Recording no. 1

On January 18 of the current year, on the day before the Red Army entered Łódź, in the pale light of dawn, Radogoszcz inhabitants were alarmed by multiple gunshots in the prison. This was not uncommon, we thought that they were shooting some people again. However, about six, the gunfire intensified. Everyone rushed to the windows. Bullets started flying towards the opening windows, so people hid behind the wall to see what was going on there.
When it got a bit brighter, a pillar of smoke burst out of the prison and you could hear massive explosions. People froze with horror. There was more and more smoke. Everyone saw that then. The prison was burning with a huge column of fire. SS men were sitting around the prison hidden in bunkers and ditches, firing at the prison windows.
A stronger wind blew towards them from the west, so that one side of the prison was revealed completely.
And now we see prisoners jumping out of the windows. The staircase had bigger windows, so people were jumping out through the broken glass. They were shot at constantly. The smoke billowed as if the whole city was burning, and from that smoke you could clearly hear the song sung by the prisoners. It was the Polish national anthem “Poland is not yet lost, so long as we still live”.
This lasted until evening. Women fainted all the time. People would kneel on the snow and pray for the dying.
And then everything went quiet. It was forbidden to go down nearby streets. German soldiers occupied foxholes in Szosa Zgierska and adjacent streets. They were preparing to fight Soviet tanks, and we were waiting for the fight to end.
The following day, fight for life or death against the Germans continued. As soon as we heard the roar of Soviet tanks, we left our hidings and ran to the winners. Then we were running together; they were the first to help a few prisoners who could still be heard from under the piles of bodies, disfigured, burnt, without legs, senseless. A three days earlier there had been about a thousand people in that prison.
Barbaric! We’re out of words and breath, the world has never seen such an act of horror.

An account drawn up on January 20, 1945, based on the testimony of Radogoszcz Commune inhabitants and representatives of the Red Army, concerning the functioning and liquidation of the prison in Radogoszcz on the night of January 17, 1945.

The District Court in Łódź. Prosecutorial files on the case against: Walter Pelzhausen, ref. no. Ld 498/28, vol. 4, pp. 31-34.