seven bombers swooping down on us. Fourteen bombs exploded, burying
themselves in the sandy soil, from which columns of sand rose up. As soon as the whistling of the bombs had stopped, the passengers
rushed out of the carriages, trying to flee into the fields. The bombs began to rain down again, and everybody threw themselves
flat on to the ground.
Afterwards, we got back into the train, and it started off again.
Our convoy passed a great number of little towns and villages that had been burnt down and abandoned by
A new incursion of bombers took place in the afternoon. We only escaped because the train stopped dead under
cover of a forest. From a distance we could see the station being shattered to pieces by the bombs. We did not arrive at Lublin
till night had fallen, and found it lit up by the blaze of several fires. I cannot say how many people were killed while we
were in the fields, but I saw one of the passengers, an old man, dying of a heart attack, and two women went mad.
The next day we experienced a true inferno at Lublin, for there the Gemans carried out one of their most
Reports Nos. 657, 1287, 854 and 1180: Ambulance Trains
The ambulance train, No. 9, was twice bombed by German planes at Radom during the day on 7th September towards
2 p.m., and on 8th September, towards 3 a.m. As a result of the bombings, we lost 13 carriages, and the fourteenth remained
at Tarnopol for repairs. There were no victims, as the train was not yet loaded, and the staff was gathered in the carriages
that were spared.
The consitions of visibility and the height at which the machines were flying when they attacked us exclude
all possiblity of error. It was impossible not to see the ensigns of the Red Cross, except during the air raid on 8th September,
which took place during the night in the light of the fires. I add that I was an eyewitness, on 4th Seotember, during the
afternoon, of the bombing of the ambulance train, No.25, at Szydlowiec, and that the nurses undersigned, who were part of
the staff of the ambulance train, No. 94, have been present at Radom at the bombing of train No.25.
An ambulance train carrying numerous wounded, for the most part severe cases, was moving in the direction
of Sambor-Sanok. It carried the emblems of the Red Cross painted on the roofs of all the carriages and on the windows. The
train was discovered by the German planes, and the bombing began. It lasted until the train was as good as demolished. A great
number of the wounded who were being transported received new, and sometimes terrible, wounds. The doctor in command of the
train, M. ....., and the members of the ambulance staff met their death.
On 12th September, 1939, the ambulance train, No. 311, carrying the ensigns of the Red Cross, was bombed
at Zabinka (Brzesc-nad-Bugiem), and a second time, at 15 kilometres from Zabinka, in the direction of Baranowicze. This train
was transporting wounded soldiers.
As a result of the first bombing, there were 8 killed and 30 wounded, and two carriages destroyed. A severely
wounded man, seized by panic, attempted to jump out of the window.; he had been disembowelled, and his intestines caught on
the frame of the window of the carriage.
During the second bombing 15 bombs were dropped, but they fell beside the train, and the convoy was able
to continue on its way.
Three light bombers opened rounds of machine-gun fire several times over on the ambulance train which was
standing in the station of Berezowica Wielka on 14th September.
The Bombing of Warsaw
Report Number 311: The Night from the 25th to 26th of September.
Corpses of men and animals are heaped in the streets. Notwithstanding the shower of projectiles, men of
goodwill are burying the dead where they find them; in a garden or a square or the courtyards of houses. Famished people cut
off pieces of flesh as soon as a horse falls, leaving only the skeleton. Unless the municipal servants immediately removed
killed horses the horse meat shops opened for the sale of the meat at about 6d. per lb.
One day the Mayor of the City, M. Starzynski, insists that the inhabitants lay in stores of water. Simultaneously
a bombardment destroys the water filters of Warsaw. The city on which projectiles are raining is already deprived of water
Then comes the memorable night of 25th to 26th September. The incessant raids of the daytime continue all
through the night, as well as very intense artillery firing. The planes are already venturing to so low an altitude that I
can easily distinguish all the details of the cockpit. They pass over our house with an infernal noise. Suddenly we hear a
terrible crash, that of broken glass, and we are almost blinded. The floor dances under our feet. Everything is covered with
a brown dust and it is difficult to distinguish objects at a distance of a foot.
It is imposible to describe what is happening in the streets. The Kopernik, Sewerynow, Krakowskie Przedmiescie,
Swietorkzyska Streets and the house next to ours are in flames. Within 10 minutes it will be the turn of our house to catch
fire, we leave it and go to the shelter of the Church of the Holy Cross. There we find a crowd of women and children. We go
then to Krolewska Street. I cannot see my mother in our group who, in the midst of the deafening noise, has perhaps not understood
that we are going out. So I returned to the house, there I find my mother and we go out again. We begin to look for the rest
of the family - no one in the shelter - I run towards Krolewska Street, examining all the porches in passing. In Traugutt
Street there is a fallen house blocking the street. We retrace our steps and find a subterranean shelter where we intend
to spend the night. The bombardment and artillery raids begin again with renewed force. It is dark inside the shelter, about
50 wounded are lying on stretchers and on the ground, groaning and begging for water. Two men go out into the yard and fill
their pails under the rain of bullets.
The bombardment lasts without ceasing until 5 a.m. I go into the church which has been shot at from several
sides. The noise of collapsing masonry echoes under the vaults. Every minute may be the last of our lives. There is only one
little lamp whose flame flickers before the altar. In the morning the ambulance men ask the civilians to leave the shelter.
The houses are burning at different parts of the town. Taking advantage of the fact that the bombardment has ceased for the
moment, the inhabitants of the city hurry to the Vistula to fill their pails with water.
Reports Numbers 920 and 783: The Red Cross Serves Them as a Target.
The day of 25th September was the worst we experienced. Several hundred German bombers flew over the
city, dropping a veritable shower of incendiary bombs. The fires spread, and the brigade was incapable of mastering the scourge,
as there was no water as a result of the bombardment of the reservoirs.
The German planes chiefly bombed hospitals and first-aid posts, so that, as a precautionary measure, the
ensigns of the Red Cross had to be removed from these buildings.
At the Hospital of the Infant Jesus, at the moment when the nurses were evacuating the wounded from
the building, which had been set on fire by bombs, a German plane swooped down to less than 100 metres altitude, and dropped
a bomb which killed 20 nurses of the Red Cross. In the district of Powazki, where the principal depots of the Red Cross
were situated, a hundred bombs were dropped.
