Testimony of Eugeniusz Spiechowicz
HISTORICAL MUSEUM OF WARSAW
I was born on the 10th of June 1929. I was aged 15 on the day the Warsaw Uprising broke out. I was a scout, member of the 48th Warsaw Water Team (the Grey Ranks). The first day of August found us waiting for the assignment of tasks and assembly but the order did not reach us. The next day together with my late friend Zygmunt Perzyk "Albatros" we escaped from our mothers and left home to join the fighting troops. My mother begged me to stay at home (she lost her husband in 1940 and my older brother Mirosław, now President of the Polish Underground State Fund, was at that time with the Home Army partisans in the Polesie region and we had no information whether or not he was alive). But children are cruel and not respecting our mothers' pleas we left them alone.
Walking from Marymont (part of Warsaw) where we lived towards Żoliborz (part of Warsaw) on the corner of Maria Kazimiera and Rudzka streets we came under fire from a sniper ("pigeon-shooter") placed in the so called Scholl house. In Żoliborz we joined the 206 platoon of the Home Army group "Żaglowiec" (sailing ship) allegedly he only one left in Żoliborz while the remaining forces with lieutenant-colonel "Żywiciel" (Bread-winner) Mieczysław Niedzielski retreated to the Kampinos primaeval forest.
After several days of fighting on the 18th of August as soldier of the 206 platoon I was heavily wounded during the German attack on a barricade in the Wyspiański Street. I have to mention that, wanting to be allowed to fight "arms in hand" I have added two years to my biography. By the same grenade slightly wounded was the commander of the 2006 platoon the second lieutenant "Topór" (Axe) Jasiński. After a provisional dressing of wounds I was taken to a hospital at the Sowiński fort in the Żeromski park and from there to the Czarniecki Street, I think the number of the building was 47, where I stayed till the end of the Uprising. The attached photograph was taken on the 24th of September that is on the first day when I rose from my bed. On the 30th of September when Żoliborz had been taken over by the Germans, I left the house together with civilians who lived in the basement and my mother who after receiving news on my injuries joined us at Czarniecki Street and took care of me during my illness. On the request of the inhabitants prior to the invasion of the enemy both I and my friend who shared the room with me hid the eagle badges and arm-bands for fear that the Germans would shoot us and all the other people in the basement.
The Saxonian grenadiers behaved very decently keeping the "Vlasovtsy" off the Home Army soldiers and the civilians. Our misery began when we had to walk towards the West Railway Station where gangs of ruffians in uniforms harassed the people of Żoliborz and raped women. From the West Railway Station where we were kept for a dozen or so hours on open platforms without food, drinking water and any possibilities to satisfy our physiological needs we were taken to the camp in Pruszków where we spent several days. We slept on a concrete floor and were given minimum food rations - occasionally one loaf of bread for several people. He who had any sort of dish could get a ladle of watery soup.
After several (two or three) days we were directed to a transport the destination of which was, as we have later learned, the concentration camp. On our way to the ramp a young German soldier overseeing the transport said to my mother in German "mother, come" took her by her hand and led her to pavillion VIII known to be the pavillion of liberty. My mother who knew German told him that she is with her juvenile son wounded in the bombardment of Warsaw. The soldier took also my hand and escorted me to the same pavillion. A few hours later another transport was organized and the train took us to a locality in the Kielce region named Samsonów, if I remember correctly. We then were ordered to apply to the village chiefs of the neighbouring villages who were responsible for providing accommodation to the Warsaw refugees. We have been sent to a farmer who gave us a very unfriendly welcome wondering why on earth should he feed (though extremely modestly) and accommodate loafers from Warsaw. Two or three days later mum and I decided to leave the "hospitable" farmer. We knew that the priest in Ujazd near Tomaszów Mazowiecki is the brother of my cousin's husband. On foot, by horse-driven cart and by train we reached the presbytery where we found my cousin with her husband and mother, my mother's own sister. Upon arrival the priest gave me honorable welcome as a wounded hero of the Warsaw Uprising and I was invited to dine in the salon where I was asked about the Uprising in Żoliborz. The next day the priest told us that times were difficult and in his house nobody will be fed for nothing. He ordered us (it was potato-digging time) to join the diggers in the field, pick potatoes and load them on the carts. This is a very difficult job, particularly for a young heavily wounded boy (five splinters), requiring frequent bending down. After one working day my temperature rose to 40˚ C and all my wounds opened.
Next day we went to see a doctor at Tomaszów Mazowiecki who dressed my wounds refusing to take any fee and supplying me with the necessary dressing materials and medicine. He was shocked that in my physical condition I was assigned such hard work. Upon our return to the presbytery we packed our modest belongings and moved to the neighbouring village where we rented a small room. My mother's sister also moved with us saying good-bye to the "hospitable" presbytery.
