world war 2: warsaw uprising 1944

Ryszard Jesiołkowski 'Żbik'. From City Centre to Czerniakow. In: Andrzej M. Kobos, Kanaly w

Powstaniu Warszawskim. Zeszyty Historyczne, No. 109, Instytut Literacki, Paris, 1994.

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zoskaRyszard Jesiołkowski 'Żbik', member of the 'Zoska' Scouting battalion, 'Radoslaw' regiment. Fought in Wola, Old Town, and Czerniakow districts.

Translated by Renata Siuzdak

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My preceding speakers talked about their military service in the sewers, but only up to the moment of leaving the Old Town. As it turned out, other participants of these sewers’ walks took over the baton in Czerniakow [district]. Among them were 'Konar'1 and I.

Our first march started at Three Crosses Square, where we descended into the sewers. We were moving under Szucha Avenue. The manholes on Szucha Avenue were wide open. The Germans were sitting up there–we could hear their voices. They were probably sitting on stools. From time to time, they would throw grenades into the sewers. Luckily, nothing happened to us2. It was imperative to walk quietly because there were a lot of cans in the sewers3. If you accidentally jostled a can with your foot, you could cause an echo similar to that of a grenade explosion. We only got to Rakowiecka Street before we had to withdraw because the manholes were covered with debris: tramway rails, bricks, etc.

My second march started on the 11th of September on Zagorna Street. 'Gutek' was walking with me, as were some female messengers–altogether there were six of us. We struggled through the sewers under Rakowiecka Street. We were moving under Lazienki Palace and had almost got to Dworkowa Street, but the sewers there had been barricaded with planks so we had to turn back. Colonel 'Radoslaw' had instructed us to go to Mokotow [district] in order to bring some ammunition, but we were unable to get through. Apparently, one group was able to get through because, later on, the passage was clear; some of us used it to withdraw from Czerniakow.

The worst situation occurred when we got to Mokotow. We descended into the sewers in Czerniakow at night4; in the morning of the following day, we came out in Mokotow, in Dreszer Park. I had just gotten the chance to wash myself when I was called by Colonel 'Radoslaw.' He ordered me to go back to Czerniakow to get the rest of the 'Zoska' [battalion] crew, which was under the command of Captain 'Jerzy.' 'Koper'5 walked with me as well as a female messenger. We got to the manhole on Zagorna Street and stuck our heads out; it was pure carnage out there. There was nobody left, no insurgents; the Germans had taken over the manhole. We turned back and met 'Slawbor’s'6 messengers from City Centre, who were moving toward Mokotow to learn the whereabouts of 'Radoslaw.' I reported to 'Radoslaw' what was happening, and that was the end of my sewers epic until my withdrawal through the sewers from Mokotow to City Centre after the fall of Mokotow7.

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1 Stanislaw Olszewski, cadet. Armored platoon.

2 For example, on the 16th of September, a column of wounded insurgents moving through the sewers from Czerniakow to Mokotow had to turn back because of all the explosions from grenades thrown into the sewers by the Germans.

3 The Germans deliberately threw cans into the sewers so they could cause a great deal of noise with every move of the insurgents. 

4 19/20 of September.

5 Unknown, a Jew liberated on the 5th of August from 'Goose Farm' (Gesiowka) camp
[ Goose Farm ]

6 Jan Szczurek-Cergowski, pseudonym 'Slawbor,' lieutenant colonel, a recipient of the Order of Virtuti Militari [ medals ], a commander of City Centre-South and Upper Czerniakow districts during the Warsaw Uprising.

7 Mokotow fell on the 26/27 of September.

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