The situation of the hospitals was abominable. The electric current was continually failing, the operations
had to be interrupted. I have witnessed a case where, owing to the aerial bombardment of one of the hospitals, severely wounded
men had to spend 24 hours under the porch of a neighbouring house.
At Wola I saw great heaps of corpses of women and children who had been killed by the German artillery.
Driven by hunger, the population ventured into the fields on the outskirts to gather potatoes and beetroots.The German
planes would then swoop down on these crowds, dropping bombs and shooting rounds from their machine-guns. At Czerniakow, many
women and children were killed in this fashion. A great number of civilians also perished while they were queuing up
On 9th September, 1939, I was in Warsaw, and I witnessed the following:
Our hospital, annexed to the barracks, did not fly the ensign of the Red Cross. Calm reigned in the district.
The hospital had been spared up till then. But our physician in command had scruples, and did not wish to appear to neglect
a precaution that had been recommended, gave orders to unfurl the flag of the Red Cross over the hospital. The order was carried
out at midday. At 3:30 p.m. the hospital suffered a terrific bombardment; 45 people were killed, and 60 wounded.
Report No. 229: Seven Children Killed by a Bomb.
It happened on 2nd September, 1939, at the camp "Wygoda," near the Radzyminska Street, of Warsaw. In a field
at about 150 metres from the public thoroughfare, several little boys were playing. They became the victims of a German
aerial bomb. Seven of them, severely wounded, were brought to me at the hospital "Przemienienie Panski." Despite all our efforts,
3 of them died in unspeakable agony.
Report No. 106: Weeks of Terror.
What I have seen at Bielany, which I had left to come to the capital, I might possibly forget, but
nothing will ever efface from my memory the inferno I lived through in Warsaw. I had installed myself in Skarpa Street. The
blast of a bomb dropped in the neigbourhood had demolished my apartment - chandeliers, plaster, and tiles came down suddenly
on to a heap of debris. However, my sister and I remained in the hall of the flat, as we did not want to go down to the shelter.
Suddenly there was a terrible shock: a bomb had fallen on to the house. A strong wind favoured the fire, which it was impossible
to extinguish - there was no longer a drop of water in Warsaw! We ran out of the house searching for some place where we
might find shelter. In the distance, the suburb of Praga was an immense brazier; in a neighbouring street, the Copernic, the
theatre was on fire. We wandered around all night in a panic from shelter to shelter, without knowing where we should turn,
counting the hours which still separated us from the dawn, for in daylight fires are less terrifying. On the 26th, in the
morning, the city was already in ruins. Everywhere corpses, wounded humans, killed horses, masterless dogs. We went to Stare
Miasto, the ancient town, to take refuge with some friends whose house was still standing. They gave a corner of a room up
The most horrible nightmare was the sight of the improvised graves, which had been dug everywhere where
there was a square, or in the inner courtyards of the buildings. A few weeks later the enemy gave orders that the corpses
must be exhumed and conveyed to the cemeteries.
Report No. 941: All Souls Day in Warsaw.
I shall never forget the aspect, on that day of the dead, of the streets of Warsaw, which were half destroyed
by German bombs. Hundreds, thousands of graves, everywhere where a small plot of soil uncovered by paving stones could be
found - one saw them everywhere. On that misty evening, lit here and there by a street lamp that had been spared by the bombardment,
these humble tombs of the martyrs were flowered by flickering flames from tiny candles. They were everywhere, in gardens,
on squares, in the centre of flower beds, in the streets where the pavement had been torn up, along the footpaths. Pitiful
graves, dug in haste, under the hail of bullets or shells, by nameless passers-by. One had to walk carefully so as not to
step on them. I went forward with the crowd, which was silent, and, as it were, bowed down by grief. Some were carrying lighted
candles, shielding them from the wind with their hands. Few people went to visit the outlying cemeteries of Powazki and Brodno
that year, as there were no means of transport - the population contented itself by paying tribute to the soldiers and civilians
who had fallen in the streets of the martyr city.
On the St. Alexander Square flowers have been laid on all the graves. On the arm of a wooden cross
surmounting a funerary mound a rosary with sparkling beads had been suspended; on another grave there was a little statuette
of Our Lady of Lourdes; farther on, another was decorated by a helmet, and on yet another a child's toy was lying on
a tiny mound. There is a row of graves in the Avenue of Jerusalem, just before the entrance to the Cafe-Club. On Grzybowski
Square, before the charred ruins of the Church of All Saints, are lined up the graves of those who had come there to seek
The farther I proceeded on my pilgrimage, the more lights I discovered, tiny flickering lights, even
among the debris of collapsed houses under whose ruins there lay the bodies of those who had to be denied their sepulchre,
the bodies of civilians who had been slaughtered in so dastardly a manner.
On that evening Warsaw, once so full of life, was only a vast graveyard, a field of death - yet death candles
symbolized the flame of remembrance, and - of hope...
Report No. 452: The Workmen's Suburb of Grochow.
On 1st September, 1939, the first day of the war, we listened to the broadcast from Berlin announcing that
the methods of warfare would be humane. One hour later, the Germans were bombing the suburb of Grochow where the only
"military" establishment was the police station! Together with 3 foreign newspaper correspondents, I went to visit the district.
The German planes were dropping heavy bombs and flying so low that they could certainly distinguish the details of the city.
There were 112 people killed, of which approximately 80 were women and children. The journalists, their cheeks blanched, were
murmuring "The vandals! The Huns!"
On the evening of that first day of the war, rows of coffins were lined up before the workmen's houses of
Grochow. The workmen were searching among the debris for their wives and children. The victims, Poles and Jews, were
MISS BAKER-BEALL'S REPORT
Experiences and Impressions of the War in Bydgoszcz, Poland, from 1st September - 1st October, 1939.
This report was written by an Englishwoman living in Bydgoszcz during the first period of the
Although only a part of her report appears in the book which we are here reproducing "The German Invasion of Poland," for the sake of continuity, it will be presented in this section in its entirety
as it was originally published in the monthly "Nineteenth Century and After" for June, 1940, and later again in the book "The
German New Order in Poland."
