Recording no. 1
Witness interview report of an interview with Maria Pawełczyk of December 18, 1945. The testimony concerns the events that unfolded in the grounds of the burnt prison in Radogoszcz on January 19, 1945, and the help the witness provided to prisoner Franciszek Brzozowski.
The District Court in Łódź. Prosecutorial files on the case against: Walter Pelzhausen, ref. no. Ld 498/28, vol. 4, pp. 90-91.
I live near Abbe’s factory, where there was a camp during the occupation. On January 19, 1945, I knew that the camp was burning, I could see clouds of smoke hovering above it, and I could here shots. The camp was surrounded by soldiers and policemen in yellow uniforms. Patrols were scattered all over Radogoszcz so that no one left home that day. On the following day, about 3 a.m., as soon as Germans had withdrawn and I saw Russian troops, I ran towards the camp. The gate was open. There were piles of dead men lying in the yard. I could see they were shot in the head, and their clothes were burnt. I saw a man and a woman in the camp. They entered the building and shouted that some men were still alive. With the help of Russian soldiers, we pulled a man alive from under a pile of bodies on a blanket. Then they got out another one. I took one of the survivors home, and the other was taken by a friend of mine, Mrs. Szulc. The man I took home was as if drenched in tar, his clothes were completely burnt. His name was Franciszek Brzozowski, aged 23, now living near Wieluń, in the village of Suchowola. He stayed at my place for five weeks. From what he told me I know that Germans shot prisoners in the camp in groups. Brzozowski managed to fall down and the bullets only ripped his clothes. He was lying under a pile of dead bodies. When Germans set fire to the camp, he went up on the roof, which is why he was smeared with tar. Then he went down to a glass roof, and then, after the fire had died down, he returned to the building. He said there were eighteen other prisoners with him on the roof. In my flat, Brzozowski was visited by a surviving prisoner named Franciszek Zarębski from somewhere in Bydgoszcz. Possibly, the 7th Militia Station has his address because officers gave him a bicycle and took care of him there. The surviving prisoner who lived with Mrs. Szulc is called Urszulak and lives somewhere near the airfield. I can also say that about two weeks before the camp was burnt down the fact that they were tarring the roof drew my attention because it was winter.
Read by: District Examining Magistrate S. Krzyżanowska
Signed by: Maria Pawełczyk
Recording no. 2
Witness interview report of an interview with Janina Szulc of April 20, 1945. The testimony concerns the events that unfolded in the grounds of the burnt prison in Radogoszcz on January 19, 1945, and the help the witness provided to prisoner Adam Urszulak.
The District Court in Łódź. Prosecutorial files on the case against: Walter Pelzhausen, ref. no. Ld 498/28, vol. 4, pp. 97-98.
Adam Urszulak, having escaped from the camp in Radogoszcz, lived with me. Now he lives in Lublinek near Łódź. I watched the camp burning from 7 a.m. on Thursday and we could hear shots. But on that day no one went out, and on the following day, around 3 a.m., together with some neighbours, such as Mr. Stanisław Zieleniewski employed as a toolmaker in the Zgierz Electric Railway, we went to open the prison because our neighbour Mikke was there. The prison gate was closed, Zieleniewski opened it with some picklock; the yard was strewn with bodies, I could see their burnt clothes, and one could also tell that they were wounded, that they had been shot dead. At the sight of us, a figure rose from the pile of bodies, with mad eyes. He begged us to spare his life. We reassured him that we were Poles and wanted to save him, that Germans were all gone. That man left the camp on his own. As, for some reason, panic broke out, we were afraid that the camp could be mined and people started running away. I returned home too. When I went back to the camp after some time, I met my neighbour Pewełczykowa, who was leading two people. I took one of them home with me. The saved prisoner who, as it turned out later, was called Urszulak, was severely beaten, and he was carried on blankets. Urszulak said that when prisoners had been jumping out of the roof and then raised their heads from the ground, Germans had finished them off. His companion from the roof froze to death. Urszulak also said that prisoners from the ground floor had been shot first, and when prisoners from upper floors refused to leave, the camp was set on fire. When they saw smoke, people started jumping out of the windows, and Germans shot at those falling and lying on the ground. Urszulak saw Germans finishing those prisoners off and burying them in pits in the yard. Urszulak also said that there could have been about eight hundred people in the camp when it was set on fire.
