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Testimony of Wanda Felicja Lurie

Wanda Felicja LURIE
From: Atrocities of the Hitlerian invaders committed against civilians during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising (documents), MON Publishing House, Warsaw,

File No. 249/z/1, k. 202                               

     On December 10, 1945 in Warsaw, the acting head of local court, Mrs. H. Wereńko has interrogated the witness Wanda Felicja Lurie, maiden name Podwysocka, born on May 23, 1911, current address: Podkowa Leśna, 2 Dębowa Street.

     From the year of 1937 I lived together with my family in Warsaw, at 18 Wawelberga Street, apt. 30. (...)
     On August 5th I was staying in the basement of the building together with my three children aged 11, 6, and three and half years old, me being also in the last month of pregnancy. On that day around 11-12 a.m. German military police assisted by Ukrainians have entered the yard, calling everyone to immediately leave the building. When the inhabitants left the basement, the policemen threw in there fire grenades. Suddenly there was panic and rush everywhere. I kept hesitating on leaving the area as my husband has not been back from the city; I hoped I would be allowed to stay. I was however ordered to leave the building and together with my kids as well as the Gul family I went onto Działdowska Street. The buildings facing the street were already burning.
     I tried first to move towards Górczewska Street, but Działdowska was full of Ukrainians and military policemen who didn't allow me to go there and ordered me to go back towards Wolska Street. The way was difficult, the streets being covered with cables, wires, remnants of barricades, pieces of rubber and corpses.
     The buildings on both sides of the streets were on fire. On Wolska and Skierniewicka Streets all the buildings were already burnt out. On the corner of Działdowska and Wolska Streets I saw single corpses of young men dressed in civilian clothes. In Wolska Street I joined a group of people who lived in my building. Altogether, there was around 500 of us, gathered in front of the factory. From talking to others I reckoned that the factory was a place where people living at Działdowska, Płocka, Sokołowska, Staszica, Wolska and Wawelberga Streets were driven to.
     We were standing in front of the gate of the "Ursus" factory, at 55 Wolska Street. It is the Warsaw division of the state-owned factory with headquarters in Ursus (suburb town near Warsaw). We have been waiting there for about an hour. From the yard of the factory constant shots, moaning and imploring sounds were heard. The Germans would lead, or rather push, the people inside, through the gate at Wolska Street, around hundred persons each time. A boy of about 12 years old, having seen through a slightly opened gate his parents and brother killed, got frenzy and started yelling, calling his mother and father. The Germans and Ukrainians kept beating him and pushing out, as he tried to snick inside the factory.
     We had no doubts that executions were going on inside the factory, we only wondered if all of us were meant to be killed. I tried to stay as far back as possible, in hope that they would spare pregnant women. I was however led into the factory yard with the last group. There I saw a one meter high mass of corpses tumbled on each other. The corpses lied in several places on whole left and right side of the front yard. Among the corpses I recognized killed neighbors and people known to me. Through the middle of the yard we were led to a narrow entrance leading to another yard. Here the Ukrainians and military policemen ordered us to move in fours. Men had to walk with their hands up. The group consisted of around 20 people, including many children of 10-12 years old, often without parents. One older lady, who couldn't move, was carried by her son-in-law on his back, they were accompanied by the lady's daughter with two of her kids aged four and seven. The corpses were lying on the left and right, in various positions.
     Our group has been moved towards a passage way between two buildings, some corpses already lying there. When the first group of four approached the place with corpses, the Germans and Ukrainians started shooting from behind in their necks. The killed ones would fell down and a next group of four would approach the place to be killed in the same way. The disabled older lady was killed while still being carried on the back of her son-in-law, who died simultaneously. When approaching the execution place people cried, implored for pardon or prayed. I was in the last group of four. I tried to implore the Ukrainians around me to save the children and me. One of them asked if I had anything to pay for it. I gave my three rings to him. Having taken them he tried to get me out of there, however a German supervisor, a military police officer, noticed it, stopped us and ordered him to move me back to the group destined for execution. I started to implore him to pardon the kids and me, I was telling something about the honor of an army officer. He pushed me however to a side, so violently that I fell down. He hit also and pushed my older son, yelling: "Quickly, quickly, you Polish bandit!"