Despite the subtitle, Miss Baker-Beall actually reported on events which ocurred until she left
Bydgoszcz on February 16, 1940.
During the months of July and August I was staying in the forester's house at Lutowko, about 10 km. from
Sepolno on the Western frontier of Poland, and only 4 km. from the Polish frontier itself. Other ladies with their children
were also there and their husbands came for the week-ends.
We knew that the German troops were massed on our frontier 3 km. within the German territory, but in the
peace of the forest no news whatever reached us, and only once did I see a small number of Polish soldier cyclists ride down
the lane which led past our house; we saw no other military.
The last three weeks the men from Bydgoszcz brought increasingly serious news and in reply to our usual
questions always gave us the same answer "There will be war, it is unavoidable."
Every evening the forest and field hands came to the house to hear the wireless news, but it was always
vague and told us little.
On Sunday, 27th August, however, the forester brought news that movements had been observed on the German
side of the frontier and it was hastily decided that I should return to Bydgoszcz taking the four youngest children with me.
All buses westward had ceased running and we had to return by train, with some delay, but what struck me was the perfect quiet
of the Sunday crowds and the entire absence of any sign of panic.
Arrived in Bydgoszcz I found the same quiet reigning, air raid precautions were still being carried out,
reserves of food purchased, and so on; there was anxiety but again no panic, but in the evening of Thursday, 31st August,
the forester's wife and eldest daughter arrived in Bydgoszcz having hurriedly left Sepolno. There had been a muster of horses
for the Polish army on that day in the town, to which the forester had sent his two horses.
German aeroplanes had bombed them and killed many, including one of the forester's. That night a report
came that German tanks and lorries were entering the forest and the forester and his assistant got away on their motor bicycles,
arriving in Bydgoszcz early on Friday morning.
Friday, 1st September, was the first air raid on Bydgoszcz, followed by a second, when I was out in the
town. Returning home when it was over I counted six large fires in the town, they seemed to be all civilian buildings. So
far as I know no military damage was done. During the last few days large numbers of Germans must have entered Bydgoszcz secretly
across the "green frontier" and from Danzig.
Evidently large quantities of arms, rifles, and machine-guns, had been smuggled across the frontier
and concealed in the town or its environs, for from this day on the Germans in large numbers began sniping from the windows
of German houses and flats, and continued it day and night till the entry of the German forces; from the third on they also
did machine-gunning from the roofs, and fired upon everything, men, women, horses (fortunately children were seldom in the
streets). A dead horse lay in our street for two days because it was too dangerous to take it away. Opposite a Red Cross station
which I three times visited was a German house and the inhabitants fired on it continually, though the Red Cross flag was
displayed, when the stretcher-bearers were bringing in the casualties.
1.9. On this day two Germans, father and son, were shot in our street as they were in possession of hand
grenades, and when challenged by soldiers ran away and fired at them.
The soldiers shot them.
Also I was told that the German proprietor of a chemist's shop was arrested and shot for being in possession
of a hand grenade. Another hand grenade was exploded within a few yards of a shop where I was making purchases.
This was only the beginning, afterwards the cases were too numerous to be noted.
2.9. There were six or possibly seven air raids on this day. Two were driven off by Polish planes but the
others got in and apparently did little damage.
It was, I think, on this day that the decision was made to arm the citizens of the town, as the soldiers
were being withdrawn. The order came from Warsaw to the town President, but there seems to have been some overhaste and perhaps
a little confusion in carrying it out, for it was said (and I believe with truth), that many Germans represented themselves
as loyal citizens and received arms, for certainly afterwards the sniping seemed to greatly increase.
The President (Mayor of the Town), Mr. Barciszewski, also received the order to go at once to Warsaw with
all municipal documents and funds, and left the town in his car just before the Germans entered it.
The report was immediately spread by the Germans that he had absconded with all the town treasure and was
responsible for the death of many German citizens.
3.9. The so-called "Bloody Sunday" has, of course, been the theme of much lying German propaganda concerning
Bromberg-Bydgoszcz, and it was on this day that I was shot at for the first time but not hurt.
I was in the streets off and on from 9 a.m. to about 4 p.m. having gone out to see friends and to enquire
how they had got through Saturday's bombing.
There was a good deal of bombing on this day and I had to take shelter two or three times, which delayed
my return. Between 1 and 2 p.m. I went to the house of an acquaintance as the bombing was beginning again, and there heard
that about an hour or so before I arrived a detachmnet of Polish artillery drove quietly through the main street past this
house, evidently in retreat and on their way to join forces beyond the town. They were followed soon after by a battery at
a smart pace which had covered their retreat and were now hastening to rejoin them. As they passed a German house on the opposite
side there was a burst of firing from the windows; the officer gave the order to halt, turned a gun upon the house and fired,
whereupon the sniping ceased and the battery continued on its way.
After this the civilian guards arrested all Germans whom they found with arms in their possesion and they
were shot out of hand.
While we were taling a member of the household came home from church and said that there had been sniping
from the turrets of the Jesuit Church in the Old Market, as the congregation left the church, and here agian arrests were
made and the people with arms shot, but I saw no signs of atrocities.
The German accounts later spoke of fierce fighting going on in the streets adjacent to the main street where
this artillery affair took place, but I stood at the door of a house in one of these streets where I had taken coverfrom an
air raid. Looking out into the sunlit street I saw at one end an old lady and gentleman taking their dog for a walk, and at
the other end I saw Polish soldiers going along single file on both sides of the street close to the houses to get protection
from the bombing planes.
From later reports we learned that the Germans had miscalculated; they had believed that German troops would
enter town on the third, and hence the augmented shooting, as they threw off all pretence of moderation, but the troops did
not appear until the afternoon of the 5th.
About 4 p.m. I went home up the main street, stopping to watch two guns firing at three planes high overhead,
but apart from that that the street was perfectly quiet. Later reports explained that the frontier guards and some artillery
had held up the enemy on our part of the frontier, hence the delay in their progress.
4.9 Was a day of anxious waiting, I do not even remember whether there was an air raid.
5.9 More air raids. I was in the town and had to take shelter 3 times. Finally went to a friend living in
the main street. About 2 p.m. the firing became much hotter and seemed to come closer, we still thought it was increased sniping.