Read by: District Examining Magistrate S. Krzyżanowska
Signed by: Janina Szulc
Recording no. 3
Witness interview report of an interview with Maria Iwona Kmieć née Godzwan. The testimony concerns the search for the body of Edmund Godzwan – the witness’s father and victim of the Radogoszcz massacre.
AIPN The Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, ref. no. Ds. 67/67, Witness interview report of an interview with Maria Iwona Kmieć de domo Godzwan, vol. 30, c. 5807-5808.
My father hid from Germans throughout the occupation, however, he got arrested by the Gestapo at some point (I can’t remember the date), but he managed to escape. He was arrested the second time in December 1944 in Łódź, in a flat (I don’t know whose or its number) in Zawadzka Street. (…) Soon after my father was arrested, my mother found that he was detained in the Radogoszcz prison in Łódź. (…) After Germans escaped from Łódź, on January 17, 1945, one of Radogoszcz prisoners (I don’t know his name) came to my mother. And he told my mother about the circumstances of the death of her husband and my father. Namely, in January 1945, Germans escaping from Russians surrounded the Radogoszcz prison and the imprisoned Poles with barrels full of gasoline and tar, and set them on fire to burn the prison along with the Poles inside. Germans shot or threw grenades at those trying to get out of the burning prison. The man, former prisoner, who told this to my mother, informed her that he and a few other prisoners made a hole in the prison roof, got out and jumped down from the roof, I think it was the second floor. Germans shot at the men jumping. The above-mentioned man told my mother that he had managed to jump down and had been shot by Germans then. My father was to jump next but, in the meantime, one of the Germans threw a grenade and my father was probably wounded by grenade shrapnel as he could hear his moans. A few days after the liberation of Łódź by the Soviet Army I went with my mother to the smouldering Radogoszcz prison to find my father’s body. There were loads of bodies in the yard, particularly near the prison building. I can’t say how many bodies there were. Some bodies were scorched, others were charred. We didn’t find my father’s body. Most probably, my father was burnt to death inside the building, the roof and floors of which collapsed during the fire.
Recording no. 4
A fragment of an account provided by a former prisoner Jan Wypijewski, who arrived at the grounds of the burnt prison in Radogoszcz in January 1945, looking for his cellmate Jan Wesołowski.
Wypijewski J., Wspomnienia 1939-1945, Włocławek 1999, pp. 278-279.
But I saw the vastness of the slaughter after a few dozen steps, in the camp in Radogoszcz, where I had been imprisoned a month earlier.
I first saw the iron gate wide open. There were still some flames and smoke visible inside the prison, among the smouldering ruins and human bodies. In the yard, there was a pile of human bodies with burnt clothes and hair; these were fellow inmates who, discovering the fire, made holes in the prison walls and tried to save themselves by jumping out to the yard in front of the building. There they were hit by the murderous bullets of degenerate executioners. (…)
I was walking about the whole area of this terrifying camp. I met a man who was taking all kinds of documents from the administration building and throwing them into the smouldering ruins. (…) He explained his deed saying he was afraid that the documents would fall into the Russian hands. At the time, I did not realise that they could be useful to identify and investigate the crime.
I was looking for the body of my friend Janek Wesołowski from Pabianice, who had dissuaded me from suicide. Unfortunately, the faces of the murdered were nearly impossible to recognise. I walked around the kitchen. The pots were full of frozen soup. Behind one of the pots, I saw a shot cook, who not long before had exchanged a slice of bread or an additional bowl of soup for a leather jacket. I also recognised three cook assistants, all dead. They were lying close to one another. I couldn’t identify anyone else. I heard one of them was medical doctor Józef Englert from Włocławek, whom I wasn’t able to recognise. I was told that by someone from a group of people standing nearby.
I went up the stairs I had had to run down so many times to exhausting assemblies. There were very many bodies between the ground floor and the first floor. Apparently, some prisoners had been looking for a way out of the building only to die in flames. I went up to the burnt attic, where the largest fire water tank stood. This was the only place one could have been saved in. Although water in the tank had been frozen, the ice had melt down due to the high temperature. This was where a few people from the top floor found their rescue.