     Meanwhile a new group of Poles has been led into the yard. So I joined the last group of four with the three children of mine, and approached the execution site, holding with my right hand the little hands of my two younger children and with the left one a hand of my older son. The kids walked, crying and praying. The older one, upon seeing the corpses, cried loudly that we would be killed as well. At one point a Ukrainian who stood behind us, shot in the back of the head of my oldest son and next shots hit younger children and me. I fell down on my right side. The shot has not killed me. The bullet approached my neck from the left, dodged the lower part of the skull and went out through my left cheek. I suddenly got a pregnancy-haemorrhage. Together with the bullet I spilled out several of my teeth. I was however conscious and lying among corpses I saw almost everything, what was going on around. I watched the following executions taking place. A new group of males was led inside, some of their bodies fell down on me - a four or so corpses were lying on the top of my body. Then a group of women and children entered - and so a group after a group, until late evening.
     It was already dark when the executions stopped. During the breaks the perpetrators would walk on the corpses, kick them and move around, finishing off those who were wounded and robbing the bodies of any valuables. They were touching the bodies using some special kind of handkerchiefs. One of them took a watch off my hand, not noticing that I was still alive. During all those atrocities they would drink vodka, sing some jolly songs and laugh. Next to me a fat and tall man was lying, dressed in a leather jacket, who rattled for a long time. The Germans shot at him five times, until he finally died - the shots wounded also one of my legs. I was lying like this for a long time, in a paddle of blood, covered with corpses. I was thinking about death, wondering how long I would suffer until I die. At night I pushed the dead bodies off me.
     On the next day the executions stopped. The Germans came into the place only several time, accompanied by dogs, checking if there was anyone still alive. I heard several single shots, probably a death blows dealt to wounded ones. I kept lying like this for three days, till Monday (the execution took place on Saturday). On the third day I suddenly felt that the baby that I was expecting was alive. This gave me extra strength and I started thinking about a possible salvation. Trying to stand up, I vomited several times and felt dizzy. Finally, on all fours I managed to crawl above the corpses towards the wall. Everywhere around the yard there were lots of corpses to about the level of at least my height. I had a feeling that the number of dead ones could have been as high as six thousand.
     I have crawled closer to the wall, looking for a place from where it would be possible to get outside. The passage between the yards, through which we had been led in, was now all covered with a pile of dead bodies and besides from behind the gate some voices of the Germans were heard. I had to look for another exit. I crawled on to a third yard and from there I managed somehow to climb a ladder leading to an open ventilation window. From there I stepped down into a factory hall. Being afraid of the Germans, I stayed there for the whole night. During the night I heard a constant howling of the "Tiger' tanks on Płocka Street as well as airplanes bombing the neighboring quarters of the city. I was afraid that in a moment the factory would be burnt, together with all the corpses. In the morning all however went quiet. I climbed to the window and saw a person alive - Mrs. Zofia Staworzyńska, a neighbor from my apartment building. So I joined her.
     Soon a wounded man of about 60 years old has crawled towards us, he was missing one eye - I don't remember now his name. After a long search and many attempts to get out of the place we have discovered an exit leading to Skierniewicka Street and through there I with Mrs. Staworzyńska have left the factory, while the man, hearing the voices of the Ukrainians in the vicinity, decided to stay. We left onto Skierniewicka, in hope of reaching the suburb of Czyste, where there was a hospital. The Ukrainians had their post in Wolska Street and first they did not realize from where we were coming. They stopped us and despite our begging that we be allowed to go to the hospital as wounded ones, they drove us towards the district of Wola, on the way gathering a growing number of people.
     Close to St. Stanislaw Church the column has been divided in two groups. A group of young men and women was led into a certain destroyed building, from where the sounds of shots soon came. I suppose that the group has been executed there. The remaining people, together with me, were driven to St . Adalbert Church (kościoł św. Wojciecha) in Wolska Street. On the way I saw dead corpses and body parts lying around on the street and pavements. A groups of Poles, being guarded by Germans, were taking the corpses away. Some German officers standing in front of the church greeted us with pushing, beating and kicking. The church was full of Warsavians coming from various districts. For a couple of days I kept lying there on the floor, next to the main altar. I was not offered any help, besides some water given to me by other people. After two days I was moved from there on a horse wagon together with heavily wounded and sick ones to the transit camp in Pruszków and from there to hospitals in Komorów and Podkowa Leśna. Currently I do not feel healthy but I have to work in order to bring up my child, which I delivered after these tragic experiences.


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