About half an hour later, as the noise increased, one of our number went down to see what was on, and returned a few minutes
later saying that the Germans were in the town.
I at once started for home and near the place where I was fired at on Sunday saw the body of a young air-raid
warden who had been shot through the head - of course, non-combatant and unarmed. Went to the Red Cross first-aid station
where I saw a Red Cross stretcher-bearer dying, he had been killed by a hand grenade, of which the "Volksdeutsche" seemed
to have an unlimited quantity. As I was going through the street a group of people called me to take cover as sniping was
going on. As I entered a house there was a flash of a rifle from an opposite window, evidently the Germans in this part
of town had not yet heard of the entry of the troops.
When I reached home I heard that a young man and a young woman living in the house (air-raid wardens) had
been shot, the man through the window of his room, he died two days later, and the woman as she left the house to go to her
duties; she is crippled for life.
From this time on life was a nightmare of horrors. The Germans started the campaign of lies about the Polish
atrocities on the so-called "Bloody Sunday", and almost the first victims of this campaign were about 20 little boy scouts,
from 12 to 16 years of age, who were set up in the Old Market against the wall of the Municipal Museum and shot. No reason
A devoted priest who rushed to administer the Last Sacrament was shot too. He received 5 wounds. A Pole
said afterwards that the sight of those children lying dead was the most piteous of all the horrors he saw.
That week those murders continued. Thirty-four of the leading tradespeople and merchants of the town were
shot and many other leading citizens. The square was encircled by military with machine guns.
Amonf the 34 was a man whom i knew who was too ill to take part in politics or public affairs. When the
execution took place he was too weak to stand and fell down, they beat him and dragged him again to his feet.
Another of the first victims was the 17 year old only son of a well-known surgeon who had died a year before.
The father had been greatly esteemed by all and had treated Poles and Germans with the same care and devotion.
We never heard what the poor lad was accused of.
An instance of one horrible execution was related to me by a friend of mine. This person was standing at
a window which overlooked a garden of the Polish Club, when the tramp of feet was heard and a party of civilians entered accompanied
by the Gestapo and S.S.
An order was given and the civilians formed up into a line, the observer thought they had come to go through
military exercises. A second order was given and the men dropped on their knees and at a third order began to crawl to and
fro on their hands and knees. Then the police began to shoot and continued shooting until the last of the prisoners lay still.
The shooting was, of course, heard and there was commotion in the streets, those in the street trying to force the iron gates,
and those within threatening to shoot them unless they went away. At last the commotion ceased and the people were driven
away, but soon after the Gestapo were given another house outside the town.
The shooting still goes on, but it is farther away and everyone knows what is happening.
These are only a few examples of the indiscriminate murders which took place. The shooting was still going
on when I left the town. At the beginning it was by the military, afterwards the Secret Police (Gestapo, S.S. - the Black
Police) took it over and exceeeded it in cruelty.
When the soldiers first entered the town their minds were inflamed against the Poles by the stories of horrible
atrocities which the Poles had committed on the Germans, and in revenge they themselves acted with the most appalling savagery.
Stories were spread of how hundreds of mutilated German corpses had been found in the forest, with eyes
put out and tongues torn out of the victims, and photographs were shown to foreign newspaper correspondents of the victims
of these murders.
It was quite true that hundreds of such corpses were found, but they were of Poles, great numbers being
of women and children who had fled from Bydgoszcz when the Germans approached and were hunted amd machine-gunned by German
airmen who had followed them. An acquaintance of mine who fled with her husband and two children, but had to return as they
found no place of refuge, said that that the saddest sight was the number of little corpses that strewed the way - babies
and little ones who succumbed to exposure and want of food, or were shot down in the flight.
There were corpses of Germans who had also fled, but the number was small and they would, like the Poles,
be targets for planes. it was observed that the names of these people were printed at intervals 6 or 8 times in the lists
of victims but were each time reckoned as fresh victims in order to lengthen the list.
The following occurrence, told to a friend of mine by the only survivor, may illustrate this point.
An old german woman and 12 other Germans decided to flee together to Brzoza, a forest place some kilometres from Bydgoszcz
and take refuge with the Catholic priest there. They were on foot and when evening came on they were still about an hour's
walk from Brzoza; they turned into a cottage in the hamlet they were passing through and decided to spend the night there.
The old woman was uneasy and wished to press on but others refused. When the others were sleeping, she got up and crept out
of the house (she was a very devout Catholic and said a voice told her not to delay). When only a short distance
from the house, she heard planes approaching and, turning to see where they were going, saw the cottage struck by a bomb
and totally destroyed. She said everyone in the house was killed and the corpses were terribly mutilated but - as we see,
by German planes, not by Polish murderers.
The looting of the town began at once.
Already on 6th September, officers and their womenkind visited the shops, chose of the best of everything
they wanted and had it carried to their cars, many of which had also been stolen from the citizens, and when the trader
suggested writing out the account, he was told "payment, these are reprisals for the war begun by Poland."
Later on all Polish shops were closed, lorries driven up to the doors, and the stock-in-trade thrown out
of the windows by numbers of Jungdeutsche, while others stacked everything rapidly in the lorries which were driven directly
to Germany. Now there is not a single shop in Polish hands, the owners were driven out and everything they possessed confiscated,
and Germans put in possession as trustees. Not a penny was paid to the owners of businesses and before I left preparations
were already being made to install the trustees as owners of the shop and goodwill. I was told that rent and outgoings of
various kinds were to be paid by the government, the Polish house owners having, of course, also been robbed of their property.
Even when substitute wares were sent from Germany the Poles were not allowed to buy, only the Germans received
cards permitting them to purchase.
There were plenty of cards but very little to sell, even to the Germans.
With food supplies the case was very bad. The people were classified - first the Reichsdeutsche, Germans
in the Empire, might buy, then the Volksdeutsche, Germans outside the Empire, and finally the Poles. I knew of 2 cases, one
a girl who waited for ten hours to buy meat for Sunday dinner and finally got half a pound of liver sausage, and another girl
who waited 7 hours and then found there was nothing left to buy, the Germans had taken it all.