Our limited funds did not permit a longer stay with the farmer. Mum remembered that in the locality of Stąporków lives aunt Amelia whose husband (my mother's brother who died at the beginning of the German occupation) was the head master of the local school. Mum went to see aunt Amelia and find out if we could stay with her for some time. Some days later I got a very friendly letter from my aunt saying that, though she is not very well off and lives alone in a small room from a modest pension, we are cordially invited to come and stay with her. Her supply of potatoes and flour will take us all through the coming winter. Early-November 1944 I left our room and took the train to Stąporków. On the train myself and over ten other people from Warsaw have been arrested by the German gendarmes and taken to the Gestapo at Końskie. Besides my personal belongings I had the eagle badge and arm-band (visible on the photograph) and the Home Army identity card. Luckily, before the search, I managed to go to the toilet where I drowned all these aggravating evidences. During the inquiry we were not ill-treated but only searched very carefully. I have been asked about the scars on my body and explained that they come from a bomb exploding in the house where I took shelter. We spent three days at the Gestapo. On the third day myself and a much older prisoner were ordered to peel potatoes. Just when we entered the courtyard carrying a basket the gate opened and a horse-driven wagon escorted by a soldier entered from the street. It stopped as a Ukrainian warden hung himself in the corridor off the gate. I urged the fellow-prisoner that we benefit from the commotion and escape. He did not agree thinking that they will shoot us. I decided to try on my own. The gate was still open and the wagon obscured the view from the warden in a bunker situated at the main entrance to the Gestapo. I walked through the gate and turned left towards the nearest cross-road. I walked slowly with all my willpower trying not to speed up my steps. Every moment I was expecting a machine gun series in the back. In the cross-road I accelerated and began to dodge and did not return to the railway station fearing pursuit. I did not take the main road to Stąporków but, as an experienced scout, directed by the position of the sun through fields and meadows I reached Stąporków where I received a very warm welcome from aunt Amelia and my mother of course. The next three days I spent in an extremely friendly atmosphere. Aunt Amelia proved to be an unusually warm-hearted person. She shared with us the little she had. An alternative for potato soup were two varieties of soup made of water and flour (zalewajka, zapalanka). We had bread once a week on Sunday. Despite the misery I have warm memories of my stay there. I was reposing and gaining strength but immensely bored. Late-November my cousin found me a post as a message-boy with the Welfare Council at Piotrków Trybunalski and I immediately moved there. The Council offices were, if I remember correctly, at Żabia Street 2. The majority of the staff, including the director, were Home Army soldiers not only from Warsaw. I shared the room with two soldiers from Volhynia. In addition to a very modest salary we also received food rations, for example herrings or powdered milk. This enabled me to offer a modest support to mum and aunt.
Mid-January 1945 I was standing on the pavement watching the mighty "invincible" German army flee in panic by motor vehicles, horse-driven carts and on foot loaded with all sort of bundles evidently not military equipment.
At the night when the Germans already left Piotrków and the did not yet entered we received the order to go to the prison building and destroy all the documents of the Home Army prisoners. This was to prevent the NKWD to lay their hands on these documents. This order was carried out and the documents were burnt. This was the last task I have fulfilled as a Home Army soldier.
End-January I returned to Warsaw. Our house was burned down completely and our possessions were destroyed. Only school documents and some photographs which mum took with her from the Uprising were rescued.
I found a small room in Bielany (part of Warsaw) at Lesznowolska Street 2 where I lived with my mother till 1951.
Immediately upon my return to Warsaw I called on Volunteery Brigades of Rebuilding of Warsaw and our most urgent task was to bury the human bodies lying in the streets and squares (threat of epidemic) and to remove debris from streets and barricades. A week later we also received a loaf of bread every second day.
The improving food supply permitted me to bring my mother from Stąporków to Warsaw.
Since February till December 1945, once again adding a few years to my biography, I was employed as a worker at the Social Building Enterprise in Żoliborz.. In September 1945 I entered the III Municipal Secondary School for Adults in Żoliborz (Warsaw) and in 1948 I was the only one out of more than 40 class-mates to obtain the final certificate. Then life took the usual course. In 1948 I enrolled in the Medical Academy in Warsaw and in 1952 finished the medical studies. In spring 1951 as a III year student I was employed at the Medical Academy in Warsaw as deputy assistant. In 1951 I married a fellow-student, my present wife. We have two daughters and three grand-children. In 1963 I defended my Doctor's thesis and in 1968 my Habilitation dissertation. In 1975 I was awarded the title of Extraordinary Professor, and I 1984 Ordinary Professor. For 30 years I was the head of Department and subsequently of Chair. My other achievements are: deputy rector of the Medical Academy in Warsaw - 1972-1978, domestic expert - 1974-2001, WHO expert - 1973-1976, editor-in-chief of the magazine "Dental Prosthetics" - since 1975 till present, president of the European Society of Dental Prosthetics - 1979-1980. I have retired in 1999 but I am still working half-time and actively participating in clinical, didactic and scientific activities.