Even after Christmas when the severe cold set in these pitiful food-lines continued. People had to wait
for hours in anything from minus 25 - 35 degrees centigrade in the open.
One day a long line was waiting outside a shop when an elderly officer came by (men up to 60 and officers
till older were then being called up), stopped and asked the people what they were waiting for? They said "for food"
and when he asked why they did not go into the shop, as there were only three people in it, he was told that the Reichsdeutsche
went in by threes and choose what they wanted, then the Volksdeutsche and only afterwards might the Poles enter.
The officer went into the shop and asked the man why all these people were waiting outside when the shop
was empty and the man tried to excuse himself by saying that there were too many for his shop to accomodate - to which
the officer replied by telling the man to admit all his customers and, if the shop should not admit them all, to throw
open his private rooms at the back to accomodate them, but never again to keep anyone outside in the cold - and he went out
himself to order the people to come in.
Possibly he was a man of authority in the town, and he certainly was a great exception to the rule, for
soon after the food-tickets, which had been spoken of for some time, were issued and the long queues ceased to exist.
It may be here mentioned, at any rate in Bydgoszcz, the older officers and men were much more human than
the young fellows in the army, who have been brought up in the Hitler tradition. In the flat where I lived 3 Reichsdeutsche
soldiers had taken a room for sleeping only, two were over 50, the third over 60 and a grandfather.
They were very discontented, at having been called up, said that reports in the papers about Polish atrocities
were lies, and that nearly everything written about the English and England was also untrue.
Later it became evident that the feeling between old soldiers and Hitler's Volksdeutsche was a very bitter
one. On one evening there were several disturbances in the town. Bands of soldiers gathered round the restaurants and beerhouses
frequented by soldiers and Volksdeutsche and held up all men who passed - if they proved to be Reichsdeutche or Poles
they were told to go home, but the Volksdeutsche were abused as warmongers, who had caused the whole war by sending lying
telegrams every day to Hilter, about their ill-treatment by the Poles, whereas the Poles had treated them well and considerately,
and now the soldiers had to go to the West and fight, while the Volksdeutsche refused even to volunteer to go; and then
they were thoroughly beaten, whereas we rejoiced. These assaults on the Volksdeutsche continued and finally it was noticed
that they were being called up and sent west.
On one occasion a meeting was held to which only Germans were admitted. Before the meeting began all Poles
had to leave the hall. Then the speaker (Kampe) asked who would volunteer to keep order among the Poles during the further
avacuations, immediately 60 sprang to their feet, then he asked who would volunteer to fight for Germany, and not a man moved.
Kampe, who is himself a very bad Volksdeutsche (2 years ago he called himself Kempinski) rated the men for
their cowardice, they were willing enough to keep order among the evacuated Poles, which meant full licence to ill-treat and
torture them, but they would not risk their lives to fight for their country.
Another meeting was held about the same time but here the speaker first turned out all the Poles, and then
took full particulars of every man in the hall and when he had finished, told them all to report to the military the next
Another interesting fact was that neither Reichsdeutsche nor old soldiers wished to lodge with Volksdeutsche;
they almost invariably requested the Poles to take them in, which the latter could not well refuse, but - at any rate in our
case - we had nothing to complain of, the people behaved decently.
Then began the movement against the intellectual classes and the well-to-do citizens. They were seized and
sent to internment camps, first of all to the soldiers' empty barracks, where they were ill-treated and murdered at the pleasure
of their gaolers.
The conditions were terrible - no sanitation, no proper water supply, the prisoners, men and women, being
driven down indiscriminately from their rooms to the latrines early in the morning and again in the evening. Otherwise they
might not leave their rooms. It was no wonder that under such filthy conditions typhus soon made its appearance. The prisoners
had to sleep on stone or board floors with a thin layer of straw as beds; the straw was damp and verminous, lice and
bugs swarmed. What was perhaps most nerve-wracking was the way in which, daily, internees would be called up by name
and led away, never to return. A friend of mine told me that in the yard of his prison there were 300 graves beaten quite
flat, that no one might recognize them as graves. That was at the beginning. Later there were many more.
The insanitary conditions were such that an old German Sanitatsrat - he was 80 years old - who heard of
them, went to investigate and made strong representations to the officials that if things were not improved there was every
probability of cholera breaking out, and, as he said, "cholera will not stop to ask whether you are Pole or German, it will
His advice was ignored and he himself forbidden to continue his medical activities. he was condemned to
house arrest, because he had been disloyal enough to try to protect the Poles. His warning was justified, for soon after typhus
broke out and spread with such rapidity that the prisoners had to be evacuated. They were distributed among thousands of other
prisoners, in the town and in neighbouring towns. There were thousands of prisoners, though I cannot give the exact number.
The clergy were treated even more cruelly. One Canon was condemned to clean out the latrines with his hands,
and when a younger priest ran forward to do the filthy work for his superior, he was shot down like a dog. Another was
led 2 or 3 times through the town with his hands above his head. The people, recognizing his figure, ran after him, crying:
"it is our Canon," but when he turned to them they shrank back in dismay, for his face and head were so swollen and discoloured
by blows that they could hardly recognize him. The only reason given for this brutality was that he was too proud, and he
held his head too high. Both these priests have now been removed, it is said to Germany, but when I left the town no one knew
for certain where they were, or if they were dead or alive. The priests were confined in underground cellars, and their condition
was so terrible that when a letter was smuggled in to one asking whether anything could be done for him, he replied that they
should pray for his speedy death.
A man who had been in the same prison with the priests told a friend of mine that the treatment they received
was impossible to put into words. All religious communities were treated alike; the Jewish Synagogue was the first church
to be destroyed; this was done at once, and in a very short time not a stone of it was to be seen. In the second week of February
the destruction of the 17th century Jesuit Church was begun and was almost finished by the 16th, the day on which I left.
It was the church from which the firing took place. The reason given was that an English plane had dropped incendiary bombs
on the two turrets, which made the church unsafe and consequently it had to be pulled down. These two turrets certainly did
burn one night and hundreds of people saw it, but no one either heard or saw an aeroplane that night. When I left it was being
said that a fine new church, built about 25 or 30 years ago, entirely from the money of the Polish citizens, was to be the
next one to disappear.
All the Polish schools, too, have disappeared, and the children have to go to the German schools, where
the only instruction they have is in the German language, and this in spite of the fact that during the twenty years of Polish
domination the Germans were allowed to have and build German schools with German teachers. Fortunately the military governor
of the town issued a decree that the Poles were not fit to give the Nazi salute or to sing the German national anthem and
folk-songs, so they were spared that humiliation, which the German teachers were already trying to force upon them.
Right from the first, Polish girls of 15 years old and upwards were sent to Germany in large numbers. It
was only after several weeks that mothers began to receive letters from their daughters saying they were having medical treatment,
injections being administered 3 times weekly, they did not know why, but it made them feel ill, and some of the girls were
said to have been in hospital for 3 weeks. In February or a little earlier a new decree was issued that girls of 16 to
25 were to be sent to Germany, by Hitler's orders, "to refresh German blood," and only a short time before I left another
order was issued to the head teachers of schools that the names of all boys and girls of 14 and upwards were to be notified
to the German officials.
These children were arrested in the streets or their homes and sent by train loads to Germany, for what
purpose the parents could only conjecture. The parents are in despair. Those who can, send their children away to distant
places, the so-called unannexed part of Poland and so on, but even then they do not know whether they are safe. The Germans
say this special treatment is to protect the children from certain diseases, but the Polish belief is that it is to induce
sterility among the young generation.
Meanwhile, since Christmas the banishment of thousands to other parts of the country, destinations unknown,
or to Germany, still goes on. The men are mostly sent to work in Germany. With the men and women the procedure is somewhat
different. Generally the people were aroused about 2 a.m., given 20 minutes to clothe themselves and their children, and turned
out, only partially clad, into the bitter cold. They had to go to the nearest square or park and there they waited under armed
escort until the number of families, "generally 400," had joined them, probably by about 6 a.m. They were then packed either
into unheated cattle trucks or into open country wagons and were driven for hours across country. In one such transport old
women of 75 were included, some of them relatives of my friends. If their relations were fortunate they might, after some
weeks, receive a postcard saying the evacuated had been brought to such and such a place and set to work on the land. Of course
all the furniture of their homes was seized and confiscated. As if this was not enough, the Germans added mental tortures
to their misery.
In the little village near S_____ the villagers were aroused on the night of the Tuesday before Christmas
- December 21 - and driven out in the usual way to await the time when all should be assembled. After they had waited for
a long time a message was brought that the order of evacuation was cancelled and the people might return to their homes. They
fell on their knees thanking God for their deliverance and went home happy in the thought that they would spend Christmas
as always. On Christmas Eve, in the midst of their simple rejoicings, a knock came at their doors and without any preparation
they were dragged out, put into waiting carts and driven away from their homes.
Doctors, lawyers, professors, teachers, dentists, in fact all professional men, have been forbidden to practise,
ejected from their homes, expelled from Poznania, their furniture and all possessions seized. I was told that some doctors
are now beginning in Warsaw and its districts. This is still going on. At first the excuse was that the Germans were sending
away the Poles who had come in from Congress - "Russian" - and Galicia - Austrian Poland" - but soon they abandoned
that excuse and deported men and women who with their parents and grandparents had been born in the provinces of Pomerania
and Poznania. Various friends of mine who come under this description are banished.
Before the Germans had been a month in the town they forbade the use of Polish, both in the home and in
the church, although the Poles had allowed the use of German during their 20 years of dominion. The Volksdeutsche are particularly
brutal in enforcing this order. An elderly lady, who apparently did not know German, was speaking Polish very softly to her
companion in the tram when a man got up, gave her a violent blow on the ear, and said: "Will that teach you not to speak your
filthy language?" Men and women in the street were slashed across the face with dog-whips if they spoke their mother
tongue to one another, and one day a young lady told how, when a little girl about 4 years old and her brother, about
7 or 8, were talking Polish together, she saw a Volksdeutsche policeman strike the baby in the face and beat the little
boy unmercifully in the street.
As already mentioned, the Synagogue was the first building to be destroyed, and the maltreatment of the
Jews began at once. Before the war of 1914-1918 there were not a great many in the town, probably only a few hundred, and
they were largely of the well-to-do mercantile and professional classes, but after 1920 they arrived in ever-increasing numbers,
until there must have been some thousands; I cannot say how many, but some streets of the old town, especially,
were almost entirely inhabited by Jews. On one Monday soon after the occupation 60 people were shot, of whom the greater part
were said to be Jews.
In the small neighbouring towns the Jews, so I heard, were completely exterminated, men, women and children
being shot. I asked a German if this were true, and she said it was, and that in one of those towns there lived two old ladies,
educated German Jewesses, who had been born and lived there all their lives; she said they were really nice women and had
been on the friendliest terms with her parents, and these two poor old women had been murdered with the rest of the Jews in
the town. I myself used constantly on my walks to meet two old Jewish sisters who were natives of town, educated German Jewesses,
but after the Germans entered I never saw them again, nor could I ascertain what had become of them.
The policy of ejecting and deporting so many thousands led to the emptying of many dwellings. Before I
left, over 3,000 were standing empty, and the number was increasing. These were largely the best and most expensive flats
and houses in the town. They naturally paid no rates, and so the town had lost a great part of its revenue.
Now the empty dwellings are being filled with Baltic Germans, and other intruders, whose conduct in many
cases is in no way better than that of the Volksdeutsche. One doctor turned out the wife of a Polish doctor, with her two
little children, with nothing but a paper parcel in her hand. The Pole had owned a large and well-equipped clinic and was
in most comfortable circumstances. Now he is a fugitive and his wife and children destitute. That same Balt afterwards went
to the wife of another doctor and demanded from her a picture which was the only valuable she had been able to rescue of her
absent husband's property. She had to give it up.
A German doctor was placed in possession of the practice, home and splendidly fitted surgery and consulting
rooms of a specialist for ears, nose and throat... The doctor had to flee, and his wife and children also. When the latter
returned they found the stranger in possession. He refused to allow them even one room to shelter in, and also kept possession
of their entire wardrobes. The position of all these poor fugitives was terrible; on their return after despairing wanderings
they found their homes sealed and themselves homeless and penniless. Naturally they returned from their flight with torn garments
and worn-out shoes, but no prayers induced the Germans to return any of their property. One poor mother with an 8 year-old
daughter begged to be allowed a change of clothing for each, as what they had on was borrowed from friends, but the official
replied: "Not a single chemise shall you have," and had them expelled from his office.
There were thousands of such cases, and everyone who could spare from their own depleted wardrobe gave what
they could; but soon their power to help was exhausted, and things were made worse because the Germans robbed the Red Cross
of gifts sent to them for distribution. Even the Polish wounded were not spared; the township-people heard that their wounded
in hospital were lying on the floor often covered only by their coats and they sent linen and all coverings they could spare
for them, but were finally requested to send no more, because the Germans took the things for their own people. In Poznan
"Caritas" had received help for these poor destitutes, but the Germans raided the store and took everything.
The inhabitants have made every effort to keep up the Polish character of the town. At the end of October,
after Germans had been pouring in by thousands, the Germans were so certain that their countrymen had approached equality
that they held a census. The arrangements were such that the Germans could record their numbers very quickly, but the Poles
would not be discouraged - many stood in the waiting lines from 9 or 10 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. I myself stood for three
and a half hours, and when it was evident that they could not possibly be admitted that day - Sunday - the papers were
distributed to be filled in at home. The result displeased the Germans intensely, for it showed that the Poles still
numbered 80 per cent of the population.
No doubt the deportations have reduced this percentage, but the conditions in Poznan have now so much deteriorated
and so many refugees now come from there to the town that it must have some effect on the population. In our flat were three
of these unfortunates - an old widow lady, her unmarried daughter and a granddaughter of ten. The old lady had not dared to
go to bed for 3 weeks; finally she and the child were brought by her daughter to the town, penniless and with the scantiest
of clothing. Her married daughter and her daughter-in-law had been in the concentration camp at Poznan for nine weeks when
I left Poland, and were expecting every day to be deported in one of the deadly unheated trains to an unknown destination.
Of course everything they possessed had been seized, and they had only the clothes they were arrested in,
and one of them had the cover of a baby's perambulator for the night. The conditions were terrible - damp floor to sleep on
with a thin layer of damp straw, the rooms heated during the day to 8 degrees C., which sank at night, the food issued
on starvation rations. Hardly a morning passed on which some frozen child's corpse was not removed from the quarters.
Had the husband of one of the ladies not managed at great cost to have some food smuggled in they probably
would have starved.
And yet the hope and faith of the Poles of that part of their country was as strong as at the beginning
of the war, and their faith in England so great that it sometimes terrified me. An old lawyer and his wife were being expelled
from the town, destitute and only allowed to save the furniture of one bedroom. I went to say good-bye and tried to give them
some comfort. The old man said: "Yes, we know that Poland will rise again. England has promised, and to doubt her word and
her honour would be to doubt the mercy of God."
Another friend, a middle-aged doctor, who with his wife was in the same position, said to me: "To doubt
England would be like doubting God." Another friend, woman this time, said: "We know that Poland will live again and be stronger
than ever, but we shall not be here to see it." Her words were prophetic, for a few days later, on October 21, she, her husband
and their only son were arrested and we have never been able to trace them, but have every reason to believe they were murdered.
Their house was plundered the next day. It and all their property had already been confiscated. Hope for Poland is strong,
but for themselves it is dying or already dead. "We shall not be here, but England has given her word and Poland will live
God grant that England may justify their faith.
Report by M. Wieslaw Arlet, Councillor at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Chief of the Press Bureau
of the General Commissariat of the Polish Republic at Danzig.
I was on duty in the localities occupied by the General Commission of the Polish Republic, 27 Neugarten,
in the night of 31st August to 1st September. It became apparent, during the course of the night, that an aggression on the
Polish institutions in Danzig might be expected at any moment. Towards 3.45 a.m. the building of the Commission was deprived
of electricity; at 4 a.m. the Polish telephone communications and those of Danzig were cut off - possibly the cables had been
cut - for it was impossible to communicate with the apartment of the Minister, M. Chodacki, or with the Polish post-office
or the Danzig post-office. The streets were filled with military transports and cars conveying members of the S.S. and S.A.
At 4:45 a.m. precisely, artillery began to thunder in the neighbourhood of the Westerplatte, and one could
also hear the crackling of rifle and machine-gun fire. The building of the General Commission was surrounded by a fairly large
detachment of police and S.S. wearing helmets and armed with rifles and machine-guns. By loud shouts of "Weg vom Fenster"
(away from the windows!) and by aiming at the windows, they forced the personnel of the Commission to retire to the far end
of the apartment.
As soon as I heard the first shots I proceeded to burn all papers concerning the cypher, and I destroyed
the seals and stamps; with the help of the radio-telegraphist I also destroyed the wireless-transmitter, and I burnt several
flags with the national emblem in the boiler of the central heating apparatus.
At 10 a.m. an officer of the police of Danzig, with rank of captain, accompanied by 20 armed police-agents,
rang at the door of the General Commission. I opened it myself, and before he had crossed the threshold I observed to
him that the building of the Commission was an extra-territorial building; he answered that he was aware of this, whereupon
I added that all persons in the building, about 20 in number, also enjoyed extra-territorial status. The captain, whose attitude
was quite correct, replied: "Ich weiss es, Sie werden auch entsprechend behandelt und es wird Ihnen nichts geschehen." (I
know you will be treated accordingly and nothing will happen to you.)
The occupation of the building took place without any incident, excepting the inspection of a room of which
the keys could not be found, where the door was forced. When this had been done, and after 4 revolvers and their ammunition
had been taken from me, the entire staff of the Commission was assembled in the courtyard. I noticed, not without surprise,
that to the revolvers which I had handed over to the police, two machine-guns and 2 cavalry rifles, which the police-agents
had "found" in the courtyard, near the wall which separates the Commission from the Council of the Port.
These weapons must have been placed there purposely during the night, for the captain who had taken possession
of the building, and who had previously warned me that I should be held responsible for all other weapons except the revolvers
which I had declared, refrained from asking me any questions, either relative to the origin of the automatic guns and the
rifles, nor as to the reason why they should be in the courtyard of the Commissariat. However, Colonel Sobocinski was cross-examined
on the subject by an agent of the Gestapo.
At 10:00 a.m. I was taken by car to the Viktoria Schule, together with the entire staff of the General Commission,
including the wives of the clerks who inhabited the ground floor. Before we left, a police-agent, threatening me with his
rifle, ordered me to stop my protestations. In front of the building of the Viktoria Schule there was a crowd of about
500 persons, composed almost exclusively of children and boys, who received the Poles with whistles, hooting and shouting
insults. Several S.S. men were stationed before the door and dealt blows with their clubs to all the Poles who were obliged
to pass before them, in a most inhuman fashion. There was no exception made for the personnel of the General Commission; seeing
that our protests were not listened to, I passed them at a run and shielding my head against the blows, so I received only
2 blows in the back. There were already near to a thousand Poles in the courtyard, many of them were seriously hurt by
the clubbing. I noticed many people whom I knew, business men, priests and employees of the post office and railways, who
formed a group by themselves. All of them had been made to stand with their faces against the wall, and as one after
the other arrived their names were inscribed on lists, and the arrested men had to give up their papers, their money, and
any objects of value they happened to have - cigarette cases, watches, wallets, etc. Of course, none of them received
a receipt, only the total sum of the money that had been confiscated was written down on the list.
Whilst I was being registered, I protested with energy against these measures - on the one hand on principle,
on the other because I had on me, besides my own money, a fairly large sum, namely 13,000 zlotys and 637.25 gulden, taken
from the safe of the Commission, sums I carried away according to instructions. Before we left for Tilsit I received
a receipt for them, but my protests remained without effect. Together with some others, I was pushed into the cellars of the
school. There were already more than a thousand people there. At 5 p.m. we were ordered to leave the cellars; hurrying us
along, and striking the laggards with sticks, we were made to form rows of 5, then we were surrounded by a codron of
agents wearing helmets and armed with rifles and automatic rifles. The agents then drove us in the direction of the prison
in the Schiestange Street, hurrying us along with kicks, fisticuffs and blows. During the march we were continually made to
change from walking to running, which was exhausting, especially for the old people, who could only proceed with difficulty,
sustained and helped by their neighbours. The reactions of the crowd were varied. Insults were hurled at us, but I also noticed
faces on which an expression of horror could be seen. After having laid back about a kilometre and a half in this manner,
we were suddenly overtaken by a torrential downpour of rain, which slightly calmed the agents who were escorting us. However,
at the door of the prison the blows of their fists, sticks and clubs began again, worse than ever. While attempting to escape
the blow of a fist in my face, I fell down and lost my glasses, and the whole crowd passed over me. Despite this, I was
not seriously hurt, except for a few bruises and scratches, for I was protecting my head and face with my hands. As I remained
behind the others, I was forced to go back and pick up a suitcase that someone in the crowd had dropped; when I said
that the suitcase did not belong to me, one of the agents kicked me violently. Insults and injuries began to rain down on
us. The loss of my glasses made my plight still more painful, for I stumbled several times over the pavement in the prison-yard.
Just as I was entering the actual prison building I again received 3 bayonet thrusts from an agent, who shouted to me that
the Prussian school was doing me good, as I was at last holding die Nase nach vorne (the nose in front). At the bottom
of the stairs a Nazi in uniform, who had been in the lot that had photographed the Poles grouped under the porch, leapt at
me and gave me 3 blows with a stick on the head, with such violence that I could not see for a moment. While he was doing
this he shouted: "Sas muss ein hoher Beamter sein!" (This must be an important functionary.)
Once in prison, I was locked up in a cell where there were already 3 Germans and a Pole. I spent the night
in a bed which I had to share with one of the 3 Germans.
The next morning a commissary of the Gestapo in mufti, whose name is not known to me, came to our cell;
he registered the profession of each of the prisoners. When it was my turn, I raised a violent protest against my incarceration,
and against the treatment I had suffered, and I showed him my blood-stained linen. The functionary of the police said to me:
"Sie kommen weg von hier" (You will be removed from here), and 3 hours later I was transferred with Colonel Sobocinski
and Captain Tchorzalski to the prison of the Polizei-Praesidium. I, as well as all my comrades of the General Commission in
Danzig, was locked up in an individual cell. From there I was taken, the next day, 3rd September, to the audience-hall of
the President of Police. There I was informed that we would be allowed to take away our most indispensable personal effects,
and that we would be escorted to the Lithuanian frontier. This high functionary of the S.S. having added that we would
be placed under police-protection, I asked whether they would beat us again. This question made a deplorable impression. The
S.S. man answered: "Solche Falle sind mir unbekannt" (such cases are unknown to me), and added that if we should
attempt to escape the police had orders to shoot us. My remark on the blows we had received very nearly had the result of
holding me back in Danzig. The Kriminalrat Laufgen, of the Presidency of the Police, made me go into a separate room and told
me that, in case I upheld my accustation against the police, he would be obliged to make an inquiry. In saying this, he tried
to persuade me that I had been ill-treated by the civilian population. Finally, after having examined my wounds, he added"
"ich kann das als Bajonettestiche nicht anerkennen" (I cannot admit that these are bayonet pricks). Herr Laufgen's
opinion was that I must have hurt myself with barbed wire. So I gave Laufgen a detailed description of the affair, whilst
insisting that every word of my story was absolutely true. As it was not possible for me to prove the authenticity of what
I said to the police, I consented to sign a proces-verbal, the contents of which I quote from memory:
"The Polish citizen Wieslaw Arlet, born 7th June, 1907, in Lodz, having been interned in the prison of the
Presidency of Police, declares as follows: on 1st September, 1939, at 10 a.m., i was conveyed in a police-car from the building
of the General Commission to the Viktoria Schule, in the Fleischgasse, and from there, together with other persons arrested
by the police, to the prison of Schiesstange Street. Because of the great crowd, I fell in the door of the prison, losing
my glasses and grazed my knees in several places. In order to secure my personal safety, I was placed under police protection
at the prison of the Schiesstange Street on 2nd September, and taken to the prison in a police-car. I have nothing further
Although the contents of the proces-verbal do not conform to the truth I preferred to sign it than to be
forced to remain in Danzig for an indeterminate time.
Krzemieniec, 12 September, 1939